Monday, December 12, 2011

VA-ALERT: VCDL Update 12/12/11

Not yet a VCDL member? Join VCDL at:
VCDL's meeting schedule:
Abbreviations used in VA-ALERT:

1. VCDL Membership Meeting in Annandale on Thursday, December 15th
2. 'Fast and Furious' whistleblowers struggle six months after testifying against ATF program
3. Survey on Self Defense Legislation for 2012 VA General Assembly
4. Yes Virginia, guns DO save lives
5. TSA stops teen for gun design on purse
6. Suit over Postal Service gun ban proceeds
7. Anti-gun sheriff arrested for dealing meth
8. RT LTE: What would Jesus do at Liberty U?
9. Who needs a gun while jogging?
10. Warren J. Blumenfeld: Consuming weapons of death
11. Who could possibly need a gun in New York City?
12. A large side of drama at Waffle House diners
13. Handgun permit holder killed in South Richmond
14. NRA complains as NY AG enforces the laws already on the books
15. Guns are a big seller on Black Friday
16. No joke! ATF bans scrub-pad stockpiles
17. Senator Paul: Having more than 7 days of food makes you a suspected terrorist
18. Court appearance for man with gun in carry-on at RIC
19. How Freedom Group became the big shot
20. New website: Ballistics by the inch
21. VMI is working on a regulation to ban all guns in its buildings
22. Delayed Instant Checks hurting dealers, gun shows and gun owners - VCDL is working this issue!

1. VCDL Membership Meeting in Annandale on Thursday, December 15th

VCDL is having its monthly membership meeting at the Mason Government Center in Annandale on Thursday, December 15th.

As with all VCDL membership meetings, this one is open to the public, so bring a friend or neighbor and don't be shy ;-)

Scheduled to speak will be John T. Frey, Clerk of the Fairfax Circuit Court and Tim Donner, who is in a primary for Senator Jim Webb's U.S. Senate seat.

The meeting will be called to order at 8 PM (fellowship starts at 7:30 PM). At 9:30 the meeting will end and we will head to a local restaurant for continued fellowship.

If you want any VCDL goodies (shirts, caps, etc.), let Bruce Jackson know ( and you will be able to pick them up at the restaurant after the meeting.

Directions to the meeting can be found on the VCDL web site:

2. 'Fast and Furious' whistleblowers struggle six months after testifying against ATF program


Board member Bruce Jackson emailed me this:


From FOX News:

By William Lajeunesse
November 30, 2011

Six months ago, several agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stood before Congress to testify about the details of a U.S. government program that armed Mexico's largest drug cartel with thousands of assault rifles.

The administration denied it at the time and questioned the agents' integrity. The men were nervous and scared. They said they feared for their careers, their reputation and their families.

"Any attempt to retaliate against them for their testimony today would be unfair, unwise and unlawful," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, warned the Department of Justice.

He and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., began an investigation to determine who authorized "Operation Fast and Furious" and aimed to hold accountable those responsible for a plan that helped known criminals run guns across the border in violation of U.S. and international law.

And while President Obama has said the operation was a mistake and that "people who screwed up will be held accountable," the record so far does not bear that out. Those in charge of the botched operation have been reassigned or promoted, their pensions intact. But many of those who blew the whistle face isolation, retaliation and transfer.

Here's what has happened to the managers of the operation:

-- Acting ATF Chief Ken Melson, who oversaw the operation, is now an adviser in the Office of Legal Affairs. He remains in ATF's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

-- Acting Deputy Director Billy Hoover, who knew his agency was walking guns and demanded an "exit strategy" just five months into the program, is now the special agent in charge of the D.C. office. He, too, did not have to relocate.

-- Deputy Director for Field Operations William McMahon received detailed briefings about the illegal operation and later admitted he shares "responsibility for mistakes that were made. Yet, he also stays in D.C., ironically as the No. 2 man at the ATF's Office of Internal Affairs.

-- Special Agent in Charge of Phoenix Bill Newell, the man most responsible for directly overseeing Fast and Furious, was promoted to the Office of Management in Washington.

-- Phoenix Deputy Chief George Gillette was also promoted to Washington as ATF's liaison to the U.S. Marshal's Service.

-- Group Supervisor David Voth managed Fast and Furious on a day-to-day basis and repeatedly stopped field agents from interdicting weapons headed to the border, according to congressional testimony. ATF boosted Voth to chief of the ATF Tobacco Division, where he now supervises more employees in Washington than he ever did in Phoenix.

An ATF spokesman in Washington says the key players did not receive promotions, but transfers.

Special Agent Jay Dobyns, who is suing the agency for breach of contract, is skeptical.

"These guys are protected. They're insulated. They're all part of a club," Dobyns said, alleging that the ATF has a history of retaliating against its own who speak up.

"They risk everything, knowing that everything they worked for, their careers, their reputations, their finances, are all going to be ruined."

Case in point, he said, is field agent John Dodson. Dodson uprooted his family from Virginia in 2010 to join a new elite anti-gun trafficking group in Phoenix, known as Group 7. Dodson quickly witnessed what was wrong and loudly voiced his objections to Voth and Newell.

Management reassigned Dodson to weekend duty and the wire room, a relatively boring job monitoring telephone traffic and subordinate to junior agents. Soon thereafter, Dodson was temporarily assigned to another group for an additional menial assignment, until ultimately sent to an FBI Task Force, completely away from the ATF, even turning off his ATF building access pass.

Dodson continued to challenge Voth, saying the operation was killing people in Mexico and suggested it was only a matter of time before a "border agent or sheriff's deputy" would be killed by one of the guns they let go.

"If you're going to make an omelet, you've got to scramble some eggs," Voth replied, according to a congressional report.

Voth moved Dodson out of Group 7 shortly before Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot by weapons traced to Fast and Furious. Newell, Gillette and Voth began to cover up their tracks. According to an e-mail 24 hours after Terry was shot, Voth wrote:

"We are charging Avila (Jaime Avila bought the alleged murder weapons) with a stand-alone June 2010 firearms purchase. This way we do not divulge our current case (Fast and Furious) or the Border Patrol shooting case."

"Great job," Newell replied.

Dodson first complained internally to the ATF Office of Chief Counsel and Ethics Section, OIG, Office of Special Counsel, and Office of Professional Responsibility. They were unresponsive. Dodson was then contacted by congressional investigators, who began their own investigation.

Because of Dodson, the Terry family hopes to hear the truth about what happened to their son and the American public learned that senior Obama administration officials did nothing to stop guns from reaching an insurgency south of the border.

And what did Dodson get for telling the truth? In Phoenix he was isolated, marginalized and referred to as a "nut job," "wing-nut" and "disgruntled," according to sources.

In Washington, ATF command ordered that "Contact with Dodson was detrimental to any ATF career."

Newell's Attorney told Fox News that all of this was because "Dodson didn't want to work weekends."

Dennis Burke, the Arizona U.S. attorney who resigned in the wake of the investigation, admitted he leaked privacy-protected documents that discredited Dodson. The head of legislative affairs for the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, indirectly called Dodson a liar, telling senators the ATF "never intentionally allowed guns" to walk, or to lose sight or control of the weapons.

So what happened to Dodson and the other whistleblowers?

"The only people who have been damaged from Fast and Furious, short of the obvious victims, are the people who tried to tell truth and blew the whistle," Dobyns said.

Dodson was told he was toxic and could no longer work in Phoenix. With sole custody of two teenagers and under water on his house mortgage, Dodson found himself with no place to be and nowhere to go.

A supervisor suggested he'd be treated fairly at an office in South Carolina. Wanting to keep his job, protect his pension and pay the mortgage, Dodson had no other choice. He and his family now live in a small apartment, facing financial troubles, still labeled persona non grata by the very agency he carries a badge for, and regularly assaulted by leaks from "ATF sources at headquarters."

Dodson has tried to remain out of the public eye, has not filed suit and says only that he wishes to return to his work as an ATF agent.

As for the others:

-- Agent Larry Alt took a transfer to Florida and has unresolved retaliation claims against the ATF.

-- Agent Pete Forcelli was demoted to a desk job. Forcelli is a respected investigator, with years as a detective with the New York City Police Department. He has requested an internal investigation to address the retaliation against him.

-- Agent James Casa also took a transfer to Florida.

-- Agent Carlos Canino, once the deputy attache in Mexico City, was moved to Tucson.

-- Agent Jose Wall, formerly assigned to Tijuana, was moved to Phoenix.

-- Agent Darren Gil, formerly the attache to Mexico, retired.

Sources say the agents are in a kind of purgatory. As whistleblowers, they can't be fired. The agency can try, but it would be messy. On the other hand, they can be transferred but face the problems of relocating on their own.

3. Survey on Self Defense Legislation for 2012 VA General Assembly

A VCDL member emailed me this:


Hi Philip,

I put together a non-scientific web-based ranking survey of some of the more likely bills that may be proposed for this year's GA session.

I've posted messages about the survey on different Virginia based forums, and I thought you might take a look to see if you'd want to send out a note in the VA-ALERT.

As Grapeshot noted in the OCDO thread, the more responses there are, the more meaningful it is.

You can read the details at the OCDO message thread:


4. Yes Virginia, guns DO save lives

From The Daley Gator:
November 30, 2011

I know, I have defended my life with a handgun. Duane Lester has the story of someone else who saved life because they were armed. As you read this, remember that Sarah Brady and the gun banning Left would make it so that stories like this one, turn out much differently! (

Monday afternoon was another normal day of cooking burgers and fries and hot dogs and Philly cheesesteaks for Tim and Debbie Patterson.

Then, about 2 p.m., they heard a scream.

Tim rushed out the back door of The Big Yellow mobile kitchen at the corner of Harrison and Fourth. He looked around the Goodwill parking lot full of cars, and heard another scream. Then, he heard a woman's voice.

"Let go of me," it shrieked.

Patterson charged around a car and stopped. A man had a woman's head pulled back with one hand, and a knife to her throat with the other.

Patterson didn't hesitate.

He drew his Kimber 1911 .45 with a six-shot clip.

"Drop it, or I'll shoot you," he shouted.

The assailant, wearing a hoodie that covered his face, glanced up. He immediately let go of the woman, dropped the knife, raised his arms in the air and fled.

Patterson, who called 911, checked on the victim and stood by the knife until police arrived.

Duane closes with more thought provoking stats

It's estimated that guns stop over 2.5 million crimes a year. Many of them, like this one, without every firing a shot.

Now, the the anti-gun brigade had their way, the man would have had to confront the knife wielding coward without the benefit of a superior weapon, putting his life in danger. He could have been stabbed the the woman, well, who knows what his intentions were with her.

To disarm the law-abiding is the ultimate dream of the Left. Remember that the most basic of human rights is the right to self-defense. That basic right is what the Left loathes, because self-defense in an act of the individual, and the Left thinks of individualism negatively. The Left worships Collectivism, and believes that individual liberty can be curtailed for the common, or collective good.

5. TSA stops teen for gun design on purse

Stupid is as stupid does. Another embarrassment for TSA.

From WOKV News:

By Matt Augustine
December 1, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The TSA at the Norfolk, Virginia airport took issue with a Jacksonville teen's wallet on her way back from a holiday trip in Virginia to Florida.

17-year-old Vanessa Gibbs says she was stopped in Norfolk because her walled was emblazoned with a metal gun, and the agent said she was committing a federal offense by carrying it on the plane.

Agents told her "replica weapons" have been illegal since 2002, and that she needed to check the bag or turn it over. By the time the ordeal was finished, Gibbs missed her flight to Jacksonville and was sent to Orlando instead.

Gibbs says she's baffled, because she's taken it through security checkpoints before with no trouble.

6. Suit over Postal Service gun ban proceeds

From UPI:
November 28, 2011

DENVER, Nov. 28 (UPI) - A Colorado couple's lawsuit challenging the U.S. Postal Service's ban on guns in post offices can proceed, a federal judge in Denver decided.

Debbie and Tab Bonidy of Avon filed their lawsuit last year, claiming the ban violates their Second Amendment rights, The Denver Post reported Monday.

Both have permits allowing them to carry concealed weapons and both say they carry handguns.

Because they don't receive mail at their remote home, they say the ban on guns in post offices and in their parking lots makes it impossible for them to get their mail.

James Manley, an attorney at the Mountain States Legal Foundation who represents the Bonidys and the National Association for Gun Rights in the suit, said the case could have nationwide implications.

"This is a situation that hasn't been challenged before, where you have members of the general public who want to exercise their right to carry," Manley said.

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch rejected a Postal Service motion seeking dismissal of the suit. The motion argued the ban is lawful and the Bonidys could park on the street and leave their guns in their car.

The Postal Service said the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed an individual's rights to possess firearms but ruled they can be banned in "sensitive places."

"Large numbers of people from all walks of life gather on postal property every day. The Postal Service is thus responsible for the protection of its employees and all the members of the public who enter postal property," the motion stated.

7. Anti-gun sheriff arrested for dealing meth

Why am I not surprised that a sheriff that has spoken out for gun control many times over the years is corrupt? Sarah Brady called on Sullivan any time she needed a photo op with a token Republican in favor of gun control.

Had he been a mayor instead of a sheriff, he could just as easily been one of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns - they seem to go to jail regularly, too.


8. RT LTE: What would Jesus do at Liberty U?

EM Dave Hicks emailed me this:


From Roanoke Times:

November 29, 2011

Now that Liberty University allows people with concealed weapon permits to carry handguns on campus, I am terribly confused.

Liberty University touts itself as a Christian institution of higher learning. As I understand the Christian religion, Jesus Christ, the reputed Prince of Peace, instructed his followers to forgive their enemies and love them.

Imagine an LU student's wrist sporting a plastic band bracelet asking WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)?

Next imagine that wrist's attached hand aiming a loaded gun.

Then explain what Jesus would do and justify your answer.



Ask and ye shall receive. Board member Dennis O'Connor responds to Jacquelyn:

From Roanoke Times:

Jesus' disciples carried swords

Based on her Nov. 29 letter "What would Jesus do at LibertyU?" I would
have to agree with Jacquelyn Arnold that she is "terribly confused."

She does not grasp the difference between forgiving and loving our
enemies, which all Christians are called to practice, and defending
innocent life, which, again, all Christians are called to do.

The Bible is full of references that make us responsible for defending
life. WWJD?

Look no further than the fact that as Jesus and his disciples traveled
the roads of Judea they carried swords (the military weapons of the day)
among them to protect themselves against brigands in the hills.


9. Who needs a gun while jogging?

John Treaster emailed me this:


From Daily Mail:

November 30, 2011

A San Diego County runner today described the terrifying moment he was savaged by a pack of pit bulls as he jogged on a trail.

Richard Garritson, 21, and his 20-year-old brother, John, were attacked by the dogs about a mile from their home.

The 21-year-old said he was running ahead of his sisters, Meagan Garritson, 18, and Shelby Garritson, 15, and his nine-year-old niece, when at least six dogs attacked. One bit his leg and a second grabbed his other leg, knocking him down.

Attacked: Richard Garritson, 21, was attacked by a pack of pit bulls as he jogged on a trail late Sunday afternoon about a mile from his San Diego home

Attacked: Richard Garritson, 21, was attacked by a pack of pit bulls as he jogged on a trail late Sunday afternoon about a mile from his San Diego home
Horrific: John Garritson, 20, told their teenage sisters and nine-year-old neice to run as he went back to save his brother, and was attacked himself

Horrific: John Garritson, 20, told their teenage sisters and nine-year-old neice to run as he went back to save his brother, and was attacked himself

He yelled for his sister to run as he tried to fight off the dogs which surrounded him. They snapped at his legs and arms. One bit him under his armpit.

Garritson told the San Diego Union-Tribune: 'I was dripping blood from all over - my shirt, socks, shoes.'

'I was terrified,' he said. 'I thought I was going to die. They just kept biting at my legs and thighs.'

Garritson, who already had run three miles, was running out of energy and yelled for his brother, who grabbed a stick and tried to fend off the dogs.

He also was attacked as the dogs kept rushing between the two brothers, Richard Garritson said.

He said the brothers knew where the dogs lived and they yelled for the owner, who managed to get all but three dogs into the house.

The owner finally put a leash on one of the larger dogs and the others broke off the attack, Richard Garritson said.

The brothers walked to a neighbour's house and a woman there called county sheriff's deputies.

'We could barely hold ourselves up,' he said.

Richard Garritson, who comes from a family of competitive runners, said his doctor told him that he probably will be able to run again even though he lost chunks from his lower legs.

John Garritson suffered less serious bites to his legs. Their two sisters and young niece were not attacked.

Four dogs, all seven-month-old pit bull mixes, were destroyed at the owner's request, county animal control Lieutenant Dan DeSousa said.

As CBS8 reports, the other two dogs were not destroyed, with authorities citing an early investigation.

The department continues to investigate and will decide whether to pursue charges against the owner, who has not been named DeSousa said.

10. Warren J. Blumenfeld: Consuming weapons of death

Doug Kelsey emailed me this:



I don't know if other organizations use the orange "Guns Save Lives" stickers - if not then check out paragraph 11 in this article. [PVC: It is catching on in other states.]

From Huffington Post:

By Warren J. Blumenfeld
November 29, 2011

In its attempt to pull in shoppers on so-called "Black Friday" (the day following Thanksgiving), the camping and outdoors superstore Cabela's handed out envelopes to the first 800 people over the age of 18 who lined up in front of its stores before 5:00 a.m. for a chance to win a Browning A-Bolt Medallion .300 WSM rifle with a Cabela's 50th anniversary gun case worth $875.

And maybe it's not too late to go down to Nation's Truck Sales in Sanford, Florida, where last year they offered each customer a brand spanking new assault rifle with the purchase of a truck. Stated General Sales Manager, Nick Ginetta, "We started on Veterans Day. Hey, so many have given so much for this right!"

I've heard about people being shot from cannons, but for those who want to remain active hunters well after they have "bought the farm," now their wishes have come true. Be the first on your block to kill long after you have died. For the sum of only $1250, your loved ones can have you cremated with a pound of your ashes stuffed inside genuine bullets, resurrecting you as live ammunition.

For that measly sum, you can metamorphose as 250 shot shells, 100 rifles cartridges, or 250 pistol cartridges. For only $100 extra, until you come alive again as a killing apparatus, your bullet ashes can rest in peace in a decorative wooden coffin-like box.

The company, Holy Smoke Bullet Urns of Stockton, Alabama, has taken quite literally Shylock's claim in Shakespeare's 1596 Merchant of Venice: "The pound of flesh which I demand of him is deerely bought, 'tis mine, and I will haue it."

According to the company's founder: "You know I've thought about this for some time and I want to be cremated. Then I want my ashes put into some turkey load shotgun shells and have someone that knows how to turkey hunt use the shotgun shells with my ashes to shoot a turkey. That way I will rest in peace knowing that the last thing that one turkey will see is me, screaming at him at about 900 feet per second."

Wow, in this way, you will obtain virtual immortality in the elk antlers hung over your family's fire place or in the stuffed duck sitting on their living room side table.

In addition to the decimation of wild game, the company offers this alternative to traditional burial as a means to "continue to protect your home and family even after you are gone."

So just think of it; now you can kill a home intruder by shooting them right in the gut with your Great Uncle Henry or Aunt Gert!

I would ask, though, have so many in fact given so much for the right for us to turn our bodies literally into killing devices or for the right to own a "free" assault or hunting rifle? Do we really want "the last thing that one turkey will see is me, screaming at him at about 900 feet per second." Do residents of our nation really need so many guns, assault rifles and others?

The very first thing that caught my eye as I entered the grounds of the Iowa Republican Party Presidential Straw Poll last summer were three young children, I would guess between the ages of 4 -7, wearing day-glow orange baseball caps with "NRA" [National Rifle Association] scrawled atop, and round stickers announcing "GUNS SAVE LIVES" on their small tee-shirts.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, gun related violence has reached epidemic proportions in our country by snuffing out the lives of over 30,000 residents and wounding approximately another 60,000 annually. Each year, over 100,000 people are affected in some way by gun violence.

Should any limits be imposed on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Certainly, Cabela's, Holy Smoke Bullet Urns of Stockton, Alabama and Nation's Truck Sales of Sanford, Florida hold the constitutional right to market their devices of death, but what type of messages are they communicating? Are we really "free" as a society when our right "to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Politicians, primarily Republicans in Congress, have proposed the passage and enactment of a "Balanced Budged" amendment and a "Marriage Protection" (only one man and one woman) amendment to the Constitution. Instead, I propose we reevaluate the political right's obsession with the so-called "freedom" to bear arms because it is not only "criminals who kill people" as Second Amendment advocates claim. Contrary to the NRA's assertions, guns in the hands of anyone, in any and all stations of life as the studies demonstrate, kill people.

Less-than-one-full-term Governor Sarah Palin advised, "Commonsense Conservatives and lovers of America: Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!"

Well, as someone who loves this country, I would remind Palin that over the millennia, even mama grizzlies did a great job protecting their young without the use of firearms -- and so can we!

11. Who could possibly need a gun in New York City?

A student might when she is being stabbed to death.

John Treaster emailed me this:


From Daily Mail:

By Jessica Satherley
November 28, 2011

'He killed a dream: the American dream': Family's heartbreak over Italian student stabbed to death in New York

American dream: Rita Morelli moved from Italy to New York five years ago

An Italian waitress was stabbed to death after opening her New York apartment door to her killer.

Rita Morelli, who was also studying, moved to the U.S. five years ago and her brother said of her killer: 'He killed a dream: the American Dream.'

The 36-year-old's attacker entered her studio apartment in Harlem at 10pm and tried to strangle her before stabbing her twice in the chest and once in her throat, police said.

He then ransacked the apartment and stole some of her belongings as he left her body in a pool of blood on the floor, last Wednesday night.

The student of Hunter College, who waitressed at popular Caffe Buon Gusto in New York's upper East Side, was found shortly after the attack by her live-in boyfriend.

Rita's grieving sibling, Giuseppe Morelli, told Italian TV: 'I believe she underestimated the dangers of life in America, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't warn her better.'

Her cousin, Giorgio Morelli, an Italian journalist working in Manhattan, told the America Oggi newspaper: 'It was her city, she always said, 'Better to live five years as a lion in America than 15 of boredom in Abruzzo'.

Popular waitress: Rita, who was also studying, worked at this cafe in the upper East Side, Caffe Buon Gusto

Rita's family back in Spoltore, in Italy, had always been worried about their loved one living in Harlem, but she always assured them their fears were just invented by Hollywood films.

Police so far have no suspects and her boyfriend is not being treated as one.

There were no signs of forced entry, which suggests Rita either new her killer or opened the door to the attacker without realising his intent.

Rita's neighbour, Sonia Soto, told New York Daily News: 'I was home all day and didn't hear anything. That's surprising because walls are very thin.'

12. A large side of drama at Waffle House diners

EM Leonard Harris emailed me this:


Waffle House bans guns, I don't see how any of this could possibly happen.

From New York Times:

By Robbie Brown
November 26, 2011

AVONDALE ESTATES, Ga. - The two men accused of robbing a string of Waffle House restaurants in Georgia and Alabama had a routine. They placed to-go orders, and after the food was cooked, the police say, they pulled out guns and demanded all the store's cash. Sometimes they ate, sometimes they did not.

"Another day, another Waffle House robbery," began one article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as 18 Waffle Houses were robbed this summer.

Throughout the South, it was not so much the three-week crime spree that caught people's attention. It was the location.

Waffle House, a ubiquitous chain of yellow-roofed diners, is as much a fixture of Southern life as the grits, hash browns and crispy waffles that it serves all day, every day, even on Christmas. In Georgia, where the 1,600-store chain originated, it is hard to find an Interstate exit without the restaurant's yellow block-letter sign nearby.

In the Atlanta area alone, there are 230 locations, all offering heaping portions, strong coffee and jukeboxes that play songs about Waffle House. And federal emergency officials even use what they call the Waffle House Index to determine how severe natural disasters are in the South. If a local Waffle House is closed, along with a Home Depot or a Wal-Mart, it indicates a longer recovery process.

But in recent weeks, bad news has kept coming for the restaurant chain.

Even after the two suspects were arrested in August and detained in Shelby County, Ala., where they are awaiting trial, Waffle House has been linked to one bizarre story after another, raising the question: Does Waffle House attract more news than other establishments, or does news receive extra attention when it happens at Waffle House?

When four elderly men were arrested in northern Georgia this month on charges of planning terrorist attacks in Atlanta and along the East Coast, F.B.I. surveillance tapes revealed where they had met to hatch their plot - a Waffle House. Bloggers and television reporters quickly dubbed them the Waffle House Terrorists.

Last month, when a Florida state representative was ridiculed for proposing that death row inmates be killed by electrocution or firing squad, he said the idea had come from a constituent he met at - you guessed it - a Waffle House.

In Georgia, there have been other less-noted incidents: after nearly 17 years on the run, a fugitive was caught this month at a Waffle House in Augusta, and a cross-dressing bank robber in Marietta has evaded the police but was spotted on surveillance video this month eating at a Waffle House.

In Cobb County, where some of the robberies occurred, Sgt. Dana Pierce said the police were paying extra attention to all 24-hour diners, but especially Waffle Houses. It is easy to see why they can become targets for criminals, he said. "They are cash-driven," he said. "They are near Interstate exits. And they are open 24 hours, when people aren't necessarily in a sober state of mind."

Waffle House offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrests. A company spokeswoman, Kelly Thrasher, said the chain did not believe its restaurants attracted more crime than other 24-hour national chains.

"You can't escape stereotypes," Ms. Thrasher said. "It's not that more of these stories happen at Waffle Houses. It's just getting more attention when it happens at a Waffle House."

Waffle House is taking steps to present a positive image. In 2008, the company opened a Waffle House Museum at the site of the chain's first restaurant, here in Avondale Estates, an Atlanta suburb. It has a letter from a former Georgia governor commending the restaurant on its success, photographs of the chain's founders and a box where customers can write down and leave their favorite Waffle House stories.

Dora Strother, a pottery instructor in Stone Mountain, Ga., has been eating at Waffle House with her husband most mornings for years. The location where she goes, for fried eggs and wheat toast, was among those robbed. Does a crime close to home scare her? Sure. But can she stay away from one of her favorite restaurants?

"Nah," she said. "We'll keep coming to Waffle House. We're not that worried."

13. Handgun permit holder killed in South Richmond

If you choose to open carry, it is a good idea to have a retention holster and to try to be aware of your surroundings so that you are not caught by surprise.

This event is as rare as hen's teeth. Criminals just don't attack open carriers.

However, in this case two criminals did attack and one managed to get a CHP holder's gun during a struggle.

Board member Dale Welch emailed me this:

From Richmond Times-Dispatch:

By Reed Williams
November 30, 2011

A second 16-year-old male now faces charges in the killing of a customer inside a South Richmond gas station who was shot after his own handgun was taken from him during a struggle, authorities said.

Tyee Marquel Hamiel was arraigned Wednesday in Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on eight charges, including murder and robbery. The charges stem from Friday night's shooting of Blaine Tyler, 48, inside the BP gas station at 1 Westover Hills Blvd. Hamiel was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

Tyler was the first of two men shot and killed in less than seven hours in South Richmond, and authorities say the same 16-year-old male shot both victims. That suspect, Toby Smith Jr., is accused of robbing and killing Tyler and also of killing the second victim, Pierre Walter "Pete" Cosby, and of trying to rob Cosby and a woman. The teenager faces 17 charges in the two cases.

Authorities said they have no evidence that Hamiel was involved in Cosby's death. Cosby, a 32-year-old maintenance worker, was found dead in a car of a gunshot wound to the chest shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday in the 1700 block of Edwards Avenue, a few blocks east of Jefferson Davis Highway and about three miles from the BP station.

Authorities have said both killings involved a robbery or attempted robberies, but it was unclear why or how each victim was selected. Richmond Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Andy Johnson said it also is unknown whether Smith or Hamiel knew either of the victims. Investigators believe the two victims did not know each other.

Authorities said the two suspects followed Tyler into the BP station and that Tyler's gun was taken from his holster during a struggle, even though Tyler had not drawn his weapon on the assailants.

"Tyler's handgun was taken from his person, and within 30 seconds he was shot with a handgun," Johnson said. "At this point, we cannot confirm that he was shot with his gun."

He added, "We believe only one shot was fired, and that was the fatal shot."

Johnson said it was unclear whether Smith or Hamiel had been armed when they entered the store, but they are accused of robbing Tyler of his weapon.

Tyler had a concealed-carry permit, and his wife, Sophia Tyler, said he took a gun almost everywhere he went, usually in a holster that he concealed with his clothes. She said he got a gun this year for protection because of an incident years ago that she said had made him feel defenseless. She did not wish to describe the years-old incident.

"I wasn't 100 percent comfortable with it," said Sophia Tyler, referring to her husband's practice of carrying a gun. "But he felt that he needed it."

Police said that Tyler and Cosby both were killed by a handgun, and prosecutors added that one shell casing was recovered at the BP station and that multiple casings were found at the Edwards Avenue scene. Authorities are waiting for results from forensic testing to determine whether the shell casings came from the same weapon.

Richmond Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jed Patterson said Cosby was sitting in a car on Edwards Avenue with a woman when the suspect tried to rob them both, and that the woman escaped but that Cosby was shot. He said he didn't know whether the shooter was accompanied by anyone else.

At the time of the shooting, Cosby was on the phone with someone who heard a gunshot, Patterson added.

Cosby's aunt, Markeita Boyd, described her nephew as a good man who loved his four children. "I don't know if they just woke up and said, 'We're going to kill two people randomly,'" Boyd said, adding that Cosby "would have given them everything out of his pocket."

Hamiel is charged with murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, use of a firearm in a robbery, possession of a gun by a minor, use of a firearm in a murder, shooting in a building and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

John G. Lafratta, an attorney appointed to represent Hamiel, declined to comment.

Smith faces 17 charges, including two counts of murder in the deaths of Tyler and Cosby; robbery of Tyler; conspiracy to rob Tyler; and two counts of attempted robbery, stemming from the incident on Edwards Avenue. He faces 11 firearm charges, including two counts of use of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Preliminary hearings for both suspects were set for Jan. 30.

Richmond Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Learned Barry said no capital murder charges will be filed, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that people cannot be executed for crimes committed when they're under 18.

14. NRA complains as NY AG enforces the laws already on the books

VCDL has long taken the position that we want to remove most of the gun laws on the books, not encourage police to enforce them! There are way too many bad laws already enacted.

From Media Matters:

By Chris Brown
December 1, 2011

"Enforce the laws on the books already before passing more" is the plea of the National Rifle Association (NRA) when proposals are made to strengthen guns laws. In April NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "We support all kinds of behavioral requirements, restrictions ... there are dozens of laws on the books that we support. The problem is they're not being enforced."

So what happens when a state starts enforcing gun laws at gun shows? Long-winded jeremiads complaining of "entrapment" by the "anti-gun cabal." Maybe it's time to change the slogan to "enforce the laws on the books, but make sure it's not a law we don't like you jack-booted thugs."

On Wednesday New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the arrest of ten people for selling guns at a gun show without performing a background check on the buyers as is required by state law. Mirroring previous undercover gun show investigations, Schneiderman reports that the sales happened even after indications were made that the buyer couldn't pass a background check, saying at a press conference: "I'm very sorry to report that every gun show they visited, undercover investigators who explicitly stated that they could not pass background checks were able to obtain firearms."

Only hours after the announcement NRA News was hosting a gripe session with Tom King of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association in a segment they titled "Bloomberg's Bogus Gun Show Sting". King told NRA Radio host Ginny Simone that the sting was "entrapment," it's purpose to "foster a political agenda" by a "anti-gun cabal." King's depiction of "entrapment" included such tricky methods as asking if the guns were for sale and saying they were looking to buy those types of guns.

King also told Gannett Pressconnects, "I guarantee you there's not a gun owner in New York state who was aware of that law before today." Contradicting King's depiction of the law was Budd Schroeder of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, who told a reporter for The Buffalo News that he's seen security guards at every gun show he'd attended check to see if gun buyers had proof that they'd undergone a background check. Hopefully moving forward the New York gun lobby will get it together and decide if the law is highly obscure or rigorously enforced.

Additionally transcripts of the purchases showed the seller suggested an illegal straw purchase saying, "I can sell it to you, and you can give it to him" after being informed that one of the undercover investigators couldn't pass a background check because of a domestic abuse incident.

Failing to perform a background check at a gun show is currently a misdemeanor offense in New York state.

15. Guns are a big seller on Black Friday

Max Padon emailed me this:


From USA Today:

By Kevin Johnson
December 2, 2011

WASHINGTON - In addition to the sleek flat-screen televisions, smartphones, computers and cut-rate designer clothing, Black Friday's shopping legions seized on another hot item for 2011: guns.

Background-check requests for gun sales broke a single-day, all-time high on Black Friday.

Gun dealers flooded the FBI with background check requests for prospective buyers last Friday, smashing the single-day, all-time high by 32%, according to bureau records.

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Jerry Pender said the checks, required by federal law, surged to 129,166 during the day, far surpassing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008.

The actual number of firearms sold last Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer. And the FBI does not track actual gun sales.

Some gun industry analysts attributed the unusual surge to a convergence of factors, including an increasing number of first-time buyers seeking firearms for protection and women who are being drawn to sport shooting and hunting.

Larry Keane, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said 25% of the purchases typically involve first-time buyers, many of them women.

"I think there also is a burgeoning awakening of the American public that they do have a constitutional right to own guns," Keane said.

Yet Keane said last Friday's number appeared to defy complete explanation. "It's really pretty amazing," he said.

Dennis Henigan, acting president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said he was "skeptical" of the Black Friday gun surge.

"I think there may be no real signifcance at all," Henigan said. "It's possible that gun companies are just catching on to creating a Black Friday frenzy for themselves."

16. No joke! ATF bans scrub-pad stockpiles

Gerald Ameral emailed me this:


Just when you think "now I've heard everything " along comes the ATF to prove you wrong...

From WorldNetDaily:

By Bob Unruh
November 26, 2011

"Put down the Chore Boy and back away from the weaponry!"

It's an order that actually could be heard, given that a letter has surfaced from the federal government warning against consumers stockpiling Chore Boy household scrubbers because they can be considered a component of a gun silencer and, therefore, regulated by federal gun laws.

The letter is from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the ATF. It was obtained by David Codrea, who publishes online as the Gun Rights Examiner.

And it comes from a federal agency that earlier determined a 14-inch-long piece of shoestring must be regulated under federal gun laws and restrictions because it is a "machinegun."

Finally ... self defense for the rest of us. Here are the resources you need to protect your life, your family and your property

The latest unusual determination from the agency is found in a letter submitted to the agency on behalf of a client. The letter is dated Nov. 26, 2010, and Codrea said it was obtained recently.

In it, an attorney was asking about a repair that a client wished to make on an already-registered silencer for a .22 caliber rifle.

"Does sound/gas absorbing materials manufactured from Chore Boy copper clean pads, along with fiberglass insulation, constitute a silencer part as defined in 18 U.S.C 921(a)(24)?" he asked.

"Yes," confirmed the letter signed by John R. Spencer, the chief of the Firearms Technology Branch. "Gas/sound-absorbing material is the same as a baffle in that it is designed to reduce/trap hot gases within the expansion tube to allow cooling before they are released from the silencer, subsequently reducing sound."

Spencer, responding to a question about whether such material which becomes worn in a silencer could be replaced, said it would be a violation of federal law.

"Replacement of any component part or parts of a registered silencer, other than a silencer wipe, would be a violation of the NFA if performed by a non-licensed manufacturer," the letter said.

The correct procedure would be for the owner of the registered silencer to submit an application to the ATF and pay a $200 tax, the letter said.

"Further, he would have to submit a 'no-marking' variance to FTB since there is no viable area in which to apply a serial number to the sound-absorbing material," Spencer wrote.

He also noted that it would not be lawful for the owner of the registered silencer to "have a stockpile of sound-absorbing materials for his own use in replacing deteriorated sound-absorbing material."

Codrea pointed out that not even two years ago, ATF seized toy guns designed to shoot plastic BBs and said it would take only a "quick retooling" to make them fire live ammunition.

The "retooling" would involve replacing the barrel, bolt, upper and lower receivers and trigger assembly, he said.

The letter from Sterling Nixon, then-chief of the branch, said any part designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun is a machinegun.

"The FTB examined and classified a 14-inch long shoestring with a loop at each end. The string was attached to the cocking handle of a semiautomatic rifle and was looped around the trigger and attached to the shooter's finger. The device caused the weapon to fire repeatedly until finger pressure was released from the string. Because this item was designed and intended to convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machingun, FTB determined that it was a machinegun as defined in 26 U.S.C. 5845(b)."

Codrea said the Chore Boy letter just became available to him, and he blacked out the name of the attorney to keep identities confidential.

The ATF declined a request from WND to comment on the letter.

Codrea told WND that the government's responses to the questions were "ridiculous."

"They have created a condition where a Chore Boy pad can be considered a silencer," he said.

The agency also has classified the M1 Garand, a rifle used by the U.S. military for two decades and issued to thousands of soldiers and Marines during World War II and Korea, as a "threat to public safety in the U.S."

States already have begun rebelling against federal rules for guns, with eight formally adopting laws that exempt guns made, sold and kept within the states from federal regulations.

A court case over that law is in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

17. Senator Paul: Having more than 7 days of food makes you a suspected terrorist

Fred Harris emailed me this:


From Youtube:

18. Court appearance for man with gun in carry-on at RIC

Alway double and triple check your carry-on luggage for any guns or ammunition before flying! Once you are going through security, it is too late.

Bill Hine emailed me this:


From NBC12:

By Tayleigh Davis & Stephanie Leveque

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Virginia Beach man appeared in court Wednesday for arraignment after bringing a loaded weapon into the Richmond International Airport.

Christopher Shackelford, 46, claimed it was all an accident. He told police he didn't mean to bring a loaded gun into the airport, but he was still issued a court summons.

TSA agents found the loaded 45-caliber gun packed in his carry-on luggage at the security check point November 21.

Shackelford said he didn't realize the loaded gun was in there.

Under certain circumstances people are allowed to pack certain weapons in their check baggage but not in carry-on luggage.

Shackelford told the judge Wednesday he will hire his own attorney. He returns to court January 5.

19. How Freedom Group became the big shot

Jay Minsky emailed me this:

From New York Times:

By Natasha Singer
November 26, 2011

SCARBOROUGH, Me. - LINED up in a gun rack beneath mounted deer heads is a Bushmaster Carbon 15, a matte-black semiautomatic rifle that looks as if it belongs to a SWAT team. On another rack rests a Teflon-coated Prairie Panther from DPMS Firearms, a supplier to the United States Border Patrol and security agencies in Iraq. On a third is a Remington 750 Woodsmaster, a popular hunting rifle.

The variety of rifles and shotguns on sale here at Cabela's, the national sporting goods chain, is a testament to America's enduring gun culture. But, to a surprising degree, it is also a testament to something else: Wall Street deal-making.

In recent years, many top-selling brands - including the 195-year-old Remington Arms, as well as Bushmaster Firearms and DPMS, leading makers of military-style semiautomatics - have quietly passed into the hands of a single private company. It is called the Freedom Group - and it is the most powerful and mysterious force in the American commercial gun industry today.

Never heard of it?

You're not alone. Even within gun circles, the Freedom Group is something of an enigma. Its rise has been so swift that it has become the subject of wild speculation and grassy-knoll conspiracy theories. In the realm of consumer rifles and shotguns - long guns, in the trade - it is unrivaled in its size and reach. By its own count, the Freedom Group sold 1.2 million long guns and 2.6 billion rounds of ammunition in the 12 months ended March 2010, the most recent year for which figures are publicly available.

Behind this giant is Cerberus Capital Management, the private investment company that first came to widespread attention when it acquired Chrysler in 2007. (Chrysler later had to be rescued by taxpayers). With far less fanfare, Cerberus, through the Freedom Group, has been buying big names in guns and ammo.

From its headquarters on Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, Cerberus has assembled a remarkable arsenal. It began with Bushmaster, which until recently was based here in Maine. Unlike military counterparts like automatic M-16's, rifles like those from Bushmaster don't spray bullets with one trigger pull. But, with gas-powered mechanisms, semiautomatics can fire rapid follow-up shots as fast as the trigger can be squeezed. They are often called "black guns" because of their color. The police tied a Bushmaster XM15 rifle to shootings in the Washington sniper case in 2002.

After Bushmaster, the Freedom Group moved in on Remington, which traces its history to the days of flintlocks and today is supplying M24 sniper rifles to the government of Afghanistan and making handguns for the first time in decades. The group has also acquired Marlin Firearms, which turned out a special model for Annie Oakley, as well as Dakota Arms, a maker of high-end big-game rifles. It has bought DPMS Firearms, another maker of semiautomatic, military-style rifles, as well as manufacturers of ammunition and tactical clothing.

"We believe our scale and product breadth are unmatched within the industry," the Freedom Group said in a filing last year with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Here at Cabela's, Mark Eliason, the vice president for sales and marketing at Windham Weaponry, a new competitor of Bushmaster that was established by Bushmaster's founder, surveys the racks. He estimates that roughly 20 percent of the long guns for sale here are made by Freedom Group companies. In the aisles, he examines shelf upon shelf of ammunition. About a third of it comes from the Freedom Group, he says.

"That's a very large presence," Mr. Eliason says.

So large, in fact, that rumors about the Freedom Group - what it is, and who is behind it - have been circulating in the blogosphere. Some gun enthusiasts have claimed that the power behind the company is actually George Soros, the hedge-fund billionaire and liberal activist. Mr. Soros, these people have warned, is buying American gun companies so he can dismantle the industry, Second Amendment be damned.

The chatter grew so loud that the National Rifle Association issued a statement in October denying the rumors.

"N.R.A. has had contact with officials from Cerberus and Freedom Group for some time," the N.R.A. assured its members. "The owners and investors involved are strong supporters of the Second Amendment and are avid hunters and shooters."

Mr. Soros isn't behind the Freedom Group, but, ultimately, another financier is: Stephen A. Feinberg, the chief executive of Cerberus.

CERBERUS is part of one of the signature Wall Street businesses of the past decade: private equity. Buyout kings like Mr. Feinberg, 51, try to acquire undervalued companies, often with borrowed money, fix them up and either take them public or sell at a profit to someone else.

Before the financial crisis of 2008, scores of well-known American companies, from Chrysler down, passed into the hands of private-equity firms. For the financiers, the rewards were often enormous. But some companies that they acquired later ran into trouble, in part because they were burdened with debt from the takeovers.

Mr. Feinberg, a Princeton graduate who began his Wall Street career at Drexel Burnham Lambert, the junk bond powerhouse of Michael R. Milken fame, got into private equity in 1992. That year, he and William L. Richter founded Cerberus, which takes its name from the three-headed dog in Greek mythology that guards the gates of Hades.

Today, Mr. Feinberg presides over a private empire that rivals some of the mightiest public companies in the land. Cerberus manages more than $20 billion in capital. Together, the companies it owns generate annual revenue of about $40 billion - more than either Amazon or Coca-Cola last year.

Why Cerberus went after gun companies isn't clear. Many private investment firms shy away from such industries to avoid scaring off big investors like pension funds.

Yet, in many ways, the move is classic Cerberus. Mr. Feinberg has a history of investing in companies that other people may not want, but that Cerberus believes it can turn around. When Cerberus embarked on its acquisition spree in guns, it essentially had the field to itself.

"There's much less competition for buying these companies," says Steven N. Kaplan, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a private equity expert. "They must have decided there is an opportunity to make money by investing in the firearms industry and trying to build a big company."

Whatever the reason, Cerberus, through the Freedom Group, is now a major player.

It may come as a surprise to many people, given the prominence of guns in American culture, the national conversation and politics, but the commercial firearms market in the United States is actually relatively small. Sales of guns and ammunition total about $4 billion annually, according to estimates from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group.

True, the N.R.A. estimates that about 70 million to 80 million Americans collectively own 300 million firearms. But how many of those people buy new guns regularly? For companies like the Freedom Group, the challenge is to expand the market. These days, more women are involved in target shooting, according to participation reports from the National Sporting Goods Association. But, analysts say, many young men who in the past might have taken up game hunting are now more interested in other pursuits like online gaming.

So, to keep growing, the Freedom Group has expanded its sales staff in the United States and increased its business internationally. It has sold weapons to the governments of Afghanistan, Thailand, Mexico and Malaysia, among others, and obtained new business from the United States Army, including a contract worth up to $28.2 million, to upgrade the M24 sniper weapon system.

Cerberus brings some connections to the table. The longtime chairman of its global investments group is Dan Quayle, the former vice president. The Freedom Group, meantime, has added two retired generals to its board. One is George A. Joulwan, who retired from the Army after serving as Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. The other is Michael W. Hagee, formerly commandant of the Marine Corps.

Jessica Kallam, a spokeswoman at the Freedom Group, said executives there declined to comment for this article. Timothy Price, a managing director of Cerberus, also declined to comment.

THE old Bushmaster factory in Windham, Me., doesn't look like much. With a facade of brick and gray aluminum siding, it squats in an unassuming office park on the Roosevelt Trail.

But Cerberus representatives who arrived here in 2005 clearly saw potential. Inside, several dozen gunsmiths, working by hand, were fitting together 6,000 to 7,000 weapons a month. At the time, Bushmaster was thriving, though it had been stung by bad publicity stemming from the Beltway sniper shootings. (In a 2004 settlement with victims of the shootings and their families, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the store where the gun was acquired, agreed to pay $2 million, and Bushmaster agreed to pay $568,000, but they did not admit liability.)

Richard Dyke, then the principal owner and chairman of Bushmaster, welcomed the visitors from New York. A blunt-spoken Korean War veteran and Republican fund-raiser, he had made a fortune himself by buying companies in trouble, including one that made poker chips. In 1976, he bought a bankrupt gun maker in Bangor, Me., for $241,000, moved it to Windham and later changed its name to Bushmaster.

The company that Mr. Dyke bought had patents on semiautomatic weapons designed for the military and police. But he was drawn to the nascent market in military-style firearms for civilians. He saw as his customers precision target shooters, including current and former military personnel, police officers and, well, military wannabes, he says.

A Bushmaster Carbon 15 .223 semiautomatic is about three feet long. But, weighing in at just under six pounds, it is surprisingly easy to maneuver, even for a novice. It doesn't have to be recocked after it's fired: you just squeeze the trigger over and over.

"At 25 meters, if you are a decent shot," Mr. Dyke says, "you can put it into a bull's-eye that is the size of a quarter."

The Bushmaster brand began to grow in the 1980s after the company started supplying its semiautomatics to police departments. It won a much larger consumer following in the 1990s, after it landed several small military contracts.

Bushmaster was among the first to sell ordinary people on weapons that look and feel like the ones carried by soldiers. Today many gun makers have embraced military-style weapons, a major but controversial source of growth for the commercial gun market, says Tom Diaz, a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, a research group that backs gun control.

"It's clear that the militarized stuff is the stuff that sells and is defining the industry," Mr. Diaz says.

Mr. Dyke says he's not sure why Bushmaster caught the eye of Cerberus. Whatever the case, when Cerberus came calling, Mr. Dyke, then past 70, was ready to sell. At the time, Bushmaster had $85 million in annual sales and about several million dollars in debt, he says. In April 2006, he sold the company to Cerberus for about $76 million, he says, and Cerberus rented the Bushmaster plant here for five years.

The next year, Cerberus formed the Freedom Group.

Now Bushmaster is gone from Maine. Earlier this year, Mr. Dyke says, the Freedom Group notified him it was closing Bushmaster's operation in the state and moving it to a bigger plant owned by Remington, a typical consolidation play for a private investment firm looking to cut costs and increase efficiency. Remington, for its part, announced earlier this year that it was expanding its manufacturing capacity and hiring new employees to make Bushmasters.

Several months ago, Mr. Dyke started a new company, Windham Weaponry, at the old Bushmaster site and has rehired most of his former employees. But he's not planning to go head-to-head with the Freedom Group.

"It's the big gorilla in the room," he says, adding: "We don't have to do $100 million. We'd have hopes of doing $20 million."

REMINGTON has been producing guns since 1816, when, according to lore, a young man named Eliphalet Remington made a flintlock rifle in his father's forge in Ilion Gulch, in upstate New York. By the 1870s, the brand was so popular that the company diversified into typewriters.

In 2007, the Freedom Group swooped in and bought Remington for $370 million, including $252 million in assumed debt. In one stroke, the Freedom Group gained one of the most famous names in American firearms, the largest domestic maker of shotguns and rifles and a major manufacturer of ammunition.

"That caused a lot of stir in the industry," says Dean J. Lockwood, a weapons systems analyst at Forecast International, a market research firm.

Next, the Freedom Group in rapid succession went after other firearms companies: DPMS; Marlin Firearms, a classic maker that came with two niche shotgun brands, Harrington & Richardson and L. C. Smith; and Dakota Arms. The Freedom Group also bought S&K industries, which supplies wood and laminate for gun stocks, as well as the Advanced Armament Corporation, which makes silencers. It acquired Barnes Bullets, which makes copper-jacketed bullets popular with precision shooters and police departments.

The more the company diversifies its portfolio, analysts say, the more it has to offer to firearms distributors and leading retailers like Wal-Mart and Cabela's.

"You can see Freedom Group constantly expanding its manufacturing base," Mr. Lockwood says. "You don't want to be a one-trick pony. They are trying to get as far into the market as they can." What is left? The Freedom Group does not own the Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation or Sturm, Ruger, both publicly traded. Nor does it own the Colt's Manufacturing, which is privately owned.

Cerberus also does not own Winchester Repeating Arms or Browning, both part of the Herstal Group of Belgium.

Still, the Freedom Group has ingested so many well-known brands so quickly that some gun owners are uneasy about what it might do next. Two years ago, a Cerberus managing director, George Kollitides, ran for the board of the N.R.A. Despite an endorsement from Remington, and the fact that he was a director of the Freedom Group and Remington, he lost. His campaign didn't sit well with some gun bloggers, who viewed him as an industry interloper.

Andrew Arulanandam, the N.R.A.'s director for public affairs, declined to speculate about why Mr. Kollitides lost. "It's a great question to ask our four million members," he said.

THE challenges for gun makers in America go far beyond those faced by many other companies. As in many industries, sales tend to rise and fall with the economy. But firearms makers must also grapple with the vicissitudes of politics and public opinion.

Many Americans are solidly behind the right to own guns. In a Gallup poll conducted in October, only 43 percent of respondents said they supported stricter gun laws - an all-time low since the company first asked the question in 1990. And 47 percent reported that there was a gun in their home or on their property, the highest level of self-reported gun ownership since 1993, according to the poll, which canvassed about 1,000 adults in early October.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a "right to carry" bill that would require states to recognize one another's permits to carry concealed weapons. If the bill passes the Senate, people in states with weaker concealed-weapon regulations would be able to carry concealed handguns into states like California, which requires extensive background checks.

The development would be good news for handgun makers like Colt and Smith & Wesson, but wouldn't be much help to the Freedom Group, which focuses on long guns.

That, however, may be changing. Not long ago, Remington introduced the Remington 1911 R1, its first pistol in decades. Industry analysts speculate that the Freedom Group might next go shopping for a handgun maker to expand its presence in that segment of the market.

"At the right price," says Jim Barrett, an analyst at CL King who covers firearms companies, "it would be logical for them to be interested in one of the premier handgun manufacturers."

But, in an industry with few independent players left, the big question is this: What is Freedom Group's long-term strategy? Because the company is private, outsiders can only speculate.

The Freedom Group had planned to go public, but backed away earlier this year when the financial markets turned turbulent. As of the end of September, the company had nearly half a billion dollars in debt, according to a third-quarter earnings report available on the Freedom Group's Web site. That includes about $225 million in debt that the company raised last year to pay itself a special dividend used to buy back preferred stock from Cerberus, according to a company prospectus filed with the S.E.C.

Some analysts say tactical rifles have peaked, that the market has topped out, and that small, concealable handguns are the way forward for the near future. And yet, after a tough 2010, gun sales at the Freedom Group were up 5.6 percent during the first nine months of this year, although the company reported a net loss of $6.3 million for the same time period, according to the company's most recent earnings report.

Meantime, the Freedom Group, despite its place atop the industry, appears to be operating without an official chief executive of its own. Its most recent C.E.O., Theodore H. Torbeck, resigned in September 2010 and no replacement has been named. For the moment, a temporary office of the chief executive, led by Robert L. Nardelli, the Cerberus executive who oversaw Chrysler, is helping to lead the company

"It's a sensible strategy to roll up things," says Gautam Khanna, an aerospace and military industry analyst at Cowen & Company. The issue is whether the Freedom Group, and Cerberus, can persuade more Americans to buy more guns.

"That," Mr. Khanna says, "is an open question."

20. New website: Ballistics by the inch

Good stuff for seeing how barrel length affects ballistics.

Jim Downey emailed me this:


21. VMI is working on a regulation to ban all guns in its buildings

I've been told me that the VMI Board of Visitors has voted to have a regulation to ban guns in its buildings, including those carried by CHP holders. Another shameful act by a bunch of unelected bureaucrats - and at a MILITARY ACADEMY nonetheless!

This won't become effective until sometime in 2012.

22. Delayed Instant Checks hurting dealers, gun shows and gun owners - VCDL is working this issue!

Buying a gun is taking longer and longer. Currently, if you are delayed, the wait is 4 hours on AVERAGE. Sometimes it can take days! There were 94,907 delays last year.

Dealers at gun shows are taking it on the chin as some delays run past the end of the business day on Saturday or past the end of the gun show on Monday. Last week when I attended a Richmond gun show, every time I stopped at a table to look at a gun, the dealer would corner me and plead with me to do something about this.

I am in contact with the Governor's Office and have explained to them the urgency of getting the Virginia State Police (VSP) more people. About 12 more hires and the problem would disappear according to Donna Tate, who heads up that department.

We have at least three options to fix the problem:

1. More people for the VSP, paid for out of the General Fund. This is fair as gun owners should not have to pay to be told they are law-abiding citizens. They already know they are. Since the claim is that the background checks are done for "public safety," then the public should pay for them using the General Fund.

2. Raise the $2 per gun background check fee paid by gun purchasers. VCDL opposes this, as it is simply raising a "poll" tax that gun owners shouldn't have to pay in the first place.

3. Get the VSP out of the background check business altogether and let the Feds do the NICS check for FREE. This would probably have to be done in stages, starting with running long guns through NICS initially, getting rid of One Handgun a Month, and then moving handguns to NICS, too. The State Police have been regulating dealers in ways that they are not empowered to do and moving to NICS would stop them from being a regulatory agency and let them concentrate on law enforcement instead.

VA-ALERT is a project of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.
(VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization
dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to
Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.

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