USA --(Ammoland.com)- Before Fast and Furious, there was Wide Receiver, a surveillance operation by ATF, ostensibly to track straw purchasers and to identify how some guns are smuggled into Mexico from the U.S. to help supply the drug cartels with firepower. As with Fast and Furious, some of the weaponry eluded the trackers and found its way into criminal hands.
“Guns across the Border: How and Why the U.S. Government Smuggled Guns into Mexico” tells the story of that operation, identifying the key players involved, and significantly, explaining the differences between the earlier and later “gunwalking” operations.
Authored by Mike Detty, a gun writer, FFL and the confidential informant at the heart of the operation, it gives an inside view of an American who risked his life over the course of years trying to do what he thought was his patriotic duty, only to find out in the end his “handlers” hung him out to dry.
I was pleased to write the introduction for the book (the foreword was penned by CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who won both a Murrow Award and an Emmy for her groundbreaking reporting on Fast and Furious).
Detty and I will both be interviewed tonight at 9 p.m Eastern on the nationally-syndicated Armed American Radio program, hosted by Mark Walters, and will discuss his book in detail. To join us, go to the AAR website to find a station near you or to listen live via the internet.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- “I am currently writing a marksmanship curriculum for elementary school students 1st – 8th grade,” Mary Ann Paczkowski informed me over the weekend. “The goal is to market this curriculum to home school families in California and to be used in a public charter school that I am currently working on creating in the southern California area.
“The help I need at this time is finding a good list of ‘civilian’ heroes who have used their marksmanship skills to save people in their areas,” she explained. “I want the students to learn not just about the military heroes that use fire arms but civilians too.”
Those are worthy goals—first developing a marksmanship curriculum, and also making a point of educating young minds on real-world occurrences that demonstrate the practical, life-saving benefits of an armed citizenry. And it’s vital to encourage the next generations to embrace their firearms heritage, lest the anti-gunners win their long-term goals simply by waiting for the current one to die out.
Part of their strategy is to keep kids ignorant about guns—and that’s also the most dangerous, and the one that can lead to tragedy if young people encounter one and don’t know anything about gun safety. The truism “Knowledge is power” applies here, as Guy Smith demonstrates using government statistics in the “Children and Guns” section of his indispensable “Gun Facts” online compilation.
As for helping Ms. Paczkowski compile that list she’s looking for, I suggested NRA’s “The Armed Citizen” would be a good starting point. But there are plenty of other examples, including news accounts like the one I linked to this morning on my “The War on Guns” blog about the Auto Zone employee who saved the day – and was fired for it by corporate. Part of an education might be the realization that everyone doesn’t always want to reward armed citizens, and that sometimes, no good deed goes unpunished.
“Any help in this regard would be much appreciated,” Paczkowski concluded, and I promised I’d help her seek it. So now I am turning around and asking you who are reading this – if you know of any documented incidents that will assist her in this worthy project, please tell her about them.
She can be contacted at email@example.com [copy and paste into your email address bar and make the subject “Civilian Heroes”]. Please help, and please help spread the word.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- I’ve been tracking down a rumor, partially corroborated by a piece in The Shootihng Wire, that anti-gun Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s staff has been meeting with ATF officials to propose a new federal “assault weapon” ban if Obama is reelected.
Here’s an email forwarded to me, reportedly from NSSF:
I just heard that Sen. Feinstein’s attorney is meeting right now with folks from FTB and ATF legal (Eric Epstein [legal], Todd Martin [Legal] and Earl Griffith [FTB] and others) to discuss a new SAW ban, that she would want to start pushing through as soon as (if) Obama gets reelected.
- – No pistol grip allowed – – No HC Mags – – No grandfathering – – No sale permissible if in possession
That is all I know right now
I’ve made inquiries to NSSF, which has not responded at this writing, and also to other insider sources who tell me those are the right players, but the higher-ups are visibly absent. My source also shared a very interesting prediction that ATF is “toast” no matter who wins. I’ve written up a more detailed report in today’s Gun Rights Examiner column.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Forget that the city of Haverhill, MA never owned the guns in the first place, so the concept of conducting a “buyback” is a fraud right from the start. The entire business of encouraging citizens to turn in guns for “gift cards” (again a misnomer, since it’s an exchange, not a present) endangers participants and can actually enable criminals.
“The idea is to cut down on the amount of potential guns that could be stolen during house breaks,” the mayor is quoted as saying. If someone were breaking into their house, would the people he’s appealing to not wish to have the means to protect themselves and their loved ones? Would Hizzoner?
It’s true that those who have no desire to get the right training to be able to safely own a gun have the right to just get rid of the thing, whether the decision to forgo an effective tool for self-defense is a prudent one or not. But those are the very people who should not be handling a gun, let alone transporting it to a turn-in location—without adequate instruction on how to safely do both, they’re endangering not only themselves but everyone around them, and breaking state law to boot.
It’s also true that “no questions asked” is an incentive for people in possession of stolen guns to get rewarded for their crimes, and with considerably less risk than dealing with dangerous underworld purchasers. It’s also a great way to get rid of a murder weapon, with guaranteed immunity. Another possibility—and I’m waiting for some savvy criminal to try this one out—is if they’re arrested for “illegal” possession on the day a “buyback” is taking place to claim they were transporting it to the turn-in, that no training was provided on lawful transport, and they were promised no questions would be asked.
Meanwhile, the predatory criminals responsible for the violence will remain armed to the teeth, and ambitious politicians and in-their-pocket police chiefs, who are utterly powerless to do anything about that, will continue going after the law-abiding, and doing their utmost to render them powerless to fight back. And when another hapless constituent predictably becomes a victim, they’ll play it up for all it’s worth to “justify” their insatiable quest for yet more control and yet more power…
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Gun Owners of America, the “no compromise” national gun rights organization, urged its members and supporters yesterday to contact candidate Paul Ryan to ask him to challenge incumbent Joe Biden over the administration’s role in the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” scandal in tonight’s Vice Presidential debates.
This campaign dovetails with another established weeks back in the Gun Rights Examiner advocacy column that presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledge to revoke the executive privilege order Barack Obama issued shielding subpoenaed documents from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, thus enabling continued stonewalling by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department.
The debate will occur tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern time, and will be broadcast over major networks, CSPAN, and online at the 2012 Election Central website. Supporters are urged to make their views known on this via the Romney campaign website and via social media.
For further information, including how to participate before tonight’s debate, see:
USA --(Ammoland.com)- “U.S. Distrust in Media Hits New High,” Gallup announced, citing a poll concluding “Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60 percent saying they have little or no trust in the mass media…”
Firearms owners weary of the barrage of disinformation, spin and outright lies we have come to expect as the norm when on gun issues could well wonder how 40 percent of the populace can be so thick.
The letter asked Holder “to immediately disclose information related to the existence of any potential ‘gun-walking’ programs in the State of Texas and provide answers to the family of fallen U.S. ICE Agent Jaime Zapata about the source of the weapons found at his murder scene, one of which has been linked to a Texas-based straw purchaser.”
“Sen. Cornyn first requested this information from the Attorney General more than one year ago and to date has only received a routine response indicating a review was taking place and additional information would be provided,” the release maintains.
“I’ve written and e-mailed Senators Cornyn and Hutchison on several occasions re F&F and in fact reminded the senators that Holder flat out lied to Senator Cornyn during one of the hearings when Cornyn point blank asked Holder if gunwalking was going on in any place, including Texas, other than Arizona,” an activist correspondent in Texas related.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- My hometown paper, the Akron Beacon Journal, just weighed in on the Inspector General’s “Fast and Furious” report with expected media spin. Here’s my response:
Typical Beacon Journal regressive apologia. You people haven’t done one bit of original reporting on this story and now weigh in like you’re some kind of authorities. “No evidence” hardly means “exonerated,” it means the White House has blocked efforts to obtain it.
How many whistleblowers have trusted you and become sources, giving you exclusive information and documentation to validate it? Guess who first used the term “pad statistics” in regards to Gunwalker? Who brought the whistleblowers to the attention of Sen. Grassley and then pressured Darrell Issa to get involved? Who did Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News turn to when she wanted to learn about this story? Who has filed and published results of FOIAs, steered committee investigators to witnesses, obtained exclusive interviews with key players (including the CI at the heart of “Operation Wide Receiver”), made public internal emails, been referenced in high-level discussions between ATF management and their Chief Counsel’s office…? Who first brought details of Fast and Furious to the attention of everybody, including the nexus to the death of a Border Patrol Agent?
Why is it that “just a blogger” in Hudson, part of your circulation area, and another in Pinson, AL, have been able to consistently scoop all you “professionals” from the very beginning on this, having their work corroborated time and again, and continue to be the ones to uncover new dimensions while you “Authorized Journalists” sit back and pontificate based on NY Times and Washington Post talking points?
USA --(Ammoland.com)- “We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted in a press conference following a shooting incident outside the Empire State Building in late August, where police killed an armed man who had shot a former co-worker.
“An additional nine individuals were either wounded or grazed during the exchange,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly advised the assembled media.
What would soon come out: It was gunfire from NYPD that the nine bystanders were caught up in. Neither of the responding officers had ever fired their guns in the line of duty before. That’s not to say Monday morning quarterbacking their response is fair, but then, neither is the typical response from the anti-gunners, which puts the blame squarely on the “gun lobby.”
It wasn’t long before comparisons were being made to the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, or to the Sikh Temple shootings in Wisconsin. The usual media suspects were calling for “a national conversation to prevent gun deaths,” meaning for more citizen disarmament, and blaming everything from private sales to expiration of the federal “assault weapons” ban, even though the gun used by the murderer was a .45 caliber handgun.
That, of course, suited the Violence Policy Center just fine, which issued a statement condemning the “45 caliber handgun…offering yet another example of how the ready availability of semiautomatic handguns that can be equipped with high-capacity ammunition magazines destroy lives and make everyone less safe. “
USA --(Ammoland.com)- A captured Fast and Furious murder suspect, a documentary in the making, and a Federal Firearms Licensee fighting revocation by ATF were all subjects explored last week in the Gun Rights Examiner column.
Last Sunday, we looked at what the capture of a suspect in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry captured in Mexico means in terms of obtaining justice and getting to the truth about our government’s role in the Operation Fast and Furious “gunwalking.” One thing not mentioned by the “Authorized Journalists” of mainstream media: If we expect Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza to stand trial in the U.S., we’ll need to provide the Mexican government with assurances that the death penalty will not be sought, due to the terms and conditions of our extradition treaty. Click here for details.
On Monday, we learned of a new documentary being produced, “Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire.” Looking at citizen disarmament efforts underway in California, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Kris Koenig is connecting the dots to show how what starts in the Golden State invariably worms its way eastward, and the threat that poses to us all. Using historical examples to include the Battle of Athens and the Deacons for Defense, Koenig hopes to awaken more Americans to the dangers of “gun control,” and is recruiting all of us to help him do that. Click here to find out how.
Wednesday and Saturday returned readers to a story introduced last August, how the security firm Brink’s. Inc., is fighting to retain its FFL from ATF bureaucrats trying to revoke it. Not only is ATF violating its own procedures, and apparently the law, they’re setting things up so that Brink’s will have to defend itself without being able to compel sworn testimony from the very official who wants to strip them of their license, plus it looks like they lied to the court in order to derail a hearing! The good news is, and this is breaking and exclusive news you won’t find anywhere else, the court has ordered a hearing for tomorrow afternoon (Monday, Sept. 17) to address Brink’s motion for judicial review. This is very important, because, unlike smaller FFLs, Brink’s has the resources to defend its rights, and the results of its efforts could have beneficial effects on the industry as a whole to compel ATF to apply the same and equitable standards to all. Click the links to read Parts One, Two and Three of this developing story.
USA –(Ammoland.com)-A film currently in production that promises to “compare the historical aspects of gun control … to today’s laws“ has attracted financial backing from national and state gun groups and is now appealing to gun rights supporters to help complete the production, Gun Rights Examiner learned in an exclusive weekend interview with Kris Koenig, Emmy award-winning producer and writer, and founder of Dead Patriot Films, Inc., which is producing “Assaulted, Civil Rights Under Fire.”
“The Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation has joined forces with the Calguns Foundation in a fund-raising effort supporting the production,” Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman wrote last week in a report announcing the project and a $5,000 investment by each of the the gun rights groups to go toward the estimated $85,000 needed to fund the project. The balance is being raised using the Kickstarter fundraising website.
“[I want] to create a film that starts a national dialogue that can take place without the rhetoric that is normally associated with gun rights debates,” Koenig told Gun Rights Examiner when asked what he hopes to accomplish with the film. “ I also want inspire lawmakers to start focusing on the causes of gun violence like mental health, drugs and gangs, and stop attacking our civil rights for political points.
While spring-boarding off the restrictive gun environment in California, Koenig’s project will deal with principles and issues of concern throughout the United States, particularly as many of the initiatives implemented there have been or will be mirrored elsewhere, with resultant losses of liberty.
“I believe that it’s important for everyone, especially lawmakers, to understand that gun rights are civil rights and that those rights are not intangible concepts written into our constitution but are active in our daily lives,” he continued. “I’m also a victim of carjacking in LA in 1990’s, so I know what it’s like to be at barrel end of a gun and I want to make sure others have the right to protect themselves to avoid what I went through.
“I not an activist,” Koenig clarified when asked if he’s been a member of any Second Amendment-related projects or gun rights and grassroots groups. “I am just a citizen [who] wants to move the national debate off our guns and focused it on the causes of gun violence – mental health, gangs and drugs.
“I’m a filmmaker passionate about the Second Amendment and I believe I have the skills to write and produce a documentary that both pro and anti-gunners will watch and learn from,” he asserted when asked why he was the right person to take on this project.
“In 2011, I was filming a regional documentary on street gangs invading rural California,” Koenig related in response to the question of how he got involved with SAF and Calguns. “During that production I was actively engaged with gang members, so a local Sheriff Deputy suggested that I get a CCW and start carrying for self-protection. During the process of obtaining my permit I learned how screwed up the gun laws of California are compared to the rest of the Union.
“I also started visiting Calguns.net to buy and sell guns,” he recalled. “During my visits to the forum I started reading 2A posts and educating myself on gun issues in California. When it came to put together a group of experts as advisers for the film Calguns was the logical place to start looking. Gene Hoffman, Chairman of the Calguns Foundation introduced Alan Gottlieb to the project.
“We’re trying to put the funds together to send a crew there to film interviews and to promote awareness of the film,” Koenig replied when asked if he has plans to attend the upcoming Gun Rights Policy Conference in Orlando, FL, from September 28 – 30, an event held and hosted each year by the Second Amendment Foundation.
This article also appeared at Gun Rights Examiner. Click here to see that post which also includes an embedded video preview of “Assaulted, Civil Rights Under Fire.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)-A letter asking presidential candidate Mitt Romney to make good on his words of support for the Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious “gunwalking,’ and for his campaign’s words of condemnation for the Obama administration invoking executive privilege, is being sent to the Mitt Romney for President campaign today. Written jointly by this correspondent and citizen journalist Mike Vanderboegh of the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog, Romney is being asked to commit to revoke the executive privilege claim, and to instruct full cooperation from the Department of Justice in assisting with, instead of obstructing the investigation.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Responding to a reporter’s question about New York City police shooting nine bystanders when taking down an armed murderer at the Empire State Building, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unintentionally highlighted the dangerous inequity of the citizen disarmament advocacy that is central to his political agenda, a release from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms noted on Friday.
“Anti-gun New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the wrong man to speak about self-defense in a city that is a virtual victim disarmament zone because of his policies,” CCRKBA stated.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- The Bureau of Land Management has declared the Burning Man “radical self-expression/self-reliance” community “experiment” in northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert a temporary weapons-free zone, GunLeaders Blog reported today. Citing a Department of the Interior “Notice of Temporary Closure and Temporary Restrictions of Specific Uses on Public Lands in Pershing County, NV” appearing in the Federal Register Volume 77, Number 157 (Tuesday, August 14, 2012), the edict mandates “temporary closures and temporary restrictions will be in effect from August 13, 2012 to September 17, 2012.
Proclaiming its authority under 43 CFR 8364.1., and issued by Gene Seidlitz, District Manager, Winnemucca District, the restriction notice declared “The possession of any weapon is prohibited except weapons within motor vehicles passing through the public closure area, without stopping, on the west or east playa roads.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- A training program for civilian police by the United States Marine Corps has caused concern among liberty activist/Second Amendment-supporting bloggers, resulting in a call to demand accountability from the Marines and from Congressional representatives, Western Rifle Shooters Association blog alerted its readers yesterday.
Responding to a report last week by WNCT CBS 9 News in Greenville, NC, titled “Marines, civilian police officers conduct urban training exercise,” WRSA linked its readers to The Arctic Patriot blog, where “a veteran with over eight years of prior service in the US Army” expressed his concerns and asked “As a civilian rifleman, being a part of the United States’ Constitutional Militia, when can I and my other countrymen expect an invitation to train alongside US Marines?”
USA --(Ammoland.com)- A Friday letter sent by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz warned against delaying release of the long-awaited report on its Fast and Furious gunwalking investigation and summoned the IG to appear before the Committee on Sept. 11 for questioning. Additionally, the letter revealed that a copy of the report has been provided to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in addition to being sent to Justice.
The length of time the report has taken to prepare prompted Gun Rights Examiner to observe last December that it had already exceeded the time it took the Warren Commission to produce its report on the John F. Kennedy assassination. Cautions were also raised months back about the selection of Horowitz to replace then-acting IG Cynthia A. Schnedar, who had close ties to Attorney General Eric Holder, when this column pointed out his close ties to Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, identified early on as a person of interest in Fast and Furious by this column and citizen journalist Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars.
“We have been told through our sources for some time to be ready for a ‘September Surprise,’” Vanderboegh told his readers yesterday of this latest development. “The idea was to get the OIG report on the record and then, if it was a whitewash, to blow it out of the water with additional documents and witnesses already in the hands of the Issa committee.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)-“Is FBI agent Mexican ‘crime gun’ source?” I asked in a July 14, 2009 Gun Rights Examiner headline upon reading a report in The New York Times that “An F.B.I. agent in El Paso has been arrested and charged with dealing guns, some of which ended up being used in gunfights between the authorities and drug dealers in Mexico…”
My initial assumption, that a crooked cop got caught, was challenged within hours by a trusted source, who told me all was not as it appeared. What follows is a summation of my coverage of the story of John Shipley. The details are confusing, and often times appear to make no sense, and even today, years after my initial report, more questions remain unanswered following the strange twists and turns this case has taken. Rather than try and repeat them all here, and creating a narrative that will be too long and difficult to follow, interested readers can consult the individual reports, linked below:
“JOHN SHIPLEY DID NOTHING WRONG! JOHN BOUGHT AND SOLD GUNS TO ENHANCE HIS COLLECTION AND TO SUPPORT HIS HOBBY!” an entry on the Shipley Legal Defense Fund website asserted.
“At this point, there is simply not enough information for me to reach a conclusion other than to say grave questions have been raised,” I wrote, “and because they involve a man’s reputation and freedom, they merit being fully explored.”
To begin that process, a week later, after learning more, I asked “Is FBI agent charged with illegal gun dealing just a collector?” That’s because it wasn’t “guns” tied to Shipley that had been recovered in Mexico, it was only one gun—a Barrett .50 caliber rifle. And he’d sold that to a former El Paso Deputy Sheriff who was currently working as a detention officer. On top of that, Shipley’s activities appeared compliant with federal law as it applies to private collectors/hobbyists.
The official story now demonstrably had holes in it. Large holes.
But that didn’t stop a jury from finding him guilty in April, 2010 “on one count of importing/ manufacturing firearms and dealing firearms without a license, one count of making a false statement, and four counts of causing a firearms dealer to maintain false records.” And the family, set back but not defeated, vowed to fight on and clear John Shipley’s name.
My reporting on Shipley lapsed off for a while after that. In the interim, Shipley was sentenced to two years, which he began serving last summer. I picked up his story again in May of this year, when I reported “Appeals court denies extension in Shipley case despite strangely lost testimony.” The data disk, in the custody of the court reporter, somehow got scratched. An entire day’s testimony was lost. Shipley’s lawyers petitioned the 5th circuit court for a mistrial and bond. The government’s solution was to send the case back to district court to “recreate” the lost day of testimony.
Strange enough so far. But things got stranger last week, when documentation received from a source close to the case necessitated writing a six-part series just to be able to parse out the new information into logical segments.
“Shipley documents point to more government-sanctioned gunwalking,” was the first stunning revelation, where readers were introduced to Jonatan Lopez Gutierrez, a Mexican national with a Texas driver license and a Juarez address, who bought the rifle Shipley had sold to the former deputy—in the parking lot of a gun store in a deal brokered by the FFL (with the gun delivered by a mysterious stranger, it would later be revealed)!
“This document is evidence that the ATF knew Lopez trafficked the Barrett to Mexico,” the source claimed, adding ““If [the FFL] was acting without the knowledge of the ATF, he would have been arrested and [his store] would have been closed and seized. This proves ATF was involved in the sale.”
Next, shady tactics by the government to sway the jury were detailed in “Documents show prejudicial tactics helped result in Shipley conviction.” Not only did the prosecution tell demonstrable lies in the courtroom, the judge had made prejudicial statements to the media months before the trial had begun, and blatant propaganda was used to falsely conflate Shipley’s sale of the rifle to make him appear to be a gun smuggler, even though the government knew this was not the case.
What the government did with the real smugglers proved equally instructive—or rather what they did not do, I pointed out in “Conspiracy indictments indicate sanctioned gunwalking, government lies.” After all the build-up to make Shipley appear to be a supplier to traffickers, the one gun he sold the deputy that ended up in Mexico was not included on the indictment against the traffickers!
“This is because if the ATF charged Lopez with trafficking that Barrett to Mexico, the ATF would have to provide discovery materials that would prove the ATF knowingly allowed that gun to ‘walk,’” the source explained. “Those documents would prove that [government agents] lied in Federal Court to obtain a search warrant for Shipley’s residence under the false pretext that they were trying to find out who sold the Barrett into Mexico.”
And Jonatan Lopez Gutierrez himself proved to be quite an enigma, and the last person in the world one might expect to be a gun trafficker for the cartels. “Unlikely trafficker cited in Shipley case given inexplicably lenient sentence” was the next report, where we found the indictment was limited to conspiracy charges in spite of having him dead to rights on illegal purchase, possession and sale charges, resulting in a sentence the same length as Shipley’s. Further, it was learned he was the CEO of Emmanuel Ministries in Juarez, CH, a shelter for children!
“While such questions are necessary and understandable, much of the speculation is unlikely to be answered without further investigation by those with the resources, and most importantly, the inclination to do so,” I wrote. “Unless and until that happens, to include pressure to investigate by some of the political figures the family has approached, this story will be relegated to a niche readership. John Shipley’s story will remain unknown, and gun collectors and hobbyists, including those in law enforcement, will continue to remain at risk due to arbitrary interpretations of the law, self-serving prosecutions, and a ‘watchdog press’ that all too often seems content to nap at government’s feet and reserve its snarling for those who get too close.”
Unfortunately, expecting “Authorized Journalists” to do the right thing appears a futile hope. That said, my part in continuing to bring exclusive reports on new developments is continuing at this writing. Earlier today I received more documents, and my intent is to reveal another (as yet unpublished) aspect in a soon-to-be-posted update.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Trial testimony transcripts and a press release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show an El Paso gun dealer was cooperating with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in its surveillance of suspected gun traffickers as part of a joint eight-month operation between ICE and ATF, documents received and being analyzed this week by Gun Rights Examiner reveal. These materials, received from a source close to the case of FBI agent John Shipley, an active collector convicted of dealing in firearms without a license, further reveal evidence of guns being smuggled to Mexico following ATF-monitored activities by suspects under extended surveillance.
In yesterday’s report, this column walked through two documents illustrating how a former deputy Shipley sold a Barrett rifle to, Armando Rodriguez, reportedly placed it on consignment with a Federal Firearms Licensee, how the gun was sold and physically transferred to then-suspected trafficker Jonatan Lopez-Gutierrez, who had a Juarez, CH, address on his driver license, and how the money and proof of delivery, consisting of a photocopy of the buyer’s license and a handwritten acknowledgment of receipt, were then given to the seller where they were later recovered in a search of his home.
Today’s report, consisting of documents identified as #3, #4 and #5, will lay out the evidence that the dealer was cooperating with ATF in identifying and reporting on suspects being watched, establishing that it was well within the capability and power of agents to arrest the traffickers and intercept the gun Shipley sold before it was smuggled into Mexico, something that was later exploited with great effect by the prosecution to condemn the defendant in the eyes of the jury.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Documents made available to Gun Rights Examiner this week from a source close to the case of FBI agent John Shipley, convicted of dealing in firearms without a license, bolster defense claims that he was merely an active collector, and further reveal evidence of guns being smuggled to Mexico following ATF-directed deals by suspects under extended surveillance. A mysterious receipt for a gun sale to a Mexican resident, reports of investigation that include suspect interviews, trial transcripts, government press releases, Mexico weapons recovery pictures and the indictment of a trafficking suspect all lend credible support to concerns that the government itself engaged in wrongdoing.
The volume of documents and the many dimensions they contain preclude effectively presenting and analyzing their contents in one report, so they will be broken down into a series of exclusive installments to be presented in this column for the remainder of the week.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Despite a city administration decrying Pennsylvania’s state preemption on gun laws in its demand for new edicts, a response by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office to a documented complaint about violations of existing firearms statutes by the city’s top cop is being met with deliberate indifference, a letter received yesterday by attorney Joshua Prince confirms.
“In Philadelphia, if you wish to file a Private Criminal Complaint…you must appear in person at the District Attorney’s Private Criminal Complaint Unit,” Matthew Perks, Assistant District Attorney, Chief, Private Criminal Complaint Unit, told Prince in an August 8 letter responding to multiple requests that authorities investigate Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey for violations of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act. Since the initial request for investigation in April, these have been shunted Pilate and Herod-like between Attorney General Linda L. Kelly and District Attorney Seth Williams, neither of whom appear inclined to uphold the law against one of their own.
USA --(Ammoland.com)-“Shall not be infringed” notwithstanding, engaged gun owners know there is a multitude of laws, statutes and ordinances doing exactly that enacted at federal state and municipal levels, despite what opportunistic anti-gun politicians, the Brady Campaign, and their media cheerleaders would have Americans believe with their incessant and false “lax gun laws” mantra. Knowing how to steer clear of violating what can, at times, be a patchwork quilt of confusing and conflicting edicts, is a necessary discipline informed gun owners must keep up with as a matter of basic legal survival, both in their locale of residence and when traveling. Since very few of us have encyclopedic minds, the right consulting reference can be worth its weight in gold.
Part of the responsibility of writing this column, as a field editor for GUNS Magazine, and as an “unauthorized journalist”/”mere blogger” at WarOnGuns includes making every effort to consult such references when appropriate, and to give the readers the ability to validate matters for themselves. As such, I’ve frequently shared information gleaned from the National Rifle Association’s online “Gun Laws” resource, which includes information on federal laws, interstate and airline travel and “State Laws at Glance.” Readers have also been introduced to, or reminded of, groundbreaking work by two old friends and colleagues, attorney Evan Nappen, with his authoritative guides on New Jersey and New Hampshire gun, knife and weapon laws, and the impressive array of unique and informative books and DVDs author Alan Korwin offers us at GunLaws.com.
The website is cool. It’s easy to navigate and explore. It has a ton of readily-accessible, logically-organized and presented information. You can learn about national and state transport and carry laws, or individual state statutes. You can drill down through an interactive map, which makes understanding reciprocity easy. And they even offer a blog, where more detailed information can be shared and discussed.
Best of all is the price, because you’ll notice the link gives full site access. I asked how they can offer the information for free to anyone with internet access, yet still sell physical and downloadable copies of the book (noting it will also soon be made available on Kindle, Iphone/IOS, Android and Google Play platforms). I was informed they “are purposely providing the TEXT of the book as a reference source for free, but accessing it for free does not allow one to print it,” that they “want the information to be accessible to everyone, understanding that in this economy, they do not want to prevent people from having the best information available to them. Because some people really prefer having something tangibly accessible in their hands, or if they want access to the book on Kindle, or want to print particular pages, a small price is required.”
That seems more than generous and fair, and I learned that supportive bloggers can enjoy the benefit of becoming an affiliate partner by embedding a link to the book on their blogs, allowing them to make a generous commission off the sales they send to the website.
Note: This column originally appeared on Examiner.com. In the interests of full disclosure, I am not–at present–an affiliate partner of GunLawsByState.com, so I am not earning any remuneration from them for this review. In the interests of further disclosure, I may yet decide to participate on my WarOnGuns blog.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- With money laundering conspiracy charges dismissed by the judge beforehand, verdicts were returned Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Las Cruces, N.M., on remaining charges against members of the Reese family, Deming gun dealers who have, for the past year, been fighting charges of knowingly selling to straw purchasers providing guns to Mexican cartels. Pronounced “not guilty” on the most damning charges, three family members still face a daunting legal threat.
“All four family members, Remington, Terri, Rick Reese and Ryin Reese, were acquitted of one count of conspiracy and 17 counts of gun smuggling,” KVIA ABC7 reported, noting “Remington Reese, 20, was acquitted on all counts and released from jail on Wednesday.
“The jury did convict Terri, Rick and Ryin of making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms,” the report continued. “Ryin was found guilty on two counts while both Rick and Terri were found guilty on one count each.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Tuesday’s release of the first part of a joint staff report detailing findings in the Congressional investigation of Operation Fast and Furious did not result in headlines by The Washington Post, let alone a buried independent story at this writing. Instead, its editor chose to publish an Associated Press piece parroting an accusation by the Justice Department that the “Republican Fast and Furious report engages in distortion.”
This does not serve to impartially inform a readership interested in knowing all the facts about the government investigation. It would also appear to be a gross violation of basic canons of journalism adopted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, as well as an apparently “false and misleading statement” CEO Donald E. Graham makes to investors of his publicly-traded company that “Our dedication to top-quality journalism is important to the people at the Company…We all share a belief that the free flow of information is essential to a successful democracy.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)- The first of a three-part joint staff report on the Operation Fast and Furious “gunwalking” investigation prepared for House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Charles Grassley was issued Tuesday in Washington. D.C.
“This report chronicles the fundamentally flawed firearms trafficking case from the perspective of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives,” the preface states. “Part two will look at the devastating failure of supervision and leadership by officials at Justice Department headquarters, principally within the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and within the Criminal Division. Part three will address the unprecedented obstruction of the investigation by the highest levels of the Justice Department, including the Attorney General himself.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)-The prosecution has rested and Rick Reese has taken the stand in his own defense in the U.S. District Court in Las Cruces, N.M., a spokesperson for the embattled gun dealer and his family told Gun Rights Examiner by email Sunday. Arrested last August, Reese, his wife Terri, and their sons Ryin and Remington, are on trial for conspiracy, aiding and abetting smuggling of firearms, money laundering and making false statements to investigators, in a case where the government’s own evidence and testimony are raising serious questions about the appropriateness of the charges and the ordeal they have put the family through.
“The prosecution rested their case on Friday,” the spokesperson wrote. “Rick took the stand after lunch and our defense attorney Bob Gorence started his questioning by asking Rick to explain his work ethics and how he got to be where he is and how he became successful.
“We could see he clearly had difficulty and became very emotional talking about all he and his family had sacrificed to get to where they were before they were arrested,” the spokesperson continued, promising “Once this is over, I can hardly wait to tell you all the ins and outs of this tragic case. Until then, I have to be oh so careful in the information I report.”
“I would have thrown [government informant Jose Roman] out of the store,” the Las Cruces-Sun News reported Reese maintaining under oath. “I would not put my wife and sons in harm’s way, ever.”
Additional trial details are being regularly reported in an outstanding series by the Tea Party Patriots of Luna County, who already filed several updates yesterday on the cross-examination of the lead ATF agent in the investigation. Curiously, they reported that the government brought in a State Department-connected witness to testify about arms export control violations to Mexico, something that could raise problems for the government prosecuting the Reese family if those investigating Operation Fast and Furious “gunwalking” ever decide to pursue that line of inquiry.
In another noteworthy observation on proceedings, a “tense moment in the courtroom” was reported on Friday “when the prosecution started picking up AK-47s and AR-15s and swinging them around the room pointed randomly at people – unintentionally. The careless handling of the weapons caught the eye of the Judge who stopped the prosecution and made sure the weapons were unloaded and secured.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told “Fox News Sunday” that “the Second Amendment leaves room for U.S. legislatures to regulate guns, including menacing hand-held weapons,” The National Journal reported this morning, and that has created quite a media stir.
While treated as a breaking revelation to the point of garnering the headline position on The Drudge Report at this writing, in big red letters, no less, Scalia’s position is hardly news to those who pay attention to such things. The 2008 opinion he wrote for the majority in the landmark District of Columbia v Heller case made that clear, causing no small amount of consternation among gun rights advocates.
“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” Scalia asserted. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not 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. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those ‘in common use at the time’ finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Quick reactions by the administration and top Democrats downplayed remarks by President Barack Obama that appeared to endorse a resurrected federal “assault weapons” ban. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the “schedule is too packed to even have a debate,” the Associated Press reported Thursday. That same day, The Hill reported House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi stopped short of calling for tougher laws, and even White House Press Secretary Jay Carney disavowed any immediate plans to introduce “gun control” legislation as the president himself “sidestepped a reporter’s question,” ABC related earlier today.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- After days of cautious remarks that avoided “gun control” in the wake of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., which prompted criticism and lament from vocal disarmament proponents, President Barack Obama broke his silence Wednesday in New Orleans and promised “to lead a national discussion,” The Washington Post is reporting.
“Obama told the National Urban League here that he believes a lot of gun owners would agree that ‘AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers,’ not civilians on American streets,” the report relates, offering the first official renewal of a “jewel in the crown” goal he’d articulated and then had scrubbed from the White House website (noting that history has conveniently been sealed from Internet Archive “Wayback Machine” searches). Also gone from the official record were his plans to exploit trace data, implement more federal edicts, end private sales, and mandate defensive gun use impediments under the guise of “childproofing.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)- A key government witness in the case against a New Mexico gun dealer family has provided inconsistent testimony as well as recollections unsubstantiated by Customs and Immigrations records, a report on trial proceedings filed yesterday by the Luna Tea Party Patriots relates. Jose Roman, reportedly a career criminal since the age of 17 smuggling illegal aliens, guns and drugs, and who has been offered a plea deal in exchange for testimony, also admitted on the witness stand that he had provided false statements while making firearms purchases from New Deal Shooting Sports in Deming. That store was owned and operated by Rick Reese, his wife Terri, and their sons Ryin and Remington, now on trial for conspiracy, aiding and abetting smuggling of firearms, money laundering and making false statements to investigators.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Philippine police say mass shootings similar to the one at the Aurora, Colo., theater are unlikely due to the nation’s strict gun control laws, ABS-CBNnews.com reported Saturday.
“Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman, Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr., said the Philippines has stringent measures regulating the sale of firearms,” the story reports. “He added that it is unusual in Filipino culture to engage in such violent activity.”
What Chief Superintendent Cerbo and the reporters for the news division of the Phillipines-based global media conglomerate who are taking his claims at face value don’t mention is the Maguindanao Massacre, committed less than three years ago, when mass graves containing 57 bodies, were found. Unarmed victims of an ambush were shot or taken hostage for execution as their convoy was going to file a political challenge against Andal Ampatuan, Jr., the son of an incumbent governor seeking to succeed his father, and who was subsequently arrested and held for trial until the Department of Justice dropped charges citing insufficient evidence (see sidebar video).
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Citing an anti-“same sex marriage” stance by its corporate ownership, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has vowed to block Chick-fil-A restaurants in Beantown, the Boston Herald reported Thursday.
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” the Herald quoted the mayor. “It doesn’t send the right message to the country. We’re a leader when it comes to social justice and opportunities for all.”
That would be for all except those who disagree with the mayor’s political stances. And while the Herald confirms Menino successfully blocked a Walmart using economic factors as justification, what authority he has to block free enterprise over differences on social issues remains unstated, particularly if no zoning, employment or anti-discrimination laws are violated, and in light of incorporated rights ostensibly prohibited from government abridgement by the Constitution and court precedent.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- With some rushing to judgment in the wake of the early Friday shootings at the opening of the third installment in the Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises,” at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, a member of a Tea Party group who shares the same name as the shooter has responded with justified irritation to a report by Brian Ross of ABC News that “there is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea party site, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year, as well.”
Continue reading on Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/article/tea-partier-jim-holmes-calls-abc-tie-on-batman-shooting-blatantly-lazy
USA --(Ammoland.com)- A video posted yesterday by The Washington Guardian, featuring Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director B. Todd Jones that warns against agents taking complaints “outside the chain of command,” is being met with alarm and skepticism by politicians, agents and others determined to get to the bottom of Bureau and Department of Justice corruption charges. In a related simultaneous development, a memo reminding ATF management of “Rights and Duties Under the Whistleblower Protection Act” is being dismissed as a cynical ploy by an activist attorney.
“Your ominous message – which could be interpreted as a threat – is likely to have a major chilling effect on ATF employees exercising their rights to contact Congress,” ranking Senate Judiciary Committee member Charles E. Grassley and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa told Jones in a July 18 letter in response to his “Changecast” video.
USA --(Ammoland.com)-A jury was selected and the prosecution and one defense attorney have given opening statements Tuesday in the trial of the Reese family, gun store owners charged in an indictment with conspiracy, aiding and abetting smuggling of firearms, money laundering and making false statements to investigators. Reconvening Wednesday at 9 a.m. in the U.S. District Court in Las Cruces, N.M., a family spokesperson told Gun Rights Examiner that the other three defense attorneys for family members required to retain separate representation would make their opening statements.
Concerns for the validity and fairness of what the government represented early on as a slam dunk case have surfaced following revelations that the family has been forced into a fixed fight by having to face an opponent with unlimited resources, including the government’s ability to limit their access to defense funds through seizures. Adding to this are acknowledgments that the family dutifully followed rules on purchaser background checks and record-keeping, including tax reporting, did not attempt to collect a premium for any of the firearms involved, that law enforcement officers were routinely employed and supported by the store, and that wife Terri Reese actually attempted to report a suspected straw buyer before the government began investigating her family.
“The most notable ones were a motion, by the defense to dismiss based on “outrageous government conduct: Motion(s) in limine (also defense) to redact the Spanish, and translations of Spanish in transcripts, and to turn off volume of Spanish during audio and video tape; and by the prosecution: to prevent any references to Fast & Furious,” supporters of the Reese family wrote in the local Coffee Shop Gossip newsletter.
“The morning started out with Defense Attorney Jason Boyles informing the Judge that ATF…Agent Carlos Valles had not been made available for questioning prior to trial,” the newsletter revealed.
USA --(Ammoland.com)- Commonwealth and municipal legal authorities have punted and ignored requests to investigate Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey for misdemeanor and felony violations of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, attorney Joshua Prince informed Gun Rights Examiner over the weekend.
“[Ramsey] has openly carried a firearm in the city of Philadelphia but is neither a certified police officer, nor does he have a license to carry firearms,” Prince informed Attorney General Linda L. Kelly in an April 17 letter, providing citations to relevant Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes sections . “Furthermore, he wears a uniform and displays a badge, but is not a certified police officer, in violation of Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Program… Accordingly, he is also not entitled to compensation.”
Gun Rights Examiner raised many of these questions in an April 5 column, reminding readers that those who aren’t part of Ramsey’s force receive harsh treatment from his ground troops when lawfully open-carrying firearms, and that Ramsey testified before Congress opposing national right-to-carry reciprocity.
“[I]n a city of the first class, which Philadelphia is classified as, an individual must have a license to carry firearms, or be exempted, to openly carry a firearm,” Prince continued. “I have seen [Ramsey] with a firearm openly displayed on his hip, on numerous occasions, while giving press interviews in Philadelphia.”
“While I acknowledge there are exceptions, including for law enforcement…Ramsey is not a certified law enforcement officer,” Prince informed the attorney general, further reminding her that “[a]ny person hired as a police officer shall be ineligible to receive any salary, compensation or other consideration for the performance of duties as a police officer unless the person has met all of the requirements as established by the commission and has been duly certified as having met those requirements by the commission.”
“While there is now conflicting evidence of whether he has become MPOETC certified, such certification would not absolve him of his past violations of the law nor change the fact that he was not entitled to compensation from 2008 through the date of certification, which must be reimbursed to the Commonwealth,” Prince stated, concluding that a local investigation would be “conflicted…given the working relationship between the DA’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department, “ and requesting “a formal investigation” to be opened by the state.
“The jurisdiction of the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute criminal activity is limited by state law,” Frank G. Fina, Chief Deputy Attorney General , Criminal Prosecutions Division, told Prince in a May 7 reply on behalf of his boss.
“Any violations of state law in this regard would fall under the authority of the District Attorney,” Fina concluded, washing his hands of the matter.
With the door to a state investigation slammed in his face, Prince took CDAG Fina’s advice and sent a formal investigation request to District Attorney Seth Williams on May 23. To date, almost two months later, he has received no acknowledgement or reply. It appears their being notified that the city’s chief law enforcement officer may have violated firearms and other laws is being met with deliberate indifference on the part of those tasked with prosecution.
In addition to the documented complaints by Philadelphia officials that preemption on firearms laws preclude municipalities from enacting more stringent citizen disarmament edicts, it would also appear the Attorney General’s excuse not to investigate is contradicted by the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, which states in part “The Attorney General shall have the power to prosecute in any county criminal court” when “there is the potential for an actual or apparent conflict of interest on the part of the district attorney or his office,” and “[t]he Attorney General may petition the court having jurisdiction over any criminal proceeding to permit the Attorney General to supersede the district attorney in order to prosecute a criminal action or to institute criminal proceedings.”
Also, Pennsylvania’s Rules of Criminal Procedure require filing a private criminal complaint, further stating “[w]hen the affiant is not a law enforcement officer, the complaint shall be submitted to an attorney for the Commonwealth, who shall approve or disapprove it without unreasonable delay.” By ignoring the petition it would appear DA Williams may actually be attempting to prevent Prince from being able to file for review in the court of common pleas.
Prince has not given up, and tells Gun Rights Examiner he will continue to advance his concerns through the system, including following up with the Attorney General for intervention if the District Attorney continues stonewalling.
“Where the Chief of Police/Chief Law Enforcement Officer for the City of Philadelphia blatantly ignores the laws of the Commonwealth, including requiring the taxpayers to pay him a salary to which he was not entitled, while he continues to allow his officers to detain, arrest and prosecute law-abiding citizens for lawful conduct, such as open carrying in Philadelphia where the individual has valid license to carry firearms, there is an extreme disconnect that requires immediate attention and investigation,” he told Gun Rights Examiner.
“Further compounding this situation is the close relationship between the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, which is obligated to investigate and prosecute criminal activity, and the Philadelphia Police Department. It would appear that District Attorney Williams’ disregard of my letter requesting investigation into these matters and his failure…to respond accurately reflects the conflict in this matter, requiring the Pennsylvania Attorney General to intervene and take control of the investigation,” Prince said. “The citizens of Philadelphia have a right to return of his salary, if he was not MPOETC certified at the time of receipt, and the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have a right to see him prosecuted for all criminal acts, including open carrying of a firearm in a city of the first class, if he did not have a valid license to carry firearms at the time and was not MPOETC certified.”
USA --(Ammoland.com)- A combination of fear that Department of Justice and ATF management will take revenge on them, and that most of the press and administration-supporting lawmakers will allow and even encourage that to happen, is keeping critics of agency corruption and abuse silent, Gun Rights Examiner learned over the weekend through a series of emails and telephone discussions with an agent whose name is being withheld for that reason.
A post on CleanUpATF, the “whistleblower” site where allegations tying Bureau-sanctioned gunwalking to Mexico with the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry were first raised, added to the call to investigate Eric Holder for bar sanctions following his being found in contempt of Congress. Outlining a list of reasons, the agent, posting anonymously through a proxy in defiance of a cited “order not to air ATF’s dirty laundry,” concluded “The ABA needs to be pressured to enact their own rules by suspending Holder’s law license because he has been held in contempt. Their rules are for everyone with a law license, so they must be applied to everyone equally. Disbar AG Holder now!”