Monday, December 5, 2016

Firearms

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It sounded awfully familiar. In late February a group calling itself al-Shabaab (operating out of Somalia) threatened to attack the Mall of America in Minnesota. It was kind of like déjà vu for me; I’d seen this before some place. Then it hit me. That was the plot of Stephen Hunter’s book Soft Target (Simon & Schuster, 2011)! The target: the Mall of America (or “America, the Mall” as it is called in Hunter’s book). The terrorists: Somali gunmen. The victims: hundreds of innocent American shoppers going about their daily lives and government officials who were powerless to stop the killing.

My first thought was “is this for real”, or was it some cheap attempt by some Islamic terrorist group to stir up some publicity but not smart enough to think up something original? Then it got me thinking more about the scenario—both the threatened one and the fictional one in Hunter’s book—and how I would deal with it if I was “in charge”.

Following the announcement of the threat, the news media began reporting on mall security. So just what security measures exist at shopping malls around the country?

The Mall of America is a “no guns” zone—it is private property as are most shopping malls and thus mall operators (and/or their insurance providers?) are able to decide whether to allow firearms on their property or not. Guns might scare the shoppers and a gunfight could break out at any moment…or so the thought process goes according to mall officials. Because the signs are posted, there couldn’t possibly be anyone that would enter the mall carrying a gun because they would be violating the law and could go to jail. …R-i-g-h-t-t-t!—like a sign has ever stopped any criminal/terrorist from taking action. Of course, the Mall of America is not alone in its “no guns” policy.

But malls have “security”! …R-i-g-h-t-t-t!… You mean that guy (or gal) barely out of their teens walking around in a uniform with a 2-way radio hanging off their belt? They are there just to help shoppers find their way around the mall, to reunite lost kids with their parents, or to call for assistance if something serious happens. Most are not allowed to carry firearms. They are not even police officers, but rather “private security” hired by the mall owners and thus they have no authority to act in a law enforcement capacity. And even if the mall has regular police officers assigned to it, how effective are they going to be when confronting multiple armed attackers coming into the mall from different directions? There are unlikely to be enough police officers assigned to a mall to control all of the entrances/exits and confront armed attackers that are probably already in the mall. They may have someone in a central control center that can view all of the entrances/exits and other areas of the mall on security camera feeds to a wall of monitors, but that only means they can tell someone what has happened, not prevent it from happening.

But…but…“we have lockdown procedures”. R-i-g-h-t-t-t!! Do you seriously think that “locking down” a shopping mall is going to help? All that does is keep the victims from escaping the terrorists! While schools may use lockdown to help protect the children and staff, malls are not configured anywhere like a school is. Instead of solid walls and thick doors into each room/store, there are large expanses of glass and maybe a security grating that is lowered to prevent entrance from central hallways in the mall when that store is closed. These are not designed to stop bullets or even hide those inside the store from being seen by those on the outside. Depending on this type of barrier would create a scenario of “shooting fish in a barrel”! In schools, people spend most of their time in the various rooms and only go into the central hallways for short periods of time to move from one classroom to another periodically throughout the day. In shopping malls there is constant movement between stores and a large percentage of the people in the mall are in the central hallways at any point in time. Also, schools practice their lockdown procedures so that students and staff know just what they are supposed to do. And while you could probably do a “lockdown drill” with the mall staff, how do you include customers into that when the customers are constantly changing (i.e. coming and going)?

So what can be done to keep armed terrorists from attacking a shopping mall? You have to prevent the terrorists from gaining entrance to the mall in the first place. Short of putting metal detectors/body scanners at every mall entrance—aka TSA-like airport security—there is not much that can be done to stop them from getting into the mall. Signs certainly won’t do it! Airport-like security would be extremely expensive to implement and it is not something that a mall operator is going to undertake. Once terrorists are inside the mall, they have the advantage and time will be on their side, not on the side of first responders trying to remove them.

The brand of terrorists that the world faces today are not afraid of dying. Indeed, that is their ultimate goal, but they want to take as many victims with them as possible when they do die. In September 2013, terrorists attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. There it took the police and army so long to get organized that armed citizens took it upon themselves to intervene to confront the terrorists and rescue as many victims as possible. In the end, 72 people died when government officials moved to regain control of the mall. Of that number, five were terrorists and another six where Kenyan soldiers. The rest were civilians that happened to be at the mall when the terrorists struck. Over 175 people were wounded. And oh by the way, it was the same al-Shabaab group that claimed credit for this mall attack.

The only thing the terrorists fear is failure. They fail when they are unable to achieve the “body count” they desire and to cause panic. By taking down the “no guns” signs and allowing armed citizens to carry concealed firearms in shopping malls, you significantly change the probability the terrorists will be successful. Now the terrorists won’t know how many armed opponents they may have to face as they carry out their acts. And they won’t know who is an armed opponent/threat because those citizens will not be wearing uniforms but will be dressed like everyone else is. Doing this costs the mall operators and store owners virtually nothing to implement but also greatly lowers the threat posed to their continued livelihood that would occur if the terrorists are able to successfully launch an attack. I would think the insurance companies would come to the same realization.

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Sean Maloney

My name is Sean Maloney, and I’m asking for your vote when you receive your ballot for the NRA Board of Directors election.

I’m not wealthy or famous, but as a Benefactor Life Member of the NRA, I’ve dedicated my life to restoring and defending the Second Amendment rights our Forefathers envisioned for America. And as a referral Attorney, I have volunteered my services in the area of firearm rights and criminal self defense for the National Rifle Association and Buckeye Firearms Association.

In 2013, I traveled to Colorado and volunteered to help recall two anti-gun Colorado State Senators. These Senators were responsible for stripping fundamental gun rights from Colorado citizens, and all who visit or pass through that state. We were successful and sent the Senators packing, including the Senate President John Morse. Our recall victory also forced another anti-gun senator to resign.

Later that same year, I traveled to Virginia to join the NRA-ILA election fight for NRA Endorsed Candidates. I have always supported and campaigned for those candidates who share our values and are dedicated to protecting and advancing our rights.

A few months ago, recognizing that our Second Amendment Rights do not end at state borders, I traveled to Connecticut and Iowa to help NRA Endorsed Candidates in their bid for election and re-election. Once again liberty prevailed. By fighting alongside our brothers and sisters in Colorado, Virginia, Connecticut, Iowa, and Ohio, I have gained valuable insight into winning the battles that lie ahead.

For several years, I have been a leader and legislative director of Buckeye Firearms Association. We have successfully fought in the Ohio Statehouse for pro-gun legislation. I am also instrumental in helping Ohio school districts across the state implement Buckeye Firearms Foundation’s FASTER program which helps arm and train school employees to defend our most precious commodity, our children, against those who would do them harm.

I am the Chairman of my county’s Friends of the NRA, always one of the top producing banquets in the country. For many years I have also been an NRA-ILA Election Volunteer Coordinator, NRA Certified Instructor, and public spokesman, appearing regularly on NRA News and dozens of radio and TV programs.

My past work and dedication have been recognized by the NRA as recipient of the 2010 NRA-ILA Jay M. Littlefield Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award, 2011 Inductee into the NRA-ILA Election Volunteer Coordinator Hall of Fame, 2013 Friends of the NRA Area Volunteer of the Year, and nominee by Petition of NRA Members to appear on the ballot for NRA Board of Directors.

Now, it’s time to further dedicate myself to my fellow 5 million NRA Members. I humbly ask that you vote for me to represent you on the NRA Board of Directors. I promise to continue to do all I can to fight and defend the liberties passed down to us from generations of heroes.

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Ghost Gun Guy
Look for this guy for help finishing your Ghost Gun.

As the federal law stands, individuals may legally manufacture certain types of firearms without needing to register as a firearms manufacturer. The caveat is that the individual who made the firearm may not be transfer or sale it.

Here’s the word from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (all of the fun stuff):

“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.”

Of course as with any government regulation, there are few more rules, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll steer clear of the complexity.

While some non-sporting Americans may picture the home manufacturing of firearms as a gruff old man in his backyard with a kiln and hammer, pounding out some rudimentary rifle – the process isn’t too complex, especially if finishing an Ar-15.

Adventurous firearms enthusiasts who have a DIY streak can log on to a number of sites at this moment and purchase what’s called an “80% lower” – you can even get a five pack if you’re feeling lucky.

The 80% lower is the lower receiver of an AR-15 that’s literally 80% complete. To take it up to 100%, you need a bit of machining skill and the self-confidence not to mess it up.

The most important part of the lower receiver is that it is what the ATF considers the actual firearm. It’s the part that must be serialized . . . if produced by a firearm’s manufacturer.

For the handy guy or gal, with the right tools, AR-15’s and other firearm types such as 1911’s can be completed in a garage with no serial numbers or any other type of government-required marks – or tracking, hence the name “Ghost Gun.”

For others who struggle to change their own oil or have to call Roadside Assistance when a wiper-blade goes bad, the ability to finish your own AR-15 was still attainable if they had a bit of help from a gunsmith or CNC shop.

Well . . . up until the ATF published their first new rule of the year, ATF 2015-1.

The new rule specifically prohibits any company or individual with manufacturing capabilities and tools (including a 3d Printer) from giving a hand to the less handy want-to-be Ghost Gunners.

Here is the exact ruling from the ATF that prevents unlicensed gunsmiths from completing Ghost Guns for customers:

Held, any person (including any corporation or other legal entity) engaged in the business of performing machining, molding, casting, forging, printing (additive manufacturing) or other manufacturing process to create a firearm frame or receiver, or to make a frame or receiver suitable for use as part of a “weapon … which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive,” i.e., a “firearm,” must be licensed as a manufacturer under the GCA; identify (mark) any such firearm; and maintain required manufacturer’s records.

Taking it even further, the ATF put restrictions of companies that possess equipment that could be used to complete a Ghost Gun:

Held further, a business (including an association or society) may not avoid the
manufacturing license, marking, and recordkeeping requirements of the GCA by allowing persons to perform manufacturing processes on blanks or incomplete firearms (including frames or receivers) using machinery, tools, or equipment under its dominion and control where that business controls access to, and use of, such machinery, tools, or equipment.

The above is targeting “build parties” where a group of people get together, for instance in a machine shop, and with professional guidance complete a manufacturing process.

If your next-door-neighbor has a “Stand and Fight” bumper sticker on his F150 and a drill press in his garage, it appears he could still give you a hand without having his door kicked in at 3 am.

For those with the callus-free hands who don’t live next to Lt. Dan, an option still exists (for now) that makes finishing an 80% lower as simple as plugging in a box and hitting a button – it’s called the Ghost Gunner and will start shipping as soon as a few manufacturing issues are sorted out . . . unless the Fun Police types up another new rule.

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Papa John's Drive Shoots Robber

A 27 year-old pizza delivery girl for Papa John’s shot an attempted robber while on her route earlier this week in Decatur, Georgia.

The pizza girl was forced to the ground at gunpoint by 24 year-old Donquaz Devon Stevenson, an African American.

The unnamed woman, pulled a firearm from her pocket and, from the ground, shot Donquaz in the face.

The armed robber fled on foot while a second suspect stole the Honda Accord of the Papa John’s employee.

While employees of Papa John’s Pizza are not permitted to carry firearms on the job, the company chose not to terminate the employee and rather reassigned her to an “in-store” position.

The company is also “offering her counseling the help her recuperate from the incident.”

Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter, was vilified by critics after commenting that Obamacare would add 14 cents the cost of each pizza.

The critics highlighted his personal wealth and his 24,000 square foot home.

Schnatter replied to the criticism of his home by saying, “When you have built a $3 billion company out of a broom closet, I think you are entitled to a nice house.”

The home hosted a fundraiser in May of 2013 with Mitt Romney in attendance.

Papa John’s was founded with seed money from Schnatter after he sold his 1971 Camaro to help his father’s business. The remaining funds were used to start Papa John’s.

The female driver in the incident faces no criminal action as a local police captain stated, “She had no other choice. She must have been in fear for her life and she reacted.”

In 2014, two drivers for Papa John’s were shot and killed while on delivery in separate incidents. Another driver for the company was killed in 2013.

Another employee was killed in store in October of 2014. John Schnatter attended the funeral and paid the 22 year-old victim’s medical and funeral expenses.

Papa John’s claims safety of their employees is a top priority but plans no changes to their firearms policy despite multiple murders.

Papa John’s, who is known for offering free pizzas for events, is facing a different kind of give-back by customers who are now giving back bullets to drivers in support of their safety.

In the event that Papa John’s does change its policy, the company could also change its slogan, “Papa John’s: Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Better Marksmen.”

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Bloomberg Ant-Gun Group

On Monday, Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group, Everytown for Gun Safety, published a report stating the success of background checks.

The group contradicted itself by praising the system while also saying that the number of denied requests fell by half between 2002 and 2013 and made the assumption that those who are denied a firearms purchase at a licensed dealer went on to pursue a purchase from “unlicensed sellers.”

Former NYC mayor Bloomberg pledged $50 million to Everytown for Gun Safety, which means the group is able to hire researchers and statisticians to produce credible reports.

The group cited an earlier report of an investigation of the users of Armslist.com. Everytown for Gun Safety claimed that one in 30 people on the site had a criminal record or domestic violence history.

The group claims it searched the site’s “want to buy” section and matched contact information to criminal records.

However, a quick search of Armslist.com shows very few requests to purchase an actual firearm on the site. Posts include requests for parts, gun smithing, hunting leases, etc.

The claims by Bloomberg’s group are suspect given and clearly statistically unreliable as 30 requests to purchase a firearm could not be found within a 60 day period.

Ten “want to buy” requests were posted from November 1 2014, to January 12, 2015. Of those, four were from dealers and all of the others were looking for specific, collectable firearms with the exception of one barter – a dentist in Washington State looking to trade services for a firearms and outdoor/hunting gear.

Private firearms transactions between parties are legal in most states.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island require background checks for all transactions while Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania require checks on handgun purchases.

Even while private transactions are legal in most states, many gun owners and collectors prefer to conduct official transfers during a transaction for liability reasons.

A review of listings from GunBroker.com (a leading private firearms auction site), shows that all listings state up front that transfers will be conducted through FFL’s (Federal Firearms License Holders).

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While brick-and-mortar retailers saw 11% declines over Black Friday weekend, gun purchases on Black Friday were the second highest in recorded history with 175,000 background checks conducted.

December 21, 2012, seven days after Adam Lanza went on a shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, remains the leader with 177,000 checks completed.

Politically capitalizing on the tragedy, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Barack Obama setup a buying spree with calls to ban firearms and ammunition.

At the time, Pelosi pushed for stronger gun control laws stating, “There’s a small window of time here to get something done.

The politicians’ intent to pass new legislation triggered a national buying spree that lasted nearly two years causing ammunition shortages in the most popular calibers.

This holiday season, with Republicans to control both houses of congress in 2015, there is no political instigator for firearms popularity.

Earlier in the year, publications from Newsweek to the Huffington Post ran stories on the decline of gun sales in 2014 and the public’s lack of interest in firearms.

Their speculation was incorrect as it turns out that gun shoppers, like most shoppers, were simply waiting for the best deals and ideal times to buy.

However, one San Francisco columnist, Mark Morford, chalks up the increased gun sales to “scared white guys” who are deciding to pack heat in the wake of Ferguson.

Morford even went so far to profile the current gun buyer:

You’re a scared white person, almost certainly male. You do not live in a major city, or near a university or intellectual hub of any note, nor have you ever traveled very far from your home town, much less out of state or anywhere further than, say, Mexico. Once. And that was enough.

You do not read complicated books. You do not like new or weird things. You watch lots of TV, mostly Fox News, which rejoices in showing you endless images of angry foreigners and minorities in pain: tear gas explosions, fights in the streets, looting, this time involving sad, small-town black people in Ferguson, all of them protesting the acquittal of that murderous white cop.

Morford, a Yoga teacher who doubles as a freelance writer and columnist will likely have to fabricate another excuse for gun popularity in 2015.

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