Showing posts with label NRA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NRA. Show all posts

02 June 2022

Let's Talk About the Laws


Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things— (Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight)

In the wake of the tragedy at Uvalde, I am seriously disheartened (and thoroughly pissed, I might add) by the number of people whose first reaction has been some variation of, "YOU'RE NOT TOUCHING MY GUNS!"  Cold dead hands, and all that.  

“It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity—it’s inhumanity.” — Amanda Gorman

The other major reaction is "We already have the most regulated guns in the world!" which is hogwash, and/or "We have lots of laws, we just need to enforce them!"

But do we really have such strict laws? I thought I'd check into it, and the short answer is "No.  No, we don't."

BACKGROUND CHECKS

Let's start off with background checks.  88% of Americans support enhanced background checks. Our not-so-friendly 2nd Amendment absolutists tell us we already have that. So what kind of background checks do we have right now?  

The 1993 Brady Bill "prohibits certain persons from shipping or transporting any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce, or receiving any firearm which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or possessing any firearm in or affecting commerce. These prohibitions apply to any person who:

  • Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
  • Is a fugitive from justice;
  • Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance;
  • Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution;
  • Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
  • Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
  • Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship;
  • Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner, or;
  • Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

(Some people bring up the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, but it was repealed by the Trump administration in 2017, so I'm not even going to get into that.)

Anyway, the Brady Bill sounds really good, doesn't it?  Except there are loopholes. LOTS of loopholes:

The Reporting Hole:

Some places don't forward the records.  

State and local agencies are not required by law to report criminal records to the FBI.  In most cases, local agencies don’t have a system in place for submitting the names of people with restraining orders or domestic violence convictions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) — so those names simply aren’t entered.  

And, even when reported, well: Just because someone’s name is not entered in NICS doesn’t necessarily mean that a federal gun background check reviewer wouldn’t raise a red flag at the point of sale. That’s because background checkers also check two other databases, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Interstate Identification Index, which contain more arrest records. But those records aren’t always complete, and may require further investigation by the reviewer. For example, they don’t always indicate whether an arrest was followed by a conviction. Or a court record might not specify the relationship between perpetrator and victim. If tracking down that information takes more than 72 hours, a gun dealer can make the sale anyway.   (The Trace)  (my emphasis added)

And while Federal agencies - like the military - are required by law to report them, in 2014 the Inspector General found that the Defense Department was still not reporting them.  10 years of not reporting. In 2015, they still weren't reporting 30% of them.  And the service branches do not have a dedicated office that handles such notifications (NYTimes).  

NOTE:  Under the military code, there is no such charge as domestic violence.

Also, various city, county, and state law enforcement agencies often do not report convictions for domestic violence, stalking, harrassing, etc., specifically because they would take away the right to carry a firearm, and guess what a lot of law enforcement do every day?  Yep. So they're off the grid, too.

The National Database Loophole:

There is no national database of who's bought what gun(s).  And that's ALWAYS been opposed by the NRA. 

Meanwhile, many of anti-abortion states want to set up a state / national database of women's menstrual periods, via tapping Planned Parenthood information (which Missouri actually has already done LINK), and various smart devices and hospital records (just in case you got a D&C for a miscarriage and not an abortion, you're going to have to prove it).  No national gun registry, but by God, let's register all women's most intimate health cycles. Next thing you know, I'll have to have a doctor's notarized statement that I'm past menopause to cross state lines - oh, yeah, they're working on laws to stop pregnant women from doing exactly that.  

Call me cynical, but I get the feeling that the GOP considers all gunowners as potential heroes, but all women as potential criminals - and legislate accordingly. 

The Gun Show Loophole:

Only gun dealers have to do background checks. Private sellers don't have to do any background checks at all, whether at gun shows, parking lots, neighbors, Internet, private ads, etc. And your relatives can buy you any gun(s) they want. 

The Who You Are Loophole:

The Boyfriend Loophole - Federal domestic violence laws don’t include people who never lived with, or had a child with, the perpetrator. Known as the “boyfriend loophole,” the omission allows many abusers to buy guns even if there’s been a violent assault that leads to a criminal conviction. About a third of states have laws that aim to bridge this gap, but that leaves 2/3rds off the grid.

The Sibling Loophole - Under federal law, the abuse of a sibling doesn’t trigger a gun ban.  

The Stalker Loophole - Stalkers convicted of misdemeanor crimes are not prohibited by federal law from buying or possessing guns. According to a 1999 study, 76 percent of women who were murdered by intimate partners were first stalked by their killer.  (The Trace)  

GHOST GUNS:

"Domestic terrorists and racially motivated extremists are increasingly arming themselves with homemade, untraceable “ghost guns,” a threat that is now a top public safety concern for law enforcement, according to a leaked U.S. government report.

"The six-page report by the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team — a coalition of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the FBI — warns that such extremist groups are gravitating to guns and gun accessories that can be made using do-it-yourself kits or 3D printers. Ghost guns can be acquired without background checks and their lack of serial numbers makes them nearly impossible to trace, complicating criminal investigations."  (The Trace)

73% of Americans support a plan to enforce safety measures on the sale and procurement of ghost guns.

NRA Stance: "The Constitution does not authorize the federal government to prevent you from making your own firearm. This a fact that has been recognized for 200+ years." (Fox)
My Note:  Got news for you, NRA. Our Founding Fathers weren't sitting around making their own muzzle-loaders and dueling pistols. They bought them, like everyone else did.  

AGE LIMITS ON GUNS:

72% of Americans support the idea of raising the legal age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old.

BUT:  "Federal law allows people as young as 18 to buy long guns, including rifles and shotguns, and only a handful of states have enacted laws raising the minimum age to 21. There’s no federal minimum age for the possession of long guns, meaning it’s legal to give one to a minor in more than half the country....
"44 states that allow 18-year-olds to buy long guns, including semiautomatic rifles, according to Giffords Law Center, which tracks state and federal gun laws. Only six states have raised their long gun purchasing age to 21: California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, and Washington State. Americans are meanwhile not allowed to purchase alcohol or cigarettes until they are 21."  (The Trace)

Informational:  Since Columbine, there have been 244 school shootings, with more than 311,000 students involved. 185 children, educators and other people have been killed in assaults, and another 369 have been injured.  7 in 10 of the shooters were under 18, which means some adult gave them at least one weapon, or access to it.  (Wapo) and (AP)  

Also, there are no federal restrictions on how many guns you can own. Thus, Texas has no restrictions on how many guns you can own, but it does limit ownership of sex toys to six (section 43.23 of Texas’ penal code).  

ASSAULT WEAPONS:

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was a ten-year ban enacted in 1994, which included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms that were defined as assault weapons as well as certain ammunition magazines that were defined as large capacity. When it expired in 2004, attempts were made to renew it, but they all failed. (Wikipedia)

When the assault weapons ban was lifted in 2004, a there were 400,000 AR-15 style rifles in America at that time. Today, there are at least 20 million. 

Banning assault-style weapons: Sixty-seven percent strongly or somewhat support; 25% strongly or somewhat oppose.  (Politico)  

OPEN / CONCEALED CARRY:

25 states allow permitless concealed carry.
39 states allow permitless open carry. 

RED FLAG LAWS:

Red Flag Laws permit police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. You would think this would be an obvious gun safety practice - Gov. Abbott (TX) and the entire GOP have been making major speeches about dealing with "the mental health crisis" in this country. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott and the Texas Legislature passed a law eliminating ANY permit requirement for guns — and then slashed $211 million from Texas’s mental health budget.  

So far only 19 states have some kind of Red Flag law in place, but Oklahoma has an anti-red flag law. The law specifically "prohibits the state or any city, county or political subdivision from enacting red flag laws."  And South Dakota's own Governor Kristi Noem proudly announced:

"In 2020, I blocked bills proposing unconstitutional red-flag laws to strip citizens of their right to bear arms. The following year, I signed “stand your ground” legislation, and I further protected your right to purchase guns and ammo during emergency declarations. This year, I repealed all concealed carry permit fees for state residents, which is necessary to remain in good legal standing in other states with stricter gun laws. It won’t cost you a penny to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights." (LINK)  (Emphasis added)

NOTE: BTW, "Stand Your Ground" legislation, as I have said before, specifically denies people prosecutorial immunity under SYG if “[t]he person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, [or] residence . . . such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision of no contact order against that person.” I.e., a victim of domestic abuse can't claim SYG if it's her husband. Or her father. 

So welcome to a major Catch-22:  Federal Background Check laws don't cover boyfriends or stalkers or siblings, and SYG doesn't cover spouses or fathers.  Ladies, you're screwed.  (Read more at Treason's True Bed.)

AND FINALLY,  A SHORT HISTORY OF THE NRA:

Up until the 1970s the NRA actually opposed private ownership of guns. 

Karl Frederick, NRA president in 1934, during the congressional NFA (National Firearms Act) hearings testified "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. ... I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses." The NRA supported both the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (enacted after the assassinations of RFK and MLK Jr.), which created a system to federally license gun dealers and established restrictions on particular categories and classes of firearms. 

NOTE:  The 1967 California Mulford Act, which prohibited open carry of loaded firearms, was a direct result of increasing gun ownership among black people, especially members of the Black Panthers. It was supported 100% by the NRA. Governor Ronald Reagan signed the bill, and said he saw "no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons" and that guns were a "ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will." In a later press conference, Reagan added that the Mulford Act "would work no hardship on the honest citizen."  (HISTORY) and (WIKIPEDIA)

And then in the late 1970s a faction of the NRA decided to go political, heavily backing the GOP and promoting the idea of a personal right to own private weapons. It took a while, but in 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller became the first Supreme Court case to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense or if the right was intended for state militias. They plumped for self-defense.  (NRA)

There's a long 200+ year stretch between the Founding Fathers and the we must have the right to own every type of firearm and carry it wherever we want to at all times line.

Sigh…

From the Conservative Response Archives:

"As harsh as this sounds—your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights … We still have the Right to Bear Arms … Any feelings you have toward my rights being taken away from me, lose those." Joe Wurzelbacher, a/k/a Joe the Plumber, after the 2014 Isla Vista killings (killed 6, injured 14).

I guess he warned us where this was going. But there's no way on God's sweet green earth that I'm going to agree with it.

So, gun bans and confiscation? A disarmed, defenseless, and compliant population, whose security and freedom are simply dependent on the goodwill of others? Is that where you'd like to take us?

(1) See the Reagan quote above and (2) Actually, yes, I would like to see us dependent on the goodwill of others, the way we used to be not that long ago.  And considering this was posted on a conservative Christian website, all I can say is his church is woefully poor at reading the Gospels. 

A pencil can be an assault weapon.

But you can't kill as many with one as you can with an AR-15, can you?

"More than ever, we're held hostage by the pro-life American ethos: Life begins at conception and ends with a Second Amendment execution." — Dick Polman

What the hell has happened to us?

25 May 2022

The Road to Damascus



I went off to summer camp when I was thirteen, and along with canoeing and lanyard weaving and archery, and swimming in the chilly, tidal backwaters of the Sheepscot, I took riflery.  We might honestly understand, that both in my personal history and in America’s, this was a more innocent age.  Camp Chewonki - which still exists, just south of Wiscasset, Maine – had been around for generations.  Two of my uncles, my mom’s older brothers, went there, and Roger Tory Peterson, the much-celebrated author of A Field Guide to the Birds, dedicated his book to Clarence Allen, who was even in my day the benevolent eminence, a little shaky on his pins, but very much present.  Looking back, Chewonki might be said to represent a lost world, where Saltonstalls and Cabots, among the New England elite, were destined to rule the American imperium; salt water and the Episcopalian catechism were brisk and bracing.


But for the purposes of the immediate discussion, we can narrow the field to shooting skills.
  Chewonki had a rifle range.  We used single-shot bolt-actions in .22 rimfire, at fifty feet.  To qualify for awards like Marksman, or Sharpshooter, and graduating up to Expert, you followed a course of fire – a minimum score in each of the four positions, prone, sitting, kneeling, standing - established by the National Rifle Association. 

The NRA offered these programs all over the place, summer camps, the Boy Scouts, schools and social clubs, and nobody found it odd.  They were a sportsmen’s organization, with no political affiliation.  They also published the only national shooting magazine, American Rifleman, which was for hunters and recreational shooters - handguns featured very little, in those days, primarily in competition.  The craze for military-style weapons and combat-related content was some ways off.   

The year it all changed was 1977, at the NRA national convention in Cincinnati.  This isn’t a date or an event that registers much with the general public, but it looms large in NRA lore, and has had a lasting effect on American gun culture, and the ongoing debate over gun control.    

The short version is this.  Historically, from the 1870’s to the 1970’s, the NRA was recreational, environmentally aware, and committed to gun safety and education.  The coup in Cincinnati toppled longstanding leadership policy, and brought the 2nd Amendment absolutists to power.  Their emphasis was on gun ownership, and a rigid interpretation of the right to bear arms.  They moved the goalposts.  More importantly, they caught the Old Guard off-guard.  Nobody organized any effective resistance.  They didn’t recognize how radical a change was in the wind.  And left a vacuum.

Into this empty space stepped an activist and self-selected lobbying group, devoted to a single issue.  What you might describe as more reasonable voices surrendered the stage.  They let the other guys set the terms of the debate.  Which is where we’re at now.

Now, like the Port Huron Statement, for SDS, or the Seneca Falls Declaration, in support of women’s rights, the NRA wanted to cast their position as about fundamentals.  These are rights denied - more to the point, not exercised, or not affirmed.  Allowed to atrophy.  If you argue original intent, the 2nd Amendment is a bulwark against tyranny, the well-regulated militia.  In the context of England’s wars against the French, or for that matter, against the Stuart pretenders in Scotland, this makes perfect sense.  Troops could be billeted in your home, against your will.  They’d steal the eggs, and then kill the chickens.  Not to mention rape the women.  This is a common-sense precaution.

Interestingly, as the argument warms up, we hear even legal scholars on the Left saying, Oop, sorry kids, but the 2nd actually means what it says, commas and all.  You can’t restrict legal ownership of guns.  And the Supremes weigh in.  An overly repressive DC law is voided.  (In that particular case, a security guard, licensed to carry on the job, wanted to know why he couldn’t protect his home.  The court, quite sensibly, ruled in his favor.)  The problem is not the 2nd Amendment.

Wayne LaPierre, and the direction the NRA has taken in the last fifty years, is contrary to what a lot of us think.  I’m not talking about the drift of liberal opinion, I mean gun guys.  It’s ridiculous to conflate Ruby Ridge or the Branch Davidians or some other asshole who hates the Feds with people who hunt, or shoot, or need personal protection in a dangerous place. 

What we lost is that we ceded the argument.  We let the other guys get possession, we need to take the conversation back.  Like everything else. 

Enough with the crazies sucking the air out of the room.

11 May 2022

BUSCADEROS: A Love Story


This is a gun post, so if that stuff leaves you cold, feel free to skip ahead. I’m not going to take offense. I know not everybody shares my oddball enthusiasms.

When I was a kid, there were a lot of Westerns on TV. They began to taper off in the early 1960’s, and cop shows and private eyes picked up steam, but if you look at primetime in the years just previous, Westerns dominated the schedule every night. ABC’s Sunday line-up, for example, was Colt .45, Maverick, Lawman, The Rebel, and The Alaskans. That’s a solid block, although I guess you could argue that The Alaskans, strictly speaking, was more sled dogs than horse opera. (And except for The Rebel, they were all produced by Warners.) Mondays was Cheyenne. Tuesdays had Sugarfoot and Bronco, Laramie, Wyatt Earp, and The Rifleman. Wagon Train ran on Wednesdays. Thursdays, you had Bat Masterson and Johnny Ringo. Friday was Rawhide and Hotel de Paree. Saturday night brought us Wanted: Dead or Alive, Have Gun - Will Travel, and Gunsmoke.

L to R: Will Hutchins, Peter Brown, Jack Kelly, Ty Hardin, James Garner, Wayde Preston, John Russell

Is it any wonder that I was crazy about cowboy guns and fast draw? I drew on Wayde Preston in the titles for Colt .45, and on Richard Boone in the opening sequence of Have Gun – Will Travel, but I never mastered the trick of Wayde Preston’s spinning his seven-and-a-half-inch-barreled Colts back into the holsters. By this point, mind, I’d moved on from the cheesier grade of cap gun to the top-of-the-line Nichols 45 Stallion, the closest thing you could find to the nickel-plated gun Shane carried. And then Mattel came out with their version, superseding the Fanner 50, the Shootin’ Shell .45, an actual double-action, single-action you could cock coming out of the holster, a huge step up in design, as regards verisimilitude.







We put away childish things.

I went to summer camp, and learned the basics of gun safety, shooting single-shot bolt .22’s at fifty feet. This is back in the day when the NRA was essentially an educational and shooting group, not a political lobby. (I don’t want to get into how Wayne LaPierre and the 2nd Amendment absolutists hijacked it –maybe next time.) You got merit badges for your shooting skills, and I think I made it to Intermediate, which later stood me in good stead, when I shot Expert with the .30 caliber carbine in Basic Training, but I’m getting ahead of the story.

My dad himself had a single-shot Remington bolt .22, and he took me up Mass. Ave. to Roach’s Sporting Goods, across from the Sears, and we bought a Mossberg. Nice gun, I still own it. The next summer I was fifteen, and he let me buy a .22 Colt Frontier Scout, up in Ellsworth, Maine.

Let us pause, for a moment. My father was the gentlest of men. He served, though, in all three theaters of war, in the Navy, back and forth across the North Atlantic, with the wolfpacks, later in the Mediterranean, and through the Suez Canal, and at the end, in the Pacific. He only told the funny stories, of course. They ran aground in the Suez Canal because the skipper was drunk. It’s only years afterwards, reading his logbooks, that I hear about a close call, outside the anchorage at Scapa Flow. Never a word.

This gentle man, however, saw no contradiction in his son learning how to conduct himself safely and sensibly around firearms. He encouraged it. I could go off on a long sidebar about the guys who came back from the war, but I’ll leave it for now. For the purposes of this story, I spent hours with that Frontier Scout, dry-fire and live fire, cleaning it religiously, taking it apart all the way to the springs, spinning it in and out of the holster. I lived with that gun. (Still own it, too.) For a very long time, that was my model, what I imagined a gun should be.

Some years later, I bought its big brother, a single-action replica of the Colt SAA made in Italy. Heavy bastard, two and a half pounds, chambered in .38-40, with a trigger pull of no more than a few ounces. Tricky gun to shoot, with a lot of felt recoil, and not exactly practical. It was a sentimental choice, and meanwhile, I’d discovered the 1911. It was time I left an earlier century behind.

Again, let’s admit the influence of a Western, not a TV series, but The Wild Bunch. It’s hugely transitional, in many ways, but particularly its time period, introducing the automobile, for one, and the machine gun. And of course the .45 auto, the Colt 1911 pistol, which is almost a character in its own right. “I’m curious about the weapon you men are carrying,” Mapache’s German advisor says. “It is restricted to the use of military personnel. It cannot be purchased, or even owned.” And in the last gunfight of the picture, the .45 auto is in heavy rotation, speed reloads and all, shaking out spent magazines and slapping in full ones. It’s a far cry from the showdown in Shane, or Ride the High Country, for that matter.

Steve Hunter, who’s far more knowledgeable about guns than I am – Point of Impact, Dirty White Boys, Hot Springs – caught wind of the fact that a .45 auto wouldn’t reliably cycle blank rounds, and the armorers on The Wild Bunch wound up buying .38 Supers, which you could find in Mexico, because it was the heaviest caliber legal for civilian carry. Two things, here; I know I’m trying your patience. The first is that anything bigger than the .38 Super, or the 9MM, was illegal in Mexico, and the .45 was restricted to military and police. Secondly, the .38 Super is an outlier. The .45 auto cartridge and the gun itself were designed around each other. John Browning originally came up with an autoloader in .38, and the War Department rejected it. This is a complicated story, involving the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, and I can’t do justice to it, here. The point is that after the 1911 in .45 was adopted by the U.S. Army, the .38 Super came along in the 1920’s, and it turned into a gunfighter’s gun. John Dillinger carried one.

Steve, being Steve, immediately went on GunBroker, and bought a .38 Super.

So did I. It was an alloy-frame Commander, and I’m here to tell you it’s one of the most reliable guns I’ve ever shot. You could put two hundred rounds through it, it got dirty, it kept right on shooting. The design was still state of the art.

Hunter did a lot with the .38 Super. It’s a major plot point in Black Light, when Bob Lee’s dad Earl is killed in a cornfield, and it resurfaces in Havana. For me, I gave the gun to Mickey Counihan, in my postwar New York stories. There was just something about it.

I don’t own a 1911 any more. I caved, and got a 9MM. It’s a CZ 75 compact. Heavy, simple, reliable. Actually the second most reproduced handgun in the world, for military and police, a generation removed from the Browning High-Power, another much-copied gun. I’ve still got a reflexive weakness for the single-action Army and the .45 auto, but fashions change. A gun is like a piece of furniture, threadbare and comfortable. We’re reluctant to give it up.

[Having opened the door here, I’m going to commit. The transformation of the NRA from a minor sportsmen’s group into a major political lobbyist is one of the big stories of the last thirty years, and it happened under the covers. Nobody noticed until it was too late. Stay tuned.]

03 January 2019

The Spy Who Loved Me


Dusty Johnson's July 15, 2015 tweet praising Maria Butina.
https://kelo.com/news/articles/2018/jul/18/
congressional-candidate-dusty-johnson-
praised-maria-butina-in-2015/
Some of you might remember - not that long ago! - when I did a couple of blog posts  (Mata Hari in South Dakota) about Russian spy Maria Butina and her paramour, South Dakota's own GOP operative, Paul Erickson.  They lived here in Sioux Falls and Ms. Butina did the South Dakota speaking tour, representing her own [Russian] Right to Bear Arms organization.  The tour - all about God, Guns and Let's Be Friends With Russia! - included SDSU, USD, and the Teenage Republicans Camp in the Black Hills.  The last was an interesting example of how you should be careful who you bring in as a guest speaker, considering the number of past and current South Dakota legislators (including recently elected US Representative Dusty Johnson!) were counselors, attendees, or just there for the party.  Bet Dusty's banging his head every day over this little tweet:

Well, now Maria's pled guilty to conspiring to be a foreign agent in the U.S., and is cooperating with authorities.

Her partner, in more ways than one, was Paul Erickson - whose resume includes:
  • National political director / campaign manager for the 1992 Pat Buchanan presidential campaign, 
  • Advisor to both of Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns. 
  • Former board member of the American Conservative Union, the group that organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).[5] 
  • South Dakota Trump campaign, claimed he was on the Trump presidential transition team. and during the 2016 NRA convention sent an e-mail to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump (via Trump's campaign advisor Rick Dearborn and then-Senator Jeff Sessions) with the subtle subject line: "Kremlin Connection."  
Mr. Erickson has been hiding in Virginia, and has recently "lawyered up", which is the best idea he's had in years. For one thing, he's "Person 1" who, according to the Statement of Offence, "agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official [that’s Alexander Torshin, Russian billionaire and close personal friend of Vladimir Putin] and at least one other person [ooo! a new mystery player!] for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of [Torshin] without prior notification to the Attorney General.” The purpose of this conspiracy was for Butina to “establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. policies… for the benefit of the Russian Federation.” Butina acknowledges that she used the National Rifle Association to forward the Russian Plan, because she believed the NRA "had influence over" the Republican Party.  (Thanks, Cory Heidelberger, for the summation)

NOTE:  The NRA is STILL staying silent as a tomb about Ms. Butina, despite the fact that there are pictures out the wazoo of her at various NRA functions (see below),
even though both Ms. Butina and the missing Mr. Torshin were made lifetime members of the NRA.
AND former NRA president David Keene visited Moscow at Mr. Torshin's behest.
AND the NRA spent a lot of money on Donald Trump's campaign.  $30 million, to be specific.  All of this is currently being investigated.  

Ms. Butina in 2014 with James W. Porter II, then president of the N.R.A.; Wayne LaPierre, the group’s executive vice president; and Rick Santorum, the former senator.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/04/us/politics/maria-butina-nra-russia-influence.html
NOTE: Russian President Vladimir Putin - who was eager for her release while she was first arrested - currently says he never heard of her.  Considering that Alexander Torshin has gone missing and is rumored murdered, Ms. Butina may want to try to stay in the US after trial, rather than be deported back home.

Image result for paul erickson south dakota
Meanwhile, though, a lot of people have asked me the simple question:  why South Dakota?  Why did she come here, other than for Paul Erickson's rugged good looks?  

Well, South Dakota is a large rural state with a very small population (under 900,000).  Our politicians are extremely, notoriously frugal - i.e., cheap.  Our current assets are $3.13 trillion (yes, you read that right) in commercial and savings bank assets.  We have the weakest reporting regulations you can imagine.  The FBI recently busted a major New York auto theft ring using South Dakota because, "South Dakota, a state that lets people register out-of-state vehicles by mail and wasn’t thoroughly checking to see if they were stolen, the FBI said." (Citation)  We also have (among?) the most pro-business laws regarding credit cards, payday loans, and setting up LLCs and their like in the country.  In my last blog I mentioned that Butina and Erickson formed a couple of LLCs here in Sioux Falls - which, it turns out, may have been laundering money from Torshin and from an as-yet unidentified Russian oligarch (perhaps the anonymous person cited above?) who has a net worth Forbes estimates to be about $1.2 billion.  (This Vox article is still pretty darned good on the ins and outs of the whole thing.)

Anybody can form a shell corporation in South Dakota for $50 per year, without requiring a physical presence and a minimum of personal information.  We have had at least two major scandals - EB-5 and Gear Up! - in which suicide (?) and/or murder-suicide and/or plain old murder followed on millions of federal dollars going missing (and still unfound).  (For that matter, we haven't yet found the Westerhuis safe.)  We are ranked 3rd in the country for corruption, because of single-party government, lack of transparency, backdoor decisions, and we got an "F" in executive and legislative accountability, as well as next to last in lobbying disclosure.  

In other words, you can could get away with a lot in South Dakota, and nobody would notice.  It was the perfect place for a red-haired, gun-toting, freedom-loving, handy Russian to be.

Which leads me to the second obvious question:  why did everyone fall so hard for, and buy so completely into, Maria Butina, and her story about her pro-gun rights Russian organization, Right To Bear Arms?  In Vladimir Putin's Russia?  HAH!  But buy it they did.

The quick answer:  look at the photos:

Maria Butina, Washington Post




  Image result for maria butina instagram  Image result for Maria Butina sexy photo with gun

I wrote back in April of 2015 that "As societies show greater respect for "the interests and values of women" things get better, more peaceful, more prosperous, as a whole.  Ironically, we're currently trying to masculinize women both in business and entertainment, where the ideal woman is now presented as a slim, beautiful, brilliant, athletic ninja warrior."  (The Better Angels...)  Meet Maria Butina.  Or at least her photographs.

"Maria Butina was the ultimate NRA Cool Girl" says a Washington Post article, and goes on to add, "But is there a surfeit of highly intelligent, hot, bilingual Eastern European graduate students who love Jesus, cooking, guns, big-game hunting, bourbon, lipstick, cowboys and tenderly repairing the hearts of damaged men?"

Maybe.  At least, that appears to have been the general conservative male hope.  And, according to Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl, THE male hope.  Read all about the Cool Girl HERE.

Back to WaPo:  "The fact that Butina became so popular in conservative circles so quickly seems to point in the other direction: There aren’t a lot of (real) women like her. “She was like a novelty,” a former Michigan GOP chair told The Washington Post last week. “Friendly, curious and flirtatious,” described another anonymous source, who met her through the Conservative Political Action Conference.  The men who championed her were so pleased to meet a woman who fit an ideal mold, they never stopped to think that maybe she was an ideal mole."  Washington Post

Red Sparrow came to South Dakota, [Grateful] Deadheaded the NRA, was invited to and attended the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast, CPAC, and everything else she could find.  Even John Bolton made a video for her in 2103. (YouTube.)   Hell, she even interviewed Candidate Trump, who was happy to take her question and answer freely (and exceptionally eloquently):  You Tube Video.

Everyone loved her.  No one could get enough of her.  But they're being awfully quiet about it now.




"What is the right to life, ingrained in our constitution, if you donĂ¢€™t have the right to bear arms?" says group founder Maria Butina.
Maria in Moscow,
2012
PS:  A lot of Russians also bought Maria's story and her organization.  The Right to Bear Arms united almost all the gun rights' organizations in Russia, largely thanks to her personality. Butina was the "battery that ignited everyone" and "things started to decline" after she left, said the improbably named co-founder Muslim Sheikhov.

But Vladimir Milov, a veteran Russian opposition politician, said he noticed at the time how "well technically equipped" Butina's group appeared to be and the quality of the merchandise at their rallies. "There was a clear idea from the beginning that somebody is behind them." But, at the time, "Butina's associates... believed that Right To Bear Arms was being funded mainly thanks largely to member fees and the sale of several furniture stores she owned in her Siberian hometown of Barnaul." Radio Free Europe

Instead, it was Russian billionaires Alexander Torshin and Konstantin Nikolayev, both friends of Putin.  And with that knowledge comes the fear that the charismatic Butina had "founded" an organization whose chief purpose was to infiltrate Russian opposition groups and, later, the NRA.  And which succeeded in doing both.

In other words, Putin managed to find a way to kill two birds - in two countries - with one stone.  

01 March 2018

The Dark Keeps Rising


It's March 1st, and there's been more than one trouble in River City, a/k/a the United States The Florida Parkland school shooting on 2/14/18 left 17 dead Back on 1/23/18, Benton Kentucky, a school shooting left 2 dead, 17 injured Back 11/7/17, Sutherland Springs, TX, a church shooting killed 26 people. So much safety So much safety…

Many people long for a return to the innocent heartland of America - family farms, playing children, hardworking parents, country cooking, and family values. And that's all true, along with feedlots (nothing like the smell of cow poop in the morning), lakes that are stinking green with phosphorus fertilizer runoff, and, sadly, home-grown terrorists:

Monson_mugscopy_WEB

The above five people were all arrested in Willmar, MN (pop. 19,610). Police search yielded methamphetamine, pills, cocaine, numerous firearms and ammunition. The firearms recovered included handguns, rifles, shotguns, and submachine guns. They also found homemade silencers, night vision goggles, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and numerous items believed to be explosive. But wait, there's more! They also found books on incendiary devices and - my favorite item - a strap-on fake penis called a “Whizzinator,” sometimes used to evade drug tests. And yes, there was a concrete bunker and at least one minor child living in the home (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

My favorite local blogger, Cory Heidelberger, looked these up people on-line, and found that Thomas Quimby of Willmar likes to express his Alex Jones, anti-Muslim, White Pride beliefs while Chad Monson likes to post lots of cute Minions memes about killing people (Dakota Free Press) And they weren't fooling: According to the criminal complaint, Monson had told someone that he had the addresses of a judge, a prosecutor and another attorney and intended to use explosives in or near their homes and vehicles.

Don't you feel safer knowing that this guy - THESE guys - had an arsenal?

636505918771903642 ARTIS KATTENBERG.JPGMeanwhile, our Willmar group isn't the only crazy around Meet Artis Kattenberg of Brandon, SD She and her son went to a church in northwest Iowa, where fellow churchgoers got nervous when they realized that the son was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a gun into the sanctuary Eventually a Rock Valley, IA police officer called her to ask about it, and she told him that her son was an "Ethan Bot" (video game, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare), and that "he'd have to get a hold of the secretary of defense." There was also an intense encounter between the Kattenbergs and church elders, who asked them to no longer attend church A few weeks later, two of the church members were victims of drive-by shootings (No one was hurt.)
Some of the stash.
Courtesy Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office

At that point, the Iowa authorities contacted the Brandon Police, who paid a call on the Kattenbergs. They found a bunker, with 80 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Some of the weapons were fully automatic. They also had tactile vests, and high end optics that included nightvision, infrared, thermal optics. Captain Jason Gearman of Minnehaha County said, "They've been purchasing $3,000- $7,000 worth of weapons pretty, pretty continuously for every three to five months."

Now, being the naive young thing I am, I would have thought - I would have hoped - that buying that many guns and ammo every 3-5 months would have registered, somewhere, that something might be wrong.. But no... (I'm going to get into the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act in a minute.) My husband just asked, "where did they get all this money?" and so far no one's answered THAT question, either

Anyway, all were purchased legally, locally, at Gary's Gun Shop and Scheels The employees remembered the Kattenbergs, because they talked about being spies, hating the government, having microchips in their brain, and, of course, the fact that the son was actually a warrior from a video game You know, the usual stuff BTW, the guns were in the 16 year old's name (Argus Leader)

And, of course, the neighbors never saw anything "They were inside most of the time. The only time we ever saw them was their truck coming in and out of the driveway."

In case you're wondering, the charges against the Kattenbergs are: 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief/Aiding and Abetting, a Class “D” Felony: Reckless Use of a Firearm/Aiding and Abetting, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, a Misdemeanor. Her juvenile son is charged with: 2nd Degree Criminal Mischief; and Reckless Use of a Firearm (Kiwaradio) That's it That's all they are charged with

Don't you feel safer knowing these two had a bunker, loaded with guns and ammo?

How long, O Lord, how long?


Meanwhile, if you need an AR-15 to hunt with, I hate to think what you're hunting And other Armalite manufactures Did you know that the AR-15 and AR-18 were the favorite weapons of the IRA during the Irish Troubles? They even had their own song - "Little Armalite" Believe me, if the Irish can disarm, or "decomission" as they called it, which they did in 2005, anyone can do it, even the United States of America (See "IRA Arms Decommissioned".)

Supreme Court Building
Anyway, to all those who claim that AR-15s are their constitutional right - well, they're wrong On November 27, 2017 SCOTUS refused to challenge Maryland's ban on assault weapons and assault-style weapons that included AR-15s, which means that SCOTUS agrees that none of these are covered by the 2nd Amendment (Reuters) Nor does SCOTUS see open-carry as a 2nd Amendment right Not only that, but back when District of Columbia v. Heller gave individuals the constitutional right to own private handguns, Antonin Scalia, perhaps the least liberal justice to ever serve, said:
"Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms...
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons...." (Heller)
Sorry, guys No, I'll take that back I'm not sorry at all I'm ecstatic that they're not a 2nd Amendment right I just wish they were also illegal They were, you know: The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, banned the manufacture, use, possession and import of 19 types of assault weapons, including AK-47s and Uzis. It expired in 2004. The NRA has since successfully kept it from being re-enacted.

Can we talk about how the NRA is registered as a non-profit organization?
Can we talk about how Wayne LaPierre makes $5 million a year?
Can we talk about how much lobbying the NRA is doing, have done, and plans to do?
Can we talk about the way the NRA sends out letters to politicians and judges, asking them to provide - in writing - their stance on guns and the 2nd Amendment, saying, "If you choose not to return a position letter, you may be assigned a “?” rating, which can be interpreted by our membership as indifference, if not outright hostility, toward Second-Amendment related issues"? (Snopes)
Can we talk about how this is extortion, at the very least, and should be 1000% illegal?

Meanwhile, let's talk about gun laws Some people will tell you that we have plenty of gun laws, they just need to be enforced Yes, we do and they do, but the laws have also been either gutted or "allowed to expire" (See the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act above).

(1) There are laws that stop convicted domestic abusers from getting guns are strictly enforced BUT - there are loopholes! Oh, let me count the loopholes.
First, stalkers, boyfriends get a pass (you have to have been "intimate" with the victim).
Second, there's no clause about taking the weapons they already have away from them, so if they're already armed, they stay armed.
Third, the law doesn't apply during the temporary restraining order period, which is when most women get killed by their abuser.
Fourth, there's the HUGE problem that military, police departments, and other groups somehow keep "slipping up" on registering people. The convicted domestic abuser who killed 26 people at a Texas church back in November 7, 2017 never had his name put into the national database that would have barred him from buying weapons The Air Force - which had courtmartialed him for fracturing his baby stepson's skull - failed to enter it And, after the furor about that, the Air Force realized it "forgot" to enter almost 5,000 names of people convicted of domestic violence (NBC News)

Looking through microfilm at the
National Tracing Center - GQ
(2) There's a national registry of guns, and that should always be checked! Oh, my dears, there isn't one The 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act bans states or federal agencies from building gun registries. That's right, the National Tracing Center is not allowed to have centralized computer data. What they have is on microfilm, without any index. Nada. (Seriously, read the GQ Article, "Inside the Federal Bureau of Way Too Many Guns", and meet Charlie. "They can use pictures of paper, like microfilm (they recently got the go-ahead to convert the microfilm to PDFs), as long as the pictures of paper are not searchable. You have to flip through and read. No searching by gun owner. No searching by name." Pretty effing useless, isn't it?

(3) Enforce the law felons don't get guns. Except - and you knew there'd be an exception, didn't you?
Exception #1: The 1965 amendment to the federal Firearms Act of 1938 allows felons who want to own a gun the ability to apply for "relief from the disability of not being able to possess a gun." Unsurprisingly in many states (ahem, ahem) they get them!
Exception #2: White collar felons aren't included in the ban And, of course, if a felon get their felony expunged, pardoned, etc., they're good to go.

(4) Make sure the mentally ill don't get guns Besides the argument that it's toxic rage, not mental illness, that's behind mass shootings (and I believe this about 99.9%), in order to be banned from owning a weapon, you have to be involuntarily committed - but if your stay doesn't exceed 72 hours (no matter how many times this happens), it doesn't count towards your ability to buy / own weapons So you could be involuntarily committed 20 times a year and, as long as you got out before 72 hours, you're good to go And Donald Trump himself signed an Executive Order repealing the (admittedly small) attempt Obama implemented to keep people who were getting mental illness disability from owning weapons.

(5) Background checks, background checks, background checks. We've all heard about the Brady Bill requiring background checks EXCEPT there's a couple of major flaws:
First Loophole: Immediately after it passed, the NRA launched lawsuits in nine states to declare the Brady Bill unconstitutional, and finally struck gold In 1997, in Printz v. The United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the provision of the Brady Act that compelled state and local law enforcement officials to perform the background checks was unconstitutional, so it's on a voluntary basis
Second Loophole: Gun shows and other private sales - including sales over the internet - are exempt from the Brady Bill requiring background checks and complete forms, sales records etc., since "any person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of the state where they reside, as long as they do not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms" (Wikipedia)
Third Loophole: Background checks only work one way Thanks - again - to the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, a firearms dealer can get electronic information about the purchaser, but the FBI and the ATF do not get electronic information in return to let them know what firearms are being purchased Or how many Or how often Which is why our local crazies Kattenbergs could purchase $3,000-$7,000 worth of firearms every three months and nobody got any red flags...

We have a lot of work to do to get sane gun laws back in this country.

And as for the idea of arming teachers.. Well, these memes say it better than I could:
Image may contain: 1 person, text Image may contain: 1 person, text Image result for meme teachers protect students don't get raises credit
Make that THREE deputies who froze Which is the point, because you don't know who'll freeze until it happens.
And the 18% is true See HERE
And if they arm teachers, will they have to buy the guns the way they have to buy classroom supplies?
















Another major meme going around is that all would be well if we just restored prayer in schools Look, if prayer is going to do the trick, then how come that white supremacist punk shot up a black church AFTER sitting through their prayer meeting? Or the November 7, 2017 shooting by the convicted domestic abuser in a Texas church which killed 26 people? And don't forget the 2006 shooting in an Amish school which killed 5 Amish girls All of these were places of prayer.

I believe in prayer I do a lot of it But I also believe that we need ungutted regulations and laws, because the dark never stops rising, and we have to fight it all the time.

Anyway, that's the latest from South Dakota, where I WISH we were the only ones who talk like Mayberry, and act like Goodfellas while the crazy just keeps on coming.



18 February 2018

YTD


  Just the facts… believe it or not  



Year-to-Date 2018’s 49 Days
the price of conscience
49 ⇧
YTD days since 01 January 2018
18 ⇧
YTD school shootings
8 ⇧
YTD school shootings ending in death
26 ⇧
YTD school shooting fatalities
~1643 ⇧
YTD shooting deaths nationwide
~2862 ⇧
YTD suicide by firearm
~4966 ⇧
YTD shooting deaths + injuries



~$1,677,000
YTD gun lobbying expenditures
~$700,000
YTD NRA lobbying expenditures
~$7,056,537
YTD NRA industry contributions
~$49,000,000
YTD NRA membership dues, fees



327,217,871
US population: people
252,284,978
US population: adults
359,939,658
US population: firearms
200,000,000
military-owned arms worldwide
~27,000,000
police-owned arms worldwide
2
firearms owned by author



135
legislative efforts to weaken gun laws


¹ including legalize silencers and


² allowing mentally ill gun ownership
0
bills to restrict firearms



15,137
registered Washington lobbyists
~75,000
unregistered Washington lobbyists
50
state governors
435
congressmen
100
senators
1
vice president
1
president
?
strikes
0
balls