18 August 2013

Gun safe selection

On previous posts I went about the process of Selecting a gun safe and then Narrowing gun safe selection, which gave my criteria for what a safe must have, should have and be nice to have.  What I wound up with is fromVault-Pro-Logo-4

and is their Marksman II safe at 72" x 40" x 28" which I was able to get a few minor features added on to meet my minimum specs.  I didn't go for any of the major upgrade features for thicker steel on the exterior or interior since I knew that it would have to be on a non-concrete floor.  Home interior stair steps are rated at approx. 1200 lbs. per tread, which is not a minor consideration for safe procurement.  For the square footage the floor is rated for dead weight at 2500 lbs,

Delivery I had done by a local firm that specializes in safe moving and it took a total of three crewman and their boss along with a stair climber to get the safe into the house.  It was larger than the standard gun safes they deliver from the well known, big box companies and much heavier as well.  There was no way that a less experienced crew could get it in.  As there is no way for me to know where the major support members are for the floor under carpeting without doing some major exploratory work in the basement, I had to go with the basic measurements and knowledge of where those members are in relationship to the basement ceiling and transpose those to the main level floor.

As delivered, here it is:

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This is the matte black color scheme and I asked for them to kill the gloss as much as possible for it as I don't need a spare mirror in which to comb my hair.  The exterior details are good, although the manufacturer's logo appears to be a decal, as does the pin striping.  That lock is a S&G type and it is one where you have to basically get the number dead-on with the lowest variance from it in either direction.  During delivery I, somehow, got it open the first time with ease, almost like I knew what I was doing.  Re-opening it after locking it... that was another thing, entirely.  If I had known that it would be a bit of a pain to operate I would have gone with one with a bit more slop for getting the numbers, as it is patience and concentration are necessary to get it right.  A lot of patience.  A whole lot.

Now onto the interior:

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This is one of three standard configurations with the other two being all long shelves (basically a huge handgun safe or standard safe for collectibles/valuables) and a tri-divided bottom.  I was very tempted with the triple arrangement, but decided on this for various reasons, with the primary one being that I have more long guns than would fit in 1/3 of the bottom.  Also a couple of those are Mosin-Nagants at 48 1/2 long.  As you can see this is a full carpet interior that is hook & loop (i.e. Velcro) compatible, so that if you have pouches or anything else that you can get hook material on (you know the stiff fibers that grab, not the soft loop side) then you can just stick them onto the carpeting.  VaultPro uses Fossshield which is added to the fibers to help prevent mold, mildew and other organic growth on them.  A handy feature, that.  The interior is adjustable using Knape &Vogt pilaster standards and #256 supports.  The carpeting is attached to the smaller shelves using an adhesive of some sort, to the larger boards with small staples and to the interior it appears to be mostly adhesive, save for the sides which must have wood backing to support the pilasters, which appears to be the staples again.

A word on the adhesive used and this goes with any safe interior: if you are allergic to new car smell, or have any problems with the VOCs used to attach carpeting via adhesives then it would be wise to ask for a low VOC adhesive to be used.  In fact if you can get the safe manufacturer to air out the carpeting in sunlight for a week, that would be even better.  This has been the single major problem of purchasing a new safe and makes the refurb/used market very appealing as an older safe will have gone through all of that stuff within a few months after delivery when it was new.  For me the safe delivery came when I was already getting an upper respiratory tract infection and, a few days into that getting treated, I got food poisoning which has killed all of JUL 2013 and the first part of AUG 2013 for me.  Dealing with the off-gassing of the safe interior (the exterior is great, no fumes at all) has been a major hassle and has delayed getting it finally anchored and migrating equipment into it during this period.

How I've dealt with the off-gassing... first airing out the interior boards on the back deck for a week.  Fresh air and sunshine help a lot, but do nothing for the safe interior as there is no way to move that sucker so as to vent fresh air into it nor to get sunlight into it.  Because of that it has been 'better living through chemistry' time.  Oh, joy.  Oh, rapture.

After sunshine and fresh air here are products I've used to varying degrees of success:

1) Baking soda!  Get a cheap, old fashioned dusting plant sprayer... you know the type that is part bicycle pump and part hvlp paint sprayer?  The kind with the bottle by the nozzle.  Get one new, that hasn't been used for anything else and fill the bottle portion about half full with baking soda.  It is hard to get an even, fine dusting out and I would end up with major amounts coming out now and again, but I was able to get every surface covered with fine to small heaps of baking soda.  Let stand one hour and sweep up with vacuum cleaner.  It works, to a degree, and was one of my last resorts.

2) The Bad Air Sponge.  This is weird stuff but effective, at least for the stuff in the air.  Basically just open it in a room with bad odors floating around it, let stand until you start to get the smell of stuff from the container (not obnoxious and not a perfume, just chemistry) and let that react out in the air.  When its done you should have a decent smelling room again.  Repeat as necessary with longer openings for places that have really bad fumes... like my workshop.  This baby has done more to get rid of some of the old smells used in finishing woodworking than anything else I can name.  For the gun safe close it up on the inside overnight (8 hours or more) and then open the safe, close the canister and ventilate the room if possible as you now have a concentrate of that stuff in the air.  This has done wonders for the gun safe and is better than waiting a few months for the VOCs to react out, that's for sure.

3) Zero Odor – In the 8 oz. trial size.  This was the first stuff I used to just be able to access the safe and it did a good job getting rid of the stuff in the immediate air, but less of a job with the continuing off-gassing.  For that brute-force, 'must get there within the hour' deal it can't be beat.

4) Expel – Another of the 8 oz. trial size bottles and this one did a basic job of allowing me to actually get the interior out to the sunlight.  A very good job on the immediate surface gasses coming from the carpeting/adhesive and without it who knows how long it would have taken me to get this far.

Each of these products has its place in the removing VOC and other organic chemical smells from carpeting in a gun safe, and they are each role players in that effort.  The baking soda can't be completely removed from the carpeting although another go-around with the vacuum might get more of it out.  As it isn't a salt I'm less worried about it than about, say, some of the chemical moisture removers.

At this point there safe is now far enough along to actually secure it to the floor and I was nearly dead-on with one of the support beams, hitting it square with one lag bolt and just a bit off-center with another, which as put that one in a direction that will resist motion along that long axis.  The other two are in the floorboards.  Lag bolts with washers and lock washers plus a ratchet with a deep socket did the trick after drilling a small pilot hole.  The safe itself is resting across two support beams but the holes can only line up for a single one, which is what I can get without having some major work done to floor and basement ceiling.

Next comes lighting!  It is dark in that safe and you just can't imagine how bad it gets in there, even during daylight hours.  Thus I looked and looked for an all American Made lighting system or at least a lighting integrator from the US and came up with a solution at Inspired LED.  As I believe a safe should have as few holes in it as possible and should have no added features that do fun things like put live voltage inside a safe.  Yes, I do know about MTBF and equipment that shouldn't fail to a short...and those are just nice ways of saying that the odds are on your side for a few years and you guarantee you will swap out equipment that isn't fully up to snuff and before it hits MTBF... I reduced those odds to zero and got a DC battery solution.

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For this I have a battery pack with two sets of 8xAA batteries in parallel along with a normally closed reed switch for the door, plus all the wires that utilize 1.3mm DC coaxial male ends between everything.  Working with Inspired LED I got a basic package together along with battery pack solution to get the safe lit up.  Now this is just a test situation to make sure everything works and to get the safe to where it could at least accept Mosin-Nagant rifles, which is that long rifle in its Browning sleeve on the right.  Because I removed one long shelf, that meant that I had down-lighting for the long gun area and a spare light that I put along the right hand interior to shine into that part of the safe.  This was about two weeks after delivery and in the midst of moving shelves to the outdoors for airing out.  I used the two spray products to allow me to work on the safe and get it this far.

That is a really snazzy lighting system, don't mind the wires drooping all over the place as it is just a test configuration.

That vast expanse of doors loop space cries out for something to make it serve as storage.  Here is where you'll find that on other safes that have things like gun racks on the door you lose some interior space to those racks.  This safe has a small amount of clearance between the door and the interior, which means you have to get creative and arrange door storage to suit the interior.  And if you ever think you might shift the interior around, a modular doors system would be ideal.

Say, I did a few write-ups about this sort of thing for packs and equipment... wouldn't it be great if someone made a huge MOLLE panel for a gun safe?  I mean I could stitch one together, maybe, over 8 or 9 months... and have it look amateur made, and probably need a new sewing machine to boot... but if someone made them...

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Why it's the MOLLE Safe Panel from Wilde Built Tactical!

Geeze, isn't that handy?  And all it really needs is, say, something to hold a couple of long guns so that they would fit into the open space in the safe interior between the other guns...

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Why it's the Eberlestock A4SS Tactical Weapon Carrier I picked up a couple of years ago!  Amazing!  I'm utilizing ITW GrimLoc carabiners for this, not webbing stuff.

Now on the interior is something that I rigged up out a MOLLE vehicular panel that has been sitting in the closet begging for use:

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It doesn't come with hook material strips on the back, I added those from some that I picked up online and used Beacon Adhesives Fabri-Tac to put on three strips of 2" black hook to the back of the panel.  Apply in thin beads and do it outdoors because the smell of that stuff will knock out a charging rhino.  Sets quickly and the smell disappears rapidly, and within a half-hour your piece is good to go.  I can think of 1,001 uses for that and it is in what would normally be 'dead space' behind barrels of long guns.  Just look at that big pocket begging for cleaning supplies!  And after the first two rows of MOLLE you get something to put documents into, a huge pocket for that sort of thing just sitting there.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a place to put those thin repair manuals?  Look for those in surplus stores... I found that one a few years ago at one for something like $30 and now it is worth all of that and much, much more.  Plus you can always take it out and put it on the back of a car seat, like it is supposed to be used.  Geeze wouldn't that be handy for a 3-Gun event?

Mind you this is still in the interim 'see what fits before it all has to be stripped out again' phase.

Today is the first phase of doing the final install and using foliage green hook (foliage green is a good match for the gray interior) to start hiding all those unsightly wires:

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This may or may not be the final arrangement.

I added in two more LED panels to the under side of the rifle upright shelves and only have a bit of dead space over the top of the half-shelves.  I might get a document drawer or two for that, or just use it for storage of manuals.  VaultPro sent me some touch-up paint for the exterior and I asked them for a strip of interior cloth to finish the top of the half-shelf support (so that you can't see the particle board used for it) and then made a couple of quick placement round covers for the bolt holes and removed those shelves.  I'll probably take some spare foam padding and put it under the long gun side.

And that is the gun safe excursion.

A few more days with The Bad Air Sponge ought to clean up the last of the VOC problems and make it something I can actually keep open for longer periods so I can get the equipment into it.

01 August 2013

Passively implicit

The following is a cross-post from The Jacksonian Party.

When looking at the US Constitution I take a view of it as a structuralist, that is to say that the form of government is given as a structure that has a number of interlocking parts that are defined, limited and created to serve a purpose.  Structural analysis means that you take the words as they are presented in the context of the English language.  I laid this out in Structural analysis of Amendment II, and that rests on the work that I looked at earlier by Nicholas Rosencranz who laid out how the sentence structure of the English language creates the structure of government in the Subjects and Objects of the Constitution.  The lineage of the US Constitution starts with agreements outlined in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and King Alfred all the way through to Bill of Rights put in place with James II, which I went over in Roots of constitutional government.  For this article I'm going to be building off my article on Taxation via sales.

Taxation was part of the trigger for the US Revolution and it is understood that the Founders and Framers both had a view that taxation is a necessary evil to run the organ of society known as government.  As a necessary evil it must be limited so that it does not over stress the body which is society that requires the functioning of government to do the few and necessary things to allow for the individuals to be free.  With that said taxation takes many forms and the US Congress gets some particular types taxation in Art I, Sec 8, in part:

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

If Congress was getting the complete taxation power with this clause then there would be no need to put in Duties, Imposts and Excises, now, would there?  In fact it took an Amendment for Congress to get the income tax, and even that Amendment has been misused as it nowhere indicates that Congress may levy different taxes on different income levels.  The Progressive Income Tax requires not just the Income Tax part, but a specific exemption of the Privileges and Immunities clause and Amendment V and Due Process of Law which is to be applied equally to all citizens.  Be that as it may, later in Sec 8 is a clause that indicates what the scope of the Taxation power actually is:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Duties, Imposts and Excises are generally taxes aimed at the National level and at international trade.  Thus the regulatory or regularizing power of Congress writing law in support of Treaties or, in cases where there are no trade treaties, setting the Nation's tax policy towards importation of goods to sustain trade, thus are complementary to the Duties, Imposts and Excises previously mentioned.  That is to say there is an explicit venue given for the Taxation power that is complete for Congress for international trade modified by Treaties.  Thus even where it is a complete power it is one that has limitations via Treaty.

Next is Sec 9 where one tax power is restricted and then modified by Amendment:

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

This is the first outright restriction to the Taxation power and now limiting it.  Do note that this is a passive clause and that it does not mention Congress nor does it mention any other branch or any other government.  Thus this applies to all governments and all branches of all governments in the United States.  Remember in Sec 8 there is the language 'The Congress shall have...' is an explicit grant of power and as all of Sec 8 is a single sentence with many semi-colons, all of that is covered under that.  There is no need to repeat it per line as the separate grants are broken up for clarity's sake, for readability, and to let someone catch their breath if they had to read it as a single sentence.

In Section 9 each clause is a single, stand-alone sentence, complete in and of itself.  These sentences are not started by explicit and active restrictions upon, say, Congress, but are passive and general in nature.  The Framers were more than capable of starting a sentence 'Congress shall make no law...' but these clauses do not start with that beginning.  As the Constitution is about the organization of the United States and what the role of the States shall be, when States require separate coverage they are mentioned, as in Sec 10, and I'm coming back to Sec 9, but here is the language on Taxation in 10:

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

With 'No State shall...' we are given a definitive subject and then a set of Objects with modifiers.  It is this language that is absent in Sec 9 and without an actual Subject that is defined then the generalized Subject is being addressed to all levels of all governments.

Imposts and Duties on Imports or Exports is a linking of topics in Sec 10 and due to that linkage these powers are addressed to those objects.  That explicit language and linkage then gives proper definition to the prior Congressional power on Imposts and Duties: Imports and Exports.  If a State wants a special exemption it must go to Congress and that only for the necessary execution of inspection laws.  By making those funds go to the US Treasury this is seen as a federal power granted to Congress and is for Imports and Exports.

Now back in Sec 9 there is the final clause and one that clearly de-limits powers and it is this:

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

As with the prior prohibition this one is given a passive voice and does not state 'Congress shall make no law...' nor does it start 'No State shall...' but, instead, addresses Taxation as a whole.  This is a restriction on the Taxation power, itself.  By not having either Congress or the States as the subject, as with the previous passive and standalone clause, this clause then addresses all governments in the United States.

This is an implicit restriction on taxation of goods moved from State to State on goods exported from one State to another State.  No government may do this in the United States.

Now lets flip this around into a different arena and ask: what is the form of this restriction on an international scale?

The States of the United States are seen as Sovereign entities and actually have an escape hatch from the US Constitution embedded within it in Sec 10:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

This language also shows up later in the Constitution in Art IV:

Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

In Art IV, Sec 4 the guarantee of a Republican Form of Government is to the States, which are signatories to the US Constitution after ratification by the people of that State.  The protections against having this subverted are to protect the States against Invasion and domestic Violence.  In Art I, Sec 10 there are a set of powers that a State recovers if the United States does not support this and it is the ones they agree to set aside outside of these specific causes.  When you examine that list you get the conception of the broad headings that the States recover in full upon invasion, imminent threat of Danger or having their government threatened with being overturned via non-Republican means are broad and sweeping.  These powers are what we call the Foreign Policy power and the Military power, not just the defensive Militia power which is due to all men, but the assertive and external Military power.  Also it regains all the taxation powers and the powers to build new military fortifications and equipment to guard itself.

In International Affairs a State with the full Foreign Policy, Military and Taxation power is known as an independent Nation State: a country.

Thus the States must have these powers to set aside in this agreement known as the US Constitution, as you cannot recover what you did not have to start with.  That is simple logic.

Taking the US Constitution as a TREATY DOCUMENT and examining what the form of Taxation is we then come to a conclusion of the limitation on the Taxation power that is startling due to the understanding that is underlying it.  It is the scope and form of Treaty that many who have argued on the necessity of unburdened trade have used at the International scale and has its full form seen with an organizations of States that agree to this view so as to have a coherent Nation amongst them.

What is a trade agreement that unburdens trade amongst equals and limits the power of an oversight group so that it may not burden such trade via direct taxation?

What is a trade agreement that sets up a system whereby sellers in one State that is signatory to the Treaty cannot have its goods or services taxed by a recipient State and its citizens?

What is the form of trade agreement that abolishes duties, imposts and excises save for necessary inspection and then those funds applied only to those inspections to ensure that agreed-upon legal trade is all that is going on between States?

Why this does have a modern term, doesn't it?

This is known as a FREE TRADE AGREEMENT.

Right there, in the US Constitution, powerfully stated by not being explicit, not a direct power grant, but by restricting all the governments involved, including the agreed-upon oversight body.  It is one of the most subtle and yet powerful statements on the positive value of trade between States to knit a Union together and to allow that free men when trading with other free men in States that all fall under the Treaty shall have NO TAXATION applied to that direct sale from individual to individual, State to State.

And that means no 'Value Added Tax', 'Sales Tax' or any other thing not directly related to quantity, amount or hazard of a given good.  Taxation for tonnage is also removed unless it has safety or verification inspections involved.  The federal government can tax per gallon, per carton of cigarettes, or by any other gross weight and measure so long as it involves upkeep of infrastructure due to those particular items in the way of hazard or safety.

What no government can do is tax by VALUE of the trade involved.

Thus a nickel per gallon on tax is there without regard to the actual cost per galloon.  It is there if it is a penny per gallon and it is there if it is ten thousand dollars per gallon: the quantity is what matters, not the value.  And do note that is for interstate sales, only, so that in-State sales remain the realm of the State government.

Governments will always seek new sources of revenue and tax the hell out of anything they can get their hands on and yet still be unable to balance their budgets.

A free people have an 'out' from onerous taxation: our fellow citizens in the other States under this Free Trade Agreement embedded in the US Constitution.  As a remedy to overburdening of taxes this is one of the most sublime resorts that the ordinary citizen has to escape taxes, become closer with his fellow citizens and support the Union between the States.

Because that is the realm of the Preamble of the US Constitution and note who is invoking it and what we promise to do:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.