Common Sense on Guns from the Chicago Tribune
Somebody up there extracted their head from their fourth point of contact. Via SayUncle!:
It has become clear over the years that most of these spectacular episodes are so freakish that they are not amenable to regulatory solutions. It has also become clear that any imaginable gun control laws are not likely to have much effect on crime in America.
Even the staunchest anti-gun organizations made only perfunctory efforts to capitalize on the Minnesota shootings. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence used the opportunity to criticize Congress for letting the federal "assault weapons" ban expire, mandating immediate destruction of the records of gun sales, and considering a bill to limit lawsuits against gun dealers.
But these had nothing to do with what happened in Red Lake. Records of gun sales? The killer, Jeff Weise, 16, wasn't old enough to legally buy a gun in Minnesota. At least two of his guns were stolen from his grandfather, a police officer whom he killed.
Assault weapons ban? His arsenal included no such weapons–only a .22-caliber pistol, plus a police-issued .40-caliber handgun and 12-gauge shotgun. Limiting lawsuits against dealers? A bill that hasn't been enacted couldn’t have caused a mass shooting yet.
But decrying America's love affair with guns is like decrying America's love affair with football or movies. There are some 260 million firearms in private hands in this country. Any solution requiring vast numbers of people to reject something they have long valued is not a solution but a fantasy. It's also an admission that no politically feasible options are likely to have any perceptible effect on crime.
Actually, even politically unfeasable options, ala Australia and the UK, won't have any effect on crime, and will most likely make things worse, as in the aforementioned nations.
Good News from Big Army
I've received official notice from the Army that my next assignment will take me to Fort Lewis, Washington. I'll be assigned to the 4th Brigade, 91st Division (Training Support) as an Observer-Controller/Trainer. The big focus of my job will be in training Guard and Reserve units for deployment to the Sandbox.
This is a good thing because it means I'll be going home, and able to live in my own house. We'll also be close to my wife's family, and closer to mine (in the PRK.)
The semi-frustrating thing is that I'll once again be involved in training soldiers to go to war, while I'll be on the sidelines so to speak, a coach who doesn't get to play. I know the job's very important, but it's just not the same.
More Good News from Iraq
Oddly enough, the best coverage I found came from Al-Jazeera
Iraqi security forces, backed by U.S. soldiers, raided a rebels’ training camp near Lake Tharthar, northwest of Baghdad, killing 80 fighters, an Iraqi army commander said on Wednesday.
"We have killed 80 fighters in a battle that lasted 17 hours. We lost 12 of our men including four officers," said Colonel Mohammed Ibrahim with the Joint Coordination Centre, a rapid reaction unit that includes Iraqi and U.S. troops.
Some 240 members of the Iraqi ministry of interior's 1st Police Commando Battalion participated in the raid which began at 11:00 am (0800 GMT) Tuesday, Lieutenant Colonel Sarmad Hussein of the unit said from Samarra.
I don't know what the TO&E for these Iraqi units looks like, but 240 troops is pretty good sized. This wasn't just some small-unit local operation. That the Iraqis can do this sort of thing, even if they required American backup, is a good sign for the future.
A Bit of Good News from Iraq
Anytime, anywhere that citizans stand up to mutants, it's a good day.
Baghdad Shopkeepers Kill Three Militants
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shopkeepers and residents on one of Baghdad's main streets pulled out their own guns Tuesday and killed three insurgents when hooded men began shooting at passers-by, giving a rare victory to civilians increasingly frustrated by the violence bleeding Iraq.
The clash in the capital's southern Doura neighborhood erupted when militants in three cars sprayed bullets at shoppers, Interior Ministry officials said. Three people — a man, a woman and a child — were wounded.
The motive was unclear, but there have been previous attacks in the ethnically mixed neighborhood. Earlier in the day, gunmen in the same quarter killed a policeman as he drove to work, police Lt. Col. Hafidh Al-Ghrayri said.
A forceful citizen response is rare, but not unheard of in a country where conflict has become commonplace and the law allows each home to have a weapon. Early this month, police said townsmen in Wihda, 25 miles south of Baghdad, attacked a group of militants believed planning to raid the town and killed seven.
Ma Deuce's Diary-22 March 2005-Medal Of Honor Edition
Normally, I'd just post the link, but this goes up in its entirety.
Saving lives - and giving his own
First Medal of Honor to be awarded in 12 years
By Matthew Cox and Gina Cavallaro
Times staff writers
The morning had just begun, but chaos would quickly fill the grassy courtyard of the Republican Guard complex near Baghdad.
It was April 4, 2003, the first day the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, occupied Saddam International Airport.
Soldiers with the 11th Engineer Battalion had moved into the adjacent complex to set up a temporary holding area for enemy prisoners. The Army engineers, medics and mortar operators numbered between 14 and 20 and had bashed their way into the courtyard with an armored bulldozer, believing the site to be safe. They did not know that at least 100 Iraqi soldiers were taking position inside.
Soon, they came under a hailstorm of fire. The battle would rage for more than 90 minutes, and the U.S. troops would prevail at a heavy cost.
During the fight, one soldier would distinguish himself with bravery that would save lives and cost his. For his actions, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith of Tampa, Fla., will posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor, the first issued since the 1993 battle in Somalia that was the basis for the book "Black Hawk Down."
The actions of a hero
Iraqi soldiers perched in trees launched rocket-propelled grenades at the troops of the 11th after they entered the courtyard. Snipers perched atop buildings opened fire with small arms as waves of their comrades began charging head-on through the main gate.
The outnumbered engineers from B Company fought back, but American casualties were mounting. Soldiers were suffering.
"We were pinned down," 1st Sgt. Tim Campbell told Providence (R.I.) Journal Bulletin reporter Michael Corkery, who was on assignment with the 2-7. "They had this planned," Campbell said. "They found the lightest defended area and attacked."
The engineers took casualties almost immediately. A mortar round exploded, spraying shrapnel everywhere.
According to Corkery's account, Smith jumped out of his M113 armored track vehicle and tended to the wounded. He identified the most serious casualties and called for help.
At one point, Smith ran to a Humvee manned by a team of scouts, grabbed a grenade and threw it over a wall, where the Iraqi soldiers were staging the attack. Then he returned to help the wounded. Smith then climbed back into the M113, which was damaged by RPG fire but still operable.
He ordered the driver, a private, to move the vehicle and put it in position to cover both the guard tower and the gate. Smith began slinging lead from the mounted .50-caliber gun, reloading and spraying hundreds of rounds.
The incessant fire coming from Smith's machine gun gave Campbell time to figure out how to take out the guard tower, Corkery reported. Campbell grabbed Pfc. Kevin Garad, 18, and another soldier and advanced on the tower.
When they reached the tower, the three soldiers emptied their weapons. "There was blood everywhere," Campbell recalled.
The shooting from the tower stopped. The Iraqi soldiers stopped running through the gate. Campbell figures that the soldiers in the tower were commanders controlling the battle. Once they were killed, the fighting stopped.
Shortly before hitting the tower, Campbell noticed that the sound of Smith's .50-caliber had also stopped. Campbell figured Smith must be reloading again. Instead, he found Smith lying inside the vehicle. The 33-year-old father of two had been shot once in the head. The medics worked for 30 minutes but could not revive him.
His fellow soldiers credit Smith with thwarting the advance of well-trained, well-equipped soldiers from the Republican Guard, which was headed straight for the 2-7 Task Force’s Tactical Operations Center, less than a half-mile away.
"If Sgt. Smith had not done what he had done, if he had not killed those people, they would have enveloped the entire task force," Campbell told Corkery. Capt. Michael Bliss, 29, said Smith killed between 30 and 50 enemy soldiers, though it was difficult to determine because the Iraqis were removing the dead and injured as soon as Smith hit them.
The posthumous Medal of Honor ceremony for Smith will be held about the same time as the battle’s second anniversary.
The B Company platoon sergeant and veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War will be the first Medal of Honor recipient since Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart received the nation’s highest award for valor, also posthumously, for their actions the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 3, 1993.
Gordon and Shughart were two special operations snipers who were killed while trying to save a downed helicopter’s crew. Both volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded crew members, knowing that hundreds of the enemy were closing in on the site. Their actions saved the pilot’s life.
Army officials continue to keep secret the announcement of Smith's Medal of Honor at the request of the White House. But Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody told soldiers of the coming Medal of Honor presentation March 9 at the Army’s World Wide Public Affairs conference.
While the ceremony date is still being kept close-hold, President Bush will present the prestigious award to Smith's family in early April, said a Pentagon source, who did not want to be named.
Soldiers of 2-7 are also trying to honor Smith in their own way while serving in Iraq. Lt. Col. Todd Wood, 2-7’s current commander, has requested an official name change for Forward Operating Base Omaha — FOB Paul Ray Smith.
The compound is on the outskirts of Tikrit and houses more than 600 soldiers of the 2-7, including some of those who helped him fight that day almost two years ago.
"He honored this tab right here," said combat engineer Staff Sgt. Tacorrie Johnson, 26, of Raeford, N.C., pointing to the Sapper tab above his 3rd ID patch on his left arm.
Smith, he said, never got to wear the new Sapper tab because he died before it was approved for use by engineers.
"He went above and beyond just being an engineer," Johnson said.
Idiotic Criticism from Across the Pond
In the wake of violent episodes such as yesterday's MInnesota school shooting, dancing in the blood of the victims by groups like the Bradys is expected, and they didn't disappoint us this time either. But I found one article that I found truly annoying. I think it comes from somewhere overseas.
Minnesota School massacre the latest reason for gun control in US
The exact reason for the killings is not known, but Jeff Weise apparently had a fascination for Hitler and it has been suggested that he was a "Neo-Nazi"
Perhaps the reason for the killings by a mentally unstable teenager is less important than his ability to be able to get hold of so many firearms to carry out such an attack?
Well, he took the guns from his grandfather, a police officer, whom he also killed. So maybe if American police officers weren't armed with guns, this wouldn't have happened. Or just maybe, if his grandfather, also his legal guardian, had actually paid attention, he would have caught some of the apparently ample warning signs from the kid.
When is America going to realize that having such "soft" gun laws is a mistake? What other country in the world has so many killings like this?
Well, America may have a higher murder rate, but the rate of other kinds of violent crime is much higher in England, and they've almost entirely banned Her Majesty's subjects from owning guns. Australia and their gun ban aren't far behind, either.
It's not that America has more crazy people than anyone else (although with regular headlines like these, you sometimes wonder), the problem is that these people are easily able to get their hands on a variety of weapons!
Or maybe it a problem of a popular culture that devalues life while simultaneously preaching the glory of the self and the primacy of ones own wants.
But president Bush cares little for such things, just a few months ago he made it easier for people to get guns, not harder, by allowing a law on this to expire. The people who wanted to see it expire were financial supporters of the Bush campaign. Say no more!
The authors here display an incredible amount of ignorance and/or lack of good information, both of the incident at hand and of American laws relating to firearms. I've now heard multiple reports that the kid used his grandfather's police weapons-handguns, reportedly revolvers, and shotgun, which I'm willing to bet was a pump action, most likely a Remington 870. Also a .22 of some sort. Revolvers and pump shotguns were never covered by the recently expired AWB. At any rate, the AWB's expiration didn't make it any easier to get guns, it only made scary-looking ones less expensive.
And incidentally, the AWB was pushed by folks who were financial backers of President Clinton. But I supposed that since that absurd infringement on freedom was just 'good common sense,' we shouldn't pay any attention to that, should we?
U.S. v. Stewart and U.S. v. Miller
Something that's been nagging me for the past few days, partly because I don't have enough info on the Stewart case to know if it's even possible. The main thing I don't know, is exactly what type of 'machine guns' is Stewart charged with building? Given the fact that the defendant apparently purchased parts kits, the most likely type would be AKs, although many other types-Uzis, Stens, and various more exotic types-are possible.
Even then, all of these are types that were, at some point, used by military forces somewhere in the world, and some of them are still in use. Why then, was the challenge based on the interstate commerce clause, rather than on the 'Militia Use' test established in Miller? It would seem to me to be rather simple matter, given the military usefulness of automatic weapons, that meeting that test would be fairly easy.
The only reason I can see not to make such an attempt is fear-fear that today's off-the-reservation courts, especially the Supreme Court, might render a decision that could be truly disasterous for the right to bear arms.
Was reading an article in a G&A 'special' on 'Combat Arms' yesterday, an article on trends in military ammo. It talked not just about what the U.S. is doing, but also China and Russia. The very last paragraph mentioned something interesting: while American forces are working to get better terminal effects out of our ammo, China and Russia are emphasizing penetration.
The U.S. military wanted terminal effects because our current opponents don't, for the most part, wear body armor. The Chinese and the Russians want penetration because their potential opponents apparently do wear body armor.
Anyone else thing they're getting ready to fight us?