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Time for a little fisking.

...of a firearms-related story from the AP.

First up - I honor the service of Officer Somohano, who was killed by Labeet, and pray for a speedy recovery of the three other officers wounded in the attack that eventually resulted in Labeet's unlamented death at the hands of other law enforcement personnel.

That said, this story is annoying for the unconnected assertions and innacurate information attributed to Federal law enforcers - who have either been edited to idiocy, or are deliberately mis-stating things for effect, or, don't know what they're talking about...

Point the first and foremost - Laws already existed that technically should have caused this young man to not have that weapon. Gee, laws exist that should have caused Labeet to not want to kill anyone already. IOW, more laws just might not be the answer... because, for the most part, they're only going to affect the law-abiding.

Assault-Weapon Attacks on Rise in Miami Sep 14, 4:54 PM (ET)


MIAMI (AP) - The spray of bullets that killed a police officer and hurt three others this week came from something increasingly common on this city's streets: a high-powered assault weapon, fast becoming the gun of choice for gang members and violent criminals.

And when the guns, once found solely in the hands of soldiers, are aimed at officers on patrol, there's little authorities can do to escape.

Actually, if these guns are found in the hands of soldiers, they're only found in the hands of soldiers who bought them at the local gun store, as these are the semi-automatic versions of those scary weapons that soldiers use. The ones found in the hands of soldiers are fully automatic. But it's just scarier if you write it this way.

High-powered... the actual cartridges were developed to be... lower-powered than the then-standard rounds in use (which would have been the US 30.06, Brit .303, German 7.9mm and Soviet 7.62x54mm (vice the 7.62x39mm cartridge in question - where the second number refers to case length, which means how much powder is in the cartridge), all of which remain hunting cartridges today, throughout the world. These bullets have less energy and penetrating capacity than the standard rifle cartridges. They were designed to be smaller so that soldiers could carry more rounds for the same weight, and to make it easier to shoot and control the weapon. I realize that last sentence doesn't help *my* side of the narrative, but I do like to try to be, oh, as accurate as I'm able. I'm not accusing Sedensky of malice in his article, either. But since he has a national platform for his witting or unwitting bias and the inaccuracy in his story, well, I'm going to use my national (if rather boutique in terms of readership) platform to challenge some assertions.

As for "...there's little authorities can do to escape," well, that's really true if the perpetrator has a brace of much more easy to carry and conceal pistols, too. It makes it scarier-sounding, but it's just there to do that - make it scarier sounding. If Labeet had come out of his car with pistols, at the ranges we're talking about, there was no place to hide. True enough, however - that the semi-auto rifle Labeet used probably negated the body armor the police were wearing.

"It's almost like we have water pistols going up against these high-powered rifles," said John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. "Our weaponry and our bulletproof vests don't match up to any of those types of weapons."

I'm not sure that upping the ante on the weapons police carry would have any effect (other than confidence for the police) in their ability to take down a perpetrator in this situation - but I do know that adding 4 or five more semi- or fully-auto weapons to the mix *will* potentially endanger more innocents, as more weapons more powerful than pistols start launching bullets in the area. As our troops have shown (and in lessons re-learned the hard way) group tactics are far more important in this situation than simply adding raw firepower to the mix. The firepower may make the officers more confident, but they aren't, absent a lot of training and practice, going to make things better in this situation.

Body armor? For police, that *is* a tough question, with lots of ramifications and permutations. Suffice it to say I'm all for cops having the best armor they can consistent with doing their jobs, and if their department can't afford it - write those grant requests to the Justice Department.

Federal officials don't compile statistics on the number of crimes involving assault weapons like the AK-47, and municipalities' numbers across the country are patchwork. But in Miami, at least, there are signs it is becoming a major problem.

In 2005, the Miami-Dade Police Department reported two homicides involving an assault rifle; last year there were 10. That agency covers numerous unincorporated areas in the nation's eighth-largest county, but not its biggest cities, which have their own police forces.

The Miami Police Department said 15 of its 79 homicides last year involved assault weapons, up from the year before. This year, already 12 of the 60 homicides have involved the high-power guns.

Credit where it's due - here at least we are comparing oranges to oranges. Oh, wait - we aren't. The Miami-Dade numbers are *only* those in which an ugly gun was used. The Miami numbers are... number of ugly-gun-involved murders vice all murders. Yes, it shows trends, but in a sloppy fashion. Regardless, it's not a good trend, agreed.

"We've noticed an increase in the amount of assault weapons that we've seen on the street, and certainly the amount that have been used in murders and other shootings," said Detective Delrish Moss. "And it seems to be increasing every year."

Police do not yet know where the 25-year-old suspect in Thursday's shooting of the Miami-Dade officers got his weapon. Shawn Sherwin Labeet was found hours later and 30 miles from the crime scene. Police said they shot and killed him after he refused to drop his firearm.

"And it seems to be increasing every year." Heh. If I, as a Second Amendment geek had said that - I'm betting the Mr. Sedensky would have scurried off to check my unsupported assertion, rather than just leave it there. As well he should have.

It might be true, too. But it's unsupported here. More data, please.

I deleted a paragraph that concerns the arrest of Labeet's family and friends who are accused of helping him attempt to evade the police.

The rising number of deaths by assault weapons reflects growing availability of the weapons and their elevation to a status symbol among gang members, said Carlos Baixauli, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"In the early '80s to '90s, it was more common to have a handgun in your waistband and the bigger the caliber, the more powerful you were," Baixauli said. "Now it's escalated to the assault weapons."

Another issue potentially at play is the 2004 expiration of the federal assault weapons ban, 10 years after its passage. The legislation outlawed 19 types of guns, including the semiautomatic AK-47. [Hold this thought, we're coming back to it]

The guns are readily available on streets, Baixauli said, or can be ordered by mail for under $200.

The guns are readily available on the streets - of that I have no doubt. And as long as we have porous borders, they'll *always* be available on the street - and if you ban them, their fully automatic brothers might start filtering in through those borders... but then, here I'm engaging in unsupported speculation, for which *I* would get castigated, if past experience is any metric.

"...ordered by mail for under $200." And you are a sworn officer of the BATFE, Agent Baixauli? I sure hope you are the "guy who answered the phone" and actually work A(lcohol), T(obacco), or E(xplosives), and not F, Firearms. Because if you do, I'm giving you an F.

The *only* people who can mail-order these weapons is a Class 1 Dealer - with the exception of some versions of the SKS (the Warsaw Pact versions, *not* the Chinese versions, btw, though there are some Vietnam-era bring-backs that would classify as curio and relic weapons. The only people not Class 1 Dealers who can mail-order the SKS's are Class III-licensed collectors, such as myself. And there is a paper trail associated with those weapons. Should I sell one of mine, you'll be filling out the 4473 yellow form just as if you were buying it from a store-front dealer.

This kind of thing just really torques me, because people give the putative expert the benefit - as they should be able to do with confidence. But Agent Baixauli jumps on his crank with both feet here.

Shootings involving assault weapons were among the reasons U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta set up an anti-gang task force of federal, state and local law enforcement officials this year. He assigned 15 federal prosecutors, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Greenberg, to the effort.

"These bullets are very powerful: they go through walls, they go through cars, and if you just spray the general vicinity you're going to get innocent bystanders," Acosta said. "A shooting that might have been an injury previously is now a death."

And going after the gang members, the criminals, is exactly the approach to take. I'm not going to go into the ballistics of what will go through what here - but to go on a tangent, if the greenies get their way, cars will be even *less* useful to hide behind.

Kevin Morison of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said his organization is considering tracking when assault weapons are involved in police shootings. Officer shootings had been on a downturn until this year.

More U.S. police officers were killed while on duty in the first six months of 2007 - 101 - than during any such period since 1978, according to the organization.

Okay - compare that to this - the bit I asked you to "hold that thought"?

Another issue potentially at play is the 2004 expiration of the federal assault weapons ban, 10 years after its passage. The legislation outlawed 19 types of guns, including the semiautomatic AK-47.

Aside from Agent Baixauli's simply wrong assertion, this is what I wanted you to notice...

The "Ugly Gun Ban" was not in effect most of the time between 1978 - 2004. And during the ban period, these weapons were still available, you just couldn't attach a bayonet to them, nor could have an integral grenade-launcher on them - and we *know* just how many drive-by bayonetings and rifle-grenadings were prevented during the time of the ban - Zero. Of course, I think the score of bayonetings and grenadings is still Zero (not counting a completely unrelated incident in Kansas, of course, but that was a self-inflicted injury).

The article (and the cops quoted in it) clearly wants to indicate that Ugly Guns are a Menace to Society, and leave hanging what ought to be done about it... though I think the subtext is clear enough.

Of course, I say go after the root causes - gang members and others - because (and we have no way of knowing from the article) how many *otherwise law abiding people* have been misusing the weapons? I'm sure some, at least one, but I'm betting for the most part, it's bad guys on bad guys - and the innocents who are stuck in the middle are the true victims, which includes the cops.

My point is - nothing in the article truly supports the thrust - that Ugly Guns are the problem. It suggests, actually, that things *other* than Ugly Guns are the problem.

That's where you should look for your solution.


good job. keep it up plz!
Here, in Kansas City, NAFTA is a part of the problem. While I am a supporter of free trade agreements as an important aspect of economic development in third world countries as well as a significant part of our over all security, NAFTA has been a boondoggle for drug and gun smugglers. Kansas City has been the center of this for over a decade. NAFTA allows trains and trucks basically to enter the US or transport trade goods without much in the way of routine inspection. This allows drugs and guns to be smuggled in to criminal gangs from Mexico fairly routinely without much interdiction. Chinese made, fully automatic AK-47s are high on the list of weapons that are smuggled in through these routes though semi-automatic AK-47s that are easily converted to fully automatic with also easily obtained conversion kits. In Kansas City, though not often reported by the press, the use of AK-47s in gang warfare is on the rise. My favorite reports report the use of "assault rifles" in crimes, but also the ones that don't designate the type of "weapon" yet indicate "30 some rounds" fired. These are often in conjunction with pictures showing what are clearly cases from 7.62mm rounds. Couple this with the influx of drugs through these NAFTA routes as well as the rise of meth labs in the area, you have a serious problem. In Kansas City, part of this problem comes from a refusal by government and police to call the situation as it really is: gang warfare. in fact, as the violence escalated, they continued to place the blame on the availability of weapons to "young people" who then apparently, for no good reason, use these weapons to "settle differences violently". Those are almost direct quotes from two years ago when the rising gang wars started to take place and the city officials and police were desperately trying to down play it (wouldn't do to have "gang and drug wars" taking place in a city that is busy trying to re-invigorate downtown commerce). Much like the refusal of some US officials to recognize the nature of the Iraq insurgency until it had escalated beyond control, the local police and government officials have been reluctant to do what is really necessary. No, we're not talking about "gun control". we're talking about putting money into law enforcement such as "gang units" as well as other important economic development causes in low income neighborhoods (such as the now famous "broken windows theory"). You don't stop gang wars from banning guns of any sort or blaming guns or talking about how bad guns are, you take away the territory the gangs control and use to create and sell drugs. You take away the territory where they can intimidate the population and have a "safe haven" from which to operate. You take away their economic incentives and you tell people exactly what drugs do. I don't mean those milquetoast commercials that tell you drugs are bad with some sweet innocent kid talking about why they don't want to do drugs, but show people real drug abusers before and after. Show people the dead from these gang wars. Not in washed out, 2 minute reports. but, show the dead. People will say that this would be too offensive. To me, drug abuse is offensive. The death of people due to drugs, either by the abusers or by gangs that sell it, are offensive. Gun battles on our street corners are offensive. You want the citizens to get behind any law enforcement funding and activities, they need to show the people just how bad it is. But they won't because, if they do, the people will demand that something "more" be done. That something more will take money and that means that money earmarked for certain special interests in this city would be reduced or disappear. That's why city governments like here and Miami Dade (even national government) spend their time talking about and enacting one stupid, low rent, barely enforceable gun law after the other. It makes them look like they are doing something while leaving the larger dollars intact. As far as healthcare or treatment for drug abusers, they don't mind putting that out there. It's hidden in a way. Do you know how much the government is spending on these rehabs? Does anybody ever ask? It is still cheaper than an over all effective war against drugs, gangs and other real causes of escalating murder rates that budget minded government folks want you to ignore.
kat, you sensible woman, you, are you trying to get me to drink more than I already do, which is much, much more than is good for me? Owhell, as I've written many times before, here and elswhere, I want to be numb when they come for me, numb,I tell you! Now that this blog is watched by the Executive Office of the President, I reckon I can no longer express my preference for keeping a couple of tons of cyclonite in the basement of my house, hooked up to a deadman switch under my bottom on the Barcalounger. No worries, I don't know how to acquire Cyclonite, and I think Barcaloungers are sill
P.s. There are no basements in Southern Florida, where I am.
Note to CARNIVOREous types - it's true, there are no basements in Southern Florida.
... but JTG does use veiled speech. "Switch" and "under my bottom" are very suggestive of exotic arcane rituals, inducing varying levels of numbness. Possibly carried out in subterranean locales that are not basements, even in Florida. Explosive revelations may result from "switching" during repetitive nocturnal periods. Deadmen = "empties". Cheers
Just so it's clear how NAFTA is the problem here, besides cargo not being routinely inspected for fear of "slowing down" commerce in a JIT (Just In Time inventory) economy, the central railroad hub for most of this illicit trade is right here in Kansas City. Which is the reason that violent gang warfare using illegal weapons for fights over territory and drugs is on the rise here. And, while the police are unfunded, the gangs take over more territory, create a serious network for creating and distributing drugs as well as ways to launder the money. And, hey, talk about "offensive" anti-drug commercials, I actually liked the one where the guy was telling the other one that his drug use was supporting terrorism because it is. though, marijuana was a bad choice. Cocaine supports narco-terrorists who kidnap and kill people all over south America. Heroin from opium definitely supports terrorism. But, we couldn't show those videos because it "demonized" drug users who are supposed to be lamented for their "disease". Screw that. Most people take up drugs because THEY WANT TO not because somebody holds them down and forces it on them or even that some "addictive gene" makes it a foregone conclusion. Bring on the "what drugs really do". How about some victims of narco-terrorism or terrorism in general? That is much more offensive than telling some jack leg that doing drugs is bad and possibly hurting their egos. People actually die and that is pretty d__n offensive.
. but JTG does use veiled speech. "Switch" and "under my bottom" are very suggestive of exotic arcane rituals, inducing varying levels of numbness. Possibly carried out in subterranean locales that are not basements, even in Florida. Explosive revelations may result from "switching" during repetitive nocturnal periods. Deadmen = "empties".
Now that was amusing after my rant. thanks, I needed that.
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/18/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.
JMH, you bastard! I've seen yer regimental coat of arms. It involves canoes, and beavers! Pervert! Pfvbbfthh!