Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Open Letter To A Gun Control Advocate in the Wake of the Colorado Shootings

In the wake of the Colorado mass shootings, your response was, "Vince: No restrictions on automatic weapons - Really???!!!"

Before we get to your question, let's consider some facts regarding these "mass shootings" that the press does not ever want to mention:

1) The single most reliable predictor of where these shootings will occur is a devastating refutation of the gun control movement's core principles. Well over 95% of these incidents happen in "gun free zones".  Obviously, I am not talking about real gun free zones, like the sterile areas of airports - I am talking about the "phony gun free zones" that gun control groups are largely responsible for creating. These groups lobby businesses to post signs that effectively permit only criminals to carry firearms. The CO theater that was the scene of this horrible incident had such signs. So did the Kansas shopping mall in which a teenage killer committed his murders. He was seen on surveillance cameras searching for something. He stopped in front of the "No Firearms Permitted" sign. From there he went directly to his car, got his gun and entered that very store to begin his rampage. He had made sure that he would not encounter armed opposition until police arrived.

Signs Like The One Above Create "Mass Murder Zones"

How Criminals and Mass Murders View The Same Sign

Consider the insanity of thinking that a sign that keeps people who have been trained, background checked, licensed and in many places have been psychologically screened - along with off duty cops - from carrying weapons is somehow going to make a location safe from criminals and mass murderers. Common sense tells us that those with evil intent will be attracted to such places, because they do not want to face armed opposition. Those who place everyone - armed or not - at greater risk by disarming those who might protect them have to bear some of the responsibility when someone takes advantage of the situation.

On the other hand, how many criminals or mass murders would choose a location with a sign like the one above.  One would think they would fear ending up like the two guys who stuck up a "cop bar".

2) Of course, those who advocate for these zones argue that "more guns will only make things worse". The problem is, the facts prove otherwise.  
In my research on the subject of mass shootings, I had no trouble finding incidents where permit holding civilians or off duty cops stopped mass shootings (such as the Colorado Springs church shooting, which would have surely resulted in dozens of deaths if the gunman had not been shot by a female CCW holder as he entered the building OR the other mall shooting in Kansas in which an off duty cop ignored the signs and entered with his gun - with which he killed the shooter, OR the high school teacher who kept a pistol in his car - parked 500 feet away to comply with the gun free schools act - who ran to his car and returned to stop a school shooting before the cops could get there, just to name three). I have yet to find a case where a mass shooting was 'made worse" by a legally armed civilian.

Columbine was a huge wake up call for police agencies everywhere. In its' wake, a lot of research was done into these "active shooter" incidents. At Columbine, the cops followed the rules in place. They secured the perimeter and waited for SWAT - and while they waited, people died. The research changed the policy of virtually every police department in the world. It showed that in nearly all the incidents they studied, the shooting continued until the second person with a gun showed up. In almost all cases, it then stopped.

The reason is simple: These people have thought about what they are going to do for a very long time. They know how they want it to end, and they know that when the first armed opposition shows up they are in danger of not being able to control that ending. That means that whatever they have decided they will do, they usually do at that point. The most common action is that the shooter takes their own life. The second most common action is to point their gun at the other armed person and wait for them to take their life. These two responses account for the vast majority of outcomes. In other cases they are killed by the second person arriving with a gun or, as was the case with this shooting, they choose to surrender. It is very rare for the shooter to succeed in killing the first armed opposition.

Police departments responded by implementing policies that would have otherwise seemed foolish. Most departments now have a policy that directs the first officer to confront the shooter - even if they have no backup. This is based upon "the law of the second gun". This law applies not only to cops - it applies to anyone who is legally armed and prepared to intervene.

The most recent shooting is different in many ways from the sickening norm of mass shootings. The use of multiple long guns (most mass shootings are committed with handguns - not semi-auto rifles), the use of gas, and the use of body armor are far from typical. Many have stated that "there is no way that an armed civilian could have made a difference". These commentators reveal just how little they know about how we train.

First of all, every trainer I have every heard or read makes it clear that carrying a gun is not enough. In fact, if that is all you are going to carry is a gun - you probably shouldn't carry anything. Two items every permit holder should carry in addition to that gun are a flashlight and a less lethal weapon such as pepper spray. Less lethal is important because you need something in your force continuum between bare hands and deadly force. The flashlight is need for two reasons: 1) Most shootings happen at night and you absolutely need to know what you are shooting at. 2) A bright flashlight can be used to blind and disorient - which could make shooting unnecessary. (Trainers make it very clear that the very last thing you ever want to do is shoot someone. It's better than dying, but not by as much as one would think).

So, if there were the statistical average of three legal carriers in that audience, what could they have done? What could just one of them have done? Simple: Light the shooter up, and shoot him in the face while he is blinded. The light I carry in my pocket is much more powerful than the 6 "D" cell light I carried as an EMT. Criminals sometimes use body armor - so we trained to look for it. We typically will put two rounds center mass and if they are not going down start shooting for the head. At a bare minimum, if a trained and armed person had done the above, he or she would have bought time for those trying to escape.

What would this guy have done? Of course, we will never know for sure - but it seems clear that he was wearing a lot of expensive body armor because he wanted to live.  When confronted by the first cop he out gunned him and had better protection, but he just gave up. I think there is a very good chance that if a light was shined in his eyes and rounds started heading his way, he probably would have done the same thing. It just would have been before as many were killed and wounded.

If we are going to have a "national conversation" on the issue of gun violence, then the two points above are going to have to be considered.

So let's deal with the issue in the subject line:

1) There are already very heavy restrictions upon "automatic weapons". No new ones have been allowed into civilian hands since 1986 (the bill that closed this door was supported by the NRA) and between the legal hoops and the cost (tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars) only very rich people own them. I do not believe that one crime has been committed with one in the last 30 years.

2) Of course, what they are really taking about are semi-automatic weapons. One of the first things I learned about gun control advocates is that they intentionally misuse terms in order to confuse issues and mislead people. For instance, my state has a ban on "assault rifles". It was rammed through the legislature with lots of inflammatory language about "weapons of war". The only problem is that there is a specific definition of an "assault rifle" and not one of the banned guns fits that definition. They wanted to use the term to ban some other scary looking guns, and it sounds so bad - who cares if real assault rifles have been banned for decades - we will just intentionally misuse the term so that people think we are banning something different than we actually are banning. This issue is huge, because the reality is that the only way gun laws are going to change is with the support of gun owners. You don't get that by telling lies.

3) The 2nd Amendment has absolutely nothing at all to do with hunting.  The worst thing a gun control advocate can do is say that they don't want to touch guns used in hunting. That is a huge red flag to us - not to mention the fact that they then start lying about what kind of guns are used to hunt. Guess what?  The rifle this nut used is the most common rifle used in target shooting and competitions is the US - it is also commonly used in hunting. As for semi-autos in general - Teddy Roosevelt hunted with one in 1908!

What is the 2nd Amendment about? Three things:

a) The human right of self defense

b) The ability of a self armed citizen militia (NOT the National Guard) to be called up to reinforce the army in times of grave emergency.  (If you think this can't happen, the British had to call up a citizen militia during WW2 [they called it the Home Guard] - and they had to accept donated guns from US NRA members because their citizens had few to none.  Many were armed with pitchforks.)

c) The ability of an armed citizenry to offset a standing army, to deter anyone in authority from attempting to institute a dictatorship, and to generally deter blatant violations of the Constitution. For this reason, it has been called the "doomsday amendment".  We often forget that while the Founders were working on the Bill of Rights, the French Revolution was spinning out of control.   What had started out well was moving rapidly in the wrong direction.  The Founders wanted to make sure the people could never be oppressed without the possibility of armed resistance.

While the UK was under threat of invasion, these Home Guard members had only pitchforks

All of the above can be clearly established from the words of the founders as the amendment was debated. It can be further established by reviewing the debate over the 14th Amendment which extended the Bill of Rights to apply to the states. Extending 2nd Amendment rights to the newly freed slaves was one of the major reasons the 14th Amendment was passed.

The above is important, because it affects how the courts - especially the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) applies it. At this point SCOTUS has issued two landmark rulings: The Heller decision which held that the 2nd Amendment protects a personal, rather than a collective right and the McDonald decision which extended this protection to actions by all levels of government AND held that the right is "fundamental to our system of ordered liberty". This phrase is used over 30 times in the McDonald decision and requires that this right be give a very high level of protection. While the exact level of protection has not been settled, it will either be the highest, the second highest or something new in between them. In short, the right to own a firearm (provided you are not a felon, or mentally defective) is now close to, or equal to, the right to free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to privacy, the protection against self-incrimination - well, you get the idea.

Most gun control groups are living in denial about this, because the gun rights folks are moving slowly and methodically - and they continue to win. Even when they don't the case moves through the appeals process and SCOTUS will eventually rule on the issue -which is what we want.

There are two opinions that directly affect the ability to ban guns such as the one used in the recent shooting:

The first, is Justice Blackman's dissenting opinion in the Heller case. He held that the 2nd Amendment did not protect the right to own a handgun - but he wrote that it probably protected the right to own an M16 (a full auto machine gun!).
His reasoning was that for decades (if not centuries) the courts had held that the 2nd Amendment protected "militia weapons". This was most recently affirmed in 1939. In the 1700s, that was a musket - the common soldier's personal weapon. Today, it is the M16. Mind you, I disagree - but that is what this very liberal justice wrote.

In the majority opinion is the Heller case, SCOTUS extended constitutional protection to any firearm in "common civilian use". Applying this test, they struck down DC's handgun ban. Applying the same test to the AR-15 family, these guns are clearly included because this design is the most popular rifle in America. In fact, the DC Court of Appeals, in what has been called the "Heller 2" case - using the lowest level of protection SCOTUS decisions allow - ruled that handguns could be registered (because they are commonly used in crimes) - but that it is a violation of the 2nd Amendment to require the registration of long guns of any kind. This case is headed to SCOTUS.

The bottom line is that absent the repeal or amendment of the 2nd Amendment, the guns this guy used cannot be banned. Registration may yet be upheld by SCOTUS - the most likely rationale being that they need to know who to call up should the need arise. Given that citizens in the past were actually required to report with their privately owned guns for inspection by government officials, this is how I would argue if I were on the side of gun control.

In addition, such a ban nation wide would not be politically possible. The last federal "Assault Weapons Ban" cost the Democrats the House and Senate in 1994. They remember. The Obama administration has already stated that they will introduce no new gun laws in the wake of this shooting. Not in an election year - and probably never. Every single "swing state" has "shall issue" CCW permits and huge numbers of gun owners. Pushing gun control now would be the surest way for him to loose the election.

Finally, do we really want the government to have a monopoly on modern firearms? Do we really want to remove that check on government power?  Do we want the military to be able to suppress the population without fear of armed opposition? It has always seemed very ironic to me that the very people who distrust the government in general and the police and military in particular have no problem at all disarming the public, leaving those they say they distrust as the only ones with firearms.

4) What about the "hi-capacity" magazines?

Well, they are another matter. Let's first get some terms straight:

Normal capacity magazine = a magazine holding the number of rounds the gun was originally designed to function with

Restricted capacity magazine = A legally restricted magazine reduced to meet a legal requirement (usually 10 rounds)

Hi-capacity magazine = a magazine holding more rounds than the gun was designed to function with

Now that we have the terms straight, let's proceed.

First, this is the second high profile shooting in which a true "high -capacity" magazine actually saved lives by doing what they commonly do: JAMMING (the other case was the Giffords shooting). I have no idea how many rounds he got off before his AR15 with a 100 round drum magazine jammed - but jam it did. He used a pump shotgun first, then the AR15, then a Glock pistol. The number of wounded is not a good indicator because many were hurt in the panic and others were hit by bullets that hit someone else first. It's ironic that if he had used a number of lower capacity magazines, more may have died.

Second, if I were on the other side of this issue, this is where I would focus my attention. Of all the restrictions proposed, it makes the most sense. It doesn't make a lot of sense - but it makes a lot more sense than banning guns that "look evil", while leaving guns that can do the same thing that "look normal" unregulated - which is exactly what most bans do. Most of all, it might pass constitutional muster - provided the restriction was not too low. Banning 100 round magazines probably would not be a constitutional problem. Banning 20-30 round magazines could go either way. Banning 10+ round magazines probably would not be constitutional - but it could always be tried.

That said, if you practice changing magazines, it can be done very quickly. We do it in competition all the time. If you change before you are empty, you can leave one in the chamber in case you need to shoot quickly - but a speed reload can be done in 1.5-2.0 seconds. Carla and I are not that good, maybe 2-4 seconds.

Thank God this manic didn't have good gun handling skills, or he could have cleared that jam....... and killed a lot more people.

4) These evil incidents are not limited to the US or to countries with "lax" gun laws.  The record shooting death toll is held by Norway (137) - Finland, Sweden, Germany and France have all experienced mass shootings in the last 2 years with death tolls in the same range as our recent tragedy - some were much higher. The "law of the second gun" applied in each case.  All of these countries have gun laws much more restrictive than ours. The UK - with the toughest gun laws in all Europe - (ban on handguns, semi-auto rifles/shotguns - and extremely tight controls on everything else) recently saw 12 people killed in a London mass shooting. Meanwhile, Switzerland - were nearly every home has military grade weapons (many are fully automatic) - and where soldiers are allowed to buy their personal weapon when they leave the inactive reserves - and where the government offers discounted ammo to anyone who will practice their shooting skills - has experienced exactly one mass shooting in their whole history. 

Video: Why the Swiss Have The Lowest Crime Rate In The World

My point is that a "gun culture" does not cause mass shootings - if it did, than the Swiss would be dying by the thousands, instead of it being the safest country in Europe.
  Gun control cannot stop them either. And remember, the Swiss have access to guns that are even more powerful those in the US.

5) The Israeli experience is also instructive. In the 1960s and 1970s terrorists tended to attack by shooting up crowded locations. The first people they shot were the armed security people. Israel responded by issuing carry permits to anyone who asked. Today, one in four Israeli citizens has a permit. This stopped the shootings - or at least it lowered the death toll. The only problem was they changed to bombs and the death tolls went up. If we could magically get rid of all guns, they would simply build bombs - as this guy in fact did. The instructions are widely available on the Internet and the ACLU could be counted upon to fight any effort to censor the Internet.

So, what can be done?

I think a great deal can be done - if we are willing to do so.

First, we can do away with those killing fields called "gun free zones". Public locations and businesses should be forced to choose between creating a true "gun free zone" that is physically secured and to which access is restricted to those who are screened - or taking down their signs and allowing those who are trained and licensed (along with off duty law enforcement) to carry as they do elsewhere. In the recent incident, an alarm on the exit door could have saved a great many lives. Combined with a camera, even more people cold have been saved. This case may very well be the one where the actions of those who posted signs results in huge legal liability. Time will tell.

Second, we can increase and standardize training requirements for carry permits nationwide - in much the same way we do drivers licenses. Specific training in mass shooting situations should be required. There is an axiom in the self defense community: "When seconds count, the police are minutes away." This could be part of a "grand bargain" on gun issues - more about that later.

The Benefits of Trained and Armed Citizens Can Be Seen In The Videos Below

Armed Customer Shoots Knife-Wielding Man

Gun Carrying Man Ends Stabbing Spree at Salt Lake Grocery Store

Security Video: Woman With Gun Shoots Robber

Bank Customer Pulls Gun, Stops Robber

Third, we can increase the mental health training given to police officers so they can better spot those who need screening. Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter in the Giffords incident, displayed behavior that was so bizarre and threatening that the public Jr. College he was attending expelled him. They told him that he would need a psychological clearance in order to be re-admitted. The campus police were called on several occasions. The sheriff's department saw him on many occasions too. All in all, he had over 20 contacts with law enforcement regarding his behavior. NOT ONCE was he sent in for a psychological evaluation. Had anyone done so, it is very likely that mental health professionals would have committed him for a long time.

This is significant because even if he had been released, such a commitment creates a federal firearms prohibition FOR LIFE. Would this have prevented him from getting a gun? Probably not, but it would have pushed him into the black market where he might have had to pay more or perhaps had to settle for a revolver. It definitely would have been better than nothing. Then there is always the chance that with proper treatment he would have never even tried to kill Rep. Giffords.

So, after his officers failed to get the shooter evaluated in spite of over a dozen chances to do so, guess what the local sheriff blamed for the shooting? Lax gun laws, of course!

Fourth, the administration can start actually prosecuting people who try to buy a gun when there are legally prohibited from doing so.  
Form 4473 - which every purchaser must fill out - makes conviction very, very easy - yet prosecutions are exceedingly rare. Pres. Clinton bragged about stopping 60,000 prohibited persons from buying guns. How many did his administration prosecute? Less than ten! Sadly, many of these 60,000 people went to the black market, bought guns and killed people - including at least one sheriff. Bush and Obama have not done significantly better. This needs to change.

Finally, we can try to bring about a "Grand Bargain" on gun issues.

Both sides in the gun debate must stop thinking that they are going to get everything they want without giving up anything.  
Frankly, the gun rights movement is holding ALL the cards at this point - both politically and legally. No new laws are going to be passed unless they agree.  Gun control advocates need to recognize this reality.

Something else that the press has not picked up on is the fact that the NRA has lots of competition. After the Virginia Tech shooting, the NRA was the first organization to call for a law requiring mental health commitments to be entered in the Instant Check database - before any of the gun control groups. They were right to do so, but it cost them many members as other organizations to their right accused them of selling out and misrepresented their position as well as the effect of the law. The NRA learned that lesson well. There is no way they will sign on to any new laws unless, like the 1986 federal gun law revisions, gun owners get something too.

What do gun owners want badly enough to give something up? We want carry permits standardized and recognized nationwide, just like a drivers license. Given time, the courts are very, very likely to give this to us anyway - so gun control advocates would be smart to use this as a bargaining chip before they loose it. If the NRA could get that, they could probably justify giving the other side something they really want.

What could they get in return? Probably the easiest thing to get would be background checks on private sales. Now that the check is nearly instant in most cases, most "gun people" do not find it burdensome - and it probably would do the most good too. The law of diminishing returns applies here - background checks clearly do the most good for the least cost - in both dollar and lost rights Gun control advocates could go for magazine capacity limits, or a new Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) - but given the strong position the gun rights side holds. I doubt that they will give in on these issues. If gun control advocates over reach - as they have a long, long history of doing - they are likely to loose.

I have tried to stick to the facts here, and to view the issue from both sides. I hope you find all of the above informative.

Thanks for reading this,


Friday, July 20, 2012

Thoughts on the Colorado Shooting

This morning the nation woke up to yet another tragic mass shooting. Many are dead and many are wounded - their lives changed forever. Others will have to deal with "Survivor's guilt" - as they wonder why they survived and their loved ones died. Words cannot express how horrible this incident is.

At this point we do not know if this is an act of terror conducted in cooperation with a foreign organization or if it is simply the act of a brilliant, but warped mind. These answers will come in time. Here's what we know at this point:

This theater chain has a "no guns allowed" policy. Obviously, this man had no problem ignoring this policy. However, this policy did ensure that the only guns in the theater were in the hands of a madman. Indeed the vast majority of these incidents happen in "gun free zones" - because the shooters do not want their victims to be able to shoot back. Banning guns and then providing little to no enforcement effective disarms people who pose little to no threat in exchange for no benefit makes no sense.  It is, however, politically correct.

Could an armed and trained citizen or off duty police officer have made a difference in this situation? Maybe. To have neutralized the threat, they would have to have been sharp enough to have picked up on the fact that he was wearing body armor and good enough to have hit him in the head. This may have been easier then one would think because reports are that he was standing still as he was shooting. It is more likely that if an armed citizen had engaged the shooter they would have been killed - but based on other incidents where this has actually happened they would have bought time for many others to escape.

Many years ago, Israel was faced with a major problem with mass shootings - in spite of strict gun control laws. Typically the first people shot were the armed and uniformed security. They were able to stop the shootings by increasing the number of armed citizens (25% of adult citizens have CCW permits). Gunmen were quickly engaged and usually killed. The shootings stopped. Unfortunately, the terrorists simply began to use bombs - as apparently this terrorist did as well.

Hospital spokespeople are describing "blast injuries" consistent with a bomb or bombs. It may very well be that many people were not killed with firearms, but with explosives. As this is written, authorities are in the process of disarming "sophisticated explosive devices" at the suspect's home. Ironically it may be a blessing that this individual used firearms instead of a much larger bomb capable of killing most in the theater in an instant.  Early reports are that the suspect has a hard science background that gave him the skills to build such devices.

In addition, there are service members among the casualties. This is a military town, and it may very well be that this is a terrorist attack aimed at our military and their families.  Striking at soft target in town is much, much easier than conducting an "on base" attack.

How can such incident be prevented?

Sadly, the short answer is that they cannot be prevented 100% of the time. The experience in Israel shows that training and arming more civiians can help - as can real security where people are checked for weapons and the area is checked for hidden weapons. "No guns allowed" signs accomplish absolutely nothing positive and probably increase the chances that a mass shooting will take place.

The long answer is that if these incidents are to be prevented, the focus must be on the human beings who perpretrate such acts. Evil is very real and lives in he hearts of mankind - not in inaminate objects. Better screening of people in the mental health system can help - as can efforts to detect "lone wolf" terrorists. Police can and should make sure that people presenting with major mental health issues are evaluated by mental health professionals - the shooter in Rep. Giffords shooting had nearly 20 contacts with law enforcement all of which involved some kind of bizarre behavior. No one sent him in for evaluation. Time will tell if this was the case here - but his mother's comment that "they have the right person" may indicate something along these lines.

Most of all, we all need to keep our eyes open and report anything out of the ordinary. The human factor is more difficult to control, but it is the only way to reduce the death toll.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bad Fortune: Covering Up for ATF Managment and the Holder DOJ

The main points of the Fortune article are that ATF was helpless to stop the trafficking because of weak Arizona gun laws and the “evil gun dealers”. Much can be learned from only two paragraphs:

"Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they're 18 or older and pass a criminal background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns. "In Arizona," says Voth, "someone buying three guns is like someone buying a sandwich."

 By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers or straw purchasers. Voth and his agents began investigating a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were plunking down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others."

There are several implied and stated falsehoods in just these two brief paragraphs:

a) First, Fortune puts forth the lie – directly from the mouth of David Voth, the man who ran the program – that ATF could not arrest the traffickers because Arizona gun laws were lacking. Fortune never recognizes that if the conventional wisdom regarding Fast and Furious is true, he could be looking at both Federal and State charges that could put him in jail for a very long time. He clearly has an agenda.

That said, let’s examine his claim.

First, some explanation is needed for those who are not familiar with gun laws in the United States.
All purchases at gun dealers are subject to a great many Federal laws. Congress has intentionally left the matter of private sales to the states – with basically two very important exceptions:

1) It is a Federal felony to engage in the business of selling firearms without a Federal Firearms License (FFL),

2) It is a Federal Felony to lie on the Federal form (4473). A critical question on that form is, “Are you the actual purchaser of this firearm?”. If you answer “no” you do not get the gun. If you answer “yes”, and you are buying the gun for someone else, you have just committed perjury. The sentence can be up to five years per offense.

Mr. Voth’s job is not to enforce the laws of any state – it is to enforce Federal Firearms Laws! ATF does this day in and day out in every state in the union – including the majority of states that, like Arizona, allow private sales. It is completely absurd to blame Arizona for the failures of the Phoenix ATF office.

So, what of Voth’s claim that he somehow could not make a case against these buyers?

Fact #1: Federally Licensed Firearms (FFLs) are trained by ATF to stop “straw buyers” under their joint program with the firearms industry called, “Don’t lie for the other guy.” When they detect such a buyer, they usually conduct what is commonly called a “stall and call”. They stall the straw buyer and call the ATF. ATF typically tells the dealer how long it will take them to get agents into position to “follow the gun” or they tell the dealer they can’t get there and the dealer refuses the sale. No gun dealer wants to make questionable sales – it could cost them their license, not to mention that many of these dealers are retired cops and even those who aren’t are usually very close to law enforcement.

Fact #2: Standard ATF procedure is to make arrests quickly in cases of straw purchasing. They may make an arrest in the parking lot and attempt to “flip” the straw buyer – or they may follow the gun until the straw purchaser hands it over to someone else (ideally seeing money change hands) and make an arrest at this point. As the agents testified before Issa’s committee, they don’t want to let guns “walk”.

Fact #3: Buying a gun and quickly turning it over to a third party is really all that is needed to convict someone for felony straw purchasing. FORTUNE ADMITTS THAT THIS IS EXACTLY WANT HAPPENED AND PHOENIX (SPECIFICALLY VOTH) ATF KNEW IT! It really isn’t that complex. Yes, you are allowed to sell your guns privately – provided that you didn’t buy them for that purpose! What can you say if you sell the gun within a day or two of buying it, having never shot it? If you don’t say anything, you can be busted for both straw purchasing and dealing without a FFL. If you say you bought it for the other guy, it’s straw purchasing. If you say that you bought it without a buyer in mind, you can still get nailed for dealing without a license.

The above is true of someone dealing just one gun – the case only gets stronger with additional guns. The claim that these guys could not be busted until they bought hundreds of the same kind of gun is absurd. Not to mention that as soon as the operation was exposed, they arrested these criminals on charges they could have brought months, if not over a year, before.

b) Fortune also uncritically buys into the thoroughly disproved myth that most cartel guns come from US gun shops. After making this error, they fail to ask some important questions:

How did the ATF find out about this smuggling ring in the first place? Answer: The gun dealers reported it. As outlined above, this is standard procedure. As one of the agents testifying before Congress stated, “Gun dealers make our cases for us.”

Why were the gun dealers directed to sell thousands of guns to people they would have otherwise refused to sell firearms to? There can be no doubt about the dealers being ordered to sell these guns to these criminals, because these FFLs carefully documented these directions from the ATF (including many from Voth himself). They often requested and obtained these orders in writing. One refused to make any more sales until a US Attorney gave him written assurances that ATF was conducting an authorized operation and that he should make the sales. He got it. Other FFLs and employees made audio recordings of ATF officials ordering them to make the sales. As more and more guns were going out the door, dealers began to ask how many more guns needed to be sold to make the case – one even wrote to Voth (Fortune’s primary source) expressing concern about the possibility that these guns might be getting over the border. He stated that he had friends in the Border Patrol and expressed concern that an agent could be killed with one of the guns he was being ordered to sell. Voth wrote back telling him that there was no chance that this would happen because ATF was intercepting the guns before they crossed the border. We now know that Voth was lying. Yet Fortune trusts him as a primary source.

How did so many persons who were Federally prohibited from owning firearms pass the background checks? In many cases, the smuggling rings use “clean” buyers to make straw purchases. Of course, you need many of these people if you are going to stay “under the radar”. In the case of Fast and Furious, the smugglers became more and more bold – eventually buying large numbers of guns all at once (something that normally would have caused a dealer to call ATF and refuse the sale). When that succeeded they even became so bold as to have convicted felons buy the guns. Sadly, ATF had made sure that this would not present a problem by having the FBI “rig” the background checks so they would pass.

The bottom line is simple: This was not a case – as Voth alleges – of ATF being unable to prevent gun trafficking. It is a case of ATF enabling gun trafficking.

Yet Fortune goes on to write this:

“Quite simply, there's a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.”

How is the ordering (again well documented) of sales that would have otherwise never taken place not gun walking – especially when Voth states that after the sale ATF could do nothing? Voth could have stopped these sales at any time by making about five phone calls to the cooperating dealers. Why didn’t he do that?

We have not even begun to scratch the surface here. For instance, we have not touched on the fact that Voth ordered agents to break off surveillance of guns and even ordered them to allow guns to cross the border. The case against Voth is huge, and the biggest question is: Why does he still have a job with ATF?

For more information see Sen. Grassley’s critique of the Fortune article.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saddam's WMDs Found?

Reports from Syria today indicate that the government is preparing to use chemical weapons against the rebels.  What no one is talking about is the fact that Syria has no capacity to produce such weapons.  Israel would never permit them to have such production facilities.  Remember what they did to Syria's only reactor?

So, where did they come from?  In the weeks immediately before and after the 2003 U.S. lead invasion of Iraq, there were persistent reports that Saddam's government was transferring it's chemical weapons to, you guessed it, SYRIA.

Why would he do this? Simple: They would be useless against troops prepared for them - as the U.S. forces and their allies were.  If they could not be found, perhaps the U.S. could be forced out so he could retain power.  Of course, the reality is that over 500 small caches of chemical weapons were in fact found - but since the Bush administration thought they had a lot more, the press spun the story as "there were NO WEAPONS".

Personally, given that after 9/11 Saddam aligned his government with the Taliban and Bin Ladin (Taliban and allied forces were treated in Iraqi hospitals so they could return to the fight long before the U.S. invasion), and the fact that the small amount of nerve agents found still was enough for many terrorist attacks, I believe that the invasion may very well have stopped several WMD attacks on the U.S. and other Western governments.  However, if Saddam's nerve agents turn up in Syria, the media will have to eat a lot of crow.

If the Syrian government forces start using nerve agents, they almost certainly were made in Iraq.  Remember that, if and when it happens - because the mainstream media won't mention it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fast and Furious Timeline and News Links - July 2012

July 1, 2012 - Phillidephia Inquirer: Why the secrecy over ‘Fast and Furious'?

July 1, 2012 - Fox News: Boehner says House will likely file suit within weeks to get Fast & Furious documents

July 1, 2012 - Politico: Rookie Democrat draws fire for Holder vote

July 1, 2012 - Fox News: Family of slain border agent want answers

July 1, 2012 - Christian Science Monitor/Alaska Dispatch: Eric Holder 'Fast and Furious' scandal: Despite 'bombshell' wiretap, feds decline to investigate

July 2, 2012 - Townhall.com: Racial Politics Thicker Than Justice

July 2, 2012 - Indiana Daily Student: Fast and furious administration

July 2, 2012 - Business Insider: A Stochastic observation on Fast and Furious

July 2, 2012 - The Sacramento Bee: White House, Congress should seek compromise on Fast and Furious documents

July 2, 2012 - Red Alert Politics: ATF Supervisor on Fast and Furious Whistleblowers: Take Them Down

July 2, 2012 - United Liberty: House pursue civil contempt charge against Holder

July 2, 2012 - Fox News: Holder deputy says ball in Republicans' court on Fast and Furious lawsuit

July 2, 2012 - Texas Observer: Family of Slain ICE Agent Zapata Files Claim Against U.S. Government 

July 2, 2012  Fox News: 'Fast and Furious' goes slowly from House floor to the courtroom

July 2, 2012 - BuzzFeed Politics: Meet The Camo-Clad, Gonzo Bloggers Behind The Fast And Furious Story

July 3, 2012 - thetimesherald.com: Public needs answers in gun scandal

July 3, 2012 - Examiner.com: Reporters file ethics complaint against Holder

July 3, 2012 - Roll Call: Another ‘Fast and Furious’ Memo Released

July 3, 2012 - Sonoran News: Bloggers who broke Fast & Furious file ethics complaint against Holder - ‘ATF has earned a reputation for vindictiveness when it comes to retaliating against its employees’

July 3, 2012 - World Net Daily: Fast and Furious more sinister than you thought - Exclusive: Jim Fletcher discovers new depths to scandal in startling exposé

July 3, 2012 - Examiner.com: Holiday fireworks as Grassley reveals crucial ATF memo

July 4, 2012 - Boise Weekly: A Presidential Lie - Executive privilege does not exist

July 4, 2012 - KERO (CNN): Grassley Demands Answers From Holder - Iowa Senator Asks About Internal Memos

July 4, 2012 - ABC Denver (CNN): Grassley Demands Answers From Holder - Iowa Senator Asks About Internal Memos

July 4, 2012 - National Review: Re: Did Fast and Furious Not Happen?

July 4, 2012 - Newsmax: Grassley Demands Answers as Fast and Furious Probe Presses On

July 4, 2012 - Charleston Gazette (Politico): Grassley presses Holder

July 4, 2012 - The Hill: Sen. Grassley demands additional ‘Fast and Furious’ documents

July 4, 2012 - Fox News: Grassley has new questions about Fast and Furious, erroneous DOJ letter

July 4, 2012 - WOWT: Grassley Asks For Justice Department Field Agent Memo On Fast and Furious

July 4, 2012 - CNN: Grassley letter to Holder demands more Fast and Furious answers

July 5, 2012 - Examiner.com: Senator Grassley’s request for ATF memo seems fair

July 5, 2012 - The Washington Times: Grassley letter to Holder demands ‘Fast and Furious’ accountability

July 6, 2012 - Indianappolis Star: Deroy Murdock: Remember Mexican victims of 'Fast and Furious'

July 6, 2012 - IVN: Rep. Issa: Senior DOJ Officials Knew About Fast and Furious

July 6, 2012 - Blue Ridge Now: It looks like Holder is hiding something

July 6, 2012 - BLT: Senate Investigator Behind 'Fast and Furious' a Self-Proclaimed 'Truth Junkie'

July 6, 2012 - United Liberty: Sen. Grassley turns up the heat on Eric Holder

July 6, 2012 - The Washington Times: NIEVES: The Brian Terry exception - Quick turnaround in federal probes absent in shameful murder case

July 7, 2012 - The Washington Times: KEENE: Fast and furious cover-up at Holder’s Justice - Team Obama resorts to default excuse: Blame Bush

July 7, 2012 - The Orange County Register: Deroy Murdoch: 'Fast and Furious' had Mexican victims, too

July 7, 2012 - Kearney Hub: ATF, it’s time for candor

July 7, 2012 - The Times Herald (PA): Murdock: Remember Mexican victims of ‘Fast and Furious’

July 7, 2012 - Examiner.com: More retaliation reported against ATF agents

July 8, 2012 - Washington Times: Stand-down orders stymied ‘Fast & Furious’ gun tracking, memo says

July 9, 2012 - AZ Daily Star: Gun-walk critic now heads ATF office here

July 9, 2012 - WBUR (NPR): Justice's New Watchdog Meets Fast And Furious

July 9, 2012 - NewsChief.com: 'Fast and Furious' guns feed violence

July 9, 2012 - Tulsa Today: Eric Holder’s decades of concealing murder

July 9, 2012 - Newsmax: NRA's Keene: ATF Wanted Fast and Furious Guns to Be Used in Crimes

July 9, 2012 - KFYI: FBI Offers Reward in Border Patrol Agent's Murder

July 9, 2012 - KVOA: FBI indicts 5 men for murder of Border Patrol agent Terry

July 9, 2012  Politico: Fast and Furious: Five charged in agent Brian Terry’s death

July 9, 2012 - WREG: Charges Filed In Border Agent Death Related To Fast and Furious

July 9, 2012 - Fox News: Justice unseals indictment charging 5 in Brian Terry's death, offers $1M reward for leads on fugitives

July 9, 2012 - TPM: Fast And Furious: FBI Offers $1M Award For Info On Fugitives Charged In ATF Agent’s Death

July 9, 2012 - Examiner.com: Holder contempt decision meets American approval

July 9, 2012 - The Hill: DOJ probing whether ‘Fast and Furious’ whistleblowers are safe from retaliation

July 9, 2012 - Washington Examiner: Agent Terry’s family not satisfied with Holder announcing murder charges

July 9, 2012 - Examiner.com: DOJ unseals Terry murder indictment; IG investigates retaliation

July 9, 2012 - ACLJ.org: Senior DOJ Officials Knew of, and Facilitated, Fast and Furious

July 9, 2012 - Washington Times: RADVANYI: Fast and Furiousin a banana republic - Inept operation is a reflection of Obama’s incompetence

July 9, 2012 - Fox News: Questionable timing in Terry indictment unsealing?

July 10, 2012 - Police One: Looking at casualties from 'Fast and Furious' - Over 300 shootings in Mexico directly attributed to weapons from program; weapons seized from cartels match serial numbers

July 10, 2012 - World Net Daily: More charges in murder tied to 'Fast and Furious'

July 10, 2012 - AZ Daily Star: Blog: ATF leader eschews politics, embraces shoe-leather policing

July 10, 2012 - The Daily Caller: DOJ inspector general investigates retaliation against Fast and Furious whistle-blowers

July 10, 2012 - United Liberty: Poll shows Americans want transparency over Fast and Furious

July 10, 2012 - CV Bugle: Commentary: What was the purpose of 'Fast and Furious?'

July 11, 2012 - Examiner.com: Examiner exclusive: ATF’s Canino and what went wrong with Fast & Furious

July 11, 2012 - Examiner.com: Fast and Furious gunwalking program implicates multiple agencies

July 11, 2012 - The Voice: FAHR: Fast and furiously stupid

July 11, 2012 - Narcosphere: Texas Case Raises Troubling Questions About ATF Gunwalking

July 11, 2012 - The Hawkeye: Obama mum on Fast and Furious

July 11, 2012 - Des Moines Register: Congress' ATF investigation needs to go farther

July 11, 2012 - Yahoo News: FAST AND FURIOUS IS NOT A D.C. LAW FIRM - By Ann Coulter

July 12, 2012 - Startfor Global Intelligence: The Other Consequences of Fast and Furious (Startfor continues it's excellent coverage. Once again they document that cartels have many sources for arms and it every weapon coming from the US could be stopped it would do nothing to stop cartel violence.)

July 12, 2012 - CNN: Exclusive interview with Brian Terry's family

July 12, 2012 - Fox News: Complaint seeks to have Holder disbarred after contempt vote

July 12, 2012 - Courier Press.com: COLUMN: 'Fast and Furious' carnage isn't over yet

July 12, 2012 - The Cutting Edge: The Other Consequences of Fast and Furious (Adapted from Startfor article)

July 12, 2012 - Gothenburg Times: Plenty to be furious about

July 12, 2012 - Townhall.com/CNN Linked Video: Terry Family: Reports ATF Never Intended to Walk Guns "Bologna"

July 12, 2012 - Fox Business via YouTube: David Codrea & Mike Vanderboegh on Lou Dobbs

July 12, 2012 - World Net Daily: How to get the truth out of Holder

July 13, 2012 - Salem News: Narcosphere: Texas Case Raises Troubling Questions About ATF Gunwalking - Rio Grande Valley Businessman Was The Target of Multiple Arms-Trafficking Investigations Yet He Continued To Acquire Guns Through Straw Buyers.

July 13, 2012 - Fox News: Where are the missing Fast and Furious guns?

July 13, 2012 - Marietta Daily Journal: Fast and Furious: Republicans need to explain to Americans why scandal matters

July 14, 2012 - The Hill: RNC: Obama hasn’t answered for Fast and Furious ‘scandal’

July 14, 2012 - Fox News: RNC: Obama ‘Won’t Answer For The Scandals That Have Plagued His Administration’

July 14, 2012 - Business Mirror: The other consequences of ‘Fast and Furious’

July 15, 2012 - StAgustine.com: Ann Coulter: Fast and Furious is not a DC law firm

July 15, 2012 - American Thinker: Taking Down the Second Amendment: The Connection between Fast and Furious and the Trayvon Martin Case

July 16, 2012 - Examiner.com: Retaliation fears keeping more ATF whistleblowers from coming forward

July 16, 2012 - TPM: Romney Goes After Obama On Political Payoffs, Fast and Furious

July 17, 2012 - Examiner.com: Memo shows ATF recognized red flag of F&F whistleblowers

July 17, 2012 - Washington Gaurdian: The Obama administration withheld from Congress memos showing ATF considered 'Fast and Furious' agents whistleblowers.

July 17, 2012 - Bayou Buzz: Romney rips Obama over Fast and Furious hypocrisy

July 17, 2012 - Houston Chronicle: Romney rips Obama over Fast and Furious ‘hypocrisy’

July 18, 2012 - Washington Examiner: Reward offered for White House Fast & Furious info

July 18, 2012 - TRNS: Group Offers Bounty For Proof Of Fast And Furious Cover-Up

July 18, 2012 - The Daily Caller: Group offers $100k for evidence Obama or senior White House aides knew about Fast and Furious

July 18, 2012 - Outdoor Life: 'Fast and Furious' Fallout at Your Local Gun Shop?

July 18, 2012 - Examiner.com: Justice Department withheld key Fast and Furious memos

July 18, 2012 - LA Times: ATF chief warns employees to take complaints to supervisors

July 18, 2012 - YouTube: Worrisome Message from Acting ATF Director

July 18, 2012 - Washington Examiner: Congressmen: ATF whistle blowers receive ‘ominous message’ from ATF head

July 18, 2012 - Fox News: Obama transparency takes turn under the microscope after attacks on Romney

July 18, 2012 - LA Times: ATF chief warns employees to take complaints to supervisors


July 19, 2012 - Examiner.com: Grassley, Issa criticize ATF message; editorial nails Issa critic

July 19, 2012 - Examiner.com: ATF damage control on whistleblowers raising new concerns

July 19, 2012 - Fox News: Lawmakers: 'Ominous' video a warning to ATF whistle-blowers after 'Furious'

July 19, 2012 - Morris Daily Herald: ATF official tells agents to keep complaints in house

July 19, 2012 - KTVL: New ATF video worries Congressional leaders

July 19, 2012 - WBFF: The climate and culture of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is very much in question after the botched "gun running" sting known as 'Fast and Furious.'

July 19, 2012 - KFYI: ATF head warns employees of 'consequences' if they don't 'respect the chain of command'

July 19, 2012 - Sacramento Bee: ATF official tells agents to keep complaints in house

July 19, 2012 - Main Justice: ATF Director Warns Against Circumventing 'Chain of Command'

July 19, 2012 - Washington Times: BURTON: Fast and Furious stonewalling looks like guilt

July 19, 2012 - Examiner.com:
Republicans say new ATF video threatens whistleblowers

July 19, 2012 - Fox News: Fast and Furious blowback? Issa believes 'thinly veiled' threat from ATF chief targeted would-be whistleblowers

July 20, 2012 - Newsmax: Rep. Issa: ATF Closing Ranks on Fast and Furious

July 20, 2012 - New American: After Fast and Furious, Lawmakers Slam ATF Threats Against Whistleblowers

July 20, 2012 - Houston Chronicle: Was 'Fast & Furious' a victim of ambition?

July 21, 2012 - Examiner.com: ATF Director Issues Threat of Consequences to Future Whistle Blowing Agents

July 21, 2012 - San Antonio Express: Fast and furious' ambitious failure

July 21, 2012 - Houston Chronicle: Inside Fast and Furious: Ambitious plan turns into colossal disaster

July 25, 2012 - The Heritage Foundation: Operation Fast and Furious: How a Botched Justice Department Operation Led to a Standoff over Executive Privilege

July 25, 2012 - The Washington Times: PICKET: Exclusive - DOJ IG meets secretly with Gowdy and Chaffetz - 'fast and furious' report to be released 'in weeks not months'

July 26, 2012 - Examiner.com: DOJ inspector meets with congressmen on Fast and Furious

July 26, 2012 - Fox News: ATF head clarifies remarks from video criticized as warning to whistle-blowers

July 26, 2012 - Main Justice: ATF Director Follows Up on Whistleblower Remarks

July 30, 2012 - Fox News: Republicans to issue report blaming five ATF employees for Fast and Furious' debacle

July 30, 2012 - Newser: Republican staff report singles out 5 ATF officials for special criticism in Fast and Furious

July 30, 2012 - Boston.com:
5 ATF officials singled out in GOP report

July 30, 2012 - UPI: Report: 5 named in Fast & Furious probe

July 30, 2012 - LA Times: Exclusive: Five ATF officials found responsible for Fast and Furious