SDI Webinar on Firearms Restoration Might Just Break The Audience Record!

As many of you know, Sonoran Desert Institute works hard to ensure that their students, grads, and even prospective students are kept up to date in the firearms industry.

One of the most prolific methods we use to engage our audience is our webinar series. We host a webinar this month wherein students, grads, friends, family members, or even the simply curious can learn about a topic relevant to the industry we care about so much.

We have dived into topics from what the Department of Military and Veteran Services here at SDI does for our students to Troubleshooting and the Cycle of Operations pertaining to firearms.

This month’s webinar is a doozy, and I think you’re going to want to attend.

Restoration Station: Fireams Restoration with SDI Master Gunsmith Kip Carpenter

This week’s webinar, scheduled to launch tomorrow, April 7 at 8pm Eastern, will feature a deep dive into the world of firearms restoration with SDI’s own master gunsmith, Kip Carpenter.

Kip has decades of experience with firearms. He has worked high-risk security, run his own firearms businesses, and holds more certifications than I can count.

As one of our best-loved (and storied!) instructors, we knew that when we announced his return to the webinar stage that it was likely we’d receive a strong response.

We didn’t realize just how strong that response would be.

As things currently stand, this webinar has a serious chance to become the best-attended webinar in SDI history.

That’s not an event you are going to want to miss. Take a moment and register for the webinar here. Space is limited, so be sure to lock your spot into what could well be a historic event!

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SDI Makes Strong Move to Support Reservist and Guard Faculty and Staff

Our veterans, current active duty, and reserve personnel are so valuable to Sonoran Desert Institute, both in our student population and in our workforce.

As part of our continuous effort to ensure that our faculty and staff in the service are well taken-care of, SDI has decided to take strong action to ensure that those in the Reserves and National Guard’s schedules on the year are drastically easier with paid time off for the two weeks a year they are required to serve in an active capacity.

“We have recently adopted a new policy in support of our employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserves who are called to serve actively two weeks each year,” Marc Prochello, Vice President of Finance, has said.

“SDI will no longer require the use of accrued vacation to be compensated for that time… This time will be handled much like Jury Duty or Bereavement. (They) will not be working, (they) will be paid, and (they) will not be using any of (their) hard-earned vacation time.”

As our faculty and staff works so hard for us here at Sonoran Desert Institute, it is a blessing to have the ability to give these hardworking men and women the ability to take that time off without needing to schedule their vacation time. It gives them the chance to serve our country more freely, without needing to be concerned about their capability to sit back, relax, and enjoy a few personal days.

To all of our faculty and staff that serve or have served: Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do! We would not be who we are today without you!

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Medal of Honor Highlight: James Hendrix, the Second Miracle of This World

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest, most prestigious decoration awarded to those servicemen and women for gallantry and bravery in combat above and beyond the call of duty. Fewer than 4,000 individuals of the millions who have served between its inception in 1863 and today have received it, and a great many of them received it posthumously.

This is one of their many stories. All information provided in this article is provided by Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty by Peter Collier.

James Hendrix was a private when he earned his Medal of Honor. Drafted in 1944 at the age of 18, the young man had spent his formative years working for his sharecropping father – he didn’t advance beyond a third-grade education before quitting school.

Hendrix became a member of an armored infantry battalion – he was a bazooka man whose primary job was to knock enemy armor out of the fight. During the first days of the invasion of Normandy, he and his unit were anchored, waiting for a beachhead to be secured.

Once that was accomplished, Hendrix joined General George Patton’s Third Army as it pushed through France and into Belgium in the hopes of keeping allied momentum alive straight through to Germany.

As we all know, however, that was not to be. The German Siegfried Line, while not quite as famous as the French Maginot Line defeated by the Germans at the outset of the war for France, was far more effective.

With the invasion stalled, for the time being, Nazi Germany saw its moment to counterattack and possibly bring the Americans to the negotiation table for a more attractive peace deal – it sounds far-fetched, but at the time American logistics were severely stretched, and the seizing of a crucial allied port (Antwerp) would have been a major blow to allied efforts.

It was Germany putting all of its chips into the kitty, and it was where Hendrix would cement himself into American military history.

For the first time, anyway.

Hendrix was a part of General Patton’s relief force for the encircled American troops in and around Bastogne. Near the town of Assenois, just a few miles away, Patton’s drive stalled, much to the general’s consternation.

Hendrix dismounted his half-track with his bazooka, to see what was the matter, only to find that a German Tiger tank was blocking the road.

No problem for Hendrix.

He ran into a building flanking the tank and fired on its turret from a second-story window, disabling it.

That’d be a pretty good day in and of itself, but Hendrix’s tour de force was only just beginning.

Sure enough, Hendrix’s actions were able to get the column moving again, but only for a short time. The column fell under a massive artillery barrage, which would cost Hendrix his bazooka. The half-track he was riding in was hit, and Hendrix dashed out of it with nothing but a rifle.

As he was sprinting to find cover, he found two 88 mm field guns set up to block the American advance. He moved on them – largely to avoid more artillery fire, and ended up behind their position. He waited for them to pause their firing, then came out roaring, demanding they surrender to him. Of the fourteen present, thirteen surrendered. The last Hendrix was forced to kill.

His day is now halfway done.

He returned to his column, only to come under fire again. With the help of an American tank, Hendrix took out two machine-gun emplacements. On the way back, he found an American half-track on fire. Despite exploding ammunition within the vehicle and sniper fire without, he dragged the burning American soldier he could rescue out to safety.

Patton himself recommended Hendrix for the Medal of Honor, which he received on August 23, 1945, from President Harry Truman.

That’s not the last time that Truman and Hendrix would meet, either.

Hendrix figured, rightly, that he made for a pretty good soldier, and opted to spend a career in the military. A few years after his famous exploits, he was jumping to qualify for the United States Airborne when his parachute failed. He fell better than a thousand feet, inexplicably without serious injury.

Nearly as unlikely, President Truman was there, reviewing the troops. He was told about the incident and naturally wanted to see the man who fell a thousand feet and walked it off.

“That was the second miracle of this world,” the president reportedly told Hendrix.

Hendrix asked what the first was.

“That I ever got elected president.”

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This Is How We Can Celebrate Our Veterans Today

If you count all of its various iterations, Veterans Day has been a portion of the American pantheon of holidays for 101 years.

How is it, then, that so few of us, veterans included, know how to mark the holiday?

We’ll talk about what veterans can do in a second. For civilians, this is a serious issue.

First and foremost, we need to acknowledge a reality — a massive segment of civilians on Veterans Day, not unlike Memorial Day, really don’t know what to do during these holidays. Many have a portion or the whole of a day off of work. Many don’t really plan to do anything on that day. While breaks are nice, that’s not really what Veterans Day is about.

So, what do we do?

First, we can thank a veteran. Second, we can thank the legion of waitstaff and customer service personnel who make all the discounts and free meals available to veterans on their day possible. Those are pretty easy, and even if you thank 10 veterans, the combined efforts have taken us about 15 minutes.

Veterans Day wouldn’t be a holiday is the appreciation of our men and women in  uniform was meant to take 15 minutes.

I recently spoke with the Dean of the School of Firearms Technology at SDI, Wes Lemay, who served in the Army for some time, and he answered that very question.

His answer was simple: be better today.

To be better today, Wes outlined a few action points:

  1. If there’s a veteran-recognizing event today, be a part of it.
  2. Donate. As you are able, donate resources to veterans in need. There are a number of charities that would love your help. A few of my personal favorites are the Wounded Warrior Project, Freedom Service Dogs of America, the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and the Semper Fi Fund. SDI has donated to the Fisher House Foundation.
  3. Fly the American flag, and do it respectfully and correctly. You can research proper flag display procedure here.
  4. Ask a veteran about their service, and don’t press into topics that appear sensitive.
  5. Write a letter to a service member.
  6. If you’ve got a VA hospital near you and there are people that can and will accept visitors, go and visit. Make someone’s day.
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities veterans sacrificed for.

Americans have fought and died for your freedom. They’ve sacrificed time. They’ve sacrificed sweat. They’ve sacrificed whole portions of their lives in the pursuit of your life and liberty.

If you can complete that list, you’ve lived Veterans Day to the fullest.

Now, for our veterans on Veterans Day: relax. this day is for you.

What do you think about this to-do list? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

Massive Gun Manufacturer Quits Long Guns for Civilians

In a move that has proven shocking to many, Colt, one of the best-renowned firearms manufacturers the world over, has decided to make the drastic move to stop selling long guns to the civilian market.

Colt’s news sent shock waves throughout the industry early this month as one of the titans on the firearms community bowed out of one of the key sectors of the firearms marketplace. Many speculated, not unreasonably, that the move was made in light of the current political climate.

However, that appears to be completely untrue. The real reason is far more telling of the state of the firearms industry in the United States civilian market.

There are so many manufacturers selling so many sporting rifles that the market is flooded. Colt has made the call to step aside and focus on what markets serve their company best.

According to a statement by Dennis Veilleux, President and Chief Executive Officer of Colt:

There have been numerous articles recently published about Colt’s participation in the commercial rifle market. Some of these articles have incorrectly stated or implied that Colt is not committed to the consumer market. We want to assure you that Colt is committed to the Second Amendment, highly values its customers and continues to manufacture the world’s finest quality firearms for the consumer market.

The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity. Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, our warfighters and law enforcement personnel continue to demand Colt rifles and we are fortunate enough to have been awarded significant military and law enforcement contracts. Currently, these high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles. Colt’s commitment to the consumer markets, however, is unwavering. We continue to expand our network of dealers across the country and to supply them with expanding lines of the finest quality 1911s and revolvers.

At the end of the day, we believe it is good sense to follow consumer demand and to adjust as market dynamics change. Colt has been a stout supporter of the Second Amendment for over 180 years, remains so, and will continue to provide its customers with the finest quality firearms in the world.

While it’s hard to love Colt taking its leave (for the moment, anyway) of the civilian market after such a long and storied run, there are certainly much, much worse reasons for a firearms industry company to make a major pivot such as this.

What do you think? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

Here’s Why Constitution Day is the Biggest Holiday You’re Not Celebrating

The Fourth of July, or more properly Independence Day, is one of the biggest holidays on the American calendar. We mark it with parades, fanfare, fireworks, and of course, almost uniformly eating like starting on the fifth none of us will be permitted to ever eat food again.

That’s not a complaint — I like brats.

However you choose to note the day, there’s perfectly good reason for raucous celebration. It’s the day we declared independence from England, for crying out loud! We abandoned the rule of a monarch in one of the greatest blows struck for freedom in history.

So why is it then, that the day of the creation of our form of government — the very thing that we ultimately left monarchy for —  is far less visible to the public eye?

In fairness, the Untied States Constitution isn’t what many believed it would turn out to be — initially, we had the Articles of Confederation. These articles were ratified in 1781, and they didn’t last all that long. The intentional weakening of the national congress made their jobs just about impossible.

That didn’t go well, and you’ll remember from your high school history class how Shay’s Rebellion served as a stark warning that the federal government might need to do fun things like collect the funds they desperately needed to maintain a country’s functionality. What’s often not mentioned, additionally, is the Newburgh conspiracy.

The Newburgh conspiracy is one of the largest threats to the United States we’ve ever had, and it’s relatively unknown. In short, officers in the Continental Army and members of Congress attempted to instigate something akin to a coup, wherein states would be forced to grant more powers to Congress, who would in turn raise the cash that soldiers, extremely nervous about actually getting paid, would receive.

You can thank George Washington for shutting that down, but that’s an entirely different story.

So here we are, in 1787, with a weak amalgamation of states, a broke national government, a near-coup, and a failed rebellion. Obviously, something’s gotta give.

In May 1787, Philadelphia hosted a meeting of some of the greatest minds of the time to create the historic Constitutional Convention, and of course, the first thing they decided to do was ignore their mandate to amend the Articles of Confederation and create something new from scratch.

The rest is, well, history.

I won’t quote to you the entirety of the Constitution, or even paraphrase it — it’s lengthy, and dollars to donuts you know all about it already. What? You don’t? In that case, take some time and read it using the link here.

What you’ll want to take away, here, is this:

Today — September 17th, is Constitution Day, to mark the signing of the United States Constitution back in 1787.  Without what happened in Philadelphia on that day, we very likely not only would not have grown to the nation we have today, we probably would be either a territory or oblast of another power.

In other words, Constitution Day is every bit as important as Independence Day — we might even consider it an extension of the same.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go rustle up some brats.

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Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers, According to the ATF, Part 2

When it comes to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, folk in the firearms community tend to have very strong opinions — their actions can drastically effect the shooter’s day-to-day life, take for example the ATF’s decisions concerning pistol braces.

They are frequently disparaged, but as Sonoran Desert Institute’s Master Gunsmith Kip Carpenter notes in the webinar “Starting a Gunsmithing Business”, he’s had a tremendous experience with the organization.

No matter how hot or cold your emotions run, there is no question that the men and women at the ATF field a boatload of questions about guns on a regular basis. Previously, we took the opportunity to share and dig into five of the ten most frequently-asked questions posed to the ATF.

Now we’re going to clean up the remainder!

Let’s see what they got:

6. May I lawfully ship a firearm to myself in a different State?

Funnily enough, this isn’t really ever a question that occurred to me. In all fairness, I’m not much for travelling, and when I do it’s through areas that have nice little conveniences like concealed carry reciprocity. That being said, as the ATF notes you actually can ship a firearm to yourself!

Any person may ship a firearm to himself or herself in the care of another person in the State where he or she intends to hunt or engage in any other lawful activity. The package should be addressed to the owner “in the care of” the out-of-State resident. Upon reaching its destination, persons other than the owner must not open the package or take possession of the firearm.

The more you know!

7. May I lawfully ship a firearm directly to an out-of-State licensee, or must I have a licensee in my State ship it to him? May the licensee return the firearm to me, even if the shipment is across State lines?

Yes, you can ship a firearm directly to an FFL. Be you warned — from personal experience, I can tell you that the cost of shipping can be quite a bit! If you’ve never shipped a firearm before, be prepared for that cost.

Any person may ship firearms directly to a licensee in any State, with no requirement for another licensee to ship the firearm. However, handguns are not mailable through the United States Postal Service and must be shipped via common or contract carrier.

In response to the second part of the question, licensees can ship back to you without an additional in-state licensee if the firearm was yours to begin with. If you’ve sent it off for a repair or the like it can come straight back to you.

Firearms shipped to FFLs for repair or any other lawful purpose may be returned to the person from whom receive without transferring the firearm through an FFL in the recipient’s State of residence.

Just don’t try that with a new purchase!

8. I have been convicted of a felony. How do I reinstate my rights to possess a firearm?

This is a tricky one. A lot of people believe that their gun rights should never be restored, while others believe the opposite just as strongly — as long as the felony committed wasn’t violent. Last year, an Arizona state trooper was famously saved by a former felon whose gun rights was restored to him.

Regardless of how we may feel about it, a felon’s rights can be restored.

Persons who have been convicted of a “crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year,” as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20), are prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Felons whose convictions have been set-aside or expunged, or for which the person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored are not considered convicted under section 922(g)(1), unless that person was expressly prohibited by the law of the jurisdiction in which the proceedings were held from possessing firearms… If your conviction is for a Federal offense, you would regain the ability to lawfully receive, possess, or transport firearms if you receive a Presidential pardon.

In essence, there are no guarantees that you can your gun rights back — but governmental agencies can restore those rights. If you’ve committed a federal offense and are looking for more information, the ATF recommends taking a look at h

9. May I lawfully make a firearm for my own personal use, provided it is not being made for resale?

Surprisingly — and awesomely — yes! You can not make a firearm for sale without a manufacturer’s license, of course. You can’t make one for distribution, either.

But for yourself? You’re in good shape.

Firearms may be lawfully made by persons who do not hold a manufacturer’s license under the GCA provided they are not for sale or distribution and the maker is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms. However, a person is prohibited from assembling a non-sporting semiautomatic rifle or shotgun from 10 or more imported parts.

10. I was the subject of a NICS check when I attempted to purchase a firearm from an FFL, and I received a delayed response or a denial. Please tell me why I did not receive a “proceed” response.

Well, good news and bad news, there. The bad news is that you are going to have to go the NICS customer service center for that one, which is actually administered by the FBI.

The good news is that the ATF isn’t responsible for your ruined afternoon.

ATF does not operate the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). It is administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Please contact the NICS Customer Service Center at (877) 444-6427 for further assistance.

What questions do you have that was left off the ATF’s list? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers, According to the ATF, Part 1

When it comes to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, folk in the firearms community tend to have very strong opinions.

There’s good reasons for that — their actions can drastically effect the shooter’s day-to-day life, take for example the ATF’s decisions concerning pistol braces.

They are frequently disparaged, but as Sonoran Desert Institute’s Master Gunsmith Kip Carpenter notes in the webinar “Starting a Gunsmithing Business”, he’s had a tremendous experience with the organization.

No matter how hot or cold your emotions run, however, there is no question that the men and women at the ATF field a boatload of questions about guns on a regular basis.

So, what are the most common questions?

This article is the first of a two-part series on the ten most-asked questions to the ATF. We’re breaking it down because if folks all across the country are asking these questions, odds are good you’ll catch one you were wondering, too.

Let’s dig in!

1. Can a person prohibited by law from possessing a firearm acquire and use a black powder muzzle loading firearm?

Now, I’m not a felon — and I don’t really plan on being one in the future, but I will admit that this is a question I have wondered more than once.

Surprisingly, the answer is yes!

Federal law does not prohibit these persons from possessing or receiving an antique firearm. The term “antique firearm” means any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898.

I will admit, that’s not how I expected the ATF to respond on that. However, it does make sense. You can get muzzleloaders shipped right to your door (at least you can here in North Carolina), and trying to track them would be a logistical nightmare.

Keep in mind, however, that we’re talking on the federal level — state government can come into play.

Finally, even though a prohibited person may lawfully possess an antique firearm under Federal law, State or local law may classify such weapons as “firearms” subject to regulation. Any person considering acquiring a black powder weapon should contact his or her State Attorney General’s Office to inquire about the laws and possible State or local restrictions.

Always check your local laws!

2. May I lawfully transfer a firearm to a friend who resides in a different State?

Short answer — no, you can’t — at least you can’t without the involvement of an FFL. As much as you may want to, you have to pay that transfer fee — it’s a small price to pay to stick to the right side of the law. As the ATF notes:

Under Federal law, an unlicensed individual is prohibited from transferring a firearm to an individual who does not reside in the State where the transferee resides. Generally, for a person to lawfully transfer a firearm to an unlicensed person who resides out of State, the firearm must be shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) within the recipient’s State of residence.

As tempting as it may be to send a firearm to John Doe a few hundred miles away, take the time to ship it right, with an FFL.

3. May I lawfully transfer a firearm to a resident of the same State in which I reside?

Yes — yes you can! However, you can’t transfer a firearm to someone who can’t legally possess one — take the felon from Question 1, for example. You can’t sell him your .380 because you are all about .45 ACP now, now matter how much he wants to strike a deal!

Any person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of the State where he resides as long as he does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law. There may be State laws that regulate interstate firearm transactions.

As always, check your local laws for interstate firearm transactions, or any other question you have in terms of firearms legality.

4. How do I register my firearm or remove my name from a firearms registration?

Good news for you — and most of you firearms community veterans already know this — there’s no Federal registration requirement unless we’re talking SBR’s, machine guns, and the like.

There is no Federal registration requirement for most conventional sporting firearms. Only those firearms subject to the National Firearms Act (NFA) (e.g., machineguns, short-barrel firearms, silencers, destructive devices, any other weapons) must be registered with ATF.

That’s one less thing on your plate!

5. Does ATF issue a Concealed Carry Permit (CCP) that authorizes a person to carry a firearm throughout the United States?

As much as some of us (me included!) may want a national concealed carry permit of some form or other to be an institution of this great nation, it’s not.

At least not yet. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Neither ATF nor any other Federal agency issues such a permit or license. CCPs may be issued by a State or local government.

What do you think about these questions? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!