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Entries in Gun Walking (2)

Sunday
Jan062013

Gun Control is the new Obamacare

The Washington Post, the Dean of Obama’s print propaganda machine, reports that the White House will push a much broader more comprehensive approach to gun control than simply reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition.

A working group led by Vice President Biden will propose and push measures that would ban private sales (peer to peer transfers), require universal background checks for every firearms transaction, track the movement and sale of every gun through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns under the Gun Free School Zones Act (GFSZA). Giving minors access to firearms would become a federal felony.

The White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association (NRA),  that one source said could include rallying support from Wal-Mart and other gun retailers for measures that would benefit their businesses.

White House aides have also been in regular contact with advisers to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), an outspoken gun-control advocate who could emerge as a powerful surrogate for Obama’s gun control agenda.

The Biden group, formed last month after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., plans to submit a package of recommendations to Obama this month. Once Obama’s proposals are set, he plans to lead a public-relations offensive to generate popular support.

“They are very clearly committed to looking at this issue comprehensively,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who has been involved in the discussions, told the Washington Post. The proposals under consideration, he added, are “a deeper exploration than just the assault-weapons ban.”

Extensive Gun-control and firearms registration, not the budget, deficit, taxes or the economy,will be the number one priority of Obama’s second term. Gun control will become Obamacare II. Legislation will be approached as an emergency health care measure due to a national assault weapons epidemic.

In addition to potential legislative proposals, Biden’s group has expanded its focus to include measures that would not need congressional approval and could be quickly implemented by Executive Order.  Think Operation Fast and Furious, which was illegally carried out by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives under Obama.

The White House is also developing strategies to navigate the rocky and emotionally fraught terrain of gun politics once final policy decisions are made. The administration is quietly talking with a diverse array of special interest groups, including religious leaders, mental-health professionals and hunters, to build as broad a coalition as possible, to push Obama’s gun control agenda.

One potential strategy would be to win support for specific measures from interest groups that are normally aligned with the NRA, according to one person who works closely with the administration on gun-related issues and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. Obama has consistently used a divide and conquer strategy to push through his far left legislation. The GOP has appeared disorganized and powerless to stem the erosion of the Bill of Rights and other Constitutional guarantees and protections.

For instance, this person suggested, Wal-Mart and other major gun retailers may have an incentive to support closing a loophole that allows buyers to bypass background checks through peer to peer sales, including transactions (gifts) within a family.  If buyers purchase firearms at gun shows or through other types of private sales, the FFL gun dealers lose money. Walmart is the largest seller of firearms in the United States. Nullification of private sales would result in more people buying guns in retail stores that hold an FFL.

Obama’s advisers believe that the longer they wait and the more distance there is from the Newtown massacre, the greater the risk of losing bipartisan political support.

“This is not something that I will be putting off,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview broadcast last Sunday.

With the start of the 113th Congress last week, several lawmakers filed bills to address gun violence. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who co-wrote a 1994 assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004, plans to introduce legislation this month that would ban the sale or manufacture of about hundreds of firearms, including semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns as well as magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The expired federal assault-weapons ban prohibited the manufacturing of 19 models of semiautomatic guns classified as assault weapons, including certain rifles and shot guns. The law also banned ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. But it did not ban the sale of previously manufactured assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.

Since the law’s sunset, efforts in Congress over the past decade to reinstate the ban have faced stiff opposition because the ban had not effect on reducing gun violence.

Obamacare was passed when the Democrats controlled the White House, Senate and House of Representatives.  A divided GOP narrowly controls the current House and both Parties are already in full campaign mode for the 2014 national elections.  Pollsters are working overtime to assess where voters stand on additional gun control laws. There are already over 20,000 gun control laws in the United States.

Don’t think of Obama’s agenda as gun control.  Think of it as victim disarmament. If the government makes enough laws, we will all be criminals living in a liberal fascist state, which destroyed the Constitutional Republic.

Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. – James Madison

Tuesday
Jun262012

ICE HSI Informant Sets Up Gun Dealer in New Mexico Who Reported Straw Buyer

I retired from ICE/HSI four years ago.  Most of my law enforcement career was with U.S. Customs Investigations.  Sting Operations were my least favorite investigations.  I spent most of my career successfully avoiding them.  There were more than enough historical investigations, which I called REAL investigations for me to do so it wasnt that difficult to avoid being a case agent on Sting Operations.  There are enough real criminals out there without the government creating more.  Besides, in federal law enforcement, those who can do.  Those who cant run Stings.

My aversion to Stings started early in my career when I saw suspects entrapped by other federal agents and confidential informants.  One suspect with no previous criminal history was fooled into playing a bad guy after an informant who Im convinced set him up for the government. The suspect fell into a trap to buy a Stinger Missile for illegal export from an undercover agent.  He was convicted and sentence to 5 years in federal prison. 

The suspect complained to prison doctors that he was sick soon after going to prison.  He complained of severe stomach aches and other problems for a year while he was housed at the Fort Worth Federal Detention Center.  The doctors kept telling him there was nothing wrong with him.  Less than two years after reporting to prison he was released to go home to die.  The agent who made the case had retired so the U.S. Atorney contacted me about his release.  I told the USA that Customs did not object to his release. He was released shortly before Thanksgiving and was dead before Christmas.

The suspect was a European immigrant who owned a Janitorial Service.  The informant met him at a Gentlemans Club.  He did not deserve the death sentence for being stupid.  A Customs confidential informant set this guy up so he could be paid.   If not for that well financed Customs Sting Operation, and a charming informant, that guy would never have considered purchasing a Stinger Missile for export to Europe.

Stings can only be successful if the government entraps the suspect.  Entrapment like lying is not illegal for government agents.  Entrapment is a defense to a crime, not a crime.  Its a felony for citizens to lie to federal agents but federal agents can and do legally lie to citizens. Lying to citizens is the foundation of all sting operations.

Eighteen months after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona by Mexican bandits using guns purchased through a U.S. government program called Fast and Furious, we still don’t know who within the Department of Justice knew about the program, much less who authorized it.

Certainly there has been no serious talk about prosecuting any of the people responsible for assisting in the illegal sales of over 2,000 guns to Mexican arms traffickers – guns that were subsequently involved in the murders of BPA Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, as well as possibly hundreds of Mexican citizens.

But while that investigation has dragged on, with Attorney General Eric Holder denying knowledge of the program, denying knowledge of who was involved and denying congressional investigators access to tens of thousands of documents that might answer those questions, New Mexico gun dealer Rick Reese and his two sons Ryin and Remington have sat rotting in separate detention centers, jails and prisons around the state accused of a similar crime involving some 30 guns.

Jeff Knox, is director of The Firearms Coalition , and his writing can regularly be seen in Shotgun News and Front Sight magazines. Knox has written extensively about the Reese Family for the WorldNetDaily . The Reese family, including Rick’s wife Terri, ran a gun shop in Deming, N.M., and was arrested in late August of 2011 on charges of knowingly selling guns to Mexican smugglers and various other related charges.

After spending 6 months in jail, Terri Reese was finally granted bail in March of this year, but Rick and the boys have been repeatedly denied bail on the pretext that they are flight risks.

 The rationale for denying the Reeses’ constitutional rights is that Rick knows some people in Mexico, his home has a well and solar power and there were guns and ammunition in their homes and businesses when they were arrested. That’s right: Guns and ammo in the home and business of a federally licensed firearms dealer (all of which were seized a year ago and have never been returned) is being offered as evidence that they can’t be trusted – and a judge bought it.

Well, there’s also the fact that Rick and Terri were involved with a local tea-party group. That’s probably reason enough right there.

The Reeses are scheduled to finally get their day in court in late July, almost a full year after they were arrested and incarcerated. The first of several pre-trial motion hearings was held last week in which the judge heard arguments as to whether the charge of criminal conspiracy should be dropped. The prosecution contends that the Reese family members were all in cahoots in a conspiracy to sell guns to illegal buyers, falsify purchase paperwork, smuggle guns to Mexico and launder the illegal proceeds. The defense contends that the family operated a business buying and selling firearms, ammunition and accessories, and that they made every effort to ensure that every sale they made was legal and properly documented.

During this first hearing, we learned several things about the prosecution’s case. For instance, we learned that prosecutors acknowledge that every gun the Reeses sold was properly logged into and out of their store inventory, and that FBI background checks were conducted, and approvals received, for each purchaser. They also agree that all taxes were paid and no money was exchanged “under the table,” nor did any of the family members receive compensation above their normal company paycheck.

We learned that Rick Reese also employed retired and off-duty law enforcement officers as part-time help in the shop, and that a substantial portion of the company’s business came from law enforcement officers and agencies.

We learned that prosecutors consider three family members standing close to each other and quietly talking to be evidence of conspiracy and that the lead investigator in the case has a very low opinion of fellow law enforcement officers. When asked if he considered the fact that the Reeses employed LEOs in the shop to be contraindicative of a criminal conspiracy, he replied that he did not because “a lot of them [cops and former cops] are dirty.”

Probably the most important fact we learned at this hearing was that the entire investigation was instigated based on a tip that a woman named Penny Torres was making suspicious purchases of guns and ammunition, and might be illegally buying for someone else. That tip led to Torres’ arrest and her subsequent grand jury testimony against the Reese family and another gun shop where she had made some purchases. The presumption is that her cooperation garnered her leniency in the charges and sentence she was facing for her criminal activity.

What is most significant about the arrest of Penny Torres is that the original tip identifying her as a potential “straw buyer” came from Terri Reese.

Torres had claimed that her purchases were in preparation for a large family reunion at an area ranch where her relatives wanted to do a lot of shooting. At some point after the sales, Terri Reese became suspicious of Torres’ story and contacted a friend in the Luna County Sheriff’s office, who acted as the shop’s go-to guy in law enforcement. He assured Terri that he would make a report to ATF and get back to her.

Torres testimony against the Reese family led to a months-long sting operation conducted against the Reeses by a federal agency, Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI. That investigation involved a confidential informant named Roman, who was trying to earn a reduced sentence for drug and human smuggling. His job was to make purchases of firearms and ammunition from the Reeses while dropping hints that his intent was to illegally take the guns to Mexico. The trick was to drop those hints in such a way that they wouldn’t alarm the Reeses, but that someone listening to a recording of the tape and reading a transcript would conclude that the Reeses knew, or should have known, his intentions.

Roman, by the way, speaks only broken English, and his conversations with the Reeses included a lot of Spanish, a language that no one in the Reese family speaks, but which has been transcribed for the court in English.

Who would believe that a gun dealer’s report of a suspicious purchaser would lead to a federal investigation of the dealer herself, culminating in a raid with armored vehicles, helicopters and heavily armed officers and agents from multiple jurisdictions?

Or that a few firearms and ammunition sales in a high-volume gun store, including the sales that Terri Reese had reported as suspicious, would result in confiscation of virtually everything the family had accumulated over a 25-year marriage and 17 years in business – bank accounts, gun and coin collections, store inventory, vehicles, real estate, just about everything the family had?

Or that the same Justice Department that had instructed dealers to sell over 2,000 guns to known straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels while making no attempt to track or interdict them – with a few arrests and minor charges against the straw purchasers, but no charges against the ATF and DOJ employees who masterminded the criminal operation – would effectively destroy a family for not being quite diligent enough in their efforts to screen their customers?

It is worth noting that as HSI progressed in their investigation against the Reese family, they were briefing and receiving guidance from Phoenix ATF Bureau Chief Bill Newell – the man responsible for directly overseeing Operation Fast and Furious.

For the Reese family, who have already served 10 months behind bars and have had all of their worldly possessions taken from them, the July trial is an opportunity to prove their innocence and try to reassemble what’s left of their lives.

For the prosecution, it is imperative that they prove that the Reeses were intentionally engaging in the criminal activity they have already been being punished for. Failure to get a conviction would leave egg on the face of a relatively new federal law enforcement agency trying to establish itself, and would mean that the various agencies involved wouldn’t get to divvy up the spoils already pillaged.

Once again though, we see a case where those inside the government and law enforcement are handled with kid gloves and given the benefit of every doubt, while those outside of government and law enforcement are presumed guilty until they can prove their innocence – even after the government has taken away the resources they need to make their case.

In a prepared statement to the press US Attorney Gonzales of New Mexico stated: “This case serves to put firearms dealers on notice that they will be held accountable for any failure to comply with federal firearms laws.” 

If you would like to help the Reese family in their struggle, a defense fund has been set up at:

REESE DEFENSE FUND
ATTENTION Patricia Arias
First Savings Bank
520 South Gold
Deming, NM 88030