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Archive for December, 2015
From The Daily Beast:
More than a third of the women who participated in the National Sports Shooting Foundation’s most recent survey identified as new gun owners. This data are consistent with those of other organizations, including the National Sporting Goods Association. According to the NSGA’s Annual Sports Participation Report, the number of women who practice target shooting increased nearly 36 percent (from 4.31 million to 5.86 million) between 2004 and 2014, while the number of women participating in hunting increased 23 percent (from 2.68 million to 3.3 million). In response to a request for comment, an NRA spokesman reported tracking a 77 percent increase between 2004 and 2011 in the number of women who own firearms.
From The Washington Post:
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Tuesday that the commonwealth will no longer recognize out-of-state concealed handgun permits, part of a national push to circumvent legislatures opposed to tightening gun laws.
Herring (D) said 25 states have lax laws compared with Virginia, where a history of stalking, drug dealing or inpatient mental health treatment can disqualify someone from carrying a concealed handgun. The move is in step with actions governors and attorneys general are taking to address gun violence without going through Republican-controlled legislatures.
P.W. Arms, Inc., a wholesaler in Redmond, filed suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a Seattle federal court on Dec. 18. The lawsuit alleges the ATF incorrectly classified the ammo 7N6, a 5.45x39mm rifle round, as “armor piercing” and in turn prohibited it from importation after permitting the company to do so.
Tyler Cowen seems to think so:
Gun possession breeds a certain kind of kick-ass mentality—”martial culture”—that doesn’t stop at the border’s edge, but spills “over there.” Therefore, if libertarians want to restrain America’s adventurism abroad, they will have to stop looking at guns from a narrow rights-based perspective, as is their wont, and start looking at them from the standpoint of the undesirable foreign policy consequences they produce—and so accept some gun regulation.
As a naturalized American from India, I have always been both amused and bemused by the American romance with guns. I have also observed firsthand the destabilizing effect of America’s post-9/11 “martial interventions” near my native country. Thus, if there were a serious chance that restrictions on gun rights would help reduce Uncle Sam’s war mongering, I would consider it. But color me dubious.
Cowen’s argument is intriguing and original—not to mention refreshing in that it doesn’t put the religious faith that liberals do in gun control diminshing violence. It also has a certain intuitive plausibility. But does support for private gun rights actually generate a spirit of martial interventionism? Actually, as far as libertarians are concerned, the connection runs in the other direction.
From Fox News:
The (15) members of Congress, led by Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kent., signed onto an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Texas inventor Cody Wilson is fighting a lower court ruling in favor of the government agency. The State Department in 2013, citing a law allowing it to regulate international arms trafficking, blocked Wilson and his nonprofit group Defense Distributed from posting technical data for 3-D printing of legal handguns.
Wilson has received more “friend of the court” backup from policy think tank Cato Institute and various free speech organizations.
From The Daily Wire:
Forty-six-year-old Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez heard screams in a Home Depot parking lot and saw a man jump into a car with stolen goods. Duva-Rodriguez pulled out her pistol and fired off two rounds into the escape car’s tires, flattening one of them.
From The Washington Post:
Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez thought she was doing the right thing when she pulled out her pistol and fired at a pair of shoplifters as they fled from a Home Depot near Detroit.
She wasn’t, at least in the eyes of the law.
On Wednesday, a Michigan judge sentenced Duva-Rodriguez to 18 months of probation and stripped the 46-year-old of her concealed gun permit.
From The Daily Wire:
In an effort to “close the net on Islamic extremists,” French authorities have begun the process of shutting down radicalized mosques and raiding locations suspected of housing Muslim extremists. France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that the raids in recent weeks have resulted in the seizure of an unprecedented number of “war-grade weapons.”
From the Daily Democrat:
The gun dealers’ holiday season got off to a rousing start. State data show that sales transactions spiked on Black Friday — the traditional start of the holiday shopping season — to four times the average number for other November days.
That spike was roughly double the uptick in the days after Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, armed with two semi-automatic rifles and two semi-automatic handguns, killed 14 and injured 21 in a hail of bullets Dec. 2 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. All of their firearms were purchased legally in California, which has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws.
From the LA Times:
Such bans don’t reduce gun crime, but they do stimulate passionate opposition from law-abiding gun owners: Gun control advocates ridicule the NRA’s claim that the government is coming to take away people’s guns, then try to outlaw perhaps the most popular rifle in the country.
“Panic Makes for Poor Counterterrorism is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
A lot of panic has followed the Dec. 2 armed assault in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead and 21 wounded. It was the worst international terrorist attack in the United States since the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, surpassing the death toll in that attack by one. U.S. President Barack Obama has labeled the attack as a new type of terrorist threat, while Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has used the attack as grounds to call for a ban preventing all Muslims from entering the United States.
I don’t often editorialize in the Security Weekly, but I believe it is important to set the record straight and to place the San Bernardino attack in the proper perspective.
Not a New Form of Terrorism
First, as I noted in a piece I wrote before the San Bernardino shooting, terrorist armed assaults are not a new thing. They have been a staple of the modern terrorist era: The Lod Airport attack by the Japanese Red Army and the Munich Olympic attacks in 1972, the 1985 Rome and Vienna airport attacks by the Abu Nidal Organization, Benjamin Smith’s multi-state shooting rampage and Buford Furrow’s attack against a Jewish day care center in 1999 are all examples.
Like Marxists and white supremacists, jihadists have frequently used armed assaults, including attacks conducted by grassroots jihadists. In fact, the first jihadist attack inside the United States that I am aware of was El Sayyid Nosair’s assassination of Jewish Defense League founder Rabbi Meir Kahane in November 1990 with a handgun. Nosair was a grassroots jihadist tied to al Qaeda’s ideology through his attendance at a mosque led by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh,” who was later convicted for the 1993 New York bomb plot, a wide-ranging terrorist conspiracy to bomb targets in the United States.
The counterterrorism successes of the United States and its allies following the 9/11 attacks made it more difficult for al Qaeda and its jihadist progeny to insert trained terrorist operatives into the United States. Instead, jihadist ideologues began to call for individual jihadists to think globally but act locally — in other words, to conduct attacks where they live. Among the first jihadist ideologues to advocate this leaderless resistance model was Abu Musab al-Suri in 2004. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula began advocating the strategy in 2009 — the year that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula-linked gunmen Carlos Leon Bledsoe and Nidal Malik Hasan carried out armed assaults in Little Rock, Ark., and Fort Hood, Texas, respectively. In early 2010, now-deceased al Qaeda core spokesman Adam Gadahn appeared in a video urging Muslims living in the United States to buy guns and shoot people.
These statements, when combined with a string of failed or foiled bomb plots, allowed us to forecast inMay 2010 that jihadists in the United States were going to shift away from complex bomb plots toward easier and often deadlier armed assaults.
In light of this history — and our forecast — it is very difficult to accept Obama’s claim that the armed assaults in Paris and in the United States in San Bernardino; Garland, Texas; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, represent some new type of terrorist threat.
Do Not Panic and Surrender Your Civil Rights
In light of Trump’s statement about prohibiting Muslims from traveling to the United States, I’d like to repeat something I wrote in the Nov. 12 Security Weekly:
Both governments and the general public should keep the latest attack in the proper perspective to avoid succumbing to panic and acting rashly. Policies rooted in fear usually lead to waste and poor security decisions, while unrealistic demands from the public can cost huge amounts of money, encroach on personal privacy and still fail to guarantee security. Instead, a better response is to maintain realistic expectations and recognize that it is impossible to fully secure any target. Terrorist attacks that kill people are terrible and tragic, but the world is a dangerous place, and people sometimes plot to do terrible things. Every now and then, they will succeed.
I have spent most of my adult life investigating terrorist attacks, helping prosecute individuals involved in terrorism, protecting people and facilities, and educating people about how they can take responsibility for their own security. It grieves me deeply to see 14 people gunned down in cold blood as they were in San Bernardino. I also do not mean to trivialize the individual deaths; I have lost a friend and classmate and other colleagues to terrorist attacks. However, in the big picture, an attack that results in 14 deaths is terrible and tragic, but it is not an existential threat to our national security or survival, especially when compared with the 589,430 cancer deaths, more than 23,000 flu deaths and more than 32,000 traffic fatalities expected in the United States in 2015.
Some will argue that the 14 deaths in San Bernardino came all at once and not as separate cases as with cancer and the flu, and are therefore more significant, but this argument does not hold water with me. More than 227,000 people died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and fewer than 3,000 people died on 9/11. Yet the 9/11 attacks spawned a global sense of terror and a geopolitical reaction that had a profound and unparalleled impact upon world events over the past decade; the tsunami did not have the same type of impact. Clearly terrorism is having its desired effect and is causing people to fear it in a manner that is hugely disproportionate to the destruction it can actually cause.
This irrational fear is again seeping into popular politics, as seen in Trump’s statement about banning Muslims from traveling to the United States. As an American, I am offended that someone like Trump, who is running for the highest office in the country, would succumb to irrational fear and allow it to dictate U.S. policy. Moreover, the policies he is proposing would erode the personal liberties our country was founded upon and would scrap the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of religion enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. The United States is the world’s only remaining superpower and does not need to cower before the threat of low-level, sporadic armed violence by an extremely small percentage of the worldwide Muslim population that embraces the jihadist ideology.
That is why we need to keep the San Bernardino shootings in the proper perspective. Such incidents do not pose some revolutionary new threat, and the limited threat they do pose certainly does not merit laying aside our civil liberties and the principles our nation was founded upon. Furthermore, even if we were to suspend the Constitution and forfeit our personal liberties, the government still could not prevent every potential terrorist attack. It simply cannot be done — ask any dictator.
In the final analysis, the world is and always has been a dangerous place. All of us are going to die, and unfortunately some of us are certain to die in a manner that is brutal or painful. Recognizing that terrorist attacks — like car crashes and cancer and natural disasters — are part of the human condition permits people and the governments they empower to take prudent, measured actions to attempt to prevent these attacks and mitigate those that cannot be prevented.
It is the resilience and perseverance of the population that will determine how much panic a terrorist attack causes. By keeping a proper perspective and by separating terror from terrorism, citizens can deny the practitioners of terror the ability to magnify their reach and power. To quote C.S. Lewis when he was referring to a different kind of terror — that caused by the looming specter of nuclear warfare: “They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”
From Stars and Stripes:
Capt. Simratpal Singh, 27, was granted the appearance waiver last week that will allow him to grow his beard and hair and wear a turban through at least Jan. 8, Debra S. Wada, the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, wrote in a Dec. 9 letter. Singh is the fourth Sikh soldier in recent years to be granted such uniform exemptions.
The current dress code is a result of WWII regulations that are still in effect today. There were no such requirements in the early U.S. military. Just look at all the beards on soldiers during the Civil War.
From NRA News:
From The Daily Beast:
This is the first time the CIA has commented on the upcoming movie. Intelligence officials apparently had particular concerns that certain information in the Mitchell Zuckoff nonfiction book, on which Bay’s film is based, would end up in the final cut of the movie. This would allegedly jeopardize the security and safety of intelligence agency personnel serving in the field, in part because a major Hollywood production could widely disseminate protocol and procedures that the CIA uses to protect its staff in foreign locations, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
The CIA wanted to make sure that details that are in a published book, are not in the movie? If the details would “jeopardize security and safety” how did they make it past the vetting process and into the book? This has the fingerprints of the White House all over it.
Short interview with Bill Alexander of Alexander Arms: