Thursday, March 21, 2013

GUN "Almost" FACTS 101: Can Terrorists buy guns in the US?

There is a series of videos from the organization "Protest Easy Guns" titled Gun Facts 101 that can be found on YouTube. Comments are not allowed so originally I had the idea of fisking them with my own video. Alas, that takes way too much time. So I just will do a line by line analysis of the "Almost Facts" (in italics) that are presented. This one is on Terrorists and Guns.

Absolutely, in fact Al Qaida training manuals were found that recommended that potential terrorists acquire weapons inside the United States.

I can’t really deny this. Not because I have seen the training manuals, but because it makes logical sense. Do you know what else makes logical sense? If you are going to operate in Britain, wait until you are in Britain to acquire your weapons (even with their draconian gun laws which don’t seem to keep guns out of the hands of their criminals – as seen by their rising gun crime rates). If you are a terrorist from say Saudi Arabia, and are assigned to carry out a mission in the US which won’t take place for another year, does it make any sense to risk your capture by trying to smuggle weapons into the US (unless you happen to be a professional weapons smuggler)? Or would it make more sense to enter the US with a clean record, and get the weapons needed later (because the only weapon you may need is a boxcutter and they sell those at hardware stores in every one of the 50 states)?

Do you know what else the terrorist training manuals recommend? Blend in. Don’t be overtly “muslim”. Don’t attend mosque. Wear western clothes. Hang out with westerners. Heck, even indulge in some of the western vices like alcohol. So, with this logic, we should be targeting everybody in the US who DOESN’T look like a terrorist.

They specifically mentioned how any type of weapon is available at gun shows.
They would be gravely mistaken then. Probably got that misinformation from the US media though, so it is understandable. Unlike the writers of these terrorist manuals, I have been to gun shows. You can’t buy any type of weapon there. What you can buy are knifes, revolvers, pump shotguns, lever rifles, semi-auto shotguns and rifles, and ammunition. You know the kind of weapons you can buy in sporting goods stores across America. No grenades, no rocket launchers, no C4, not even a fully automatic machine gun.

But what about all of those books that tell you how to convert your semi-auto into a fully automatic bullet hose? Well, have you ever read any of them? Some of them aren’t illegal to do – because they don’t work! Some of them will turn your $500 rifle into a $500 paperweight. And some of them will actually make a fully automatic rifle (its still illegal in the US). Unfortunately, the books don’t tell you which kind they are. And even if they did, there is this wonderful thing called the internet, it is available in nearly every library across the nation – no criminal background check required. And even if the internet wasn’t invented, a basic knowledge of how semi-autos or full autos work will be enough to allow a passably mechanically inclined person to make their own.  They make fully automatic weapons with hand tools in the caves of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This isn't rocket science people.  It is a technology that is older than the moveable type printing press.

In fact around our country we offer a virtual flea market for terrorists because we can buy assault weapons, 50 calibers, concealable assault weapons, handguns, and we offer them whatever they want.
Like boxcutters. In spite of the fact that boxcutters were the weapon of choice in the largest terrorist action in the world, I can still buy them at a dozen places in my city and never have to show an ID. This country also provides a virtual flea market for terrorist who wish to construct explosives or poisonous gas. I know how to make both from components I can buy at any grocery store, and I didn’t even read a terrorist manual.

In fact we offer them conversion kits, so if they want to make their semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons they can buy that here too.
Really? Where are these conversion kits? Does Wal-Mart stock them? I am not saying that people can’t turn their semi-automatics into automatics (which is still illegal), what I am saying is there is not a market that someone can buy a conversion kit off of Ebay and be set to go. Semi-to-full auto conversion kits are sold in this country, both above ground to FFLs that are allowed to make full auto (for law enforcement) and on the black market. Terrorists wouldn’t be going the FFL route since they are not law enforcement. Which leaves the black market. Besides Vatican City, which country doesn’t have a black market?

It just seems absolutely outrageous that at a time when we are taking off our shoes in the security at the airport lines,
Perhaps it is the taking shoes off that is outrageous. There are 700 million airline passengers a year in America. Taking our shoes off and then putting them back on probably only takes 30 seconds on average. That is 5.8 million hours of time. At a wage rate of $20/hour, we are spending minimum of $100 million/ year of lost productivity to do what? There was one instance of a terrorist trying to ignite his shoes on fire (before the taking off of shoes at screening). He was subdued by passengers. In fact every terrorist attack against airlines since 9/11 has been stopped by the passengers on the aircraft. Funny how knowing that you will die changes your perspective and what actions you are willing to take in an emergency.

The TSA likes to brag about all of the weapons that they confiscate in airports each year including loaded guns.  However, having read several of the tests that have been done of airport security and the abysmal pass rate, there are probably hundreds or thousands of passengers a day that have something illicit on the airplane.  Yet there haven't been an uptick of airplane bombings - because the people have no ill intentions. Likewise before the TSA found all of this stuff, it was likely getting past security and on to planes. Yet there wasn't a rash of airplane bombings before either.  Terrorist attacks on airplanes happen to be a rare event both before the TSA and after the TSA.

and just yesterday morning I was pulled aside because I had a tiny bottle of water that I had forgotten about in a bag that I was taking on a plane,
And that tiny bottle of water posed no threat. In fact, it was so dangerous that they simply tossed it in the garbage can near the screening line. Do you know why a terrorist hasn’t just waited for a packed security line and detonated a bomb there. 1) its not flashy enough, terrorists want to get noticed, and right now the gold standard was 9/11 – unless they can top that, they aren’t going to get the publicity they want 2) while it would provide a temporary disruption at that airport, what are we going to do, move the security barrier back farther? 3) we have already disrupted our economy enough with air travel through the TSA, I doubt that attacks at airports would have any other effect.

so we go through all these measures for security and yet terrorists can come here and acquire weapons in great numbers.
"Measures for security" do not mean that security is present, only that there is the outward appearance of doing something.  Do you want to see real security?  Go to a Las Vegas casino.  Except that you won't "see" it.  Doesn't mean that it isn't there though.

Part of living in a country of immigrants that is open to visitors is the fact that some of those immigrants or visitors might not have the best of intentions. The only 100% effective way to stop this is to stop all immigration and tourism. I don’t think that is going to work and I happen to like the immigrants and the tourists. Besides, terrorists can come here and acquire gasoline in large volumes. Is there a push to limit the sales of gasoline or even tanker trucks?

And if you put the availability together with the fact that Congress and the current president have long advocated destroying gun background check data after 24 hours
There is the law, which says we will not have a national gun registry, and to meet this law, we destroy the records that could be used to assemble that registry.

that has gotten in the way of law enforcement who have been trying to get leads on potential terrorists and go after them.
Huh? There is no question on the form that you check if you are a terrorist. Terrorists are not buying guns in large numbers. At least not in the US. If they were, we would have had terrorist shootings all the time, instead we have one – which the US government won’t recognize as a terrorist action, and which very well may have been a lone wolf with terrorist sympathies. The federal government has far better databases to check for terrorists – they are called visitor visas.

When the background checks that are conducted when that data is destroyed right away we are losing an opportunity to go after terrorists.
No, we are preventing a registry of gun owners from being formed. But using this logic, by not having a background check for boxcutters, we are losing an opportunity to go after terrorists. By not asking everyone if they are a terrorist, we are losing an opportunity to go after terrorists.  There are only a finite number of resources that can be used.  It is to our benefit to use those resources in a way that will provide the best results. 

So certainly in a time when library records are being looked at with greater scrutiny and other personal information on Americans yet somehow gun information is held sacred and destroyed because nobody can see that.
Perhaps we need to hold more information sacred. Why does the federal government or any government care what library books I check out (besides, this is so easily bypassed by just reading the books in the library and never checking them out)? The outrage shouldn’t be that gun information is held sacred, the outrage should be that all of our personal information is not held sacred. We live in a society where we are innocent until proven guilty. Furthermore, without a suspicion of guilt and some corroborating evidence, there is no reason for any government agent to go snooping around looking for more evidence of illegal activity.

So again you put that together with the availability and you have a definite destination for terrorists.
No, America is a destination for terrorists because we represent everything they hate. We don’t subscribe to the philosophy that if you don’t follow X group’s interpretation of Y then you are an infidel and deserve to be killed. There is no more better definition of barbarism than that. America has been dragging the rest of the world away from barbarism for a long time – it doesn’t mean we haven’t had our faults or backsliding but the world looks to America as the antithesis of barbarism, otherwise they wouldn’t come running to us when trouble happened. (I mean really, even Great Britain asked us if we would side with them over a second war for the Falklands – thankfully we have said we would stay out of it).


  1. Nice fisking, love the commentary.

    One request, though. Can you check/tweak your CSS? The purple (I think) of the link is getting lost in the red background. I couldn't read it unless I highlighted it.

  2. Well done.

    The term you are looking for concerning the TSA is "security theater."