POSTSCRIPT / January 1, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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‘Cracker injuries down; DoH-PNP drive works?

SCARE ‘EM!: That was cute. I mean the display on TV of those cold but menacing surgical tools like saws, pliers, hammers, bolt cutters (!), etc., that doctors allegedly use to amputate or repair fingers, hands, arms and legs mangled by firecrackers exploded during the New Year revelry.

The display of the Department of Health “armory” did not scare us old foggies (many of us have grown tired of firecrackers), but I hope it did frighten the children and their parents, would-be amputees and the assorted victims of explosive devices.

I cannot drop the subject, btw, without saying that I love that poker-faced lady on TV swinging the huge mallet like a golf club.

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DoH-PNP CREDIT: My barber said that instead of displaying the shiny, sterile tools, they should have shown them crusty with rust and clotted blood of 2010 vintage to make them more scary. The risk of tetanus from dirty surgical tools would be added deterrent?

But then Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the campaign thrust this time is not just to scare the hell out of them pyro-devils but to accentuate the positive value of having all fingers and limbs intact.

It seems this new tack is working. The radio said yesterday the number of injuries, death and poisoning from the firecracker and fireworks menace has fallen.

As the best antidote to firecracaker injuries is preemptive action, the police under Director General Nicanor Bartolome should get part of the credit. They did a creditable job of catching a number of these merchants of death before they could sell their deadly ware.

The opposition may also want to credit Malacañang for the drop in firecracker fatalities. I heard one of them say that with the hard times brought upon us by the Yellow Fever, many of the usual buyers/users of firecrackers can no longer afford them.

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GUN HANDLING: Related to the New Year bedlam, we were talking last time of guns, taking off from the taping of muzzles of service weapons of policemen to minimize indiscriminate discharge.

Reader Nomer Obnamia of Ohio reacted with an email that I found so informative that I forwarded it to friends who are gun enthusiasts. I am reproducing excerpts below:

“There is no shortcut to handgun proficiency. In this ballgame, practice makes perfect, as the saying goes.

“The first thing is the proper fit. Not all handguns fit a person’s needs for self-defense. There are arguments that the old slab side, .45 ACP, is the old-time best. There’s truth to this assumption. The other camp on the self-defense is fond of the high capacity semi-autos, in which case the 9 mm is popular.

The 9 mm is the middle compromise in power, velocity and capacity. Modern 9 mm has mag capacity from 13 to 19 which is a lot of firepower in one magazine. Many law enforcement and military forces around the world have 9 mm as standard issues such as Glock and Beretta M2 for the US military. The larger the caliber, the lesser its mag capacity.

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BASIC TIPS: “Accuracy comes from practice and more practice using these rules:

“1. Stance — Proper posture for accurate shooting. One foot slightly forward, with both arms stretched forward as extension of the firearm, elbows locked to properly absorb felt recoil.

“2. Grip — Proper grip to acquire proper sight alignment of the rear and front sights. With auto loaders, tight grip is necessary to control felt recoil. Additionally, if the grip is not tight enough, especially for the concealed carry semi-auto models with short barrels, i.e. 3 inches, the slide may not make complete cycle to load the next bullet into the chamber, thereby causing a malfunction, usually a stove pipe. For owners of semi-autos, malfunction drills are necessary if they value their lives during live encounters.

“Those who are uneasy with semi-autos or feel they are complicated are better off with revolvers as their alternative weapon. Another cause of malfunction when the bullet does not chamber properly is when the chamber and barrel are oily and not properly swabbed or dried of grease.

“3. Sight alignment — Front and rear sights must be aligned, front sight in the middle of the rear sight. Never press the trigger when the front sight is not visible. It simply means the target is out of sight. Iron sights for defensive shooting are the rule, but the popularity of laser pointing devices have risen, aiding accuracy. They are small and will not get in the way when the weapon is holstered and drawn. Lasers are good but could be pricey. A confident shooter need not have one. It is an extra to those who can afford it.

“4. Trigger pull — Even if you follow the three steps above, you will still miss the shot if you have faulty trigger pull. All you need is a very slight jerk when you pull the trigger and your shot will be misaligned. Sudden pull can cause jerking. Fear or anticipation of the shot can cause flinching, jerking the gun during trigger pull. Again, dry firing in developing the proper trigger pull is good exercise. Use a practice cartridge to protect the firing pin. They look like the real bullet but will not fire.

“5. A good reliable gun is one that will always fire when you need it.”

Question: If a person can afford only one firearm for home defense and conceal carry weapon, what is the best that will deliver reliability, performance, accuracy, and durability? If you want Obnamia’s brief comments on this, please email me.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 1, 2012)

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