Monday, March 19, 2012

VA-ALERT: VCDL Update 3/18/12

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

1. VCDL meeting in Annandale March 21
2. Will Virginia Tech ruling boost campus carry?
3. Washington Post taken to task but makes no corrections
4. McDonnell signs bill lifting one-handgun-per-month limit
5. Governor signs law lifting limit on buying guns
6. Blacksburg mayor asks governor to veto handgun bill
7. NBC12 Richmond gives Bloomberg a soapbox [VIDEO]
8. Mayor Bloomberg criticizes Virginia repeal of 20-year-old gun law
9. Virginia Tech trial
10. VCU robberies
11. RTD's Truth-O-Meter
12. Miller: D.C.'s crime solution: Be a victim [VIDEO]
13. Victory for gun rights in D.C.
14. In Bloomberg's backyard
15. RTD Op-Ed: NC -- Pack your pistol anywhere, in the open
16. Ohio town, students grieve after 1 killed, 4 hurt in high school shooting
17. Why gun owner in Ohio school shooting won't be held accountable
18. Grizzly bear charges at Alaskan tourists [VIDEO]
19. AZ park escort
20. Gun sales on the rise with women [VIDEO]
21. Girls and guns . . . It's a social thing
22. The mind of the antis
23. Can Brady Campaign's new president save them?
24. Saudis: Syrians have right of self-defense!
25. Moscow Open 2011 [VIDEO]
26. Important read on national concealed carry bills
27. Thanks to the VA-ALERT editors
28. A funny thing happened on the way to the gun ban [VIDEO]

1. VCDL meeting in Annandale March 21

The monthly membership meeting in Annandale will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at the Mason Government Center.

The meeting will be called to order at 8 PM and run until 9:30 PM. Fellowship starts at 7:30 PM.

The meeting is open to the public, so bring friends, family, and co-workers.

Afterward we will adjourn to a local restaurant for continued fellowship.

Directions to the meeting can be found at:

2. Will Virginia Tech ruling boost campus carry?

Virginia Tech lost and is ordered to pay 8 million dollars to the families of two of the VT massacre victims.

VT President Steger loves to blame inanimate objects (guns) for his failures, but a jury disagreed. This article looks at what the ruling could mean for campus carry.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

3. Washington Post taken to task but makes no corrections

William Tansill emailed me this:


Philip - this is a bit old now, but here's a letter I wrote to the Post's ombudsman regarding one of their editorials (I have yet to receive any sort of acknowledgement):

It appears that on firearms-related topics, at least, the Post Editorial board has a policy of willful ignorance. I refer to your editorial of February 04, 2012 entitled: "Lax U.S. gun laws enable killing in Mexico":


The editorial begins as follows:

"DO AMERICA's failed gun policies contribute to the terrible violence in Mexico? Alejandro A. Poire Romero makes a compelling answer that the answer is yes."

Frankly, I have no problem with that opening statement. Unequivocally, failed US Policy has indeed contributed to the death of hundreds, if not thousands of Mexican nationals. From that point on, however, the editorial is shaded in half-truths and omissions.

For example - the very next paragraph continues:

"Law enforcement officials in both countries acknowledge that 70 to 80 percent of the traceable guns seized in Mexico can be tracked to the United States. Mr. Poire Romero, a top Mexican national security and criminal justice official, offers additional evidence that the United States has been an enabler of the violence."

Let's look at the first sentence to see the distortion. It states that "70 to 80 percent of the *traceable* guns seized in Mexico ..."

Do you see the issue? This sentence, read incautiously, would lead one to believe that the number of US-made weapons found to be responsible for Mexican violence far exceeds the numbers that can be substantiated. The key here is the phrase "traceable guns". What is omitted is any reference to the fact that "traceable guns" are but a small subset of the overall quantity of weapons seized in Mexico. In fact, by some estimates, only 17% of all weapons seized are of US origin. Others characterize the total as approximately 36%. While substantial, these figures are far less inflammatory than the stated "70 to 80 percent". The wording in the editorial is meant to mislead the casual reader into supporting policies that are otherwise dubious.

See here for details (I'm certain that with your access to Lexus/Nexus you can find other evidence supporting my assertion):



The editorial goes on to say:

"In 2005 roughly one-third of the seized guns were assault weapons. Today, according to Mr. Poire Romero, assault weapons represent 60 to 65 percent of the guns confiscated by Mexican authorities. The assault-weapons ban in the United States lapsed in 2004."

Again, this paragraph is inflammatory and misleading. Specifically, there is no such thing as a civilian assault weapon. A true weapon of this type is a military-grade, select fire weapon. The term "select fire" is the key. The phrase refers to a type of weapon that, with the flip of a selection lever, is capable of either semi-automatic or fully-automatic fire. Semi-automatic (semi-auto, for short), requires that the operator of the weapon pull the trigger for each round fired. Fully-automatic operation, or full-auto, allows the operator to simply hold the trigger in its firing position, and the weapon will fire continuously until the trigger is released, or until the weapon exhausts its magazine.

If you are not aware, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 severely limit the number of such firearms in civilian hands. The ATF reporting paperwork is quite onerous for persons wishing to posses such weapons. Due to the paperwork and the laws themselves, civilian ownership of such weapons is quite low and it is simply not possible to walk into any US gun shop or sporting goods store and walk out with the equivalent of a "Tommy gun".

As reporting by the Post and other news sources has made clear, the weapons favored by Mexican drug cartels run to full-auto weaponry, grenades, and other military-grade weapons. These items are simply not available for sale in any store accessible to an ordinary American citizen. By definition then, US gun laws, as they relate to the civilian market, cannot be responsible for the types of weaponry routinely found in use by the drug cartels. To write an editorial slanted to suggest that our laws, and specifically the Second Amendment are at the root of Mexico's carnage is disingenuous at best, and a flat-out, bald-faced lie at worst.

Again, the editorial subtly misleads:

"The operation, a version of which was undertaken during the George W. Bush administration, was deeply flawed; some 2,000 weapons are unaccounted for. Weapons traced to Fast and Furious purchases were found on the scene of the 2010 killing of a Border Patrol agent. These revelations led to the resignation of the U.S. attorney in Phoenix and reassignment of the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives."

The unspoken assertion here is that even if the current administration erred, *Bush did it too*!!!! I'm certain that at some point in your childhood one or both of your parents asked a question similar to this one: "So if Bobby jumped off a cliff you would too?" The point being to reveal the idiocy of blindly mimicking foolish behavior. To seriously advance the same childish logic in your editorial defies belief.

Even assuming that the above was a valid attempt at an explanation, it leaves out the fact that "Operation Wide Receiver", as conducted by the Bush administration was:

1) Designed to carefully monitor weapons as they were purchased and transported to Mexico.

2) Was designed to coordinate with Mexican authorities who would take over the monitoring duties once the weapons had transited the border.

When it was discovered that the Mexican authorities were not monitoring the weapons, the program was discontinued.

In contrast, the Fast and Furious program:

1) Used straw purchasers (sometimes FBI informants, sometimes using Obama stimulus funds) to purchase weapons in bulk from various gun shops.

2) The gun shops in question were told in advance by ATF agents to expect the purchases.

3) When the employees of the gun shops questioned the sales, they were advised by ATF to allow the dubious sales to proceed.

4) In at least one case there is evidence that the straw buyer was a prohibited felon, and that the required NICS check was manipulated by the FBI to allow the sale to proceed.

5) ATF agents were told not to follow the purchaser after the fact to see where the weapons might be stored before arriving at their final destination.

6) The Mexican government was specifically *not* informed of these activities. In fact, when the question was raised by ATF personnel in Mexico, at least one such person was forced into retirement.

The entire premise of this operation, therefore, was to trace the guns so purchased only after they were abandoned at crime scenes in Mexico. What possible motive could underlie such a hideous policy? The Post willfully refuses to ask that question, and instead writes pap that panders to the administration's lie that our gun laws are to blame for all of this and that ever more draconian enforcement methods must be enacted to prevent a recurrence of such acts.

In fact, Fast and Furious, itself a criminal operation, lies at the root of much of the observed violence. Let's take a look at the "irregularities" on display as a result of this criminality:

1) The sovereignty of one of our neighbors and a presumed ally has been violated. Recall if you will the stink that was raised when a truckload of Mexican soldiers crossed the border into Texas:


Fast and Furious was a far greater violation, yet there has been little coverage by the Post, and to a large extent, what coverage there is attempts to blame US gun shops and laws for the carnage rather than official government policy.

2) Hundreds, if not thousands of Mexican citizens as well as two US nationals - Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE agent Jaime Zapata - have been murdered due to the administration's policy. That makes this administration and the officials who conceived of and prosecuted this policy accessories to murder on a massive scale, yet there is no outcry from the Post.

3) The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) treaty has been violated. Not a peep on this from the Post.

4) The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 has been violated.

Indeed, there is evidence beyond Fast and Furious that even many of the military-grade weapons found are the result of deliberate US policies:



Even when the weapons recovered and traced are civilian-style firearms (i.e.: semi-automatic), a critical point is omitted - what is the "time-to-crime"? In other words, was the weapon purchased, taken to Mexico, and then immediately used in a crime? Or was the weapon legally purchased at some point in the past, perhaps stolen from its legal owner some years later, and then transported to Mexico? Per the ATF itself, the "time-to-crime: figures are, on average, 14 years:


This is hardly indicative of lax gun shops flouting the law. And yet this fact is curiously omitted in any coverage I've seen in the Post. On the other hand, anguished hand-wringing over lax US laws abounds in your editorials. Why is that?

For an exhaustive treatment of the Fast and Furious scandal, I refer you to this excellent source:


The above link points to a seven-volume (and growing) compendium detailing the facts surrounding the Fast and Furious scandal, with complete timelines of the activities undertaken.

Another blogger (amazing how bloggers are on top of this and yet most "mainstream media", with the notable exception of Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News, has mostly emulated the sound of crickets chirping) that has covered this story extensively writes here:

In closing I refer back to the opening sentence of your editorial, and I must reply with a resounding "Yes!" Our policies are indeed a large cause of Mexico's continuing violence. Just not the policies the Post thinks are relevant.

It's getting to the point where I am ashamed to admit that I subscribe to the Washington post. In fact, were not for my wife's intransigence, I would likely end my subscription entirely.

4. McDonnell signs bill lifting one-handgun-per-month limit

"He said, 'I have a duty to protect the Second Amendment,'" said Lori Haas, a gun-control activist who participated in the call and whose daughter was injured during the Virginia Tech shooting. "The governor's number one duty is to keep the citizens of Virginia safe. ... Expanding the ease with which criminals can get guns is certainly not going to keep Virginians safe."


"It's a law that should never been on the books, and we're obviously happy to see it go," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

From the Washington Post:

McDonnell signs bill lifting one-handgun-per-month limit
By Laura Vozzella

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell signed legislation Tuesday to repeal the state's one-per-month limit on handgun purchases, lifting a 19-year-old cap put in place when the state was a notorious supplier to gun-traffickers along the East Coast.

Pro-gun lawmakers have tried for years to eliminate the one-per-month cap on handgun purchases, imposed in 1993 under Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder.

Bills to that effect have passed the House in previous years but always died in Senate committees and subcommittees at the hands of Democrats and moderate Republicans. This year's bill had no such trouble, given the presence of more conservative Republicans in the evenly divided Senate.

McDonnell, who voted for the purchase limit as a delegate but campaigned for governor on a promise to overturn it, signed the bill just days after participating in a conference call with relatives of those affected by the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. The relatives had urged McDonnell not to sign the bill.

"He said, 'I have a duty to protect the Second Amendment,'" said Lori Haas, a gun-control activist who participated in the call and whose daughter was injured during the Virginia Tech shooting. "The governor's number one duty is to keep the citizens of Virginia safe. ... Expanding the ease with which criminals can get guns is certainly not going to keep Virginians safe."

Supporters of the bill said the purchase limit was no longer needed now that background checks are conducted on gun buyers.

"It's a law that should never been on the books, and we're obviously happy to see it go," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Advocates of repeal also contended that that so many exceptions had been made to the law that it was essentially meaningless. Over the years, the law had been changed to exempt law-enforcement officials and people with concealed-weapons permits from the limit. If collectors anticipated picking up several firearms at gun or antiques shows, they could simply apply to the state police for a permit exempting them from the cap for seven days.

5. Governor signs law lifting limit on buying guns


Governor signs law lifting limit on buying guns
March 3, 2012

RICHMOND -- With the stroke of his pen Tuesday, Gov. Bob McDonnell removed the limit on how many handguns Virginians can buy each month.

McDonnell, a Republican, signed legislation repealing the 19-year-old law prohibiting the purchase of more than one handgun per month. The repeal takes effect July 1.

The limit had been enacted in 1993 by then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat. Legislators were responding to reports that guns purchased in Virginia were used in crimes in other states.

Democrats criticized the efforts to repeal the limits.

"Despite what supporters of this bill say, this bill will make it easier for gunrunners to export violence from Virginia," said Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington.

She had voted against both of the measures McDonnell signed: House Bill 940, sponsored by Republican Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter of Woodbridge, and Senate Bill 323, sponsored by Republican Sen. Charles Carrico of Galax.

Carrico, Lingamfelter and other supporters of the legislation argued that the one-gun-a-month limit has been ineffective and that it merely hinders law-abiding citizens, not criminals. They also said instant background checks on gun buyers have eliminated the need for the limit.

Families of the victims of the April 2007 Virginia Tech shootings asked McDonnell to veto the legislation eliminating the gun-purchase limit. McDonnell spoke with victims' families during a telephone conference call.

During the call, the governor said he felt he had a duty to support the Second Amendment.

Some Democrats felt the same way and also voted to repeal the limit on buying handguns.

"I don't see the reason why someone would need to own a gun a month. I don't think there's any reason for a person to have to buy a gun a year. But the fact is the Second Amendment guarantees people have a right to own and possess firearms unless they're disqualified somehow," said Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville.

6. Blacksburg mayor asks governor to veto handgun bill

So much for the Mayor of Blacksburg's clout. What he asked the Governor to do was wrong and the Governor correctly ignored him.

Dave Hicks emailed me this:



Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam has weighed in on the issue, urging the governor to veto HB 940. Here's the letter he sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell:

February 26, 20122 (sic)
The Honorable Bob McDonnell
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, Virginia 23218

Dear Governor McDonnell:

As Mayor of Blacksburg for the last six years, I am painfully aware of the power of handguns.

Having seen the devastation caused by gun violence, I echo the concerns expressed by the families of the April 16th victims. I join those families in their request. I too ask that you veto HB 940.

If you veto HB 940, which would remove the nineteen year old law restricting handgun purchases to one per month, you are not putting the Second Amendment in jeopardy. Your veto would simply confirm your support of the 1993 legislation that limited handgun purchases. You did the right thing in 1993 and I hope that you will do so again in 2012.

Thank you for your consideration of a veto of HB 940.


Ron Rordam,

Rordam points out in his post that he does not get involved with legislation unless it has a direct affect on Blacksburg, but in this case it "has so many ramifications for Blacksburg, the Commonwealth, and the Country, that I felt a response was required."

7. NBC12 Richmond gives Bloomberg a soapbox [VIDEO]

EM Robert Sadtler emailed me this:


Shame on wwbt.

Tucker martin gets my vote for diplomat of the year.

"Any concerns by other law enforcement agencies regarding violations of the illegal trafficking laws should be immediately forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency."

I have never heard anyone say "tell someone who cares" so gracefully.


Bloomberg slams McDonnell on one gun a month repeal
By Rachel DePompa
March 02, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWBT) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued his string of attacks on Virginia's gun laws Friday, by criticizing Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for signing a repeal of an anti-gun measure.

"If you take a look at Virginia, of all the states after Virginia Tech, you would think that they would be more sensitive to what's going on," Bloomberg told NBC12's Rachel DePompa.

Four NYPD officers have been shot in the last two months. Two of the four illegal guns were bought in Virginia. Officer Peter Figoski was killed by one of those weapons.

"I think every state does have a responsibility to the other 49 states to make sure that they don't contribute to problems in the other states," said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg has been attacking Virginia's gun laws for years. He's contributed money to pro-gun control candidates in the Commonwealth, sued Virginia gun dealers and even paid for anti-gun commercials here.

RACHEL: What business is it of yours to dictate what goes on in another state?

Bloomberg: "I have no business to dictate what goes on in another state other than if that state does something that influences our state. That's the issue here."

Bloomberg was particularly upset by Virginia's repeal of the one-gun-a-month law. The law was passed in the 1990s to stop someone who can pass a background check from buying multiple weapons for someone who cannot. However, while the law was in place the number of illegal guns in New York City that could be traced back to Virginia grew.

"If it's not working well enough, strengthen the law, don't walk away from it," said Bloomberg. He also criticized Gov. McDonnell for voting for the law in the 1900s and not vetoing its repeal. "I just think he has a responsibility to help other states, not just New York, where guns that are sold in Virginia wind up."

A spokesperson for Gov. McDonnell said this week the Governor appreciated the Mayor's interest in the Commonwealth, saying, "We wish the Mayor the best during this difficult time and we hope he won't hesitate to call on us if our law enforcement agencies can be of assistance in ensuring public safety in New York City."

"Any concerns by other law enforcement agencies regarding violation of the illegal trafficking laws should be immediately forwarded to the appropriate Virginia law enforcement agency," the spokesperson added.

Virginia's repeal of the one gun a month law goes into effect July 1st.

8. Mayor Bloomberg criticizes Virginia repeal of 20-year-old gun law

Bloomberg loses again. Gee, what a shame.

Jay Minsky emailed me this:



Bloomberg rips repeal of Va. gun law
March 01, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg blasted Virginia's repeal of a 20-year-old law restricting handgun buyers to one pistol a month, saying Wednesday that it's "only going to make matters worse" in New York.

Bloomberg, one of the country's top advocates for tough gun laws, said dismantling the law will enhance Virginia's reputation as the gun-running capital of the East Coast.

"Virginia is the No. 1 out-of-state source of crime guns in New York, and one of the top suppliers of crime guns nationally," Bloomberg said.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the law repealing the gun limit on Tuesday, a day after the nation's latest school shooting spree left three students dead in Ohio.

Bloomberg predicted the repeal will only lead to more bloodshed on the streets of cities throughout the Northeast. In the past two months, two NYPD cops have been shot with illegal guns from Virginia.

Officer Peter Figoski was slain Dec. 12 when he interrupted a Brooklyn robbery. Officer Thomas Richards survived a lower East Side shooting Monday night when a suspect's bullet hit his metal gun clip -- instead of his body.

"If they care about innocent people and police officers being shot, they should be strengthening laws -- as we have done in New York -- to keep guns away from criminals, not weakening them," Bloomberg said. "This is only going to make matters worse."

McDonnell, who's been touted as a possible Republican vice presidential candidate, signed the bill after meeting with loved ones of those killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting spree. As a Virginia delegate, McDonnell voted in 1993 to enact the commonwealth's one-gun-per-month law.

Chris Goddard, who was shot four times in the massacre that left 32 dead, said the group tried to talk McDonnell into vetoing the legislation.

Goddard said the governor only "offered sympathy, not solutions."

"Sympathy alone will not save lives," said Goddard, an advocate with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In a Daily News column last week, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly slammed legal loopholes in gun laws that fuel the so-called "iron pipeline" of guns flooding New York.

"In most cases, the guns were purchased outside of New York State -- in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and other points south -- and then resold on the streets of New York at triple their retail value," Kelly wrote.

Advocates of the Virginia one-gun-a-month repeal, called the old law "archaic" and "ineffective."

"Like every gun control law, this law only burdened law-abiding citizens," said Chris Cox, executive director for the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.

"Gov. McDonnell and the Virginia General Assembly should be commended for removing this law and for working to place the full burden of Virginia's criminal justice laws on the criminals," he said.

9. Virginia Tech trial

Virginia Tech lost the trial described below. VT still doesn't understand that people want AND NEED to be able to protect themselves and VT has no authority from the General Assembly to keep law abiding citizens from doing so.


Jury selection under way in Virginia Tech trial
Associated Press
Mar 5, 2012

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jury selection opened Monday in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of two Virginia Tech students killed during a campus rampage nearly five years ago.

The trial is being held in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Christiansburg. University officials will be asked to defend their actions of April 16, 2007, when a student gunman killed 32 people and then himself on the Blacksburg campus. It was the most deadly shooting spree in modern U.S. history.

The jury pool was being drawn from the county, home to Virginia Tech, with attorneys selecting nine jurors, including two alternates from among 50 prospects.

"I know all of you have heard about the shootings that occurred on April 16, 2007," Circuit Judge William Alexander told jury prospects filling benches in one half of the courtroom. "Just because you know something does not disqualify you from the jury."

One prospective juror was released after she said she knew one of the victims. By the end of the day, the pool had been winnowed to 17 people. Prospects will return to court on Tuesday, when a seven-member jury and two alternates are empaneled.

Opening statements will follow.

Top Virginia Tech officials, including President Charles Steger, are scheduled to testify in the trial brought by the parents of Julia K. Pryde and Erin N. Peterson. Those families have said they are seeking a full accounting of the morning of the campus carnage.

The Prydes and the Petersons were the only eligible Virginia Tech families who didn't accept their share of an $11 million state settlement.

Their attorney, Robert Hall, has said he will show that university officials botched the response to the 2007 shootings by waiting more than two hours to alert the campus after the first two victims were fatally gunned down in a dormitory. Steger, who has defended his actions and the actions of other campus officials, will be testifying publicly under oath for the first time, Hall said.

"There isn't one person on that campus who hasn't wondered, `That could have been me,' " Hall said in an interview before trial.

Hall has said Steger also sought to cover up the university's actions, an accusation the state has labeled false. The university has said the suit has no merit.

A state panel that investigated the shootings concluded that officials erred in not sending an alert earlier. The delay in issuing a campus warning also cost Virginia Tech a $55,000 fine from the U.S. Education Department. The school is appealing.

Hall has listed more than 30 witnesses he intends to call, including the chief of the campus police force. The state's witness list totals approximately 50 people.

Alexander told prospective jurors he expects the trial to last one week, but warned it could run into next week. Several prospects said that presented problems for them.

10. VCU robberies

Dave Troxel emailed me this:


I wonder how many anti's are rethinking their opinion about a gun free zone at VCU now? Thankfully nobody got hurt.

From Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Armed robbers strike twice within minutes near VCU
March 01, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University police are investigating what appear to be two related armed robberies that occurred a few blocks apart in the Randolph area and within minutes of each other late Wednesday night.

One shot was fired in the first robbery, but no one was injured in either crime.

Police said the first robbery occurred about 11:40 p.m. in the 200 block of South Harrison Street, a short distance from the VCU campus, where a male student was confronted by two black males _ one with a black handgun _ who robbed him. Richmond police Capt. Yvonne Crowder said the gunman appeared to fire a warning shot into the air as the two robbers fled on foot.

About eight minutes later and eight blocks away, a man and a woman walking in the 1800 block of West Cary Street were robbed by two men who matched the description from the first robbery. This time, instead of running, the robbers got into an older-model, dark green, four-door Honda sedan driven by a third male.

Police said the robbers and the getaway driver were all black males. The robbers were both in their 20s and between 5 feet, 5 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches tall. The robber with the gun was wearing a green and black hooded shirt and a black mask.

VCU police said the Honda was a Civic with license plate numbers XBY 8475.

11. RTD's Truth-O-Meter

EM Dave Hicks emailed me this:


The Truth-O-Meter Says:

Sen. Janet Howell says it's easier to buy guns in Virginia than vote

State Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, recently complained about socially conservative bills being approved this winter by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

During a Feb. 10 interview with Al Sharpton on MSNBC's PoliticsNation, Howell called the GOP majority "a steamroller" in passing legislation to ease gun control laws and strengthen voter identification requirements.

"What's really ironic with what's happening is it's going to be harder to vote in Virginia than it is to buy a gun with what they're doing on gun control issues," she said.

Is it really becoming easier to buy a gun than cast a ballot in Virginia?

Howell told us her statement was a "rhetorical slur." She cited some of bills that have been approved by the General Assembly this year but did not offer a point-by-point comparison of the requirements to buy a gun or cast a vote.

So we looked at Virginia's laws overseeing firearm purchases and voting. You have to be at least 18 for either activity. You have to be a state resident to vote in Virginia. But you don't have to live in Virginia to buy a gun here.

Let's examine the other requirements.


To register to vote, you must present a document that shows your name and address. It can be a valid photo ID, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document.

To cast a ballot, you must show identification or sign a statement -- subject to felony conviction for false information -- that you are the registered voter you represent yourself to be. This requirement is being altered by the General Assembly this year, a point we'll address later.

To buy a gun from a licensed dealer in Virginia, you must show primary and secondary forms of identification. The primary document must be a state-issued photo ID. The secondary identification just needs to contain your current address and can be a utility bill, voter registration card, bank check or hunting or fishing license.

But in the case of private guns sales -- if you buy a firearm from an individual who is not a licensed dealer -- the identification requirements go away.


To register to vote, you must fill out and submit an application 22 days before a general or primary election. The form can be submitted at variety of locations or by mail.

To buy a gun from a licensed dealer, you have to submit to a computerized background check run by the state police. It's usually completed in a matter of minutes, but can take as long as four days. The background check does not apply to private gun sales, and such transactions can occur instantly.


You can't vote if you are a felon and have not had your rights restored, or if you have been judged mentally incapacitated.

Many things could turn up on a background check that would bar someone from buying a gun from a licensed dealer. They include conviction or indictment on felony charges, an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor or felony, outstanding protective or restraining orders, use of illegal drugs, mental incompetency judgement, orders for mental health treatment, dishonorable discharge from military, and conviction on domestic violence charges.

In private sales, it is a felony to knowingly sell a gun to a person who would be disqualified under the instant background check. But there is no onus on a private seller to inquire about a buyer's background, and no requirement that a purchaser disclose whether he or she is legally qualified to buy a firearm in Virginia.

What could change

As Howell noted in her interview with Sharpton, the General Assembly has passed several bills this year affecting voting and gun purchases.

The major change in voting concerns what happens if voters don't have identification when they show up at the polls on Election Day. Instead of signing an affidavit and having their vote counted immediately, anyone who can't present ID would turn in a provisional ballot. Local electoral boards meet the day after the election to determine which of the votes are valid.

But this provision does not necessarily make voting tougher than buying a gun. You would have no hope of buying a gun from a licensed dealer if you did not present identification. And you still won't need ID to buy a gun for a private dealer. So the comparison doesn't change.

Legislators have also repealed a law limiting handgun purchases to one a month. Many exceptions have been put in the law since passed in 1993. But the repeal would not change the requirements for buying a gun in the first place, it will allow you to buy more each time you clear the hurdles.

Our ruling

Howell said it is becoming harder to vote in Virginia than buy a gun..

There are more restrictions on buying a gun from a licensed dealer than voting. The firearm purchase requires more identification. The gun buyer has to go through a background check that the voter does not. And you can be more easily disqualified from buying a gun than you can be from voting.

But there are fewer barriers to buying a gun privately than there are to voting. The private gun sale requires no wait, no identification, and no easily enforceable disqualifications.

We rate Howell's statement Half True. [PVC: Hey, for Senator Howell, that's a huge improvement!]

12. Miller: D.C.'s crime solution: Be a victim [VIDEO]

Jay Minsky emailed me this:



I thought the VCDL membership would be interested in this story. It never ceases to amaze me what politicians say to their constituents. The District's Deputy Mayor told residents. "It is much better, in my opinion, to be scared, to be frightened, and even if you have to be, to be injured, but to walk away and survive. You'll heal, and you can replace whatever was taken away." [PVC: Even if they took away your life as you walked away? How do you propose a person gets THAT back?]

This is the District's answer to a 40% increase in violent crime, be injured, you will heal. I would like to see him walking the 1st District at night, unescourted, unarmed, and dressed in an expensive suit and jewelry until HE becomes a crime statistic. [PVC: Mr. Quander would never follow his own advice since he sees his life as being so much more valuable than your life or mine.]

From the Washington Times:

MILLER: D.C.'s crime solution: Be a victim
City official insists residents shouldn't defend themselves
By Emily Miller
March 1, 2012

Washington residents are up in arms, though not armed. With violent crime up 40 percent in the first two months of the year - including double the number of robberies at gunpoint - residents are looking for ways to protect themselves. Elected officials and police have no solution.

Take Benjamin Portman, who lives on Capitol Hill, part of the 1st District, where violent crime has increased the most. A total of 110 incidents have been reported in 2012, a 69 percent jump, according to statistics obtained by The Washington Times. Two weeks ago, Mr. Portman's male roommate and his girlfriend were robbed by three armed men in ski masks as they walked home on a well-lit street.

That spurred Mr. Portman to attend a community meeting on the increased violence, which was held last week by D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat. Mr. Portman asked officials why the city makes it so difficult for law-abiding residents to register guns and refuses to allow them to carry weapons outside of the home.

As you can see in the video below, Paul Quander, the District's deputy mayor for public safety and justice, responded that crime victims should give the criminals what they want. Mr. Portman protested, saying, "But how do you know you're going live and survive? You're completely at their mercy."

Mr. Quander thinks victimhood is preferable to self-defense. "The problem is, if you are armed, it escalates the situation," Mr. Quander told residents. "It is much better, in my opinion, to be scared, to be frightened, and even if you have to be, to be injured, but to walk away and survive. You'll heal, and you can replace whatever was taken away."

Kristopher Baumann, head of the D.C. police union, also was at Ms. Cheh's meeting. "Having the deputy mayor for public safety publicly announce that being victimized is something we, as residents of the District, must accept is disgraceful," he told The Washington Times. "At the same time, Mr. Quander failed to offer a single short- or long-term solution to fighting crime in this city."

The police officer added that, "This is a mayor who, as chair of the Council, cut 400 police positions and failed to enact tougher laws for repeat offenders. Now we know why. His crime fighting strategy apparently involves giving up and just living with being scared. Accepting violent crime and victimization is not an acceptable trade-off for living in the District."

The Washington Times caught up with Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier on Wednesday and asked for her reaction to Mr. Quander's comments. The police chief did not remember exactly what was said, but she said she thought Mr. Quander was referring only to victims of theft, not physical assault. "We always say, if you are a victim of a robbery, your best thing to do is comply and try to be safe," the chief said.

Mr. Portman said Chief Lanier approached him after the meeting, but he left unsatisfied. "I think if the chief realized that the police cannot protect us all the time, everywhere, she might come to the conclusion that it's the right thing for her to recommend relaxing the gun-control laws in the city," he said in an interview. "I have the right to protect myself if the police can't."

While the council is working to ease some registration requirements, that's not enough. The city needs to recognize that the Second Amendment guarantees not just the right to keep arms at home, but also to bear them. Doing so would give criminals reason to think twice before assaulting residents.

13. Victory for gun rights in D.C.

From the Washington Times:

MILLER: Victory for gun rights in D.C.
Council bows to pressure, eliminates major hurdles to registration
By Emily Miller
February 29, 2012

The District has moved one step closer to showing due respect to the Second Amendment. Potential gun owners will now save hours of their time and hundreds of dollars as a council committee voted to eliminate hurdles meant to discourage the law-abiding from keeping arms in the nation's capital.

The newly-drafted legislation eliminates the five-hour training requirement for gun ownership. As documented in The Washington Times' "Emily Gets Her Gun" series, this turned out to be the most time-consuming and expensive barrier. The classes, which cost an average of $200, could not even be legally taken within city limits, calling into question the requirement's constitutionality.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy Lanier asked the council to end the mandatory classes. She told The Washington Times that her department will instead provide a video online or at the registry office that covers gun safety and local laws. "I think it makes sense," she explained. "We'll be more consistent with what other jurisdictions do."

The bill also does away with ammunition restrictions for registered gun owners. Under current law, residents face up to a year in jail for possession of any ammunition that is not in the same caliber or gauge as the registered gun. The city will also cancel the pointless vision and ballistics tests that were previously mandatory. The proposal will even allow the mayor to act as a gun dealer in the event the District's only licensed broker, Charles Sykes, goes out of business.

Law-abiding gun owners will not be inadvertently made criminals as the new bill will suspend the registration renewal section of the law until Jan. 1, 2014. The District currently requires re-registration every three years, but MPD wasn't prepared to handle the workload. As a result, many registered gun owners technically became lawbreakers at the end of January. This aspect of the bill will be implemented on an emergency basis so it's effective before a March deadline.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Phil Mendelson, Democrat at-large, initially proposed the legislation in December that tinkered with the country's most oppressive firearms laws. After a hearing in January in which I testified, the bill was expanded to offer meaningful relief to prospective gun owners. The Council wrote the current laws after the Supreme Court overturned its 30-year handgun ban in the Heller case in 2008.

The liberal council is overwhelmingly anti-gun, but it is feeling the heat from pending court cases and a newly Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Councilman Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, voted for the bill under political pressure. "Council member Mendelson called me last night and said, 'This is what I believe we have to do in order to accommodate the concerns raised by Congress and, or, the courts,' Mr. Evans told The Washington Times. "Although none of us like making it easier for someone to have a gun legally, we believe that this is what we have to do."

With violent crime up 40 percent this year so far, more D.C. residents are likely to want a pistol to protect themselves. The good news is that it should be easier to get one by summer. If the full council passes the final bill in April, it would take effect after a 60-day congressional review period.

14. In Bloomberg's backyard

The one place that Bloomberg never looks when it comes to fixing New York's crime problem. He prefers scapegoats.

Stephen Wenger emailed me this:


From the New York Times:

Three Former Officers Plead Guilty in Gun-Smuggling Case
February 27, 2012

Three former New York City police officers pleaded guilty on Monday to taking part in a scheme to illegally transport firearms across state lines, the authorities said.

"As they admitted today, these police officers moonlighted as criminals, and even planned to use their badges to cover their illegal activity," the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said in a statement.

Gary Ortiz, 28, who was an active-duty officer in the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Manhattan to one count of conspiracy to transport firearms between states and one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise. Joseph Trischitta, 42, who worked in the 68th Precinct in Brooklyn during part of the plot, pleaded guilty to the same charges. John Mahoney, 27, also from the 68th Precinct, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise. Richard Melnik, 43, who pleaded guilty last week to one count of conspiracy to transport and receive stolen merchandise, was a retired officer from the 68th Precinct.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from September 2010 to October 2011, Mr. Ortiz and Mr. Trischitta helped transport three M-16 rifles, one shotgun and 16 handguns from New Jersey to New York. Many had been defaced to remove or alter the serial number.

In another scheme, the officers -- along with Mr. Mahoney, Mr. Melnik and others -- helped transport what they believed to be stolen goods, including slot machines, counterfeit merchandise and thousands of cartons of cigarettes, across state lines. According to court documents, the goods carried a street value of about $1 million.

The charges stemmed from a sting operation in which firearms and other goods were provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation through a confidential informer and an undercover agent, both posing as participants in the scheme.

Six active-duty or former members of the Police Department have now pleaded guilty in connection with the case, with charges pending against two others.

Two associates and a corrections officer in New Jersey have also admitted to taking part in the scheme, and charges are pending against a former police officer for the city's sanitation department.

Three weeks ago, the man whom prosecutors have called the ringleader of the group -- William Masso, who was an active-duty officer in the 68th Precinct during the scheme -- admitted to all four conspiracy counts against him, just months after members of the group were charged.

15. RTD Op-Ed: NC -- Pack your pistol anywhere, in the open

The antis get really loony when they are losing. Case in point!

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Railey: Pack your pistol anywhere, in the open
February 28, 2012

Pancho was a bandit boy

His horse was fast as polished steel

Wore his gun outside his pants

For all the honest world to feel

Townes Van Zandt,

'Pancho and Lefty'

The endless arguments about where you can and can't carry a concealed handgun are just silly. Yes, you should be able to wear your revolver or pistol anywhere you damn well please, including to church.

But to make it easier, and to take all the confusion out of it, state legislators should just do away with the whole concealed-carry permit framework and just say you can carry a handgun anywhere, as long as it's visible to anyone. I mean, as it is now, commissioners here in Forsyth County, N.C., had to go through hours of arguing just to secure the right for concealed-carry permit holders to pack heat in public parks.

And with almost 20 percent of North Carolina's state legislators being permit holders, it's so 20th century that they can't brandish their shooting irons out in the open the way folks in Virginia largely can. Or that anybody else can't, for that matter. Forget those stories in the press that say even some permit holders, who have to qualify for their permits, have been charged with crimes. That's just the liberal media.

Yep, the law should say you can pack your heat anywhere, as long as it's visible to anybody, from the crack-crazed mugger you might have to plug full of holes to the soccer mom at the park mouthing off at you. The right to openly pack should be available to anyone, as long as they haven't been convicted of capital murder in the past year. Go ahead, load that .44 Magnum up, strap it on your hip and dare anybody to make your day.

No more secrecy. You should no longer be forced to wear your weapon in some hidden pocket holster. Wear that bad boy on your hip, just like good old days of the Wild West, or tuck it in your waistband, pirate-style, if you want. You can already pack openly, legally, in more places than most folks realize, but it's time for the law to say that you can openly wear your gun into bars, malls, schools, ballgames and many other places. No more sneaking around. If the whole point is to give the police an assist, this should do it. You see somebody who looks suspicious, just give'em a John Wayne stare and move your hand toward your sidearm.

Outlaws will still have handguns, of course. And they'll draw them quick enough if you draw yours. And if we have more shootouts, so what? That's our right.

The whole idea of doing away with the concealed-carry permit structure would stimulate the economy, too. More gun and ammo sales. More jobs for doctors and emergency workers. And with all those "auxiliary officers" on the street, cities could reduce costs by laying off police officers and cutting back on their pricey training for stuff such as using deadly force in public places.

We should be able to wear our handguns openly anywhere, including to the emergency room to check on friends wounded by gunshots and to church for the funerals of those killed by shots.

* * * * *

Yes, this column is crazy. About as crazy as allowing concealed weapons into parks where our children play. [PVC: Don't underestimate yourself, Mr. Railey! You are definitely far more crazy than you give yourself credit for!]

16. Ohio town, students grieve after 1 killed, 4 hurt in high school shooting

Board member Dale Welch emailed me this:


From CNN:

Ohio town, students grieve after 1 killed, 4 hurt in high school shooting
By the CNN Wire Staff
February 28, 2012

Chardon, Ohio (CNN) -- Schools throughout the small town of Chardon, Ohio, will be closed Tuesday -- except for counselors on hand to help any students who want to come in to talk, to try to come to grips with the bloodshed that left one of their own dead.

Four students, meanwhile, spent the night in local hospitals for gunshot wounds -- two in critical condition at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, and one in serious condition and another in stable condition at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Chardon police Chief Police Chief Tim McKenna said late Monday afternoon.

They all had been in the Chardon High School cafeteria on Monday morning, when two witnesses saw another student they later identified as T.J. Lane walk up to a table and start firing.

"He was silent the entire time," said Nate Mueller, who was just a few feet away from the shooter. "There was no warning or anything. He just opened fire."

A teacher identified by students as Frank Hall helped chase the gunman out of the school. Police arrested the suspect -- whom they have not named, except to say he's a juvenile -- nearby a short time later.

One of Lane's friends, Haley Kovacik, said she was in "complete shock" that Lane -- whom she described as a "a very normal, just teenage boy" -- could be responsible for the mayhem.

"He did have a sad look in his eyes a lot of the time, but he talked normally (and) he never said anything strange," Kovacik told CNN. "It is a really big shock."

Another friend, Torilyn LaCasse, saw Lane being picked on regularly at school and said he put a wall around himself, reluctant especially to share anything about his personal life.

One glimpse into his mindset may have come December 30, when Lane posted a long, poetic rant on his Facebook page centered "in a quaint lonely town, (where there) sits a man with a frown (who) longed for only one thing, the world to bow at his feet."

"He was better than the rest, all those ones he detests, within their castles, so vain," he said, later thanking those who "liked" the post and saying he'd written it in class one day.

He concluded the post by writing, "Die, all of you."

A student at Chardon High, Evan Erasmus, said the victims were students who attended a nearby vocational school, and were waiting for a bus to take them there. Lane himself is a student at the Lake Academy Alternative School, said the school's interim director, Don Ehas.

The student killed in Monday's shooting was identified by his family as Daniel Parmertor.

"Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him. The family is torn by this loss," the family said in a statement released by MetroHealth Medical Center.

Gov. John Kasich ordered flags to be flown at half-staff Tuesday at the Ohio Statehouse, as well as throughout Geauga County, in honor of Parmetor.

Why he was killed remains a mystery, as school and law enforcement authorities have not offered details as to the suspect's motive.

"I just can't believe it. I don't think it's real," said student Danny Komertz, who witnessed the shooting. "And I just, it kills me that I saw someone hiding, and now that someone is now dead."

Komertz said he heard a pop as he was walking with friends. He looked up to see a boy he did not recognize holding a gun, pointing it at a group of four students.

"He just fired two quick shots at them," said Komertz, a freshman. "I saw one student fall, and I saw the other hiding, trying to get cover underneath the table."

Komertz said he started to run when he saw the gun, but heard a total of five shots.

Multiple calls reporting a shooting flooded into the police dispatch center beginning at 7:38 a.m., McKenna said.

Around that time, student Evan Erasmus said, he had just arrived for his English class when an administrator "yelled 'lockdown!'" over the announcements.

"All of a sudden, all the doors started slamming. You could hear them slam," Erasmus said. "And we all turned off the lights, and we headed towards the corner."

After police got word from a dispatcher that a teacher had chased the suspect out of the school, officers went inside, soon followed by paramedics to help the injured students, McKenna said.

Neil Thomas, who was in his Spanish class at the time of the shooting, said the actions of teacher Frank Hall, the assistant football coach who is thought to have chased the gunman from the school, were very much in character.

"Coach Hall, he always talks about how much he cares about us students, his team and everyone," Thomas said. "And today he really went out and he proved how much he cared about us, that he would take a bullet for us."

It was unclear exactly how the suspect was captured. Initial reports from police indicated that he may have turned himself in to bystanders, but McKenna did not mention that. Instead, he said officers "came up with the suspect" after starting a search shortly after the shooting.

As investigators took over the school, students were evacuated to nearby Maple Elementary School, said Lt. John Hiscox of the sheriff's office.

Local officials, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and several students credited frequent lockdown drills and the quick response of school authorities for helping keep the situation from becoming worse.

The Chardon High shooting was the latest, but hardly the only mass shooting in recent years on school campuses. In addition to several at universities, including an April 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech that left 32 dead, the bloodiest attack on a high school campus was when teens Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves at Colorado's Columbine High in 1999.

Hours after calling off school Monday, Chardon school superintendent Joseph Bergant said there would be no class on Tuesday -- though counselors will be on hand at Chardon Middle School and St. Mary Chardon School, which is alongside the church in which a candlelight vigil is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to the superintendent.

"I hope that every parent, if you haven't hugged or kissed your family in the last couple of days, take that time," Bergant said.

17. Why gun owner in Ohio school shooting won't be held accountable

The press is forever trying to give gun owners "special treatment" and this is another example.

David Custer emailed me this:


Because he/she shouldn't be held accountable for a gun that was stolen? Just a guess, and I know I'm using logic whereas this article does not.


Why gun owner in Ohio school shooting won't be held accountable
State has no laws governing children's access to firearms

By Mark Guarino
Christian Science Monitor

While new details emerge about the possible motives in Monday's school shooting in Ohio, another question remains: Will there be legal consequences against the owner of the handgun used to kill three people and injure two others?

As Ohio state law stands today, the answer is likely no.

Officials say T.J. Lane, a 17-year-old high school sophomore, confessed to the killings at Chardon High School, located about 30 miles east of Cleveland. County prosecutors say they plan to try Mr. Lane as an adult, resulting in a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Lane stole the gun, a Ruger .22-caliber Mark III target pistol, from an uncle who legally purchased the weapon in August 2010 from a gun shop in Mentor, Ohio. Lane's grandparents noticed the gun missing this week from a barn they owned.

Quiz: How much do you know about the 2nd Amendment?

It is not yet certain if the handgun was properly stored, had its ammunition removed, or was secured with locks preventing its use -- all factors that that gun safety advocates say are critical in preventing gun access by children.

According to a 2000 study by the US Secret Service, 65 percent of school shootings up to that point involved a gun obtained from the juvenile shooter's home or that of a close relative.

"There is a widespread misconception that if you talk to your child about guns they will know enough about how to act around a gun. The problem is, they are still children and studies show, over and over, they will not act as an adult will around a gun," says Laura Cutilletta, a senior staff attorney with Legal Community Against Violence, a public interest law center dedicated to preventing gun violence, located in San Francisco.

More problematic is that Lane attended an alternative school for students who are evaluated as a high risk for "substance abuse/chemical dependency, anger issues, mental health issues, truancy, delinquency, difficulties with attention/organization, and academic deficiencies," according to the school's website. All are red flags that should have made the family weapon more difficult to obtain, says Jennie Lintz, acting executive director of The Center to Prevent Youth Violence in New York City.

"If you have a child perceived at risk, then we need to take special precautions. We encourage parents of teenagers to remove things from their house like guns or medication and if that's not possible than they have to do a very, very good job to make them not accessible," Ms. Lintz says.

Twenty-eight states have Child Access Prevention laws that make adults liable if it is determined that children were able to access their firearms, although the liability depends on certain factors that vary by state. For example, only six states -- Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas -- makes adults liable whether or not the child uses the firearm to cause injury, while eight other states punish adults only if the firearm is used. Other states impose liability if the weapon is not stored property.

Ohio has no laws governing child access to guns on its books and as recently as this month state lawmakers debated a bill that would allow concealed guns in schools. The proposed bill would extend a provision to the state's conceal-carry law, signed last year by Gov. John Kasich (R), that allows concealed firearms into bars, restaurants, shopping malls, nightclubs, and sports arenas.

The number of Ohioans carrying concealed weapons almost tripled in the state over the past three years, from 56,691 in 2009 to 153,853 in 2011, according to the Ohio Attorney General. To date, about 265,000 Ohioans have permits allowing them to carry a concealed firearm.

There are not yet signs the shooting in Chardon will force a reassessment of the state's gun laws. US House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio told reporters Tuesday at a Washington press conference that he felt sympathy for the victims of Monday's shooting and added that "there are about 250 million guns in America, so they are out there, but people should use them responsibly."

18. Grizzly bear charges at Alaskan tourists [VIDEO]

Jay Minsky emailed me this:



Here is another reason for allowing people to carry in an National park. I think the VCDL membership would be interested in this story and video.

Jay Minsky


Tourists' Close Encounter With Grizzly Bear Caught-on-Tape
By Katie Kindelan
Feb 28, 2012

An Alaskan grizzly expressed its frustration with camera-toting tourists on a photo safari by charging right at them, giving them the kind of up-close shot they hadn't necessarily signed up for.

The group of 10 photographers was in the middle of a four-hour sightseeing tour of Alaska's Katmai National Park when the bear began to sniff out these two-legged intruders.

"This particular bear circled our group several times, wanting us to leave his fishing spot," Larry Griffith, on the trip with his wife, Cindy, told ABC News. "Our guide said he saw this as a bluff charge, trying to scare us away."

Griffith, of Farmington, N.M., said the bear seemed drawn by the smell of one of the member's hoodies, and came within 3 feet of the group.

"We all turned away and were frozen, and I couldn't breathe," Griffith said of the moment when the nearly 8-foot bear charged. Griffith later posted video of the August 2010 incident on YouTube.

"We were all in shock, very happy that no one in our group jumped up, running away or screaming for their lives," he said.

The group, according to Griffith, saw 30 to 40 different bears throughout the tour, but this particular grizzly was the only one to come so close.

"This was not supposed to happen," he said.

The trip was operated by Bald Mountain Air Service in Homer, Alaska.

"It is our serious intent to provide a safe and educational experience to our guests," the company said on its website, while also noting that its special aircraft allows tour groups to "occupy viewing sites that would otherwise be inaccessible."

19. AZ park escort

Who needs a gun in a National Park?

Stanley Branham emailed me this:



Fighting drugs and border violence at Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: What about the ranger's M14 rifle, Yogi?
By Liz Goodwin
Feb 28, 2012

ORGAN PIPE CACTUS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Ariz. -- On a hot desert morning last week, a group of 20 tourists gathered in the visitor center in Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to attend a mandatory safety briefing before taking a guarded van tour to Quitobaquito springs. The springs is part of the 69 percent of the remote border park west of Tucson that has been closed to the public since Kris Eggle, a 28-year-old law enforcement park ranger, was shot and killed while pursuing drug runners armed with AK-47s in 2002.

Organ Pipe was named "the most dangerous national park" that year and also in 2003 by the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, before the group discontinued the series. The drastic increase of drug activity on Arizona's southern border since the 1990s has turned Organ Pipe rangers into de factor Border Patrol agents, and spurred state lawmakers to pass several laws cracking down on illegal immigrants within the state.

Since 2009, the park has offered van tours to the springs, as long as rangers armed with rifles go along to protect the visitors. Now, ten years after Eggle's murder, the park's leadership has decided to open up a portion of the closed areas to the public in March, citing improved safety conditions and a big increase in Border Patrol agents in the area.

In the run-up to Tuesday's Republican presidential primary in Arizona, immigration has once again been a hotly contested topic in the state: Mitt Romney in a debate last week praised Arizona's immigration laws as a "model" for the country, while President Obama's Justice Department is suing Arizona to overturn one of those laws, called SB1070. The law--which has not gone into effect because of a federal court order--requires police to check a person's immigration status during stops if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the country illegally. It also makes it a state crime to fail to carry immigration papers or for illegal immigrants to solicit work. Drug violence has claimed tens of thousands of lives in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in 2006, but spillover violence has so far been minimal in the United States. Still, Jan Brewer, the Republican governor of Arizona, falsely claimed that beheadings occurred in the Arizona desert in 2010, the same year she signed SB1070 into law. Arizona was also the first state to pass a mandatory E-Verify law in 2007, to ensure employers don't hire illegal immigrants.

Brewer says the law will help police officers combat drug trafficking and crime, but critics say it will encourage racial profiling and interferes with federal control over immigration. Yahoo News went to Organ Pipe last week to witness the challenges of the border as the presidential candidates debate how best to control it.

'They'll have M14s at hand. Don't be worried.'

"There is a chance we might have to cancel the tour if there's some sort of apprehension in progress," Park Ranger Karl Sommerhauser, wearing a bulky dark green bulletproof vest, told the tourists last week. Sommerhauser had an ear piece curling out of his left ear. "We expect you to take direction from Ken," he said sternly.

Ken Hires, an unflaggingly cheerful park ranger dressed in reassuringly normal-looking tan ranger clothes, bounded to the front of the room. Hires is what's called an interpretive ranger, which means he has no law enforcement duties and does not carry a weapon. ("I spent my five years [serving in the Army during] Vietnam. Enough shooting," he said later.) Hires explained that some law enforcement officers would be hiding in the hills and closely watching the two-hour nature hike, while another pair of armed rangers would follow the tourists closely from the ground. "They'll have M14s at hand," he told the group. "Don't be worried."

"You might see something interesting off the trail, but please don't go wandering off," Hires continued, explaining that it made it difficult for the rangers to track people from the hills. "Please be respectful that those people are putting themselves on the line for us."

As the group loaded into the vans, one woman from Idaho whispered to her husband: "Does it make you worried? They get chest protections, and we don't get none of them."

Hires, sitting in the passenger side of the van, began talking quickly into his radio to the rangers. He turned to the back and explained: "We operate this as if it were an incident."

"You say there was an incident out there?" a walrus-mustachioed passenger wearing a cowboy hat asked warily.

"We're it," Ken said, to nervous laughter.

'There's nothing normal about Organ Pipe'

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a 330,000-acre, surprisingly green stretch of Sonoran desert populated by barrel, saguaro and organ pipe cacti, spans 30 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. The park became a corridor for drug runners in the 1990s after border security tightened at major ports of entry and in urban areas, driving human and drug traffickers to rural crossings. Alan Bersin, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner until last year, admitted that the Tucson sector of the border was "out of control" until recently. In 2010, half of all border apprehensions and drug seizures occurred in the Tucson sector, which encompasses much of Organ Pipe.

Drug runners would cut across Mexican Highway 2 through Organ Pipe's dirt roads in a car and then quickly hop onto U.S. Highway 85, which shoots up to Phoenix or Tucson. The vehicles blazed more than 200 miles of unauthorized roads through the park, and rangers found themselves in dangerous, high-speed chases nearly every day. An $18 million, 23-mile vehicle fence put up after Eggle's murder by the Department of the Interior cut down on this vehicle traffic. Now, cartels have had to get smarter, sometimes cutting into the fence, removing it, driving through, and then putting it back together again. Drug runners also started coming more on foot, dropping their packages in designated spots on the highway for someone else to pick up.

The Department of Homeland Security recently put up nine surveillance towers in the park, making it easier for agents to detect this new foot traffic, so the drug runners are now hiding in the hills, where the towers can't see them. (A Border Patrol helicopter operation last year in these hills netted 800 pounds of trash and a whole "herd" of people, according to Hires.) Border Patrol set up a check point on Highway 85 within the park in the past year, which has pushed drug traffickers to the neighboring Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Tohono O'odham reservation, adding as much as four days to their on-foot journeys. "They're very adaptive, more so than us," said Organ Pipe park superintendent Lee Baiza wearily, during an interview with Yahoo News last week.

Baiza said he spends about 80 percent of his time working with Homeland Security and handling border concerns. "There's nothing normal about Organ Pipe," he added.

The superintendent, who took over in 2007, has faced criticism for preventing Border Patrol agents from building new roads in the wilderness areas of the park, which is part of a larger struggle between Homeland Security and national park and land agencies that operate on the border. (More than 85 percent of border property in Arizona is federally owned.) Bob Bishop, a Republican representative from Utah, introduced a bill last year that would waive environmental laws up to 100 miles north of the border, freeing up Homeland Security to build roads through the wilderness to combat illegal immigration and drug running. Bishop criticized the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for preventing Border Patrol agents from driving off-road in the Quitobaquito area of the park because of a pond nearby that contains the endangered Sonoran desert pupfish.

"I may care about the pupfish, but I also care about kids getting hooked on illegal drugs that are coming over that border," Bishop told Yahoo News. Drug runners cause more environmental damage to the border by leaving trash, he said, than Border Patrol agents would by building roads.

"Every congressman seems to have his own idea of what we're doing wrong," Baiza said. "The reality is all of that has improved immensely since 2007."

Apprehensions in the park were down last month for the first time in three years, Baiza said. Border Patrol would not release park-specific data, but a spokesman, Jason Rheinfrank, said that the Tucson sector overall saw a 40 percent drop in apprehensions last fiscal year, while the number of agents has nearly tripled since 2000. Illegal crossing arrests over the entire border were at a four-decade low last fiscal year, in part because of the flagging American economy.

On March 1, 46 percent of the park--instead of 31 percent--is scheduled to be open to the public. Baiza cited the increased fencing, number of Border Patrol agents, and technology in the park as the reasons for the change.

'What we are trying to do is retake this landscape'

"The real problem we have with safety is drug dealing, not the people looking for work," Hires said from a loudspeaker system at the front of the van. Three different border patrol agents riding ATVs raced by, waving. "What we are trying to do is retake this landscape so we can all be free to be out here," he added.

Twenty minutes later, the vans arrived at Quitobaquito, where two young men toting heavy M14 rifles were already waiting. The rangers arrived at the springs two hours earlier to scour the area and make sure no one was hiding.

"Please be respectful and don't photograph them," Hires warned. The park service is worried that cartel members would retaliate against the rangers if their faces were publicized. Baiza says Organ Pipe never sends out press releases announcing new ranger hires for the same reason.

The armed park rangers didn't greet the group and stayed about 20 paces ahead on the trail. Hires showed the tourists the endangered Sonoran desert pupfish in the pond (the endangered Sonoran mud turtles were nowhere to be found), and answered questions about the names of different plants and flowers. He explained that the springs has been a crossroads for thousands of years, an oasis drawing thirsty desert-dwellers and entrepreneurial shell traders. The tour ended, and two volunteer rangers stood guard as visitors used the restroom in the bushes before the long van ride back.

"You got to show me your visa," one volunteer ranger joked as people began loading back into the van.

On the way out, Hires pointed out the two park rangers at the top of the hill, green specks on the horizon.

Another border patrol ATV zoomed past the van and stopped the law enforcement park rangers who were escorting the group back to the visitor center. Two brown packages were tied to the back of the ATV.

"See those bundles? Want to guess?" Hires asked. "Marijuana." In 2005, the last year the park released border incident data, Organ Pipe park rangers seized 17,000 pounds of marijuana.

The rangers let out a dog from the back of the SUV, as the visitors craned their necks to watch from the van. The dog jumped out and ran to the bundles. He sat down abruptly and pointed his nose at the packages, then looked back at his masters. "That's the sign," Hires said. The rangers tossed the jubilant dog a toy, and the Border Patrol agent drove off again in the ATV.

"There's been a sighting of a UDA," Hires said a few minutes later, listening to his radio. (UDA means undocumented alien.) "He's sitting next to a trash can which means he's waiting for us to pick him up and give him a ride home. He's given up."

'I feel safer here than in Fresno'

Despite all the excitement on the trip, Hires said he thinks the park is very safe because of the law enforcement rangers and the Border Patrol agents.

"I feel safer here than in Fresno," Hires said after the tour. (He works seasonally in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national park near Fresno, California.)

But visitors--or rather, the people who are choosing not to be visitors--still have concerns. In 2010, visits to the park plunged to a 10-year low of 209,600. Baiza says that when state politicians focus on the dangers of Mexico and the border, fewer people visit the park.

"They come here all petrified," Bonnie Auman, a park volunteer, said. "Then they see all the law enforcement, the Border Patrol."

Bishop, the Utah congressman, said that while the stagnant economy may have significantly deterred unauthorized migrants who are looking for work, he doesn't think it has made a dent in the number of drug runners targeting Arizona. "That's why we need to control the border," he told Yahoo News. "They're not going to be affected by E-Verify and the economy, and the Border Patrol needs to have the ability to battle that."

It remains to be seen whether visitors will be lured back. Hires journeyed to the Quartzsite, Arizona, RV show last month to recruit wary RVers to visit the park. "The No. 1 question: 'Is it safe there?'" he said. "And the second one was, 'Are you open?' People thought we totally closed the place."

20. Gun sales on the rise with women [VIDEO]

Woman are waking up about guns and self-defense.


21. Girls and guns . . . It's a social thing

James Durso emailed me this:



Girls and Guns . . . It's A Social Thing
By David Schoenberg

A lot's been written in recent months about the October, 2011 GALLUP poll, which indicates the level of firearm ownership in the United States is approaching a near two decade high. With 47% of Americans now answering "yes" to the question "do you have a gun in your household, or elsewhere on your property?" it's clear that what's trending is . . . guns.

While this is good news for those of us who are passionate about the Second Amendment, the same poll provides insight into another appealing trend. Firearms ownership among women has risen dramatically over the last seven years. 23% of American women now say they personally own a firearm, up a full ten percentage points since 2005.

According to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary the acronym BDU stands for "Battle Dress Uniform" and it's not at all uncommon to find various kinds of BDU's in the images on Facebook pages and YouTube channels maintained by male firearms enthusiasts. Until recently however, the same couldn't be said about social media content that featured girls with guns... unless you were prepared to redefine the term BDU to mean "Bikinis, Double D's and Underwear". But based on evidence from the GALLUP poll and a recent scan of social media sites, times have changed.

Take 22 year old FateOfDestinee. A self-proclaimed "Gun Tuber", Destinee produces a growing collection of YouTube videos that she describes as reviews of "guns, knives, and gear... with a twist". That twist: Destinee provides thorough, well considered, hands-on reviews and delivers them with sincerity, humility and a sense of humor... while wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And she's certainly doing her part to introduce more women to the world of firearms.

In her series "Women and Guns", Destinee provides titles like "Why Should Ladies Shoot Guns?" and in the aptly named "How To Get Your Lady To The Range" offers advice for the gun toting guy on how to help, well, get his lady to the range, which at last count was approaching 8,000 views. With more than 14,000 YouTube channel subscribers and almost 1.2 million total video views to date, it's clear that Destinee's approach is working and that a growing audience is tuning in for the kind of material she's turning out.

If Facebook, with more than a half billion (with a "B") active users, was a country, it would be the third largest in the world behind China and India. While an effort to start a public discussion about firearms in either of those two countries might be ill advised, that's not the case here. With access to features like "community pages", which allow likeminded Facebook users to openly share topics that appeal to their common interests, a growing number of communities which cater to female shooters are emerging. Communities such as "Girl Gun Owners", "Lip-gloss and Lead", "Glock Girls" and "Girls of Fire" to name just a few, support the fact that, not only are more women getting gun savvy, they're applying their real-world savvy to leverage social networking's ability to connect with an expanding market.

Eager to serve that distinct marketplace, a growing number of online specialty retailers and service providers stand ready to help lighten their wallets. Do modern women and fashion go together? More than a few firearms focused companies seem to think so. Companies like Bang Bang Boutique - "high caliber style on the range and for concealed carry", Tactical Barbe Designs - "making apparel for the fashion savvy women who loves to shoot or who just love guns", Girls With Guns - "Women's Apparel and Shooting Accessories" and even the 160 year old industry giant Smith & Wesson, who is reportedly rolling out a line of clothing for the female shooting enthusiast... being designed by world shooting champion Julie Golob... all have a strong presence on Facebook, and all have recognized the opportunity to cater to the fashion sense of America's swelling ranks of armed women. It's just too big a target market to miss.

On the subject of world class female shooters, it would be foolhardy to overlook the contribution of women like Julie Golob, Jessie Harrison, Athena Lee, Laetitia Daguenel and others to the rise in popularity, and the increase in social acceptance, of women owning guns. Virtually all of the world's top competitive female shooters have embraced social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter - and use them to great effect to stay connected with and mentor their female fans. If the world needs more role models, then these women serve as a great example of women helping women in their desire to acquire and use guns responsibly.

While it's too soon to say that we're witnessing a social revolution, the dramatic increase in the number of American women who own guns makes one thing clear. Social networking, as it has recently in so many real revolutions around the world, is playing a pivotal role in both spreading the word, and supporting the efforts of millions of law abiding women who have at last come to the gun. Whether their interests lie in hunting, competition, entertainment or defense, those of us who care deeply about America's shooting heritage are proud of the growing legion of girls with guns.

David Schoenberg is a defensive handgun instructor, an NRA certified pistol instructor, US Training Center certified carbine instructor and a Glock certified armorer. David hosts New Colony Network's "Training Ground" on BlogTalkRadio every Friday night at 8:00PM Eastern.

22. The mind of the antis

Chris Rakes emailed me this:


Raging Against Self Defense: A psychiatrist Examines The Anti-Gun Mentality
By Sarah Thompson, M.D.

"You don't need to have a gun; the police will protect you."

"If people carry guns, there will be murders over parking spaces and neighborhood basketball games."

"I'm a pacifist. Enlightened, spiritually aware people shouldn't own guns."

"I'd rather be raped than have some redneck militia type try to rescue me."

How often have you heard these statements from misguided advocates of victim disarmament, or even woefully uninformed relatives and neighbors? Why do people cling so tightly to these beliefs, in the face of incontrovertible evidence that they are wrong? Why do they get so furiously angry when gun owners point out that their arguments are factually and logically incorrect? How can you communicate with these people who seem to be out of touch with reality and rational thought? One approach to help you deal with anti-gun people is to understand their psychological processes. Once you understand why these people behave so irrationally, you can communicate more effectively with them.

23. Can Brady Campaign's new president save them?

I hope not.

Tom King emailed me this:


Can Brady Campaign's New President Save Them?
February 26, 2012

The Brady Campaign recently announced their new president, Daniel Gross, an advertising professional turned gun-control promoter. Gallup rates advertising professionals among the lowest for honesty and ethics, and Gross provides a corroborative case study.

In a recent USA Today interview, Gross said "he wants to start a national conversation on gun control and get people engaged in a deep way."

But we've been having this "conversation" for decades. In 1993, President Clinton signed the Brady Campaign's signature legislation -- the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act -- into law, mandating federal background checks on firearm sales by licensed dealers. Jim and Sarah Brady began lobbying for this law in 1986.

Brady advertises the bill as the reason why violent crime declined. However, violent crime and murder rates began declining in 1991, two years earlier.

A recent report showed how Brady's losing traction because their claims equating gun control with safety are false: states with more gun regulations have higher violent crime and murder rates. This resulted in declining revenues that reflect Brady's declining political influence.

But that's only the beginning. Gross' next advertising:

Policy is a big part of the solution but people have to realize that this isn't a political issue, this is an issue that's claiming the lives of 30,000 people every year and eight kids every day and we need to approach it with that kind of urgency.

But gun control is a political issue. In the current Congress, Republicans' average NRA grade is "A" while Democrats average "D." Of the 106 Brady endorsees in 2010, 104 were Democrats. Democrats are the party of gun control.

To advertise gun control successfully, an emotional hook is vital. The best way is to misrepresent fatality data to create the illusion that America's awash in a violent crime wave due to firearms access. For Brady's purposes, higher body count is vital.

The most common anti-rights advertising includes the "30,000 firearm deaths a year" and "8 kids a day" messages. These misleading fatality numbers include legal intervention (justifiable homicides due to shooting criminals committing felonies), suicides, and accidents.

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from 2009 show there were 31,347 total firearms-related fatalities, but 18,735 (59.8%) were suicides.

Including suicides in overall "gun death" numbers makes for more dramatic copy, but a recent United Nations study shows there's no correlation between firearms ownership and suicide; though the U.S. has the highest firearms ownership in the world, its suicide rank is 41st out of 86 countries.

UNICEF cited 1994 Canadian research that "linked suicide among young people to sexual and emotional abuse, stress, unplanned pregnancy, problems concerning sexual preference, unemployment, imprisonment, and running away from home." This report preceded major gun control efforts in Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In spite of the then-greater prevalence of firearms, they're not a suicide "link."

The emotional "8 kids every day" message is designed to "get people engaged in a deep way" to support gun control. Sensible people advocate child safety. But to reach "8 kids a day" Gross includes young adults up to age 19.

What's a "child," of which "kid" is a synonym? Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the word "childhood" as: "The state or stage of life as a child...the time from birth to puberty." OED defines "puberty" as: "The period during which adolescents reach sexual maturity and become capable of reproduction, distinguished by the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics." There seems to be general agreement that these conditions occur by the age of 15, defining children as age 0-14.

The table below shows that 12.6% of all firearms fatalities and homicides for ages 0-19 occur in Gross' "kids" category, less than one child per day.

In 2009, "an estimated 1,770 children died due to abuse or neglect," nearly 5 children daily. Gross' Center to Prevent Youth Violence (CPYV), which he co-founded in 1998, offers no programs addressing this more serious cause of child homicide.

The table below shows that firearms fatalities have decreased dramatically since 1991, with child safety leading the way even though their rates were already less than one-tenth the non-child rate in 1991. But it also explains the "five kids a day" dying from abuse: Children's firearms homicide rates declined faster than their non-firearms rate because it's easier for an adult to kill a small child by any means.

In all categories but one -- non-child homicide -- firearms fatality rates declined faster than non-firearms rates. Non-firearms suicide rates increased, corroborating UN research noted above: Intent is key, because firearms ownership increased during this time period. As one example of the disconnect between gun ownership and firearms fatality rates, the graph that follows shows that as firearms ownership increased, child firearms homicides declined.

Gross hides his "for the children" advertising behind gang violence. The CDC recently published gang violence research on five large U.S. cities. Their findings:

* Three times as many gang homicide victims were aged 15 -- 19 years, compared to non-gang homicide victims.

* Gang homicides usually involved young adults and adolescents.

* Gang homicides were "significantly more likely" to involve firearms.

The CDC study included all sanctuary cities "defying a federal assist the federal government with their illegal immigrants." For example, Los Angeles is home to MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha). The FBI says MS-13 is composed of "mostly Salvadoran nationals or first generation Salvadoran-Americans, but also Hondurans, Guatemalans, Mexicans, and other Central and South American immigrants."

MS-13 "operates in at least 42 states and the District of Columbia," and engages in "exceedingly violent" crimes including murder, rape, robbery, home invasions, and kidnapping. Overall, the FBI notes:

Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90 percent in several others.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), gangs average about 40% juveniles (under 18) and 60% adult (18 and older). A DOJ survey reported that 37% of gang members were ages 18-24, with another 34% ages 15-17. Another researcher concluded: "the typical age range for a gang is 12-24 with the average age of gang members 17-18 years old."

The CDC reports the highest firearms homicide rates occur at ages 18 to 23. The graph below shows the percent of gang-related homicides by age, collated from FBI Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR) for years 2000-2009. Ages 18 and 19 contain the highest percentages of all gang homicides, with age 17 fourth-highest.

Corroborating the CDC research, gangs used firearms to commit 92.9% of their murders, compared to 66.3% for all SHR homicides. Between 2000 and 2009, the U.S. homicide rate declined 9.4%, while gang homicides garnered a 19.0% larger percentage of all murders.

Large cities intentionally violate federal immigration law, creating breeding grounds for violent, transnational gangs involved in arms smuggling. Yet anti-rights advertising professionals like Gross want us to believe that limiting our Second Amendment rights will somehow diminish gang-related violence.

None of Gross' CPYV programs or resources address gang issues.

By selecting Daniel Gross as their new president, the Brady Campaign represents:

* Using children to promote gun control while ignoring the leading cause of child homicide (abuse).

* Ignoring the leading cause of juvenile and young adult violence (gangs) in order to promote gun control as a solution to violence.

* Tacitly supporting municipalities violating federal law (sanctuary cities) to more easily advertise gun control as a solution, thereby punishing law-abiding gun owners for problems caused by government malfeasance.

24. Saudis: Syrians have right of self-defense!

EM Hal Macklin emailed me these:



Saudi: Syrians have right to defend themselves
Associated Press
March 4, 2012

BEIRUT (AP) -- Saudi Arabia said Sunday that Syrians have a right to take up arms to defend themselves against the regime and accused the Damascus government of "imposing itself by force," as concerns mounted over a humanitarian crisis there.

In a rare televised news conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom welcomed international efforts to broker a ceasefire in Syria but added that they have "failed to stop the massacres."

"Is there something greater than the right to defend oneself and to defend human rights," he said, adding that the Syrian people want to defend themselves. "The regime is not wanted by the people," he said.

"The regime is insisting on imposing itself by force on the Syrian people," he said.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been discussing military aid the to the Syrian opposition, but the U.S. and others have not advocated arming the rebels, in part out of fear it would create an even more bloody and prolonged conflict. Sunni Saudi Arabia is wary of the wave of Arab Spring uprisings, particularly in nearby Bahrain, where a Shiite majority is demanding greater rights from its Sunni rulers. However, the kingdom strongly backs the largely Sunni uprising in Syria.

On Sunday Red Cross teams handed out food, blankets and medical kits in central Homs province, but the government blocked access to the worst-hit district of Baba Amr.

The humanitarian group was trying to help families who fled Baba Amr after a monthlong siege and took shelter in nearby villages, ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said in Geneva.

"The needs are so far mainly in the forms of food and also blankets because of the cold," Hassan said.

Government forces have blocked humanitarian access to Baba Amr since Friday, the day after troops seized it from rebels. Opposition fighters had been in control of the neighborhood for several months, and a regime offensive on Homs that began in early February aimed to retake rebel-held neighborhoods inside the city.

Syrian troops managed to take control of Baba Amr after nearly a month of intense and relentless shelling, and activists say hundreds were killed in the daily bombardments that led up to the final battle on Thursday. Some Baba Amr residents were killed when, in desperation, they dared to venture out of their homes to forage for food.

Activists have said residents face a humanitarian catastrophe in Baba Amr and other parts of Homs, Syria's third-largest city with a population of 1 million. Electricity, water and communications have been cut off, and recent days have seen frigid temperatures and snowfall. Food was running low, and many are too scared to venture out.

The government had said it would allow the Red Cross into Baba Amr on Friday but then blocked their access, citing security concerns. In the meantime, activists accused Syrian forces of killing tens of residents execution-style and burning homes in revenge attacks against those believed to be supporting the rebels.

As the brutal siege of Homs dragged on, Western pressure on President Bashar Assad intensified. The U.S. has called for Assad to step down, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said he could be considered a war criminal. The European Union committed itself to document war crimes in Syria to set the stage for a "day of reckoning" for the country's leadership, in the way that former Yugoslav leaders were tried for war crimes in the 1990s by a special U.N. tribunal.

While they continue to appeal for unfettered access to Homs, Red Cross workers were focusing on distributing aid in the village of Abel, about two miles (three kilometers) from Homs. They hope to distribute aid in the neighborhoods of Inshaat and Tawzii on Monday.

Homs has emerged as a central battleground in the conflict, which started last March with protests calling for the ouster of authoritarian President Bashar Assad in some of the country's impoverished hinterlands.

The protests spread as the government waged a bloody crackdown on dissent, and many in the opposition have taken up arms to defend themselves and attack government troops. The U.N. says more than 7,500 people have been killed in the uprising.

Syrian activists said more than a dozen artillery shells struck the town of Rastan, near Homs, killing at least three people Sunday and wounding others.

Syrian activists also reported clashes between rebel fighters and government troops in the northern Idlib province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one soldier was killed and that the army was raiding homes in nearby villages following the rebel capture of an intelligence officer.

The bodies of two Western journalists who were killed two weeks ago in a government rocket attack in Homs arrived in France. The body of French photographer Remi Ochlik would remain there, while that of American reporter Marie Colvin would be sent to the U.S., the French Foreign Ministry said.

Also Sunday, Syrian ally China offered a proposal to end the violence, calling for an immediate cease-fire and talks by all parties. But it stood firm in its opposition to foreign intervention.

The proposal, posted on the Foreign Ministry's website, describes the situation in Syria as "grave" and calls for an immediate end to all violence as well as humanitarian relief and negotiations mediated by the U.N. and the Arab League.

But it rejects outside interference, sanctions and attempts at regime change.

"We oppose anyone interfering in Syria's internal affairs under the pretext of 'humanitarian' issues," the proposal said. "China does not approve of armed interference or pushing for 'regime change' in Syria and believes that use or threat of sanctions does not help to resolve the issue."

As international pressure against Assad's regime has grown, China and Russia have protected it from censure in the U.N. Security Council.

Beijing is usually reluctant to authorize sanctions or intervention against another country, fearing the precedent may one day be used against China's own authoritarian government.

Reflecting the Syrian conflict's echoes throughout the region, protesters in Lebanon's capital took to the streets in competing pro- and anti-Assad demonstrations Sunday. Masses of soldiers deployed to prevent clashes.

On the pro-Assad side, a few hundred waved Syrian flags and carried posters of Assad reading "May God protect you." Many echoed the Syrian government's explanation of the uprising, that a foreign conspiracy is driving the revolt.

"I came because I'm against destruction and destroying Syrian homes and cities," said Yousef al-Durram, 27, an electrician from the eastern Syrian town of Deir el-Zour. "The only way this crisis will end is when the Syrian people wake up and realize that there is a big conspiracy against Syria."

About 200 yards away, a few thousand protesters rallied against Assad.

Thirty-year-old Fatoun, from the coastal Syrian city of Aleppo, carried a sign reading "where are human rights?" She came to neighboring Lebanon a few weeks ago after being briefly detained after a protest there and said she planned to collect aid to send home.

"If you ask them, most Syrians here won't say they are against the regime because they're scared of Syrian security," she said, not giving her last name for fear of arrest when she goes home. "But many people realize that the regime has to go. Too many people have been killed."


So does EVERYONE and every people have the right to armed self-defense? Do Saudis?

As this article from November 2009 shows, yes they do! The Saudi Foreign Minister pronouncement is NOT hypocritical, and speaks a truth
we can only wish our own regime could recognize.


Saudi Arabia Recognizes Right to Bear Arms

At the end of last month, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia noticed the size and scope of the black market for firearms in their country that was created by their overly-restrictive gun laws. The Interior Ministry will be in charge of licensing the legal sale and distribution of handguns, which Saudi Arabia has finally legalized. This is a brave step forward for the Middle Eastern country, whose citizenry will now enjoy a little more freedom than they had before. This is Saudi Arabia, remember. Where women can walk only covered and in the company of men and where things which are mere trivial offenses in America can earn you the death penalty. However, at least they'll be able to defend themselves with their own private handguns.

On the downside, a lot of people in Saudi Arabia are not enthusiastic about the loosening up of the law. Growing up in the land of the first democratic republican revolution in modern times, I know that I can never take the principle of freedom for granted and when I see people elsewhere not sharing my sentiment, it troubles me. They see people as ticking time-bombs rather than responsible adults who keep their best interests at heart. If a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen wishes to use and own a gun in their spare time, who should be so presumptuous as to stop them? People really do have an irrational fear of freedom sometime. Even in the United States. Until a recent Supreme Court case, the District of Columbia also had a ban on handguns. Fortunately, I have high hopes that as soon as the Saudis get their taste of gun freedom and continue to go about their lives they will find that there really is nothing for them to be scared of.

Not enough people notice that the War on Guns is really just another War on Drugs or War on Alcohol. With the whole hippy-ish "world peace" image in mind, the War on Guns is more appealing to liberals. However, guns are a temptation like any other. Outlawing a victimless temptation is a dark path to go down. As Albert Einstein said, the government should never make a law it cannot enforce. There will always be people who own guns. As I said before, the Saudi government used the black market as their rationale for creating a more lenient policy. The crooks will always have guns. The only people you can control fully on this issue are the law-abiding citizens. If they are allowed to have their own gun, they can defend themselves against the crooks. If not, they will be defenseless and at the mercy of those who break the law. The ideal scenario is therefore to ARM everyone, not disarm everyone. As far as human civilization has come, we have not fully ensnared this Common Sense fact. Instead of confiscating guns in third world countries, maybe we should be DISTRIBUTING guns to them. Then the people's right to bear arms and self-defense will be a check against militia violence.

At the end of the day, owning a gun is a victimless crime. Therefore, as long as there is no real harm in the prospect, anyone should b e able to own any kind of gun they want. There should only be a law restricting the ownership if: there is minimal erosion of liberty and there is a pretty dang darn good reason to believe it will work. So far, I am not convinced that any law on the books meets these criteria. I think we should phase out all federal firearms regulations and let the state and municipal levels sort things out.

Happy Veteran's Day!


And this 2004 article (fourth story down on the left at link beneath story) shows they even extend the right to foreigners, visitors and non-residents.


Saudi Arabia Offers Foreign Residents Right To Carry Gun
The World - In Brief
June 25, 2004

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Foreign residents of Saudi Arabia will be allowed to carry guns, the police minister announced after a series of militant bombings, attacks and kidnappings targeting Western workers in the kingdom. "In principle, a citizen has the right to carry a licensed weapon, and so does the resident. If he senses danger, he can carry a personal weapon as he does in his country," Prince Nayef said late Wednesday.

25. Moscow Open 2011 [VIDEO]

James Durso emailed me this:



26. Important read on national concealed carry bills

The NRA has been pushing a national reciprocity bill that has been introduced in the Senate, but GOA warns that a much better bill for gun owners is on the horizon:

27. Thanks to the VA-ALERT editors

From time to time I like to thank both Benjamin Piper and Jay Britt for providing a critical service to both me and VCDL. I forward them articles of interest for each week's VCDL Update and they take those articles, clean them up, format them, number them, and generated the Table of Contents. That saves me hours of time each week!

Thanks Benjamin and Jay!

28. A funny thing happened on the way to the gun ban [VIDEO]

Back in 1995, then U.S. Attorney Eric Holder proposed that guns could be eliminated by constantly and publicly shaming gun owners, much like what happened to smokers. He admitted that his plan is "brainwashing."

Luckily for America it was about that time that gun owners began to rally and groups like the Northern Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL's original name) were formed. Almost miraculously Holder's dream went into reverse and gun owners stand today in a very strong position with gun ownership standing in a positive light.

Here is a video of Eric Holder in 1995 outlining his vision on how to correct the "gun problem." Gun owners have so far "dodged a bullet" as Holder went on to become Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration and Attorney General under the Obama Administration. Hopefully Holder's vision for the future will remain unfulfilled:


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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