Saturday, October 01, 2011

B-b-b-Bye ATF?

I received an email from "Llago" (not necessarily a frequent reader of this blog) which provided the (undated) text of a correspondent Katie Pavlich column, suggesting that the Department of Justice agency "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives" *(BATF, frequently referenced here as "ATF")* might possibly be deactivated:

Bombshell: DOJ Considering Elimination of ATF

Multiple sources, including sources from ATF, DOJ and Congressional offices have said there is a white paper circulating within the Department of Justice, outlining the essential elimination of ATF. According to sources, the paper outlines the firing of at least 450 ATF agents in an effort to conduct damage control as Operation Fast and Furious gets uglier and as election day 2012 gets closer. ATF agents wouldn’t be reassigned to other positions, just simply let go. Current duties of ATF, including the enforcement of explosives and gun laws, would be transferred to other agencies, possibly the FBI and the DEA. According to a congressional source, there have been rumblings about the elimination of ATF for quite sometime, but the move would require major political capital to actually happen.

“It’s a serious white paper being circulated, how far they’d get with it I don’t know,” a confidential source said.

After a town hall meeting about Operation Fast and Furious in Tucson, Ariz. On Monday, ATF Whistleblower Vince Cefalu, who has been key in exposing details about Operation Fast and Furious, confirmed the elimination of ATF has been circulating as a serious idea for sometime now and that a white paper outlining the plan does exist.

Sounds great right? Eliminating ATF? But there is more to this story. Remember, low level ATF field agents, like ATF whistleblower John Dodson, were uncomfortable conducting Operation Fast and Furious from the beginning, but were told by high level officials within ATF that if they had a problem with the operation, they could find a job elsewhere.

“Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated,” ATF Whistleblower John Dodson said in testimony on Capitol Hill on June 15, 2011

In fact, not only were the ATF agents forced to carry out the operation, they were told to go against what they had been taught in training.

“This operation, which in my opinion endangered the American public, was orchestrated in conjunction with Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley. [Emory Hurley is the same Assistant U.S. Attorney who previously prevented agents from using some of the common and accepted law enforcement techniques that are employed elsewhere in the United States to investigate and prosecute gun crimes.] I have read documents that indicate that his boss, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, also agreed with the direction of the case,” Special Agent Peter Forcelli said in testimony on Capitol hill on June 15, 2011.

(Look for the name "Dennis L. Burke" near the end of this essay .... you may not be entirely displeased by the context.)

In the interest of "full disclosure", I checked the TOWNHALL website, and researched their archives for the correspondent, with no luck. I looked back for three weeks and didn't find the article cited. It's certainly possible that if I had taken my research farther back, I would have found it. [see update at the bottom of this article]

I did, however, find several current and/or recent (as of October 1, 2011) ATF-related articles by Pavlich, which suggests that she is pursuing the ATF-related theme assiduously.

Good on you, Cobber.

[In passing, I note that as of this date (October 1, 2011) the ATF website mentions neither the transition of the ATF director, nor the controversy of the "Fast and Furious" program. However, on August 17, 2o11 it does refute the "... Inacurate news report regarding 'Fast and Furious' personnel' ". The disgrace of the temporary, transitional and FIRED! acting temporary Director has yet to be addressed. Typical.]

You may not find the above-quoted material convincing; since I was unable to find the original article, and the submitted material did not include a publication date, I have no way of convincing either you or myself that it is legitimate. However, I am personally acquainted with "Llago". My own private conclusion is that the correspondent did write the article, and my inability to find it reflects upon my own lapses, rather than the correspondent or the website or the person who sent me the full text (the full text is available to you upon request, as email).

So, is the ATF dead in the water? I don't know.

I do know that, since Prohibition, ATF has been responsible for a LOT of "governmental intervention" in the realm of private activity. Were they more of a help than a hindrance during prohibition, when they prevented a lot of "bathtub gin" from being sold to private citizens? Perhaps ... but if the federal government (in it's wisdom) had not prohibited the legal production of SAFE gin, it might never have been a problem.

In the area of firearms manufacture and sale, what positive influence have they been?

In the 1992 "Ruby Ridge" fiasco, ATF agents entrapped Randy Weaver into cutting the barrel of a shotgun shorter than the ATF found acceptable, and then while trying to arrest Weaver an FBI
"Hostage Rescue Team" sniper (was there ever a more ironic acronym?) shot and killed Weaver's wife "accidentally". Was this an "Accidental Discharge"? No such thing; it's a "Negligent Discharge", to give it it's proper nomenclature.

And in the 1993 "Branch Dividian" massacre, ATF was instrumental in the assault on the Waco compound of David Koresh resulting in the death of over eighty American citizens ... including many children who can never be describe other than as "innocents". As the "Serendipity" website describes the situation:

After the February raid by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) of David Koresh's dissident religious community at Waco, Texas, the FBI and the U.S. Army took over, mounting a 51-day siege. This included such psy-war tactics as sleep deprivation of the inhabitants of the community by means of all-night broadcasts of recordings of the screams of rabbits being slaughtered.
(emphasis added by the editor)

Now we see "Operation Fast and Furious", where the ATF deliberately allowed the (questionable) sale, transfer and transportation of American firearms to "straw purchasers" ... which would ordinarily be rejected by the governmentally. audited retailer ... with the final disposition of those firearms to violent Mexican drug traffickers. The ATF has jumped through every hoop it could find to defend it's OFFICIAL "hands off" policy, based upon the concept that allowing such purchases would allow them (the ATF) to track the movement of arms to its ultimate receiver.

The tracking effort usually failed (not least because the "tracking devices" sometimes embedded in the illegal firearms were powered by "Radio Shack" batteries, which had a very limited life ... someone didn't think that through) and the basic fallacy of the policy became tragically (an embarrassingly ... for the ATF) obvious when a U.S. Border Patrollman was killed by one of those same "Fast and Furious" guns. The consequence: the egrigious and controversial "temporary" ATF chief, Kenneth E. Melson ... and his accomplice (the U.S. Attorney in Phoenix, AZ --Dennis L. Burke) were "replaced".

You know the old joke: "What do you call 600 attorneys drowning at the bottom of the ocean? 'A Good Start' "?

Well, this was another "Good Start".

It's not enough, but it's A Good Start.

Neither Burke nor Melson will lose their lives in as a consequence of their horrendous lack of judgement.

Unfortunately, we can't say as much for the innocent-but-dedicated (and now deceased) Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry.

Surely, Brian Terry wasn't the only victim of this ill-conceived and poorly-executed, failed Federal policy. But he is the sacrificial lamb who will inevitably be overlooked by history.

The ATF may be eliminated? Can you say "Goodbye and Good Riddance?" children.

I knew you could.

This morning I found the original article link on the front page of TOWNHALL. You may read the entire article here. I could not find a date on the original article, but the first of the (over 300) comments was dated September 30, 2011.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oregon appeals court throws out university gun ban

Oregon appeals court throws out university gun ban:

Now they tell me:

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon University System cannot ban guns on college campuses, the state Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday in a decision that overturns a decades-old prohibition.

I worked on the OSU campus for 15 years, and while I always had a firearm on-campus (if not on my person), the policy was that if I was CAUGHT with a firearms ... even though I had a legitimate CCH (Carry Concealed Handgun) license, the university was allowed to fire me if they found me in possession of a firearm on campus.

Now, I have been retired for about FIVE months, and the Oregon judicial system has only just decided that my determination to protect my private person is legally justified.

Why didn't they do this 15 years ago, when I first started working for them?

Fifteen years of bringing a concealed handgun on campus every day, worrying every day that I would be discovered; and all this time I never fired a gun .... never assaulted anyone ... never caused my co-workers to fear that I would attack them because of the rage which they KNEW was generated from the mere fact that I had a gun and might "go postal" at any given moment~

Gee, Folks. Had I only been able to testify that I had a gun on campus for fifteen years and my co-workers were still safe from me, I would have felt that my presence was justified. Maybe if I had felt that my job and my co-workers were still safe even though I carried (or perhaps they were 'more safe'), this dorky "administrative" rule would have been abrogated years ago.

Thank you Oregon State Court Court of Appeals, for finally noticing that University Workers were not the threat you should be worried about.

I will not even link to the Virginia Tech issues, or the comments I have already made defending the Oregon University System student who was busted a couple of years ago for having a weapon on campus.

I can't even say "It's About Time".

All I can say is ... "Thank God" that the courts have made this small step, which brings University Policy in line with State Law.

As for the Oregon State universities?

What a bunch of maroons, that it took a judicial ruling to make them wake up!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Felons BUSTED in Kansas for illegal firearms ownership

Shooting Wire

The folks in Kansas (and also the ATF) are SERIOUS about enforcing the law(s) which prevent convicted felons from possession of firearms .... and I'm glad!

WICHITA, KAN. - Sixty-seven defendants have been charged with federal and state crimes as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives wraps up an 11-month operation aimed at taking guns out of the hands of convicted felons, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced today. Leaders of ATF, the Wichita Police Department, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office, the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office and the Wichita Area Gun Task Force joined Grissom for a news conference to announce the indictments.

This operation was planned for one purpose - to make Wichita safer, Grissom said. I believe that every weapon taken out of the hands of a convicted felon represents lives saved and violent crimes prevented.Dozens of law enforcement officers and agents executed arrest warrants this week. Prior to the execution of arrest warrants, the operation recovered 200 firearms, including guns that had been reported stolen and sawed off shotguns, as well as cocaine, crack cocaine, Ecstasy, marijuana, methamphetamine, PCP and prescription drugs.

We focused resources on offenders who use and provide guns for the commission of violent crimes, Grissom said.

Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony from possessing firearms or ammunition. It also prohibits drug traffickers and users of controlled substances from possessing firearms.

I believe that this kind of action is a direct response to the constant complaint from responsible gun owners (including the NRA), which has for decades complained of Federal, State and Local administrations that " ...they want to impose new firearms restrictions on honest people; why don't they take guns away from the criminals, and --- oh, yes --- how about enforcing the 20,000 existing gun laws?"

Now they are. A lot of people are in a world of grief, because they are being prosecuted for making responsible gun owners look bad.

(Well, and also because they are violating laws which do NOT apply to responsible gun owners.)

The National Rifle Association has been true to the mantra for years; criminals should and MUST be prosecuted for violation of gun laws, in addition to their other felonies. While the NRA has not always had the same priorities as I do, at least this time SOMEONE in Kansas and ATF have listened to me, even if they haven't heard me. And I'm fully willing to credit the NRA for their continued drive to require enforcement agencies where the most egregious violations occur: the criminal element in our society.

Now we only need to other communities and states to follow the excellent example of Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita, Kansas.

"Dances With Wolves" would be proud of them.