Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Incident at the Bank

In their best-selling book, "America Fights Back," Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman make one of the truest statements ever spoken about living in today's society:

"Violence does not erupt on schedule, and criminals do not make appointments in advance."

Let this become our mantra...

You can frequently tell from the tone of voice, or the hesitation in the speech patterns. Over the years I've had enough conversations with victims of violence to recognize the indicators in their voice patterns.

She called yesterday, inquiring about my self-defense and concealed carry courses.

When I asked what brought her to me, she said, "I was attacked yesterday."

She had driven to the bank in the small city where she lives, and in attempting to drive into the parking lot, found the entrance blocked by a couple in a car. They weren't in the exit lane, they were in the middle of the entrance. She sat there a reasonable period, waiting for them to leave, and finally tapped her horn.

"Did you wait a bit, and did you just tap it, or did you blow the horn at them?"

"I gave them a bit of time, then simply tapped the horn. They pulled out, and I pulled in, coming around the building to the drive-up lanes. I rolled down my window and was messing in my purse, trying to get my deposit out when I looked up and the girl was standing by my car. They had driven back into the bank parking lot, and came up behind me. She called me a 'white bitch" and started grabbing at me and hitting me through the window."

"She got the door open, and was ripping at me, cursing the whole time, screaming at me. She tore my blouse, and ripped my bra off. I was fighting her, trying to keep away from her, but she was long-armed."

"She pulled me out of the driver's side of my car, and was hitting me--I was trying to hit her back, keep her from ripping my clothes off, when HE grabbed me from the rear, pulling me down and pinning my arms while she beat me, kicked me, and pounded my head in the pavement."

By this time, I was outraged--for a number of reasons.

"No one came to help you?"

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Class, Another New Group of Shooters

Dave and I figured it up--we trained hundreds of people last year in the shooting sports--introducing them to the fun of shooting handguns, and schooling them in the legal aspects of carrying concealed, and the rules of deadly force.

Something has happened to the entire gun community since the election--not only has the demand for AR15-style rifles gone sky-high, but ammunition is in short supply, gun retailers have a hard time keeping concealable handguns such as the S&W 642, 442, and 638 in stock--and we can't teach concealed carry classes fast enough to meet the demand.

Last weekend, I had six people show up that weren't registered. This threw the whole class out of kilter, and ran us an hour longer in length. This is starting to be the rule, rather than the exception.

Today, Dave couldn't make it, and I taught the whole class to 26 people...this time about a third of them were renewals--I love teaching these classes, but it is tiring. I had to bring in extra instructors to help on the range since he was tied up with sheriff's office range duties today.

I'm not sure what's pushing this, other than people are afraid the new administation will do something to limit their access to CCW permits, and they are trying to get them while they are still offered, but it has been crazy down here. We are running 25-35 people a class, nearly every weekend. They come out enthused, ready to get their permits, and tell their friends, who call and load us up again.

As long as people want to do this, we will keep teaching--yes, it's a business--but it's also our own act of defiance against the gun grabbers and their politicos.

I take heart in the fact we are adding many new soldiers to the ranks--every new shooter is a vote in our favor.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Who Will Watch the Watchers?

Lt. Col. Robert K. (Bob) Brown called and asked my support for his friend Steve Schreiner in Steve's reelection bid to the NRA Board of Directors.

He also sent along this editorial which is the cover story for the April, 2009 issue of his magazine, Soldier of Fortune.

It's an interesting charge--that the people of ATFE, who are dedicated to insuring we comply with gun rules and regulations, won't even police their own ranks.

But then, who among us is surprised?


Amid the orderly transfer of power, our new Chief Executive has issued a call for responsibility. As is the case with most of his public statements, his meaning is not clear. However, if he means holding government officials accountable for their actions, a novel and great idea, it is something that we can all embrace. It is particularly true of those officials within agencies with a long and well documented history of abuses of entrusted powers. Somehow, ATFE comes to mind as the poster boy for irresponsibility and unaccountability.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Justice recently (December 2008) reported on “An Investigation of Overtime Payments to FBI and Other Department of Justice Employees Deployed to Iraq” during the period 2003 through 2008. The “other” employees in the title of the report included ATFE Special Agents as well as DEA Special Agents and Deputy U.S. Marshals.

ATFE Special Agents were deployed in Iraq on 90-day TDY assignments between 2003 and 2008. During that time, they were paid $4,175,731.00 in unauthorized and unlawful overtime pay. They filed fraudulent claims for the overtime and ATFE senior officials did nothing to monitor the claims or review them for conformity with federal law and regulations. In other words, the ATFE Special Agents, law enforcement officers who are sworn to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, filed false time and attendance reports claiming pay for overtime which was not worked and for which payment was not authorized under federal law.

ATFE senior officials are paid to ensure that compensation for work performed by ATFE employees conforms with federal law. Throughout the five-year period, nothing was done to monitor the claims for overtime pay and no internal reviews were undertaken. If nothing else, the OIG Report gives rise to the question, whether ATFE, a large federal organization with law enforcement powers, can be held accountable to the people for waste, fraud and abuse. If so, where do we start? The OIG Report is a good starting place.

The most difficult part of any attempt to correct government waste, fraud and abuse is in identifying the acts and the actors. It usually comes to light from an insider or a victim. The OIG investigation originated from inside information. An FBI employee, who asked to remain anonymous, disclosed that FBI agents were paid for working 16 hours per day, 7 days per week while they were stationed in Iraq, irrespective of the number of hours actually worked. The OIG investigation expanded when it became known that ATFE Special Agents working in Iraq uniformly claimed pay for 15.5 hours per day, 7 days per week. The time claimed as “work” included such activities as commuting to and from work, exercise, standby time and such activities as recreation and socializing.

The OIG Report concluded that few, if any, employees worked 15.5 or 16 hours a day every day for 90 days straight. Moreover, even if they did work such hours, employees in the Special Agent classification series are not legally authorized overtime pay because all Special Agents must qualify for and are paid a “premium” for administratively uncontrollable work in excess of 8 hours per day. Every Special Agent knows the rules for pay from his first day on the job and also knows that payment of overtime is prohibited under federal law unless scheduled in advance of the work week; that it can only be scheduled after a methodical analyses by the approving official confirming that compensation for overtime is necessary; and then, overtime pay can be claimed only if the employee actually works the hours scheduled.

ATFE Special Agents were deployed in Iraq for 90-day assignments (13 weeks) and in the period covered by the OIG audit there were 145 such deployments. ATFE’s own estimate to OIG is that it paid $4,175,731.00 in overtime to Special Agents in Iraq between 2003 and July 2008. Special Agents fall within a special classification series for all purposes. They differ from government bureaucrats in that they are held to much higher moral standards. They are required to be exposed to danger in the course of performing their duties. They are caused to work long hours in the investigation of crimes and due to the nature of the work, the hours of work are incapable of being administratively controllable.

Special Agents also receive pay and benefits which are extraordinarily generous. The average base salary for a Special Agent, such as those who were deployed to Iraq, is $108,576.00. That figure is derived from the fact that the average agent deployed was a Step 5 of Grade 13 in the Civil Service pay scale, the base pay for which is $94,025.00. To that is added a premium pay of 25 percent of a Grade 11, or $14,551.00, for which all agents must qualify. In addition to the $108.576.00 base salary, while on assignment in Iraq each ATFE Special Agent was eligible for and received the following extra compensations authorized by federal law:

1. A night differential of 10 percent for hours worked between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am (5 U.S.C. 5545 (a); 5 C.F.R. 550.121);

2. A Sunday differential (25 percent for up to 8 hours of non-overtime work on Sundays (5 U.S.C. 5546(a); 5 C.F.R. 550.171);

3. A post differential of up to 25 percent extra for the first 40 hours per week in locations that differ substantially from conditions in the continental United States (5 U.S.C. 5926) (this percentage increased in Iraq from 25 percent to 35 percent in 2006);

4. A danger pay of 25 percent extra for the first 40 hours per week for work on the basis of wartime conditions (5 U.S.C. 5928);

5. And holiday pay, twice the employee’s salary for up to 8 hours of work on holidays (5 U.S.C 5546(b); 5 C.F.R. 550.103; 5 C.F.R. 550.131(a).

The annual salary of Special Agents does not include benefits provided, which include:
1. 13 days annual leave (26 days for those with 15 years of service);

2. 13 days of sick leave;

3. 10 paid holidays;

4. Retirement at age 50 with 20 years of service (It is worth noting that premium pay is included in calculating retirement benefits);

5. Health insurance;

6. Life insurance.

Remarkable for its absence from the OIG Report is any recommendation for accountability. It does not recommend any attempt to recoup excess payments for overtime which was unlawful. It does not recommend any sanctions against individuals for filing false time and attendance reports or sanctions for mismanaging the administration of federal laws and regulations regarding compensation of federal employees.

With this as prologue, there is a starting point. Who will be looking out for those gun owners whose rights have been abused or are ripe for abuse; for small businesses such as Red’s Trading Post and other law abiding individuals whose businesses will be destroyed; for those who will face criminal prosecution for inadvertent, technical mistakes on federal forms?

Below are some suggestions to give accountability a start. Hold ATFE accountable for the mismanagement of your tax money as reported in the OIG Report:

1. The ATFE budget for the next budget cycle should be reduced by $4,175,731.00, the amount of the fraud on taxpayer funds detailed in the OIG Report;

2. The ATFE Special Agents who made false claims on official time and attendance reports for personal benefit should be appropriately sanctioned and made to reimburse the Government. At a minimum, an official letter should be placed in their personnel files noting the number of false statements made in official reports. Those gun owners who will be charged criminally and those FFL holders who will face license revocations are entitled to know that their accusers have a record of falsifying official reports. This will contribute to fair trials for defendants in future cases in which such agents will be called to testify;

3. Those officials within ATFE responsible for establishing policy and procedures relating to the administration of federal law and regulations of ATFE pay should be identified. Their official performance reviews for the years 2003 through 2008 should be reviewed and amended if their evaluations were satisfactory or above. Sanctions, such as letters of reprimand appropriate to fit the unsatisfactory performance, should be made a part of their official personnel file. It should be noted that Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan, the ultimate official during the years 2007 and 2008, will not be held accountable because he has announced his resignation effective 20 January, 2009."

SOF Endorsements for NRA Board
Once again, it is time to elect 26 of the NRA’s Board of Directors. SOF is endorsing, of course, long time lobbyist and Second Amendment activist for the board, Steve Schreiner. He is now on the board and really deserves to be elected. We know of no other director that is anymore committed to working for and defending the Second Amendment. And we all are going to have a lot of “working” and “defending” in the next four years to keep the Obama machine from gobbling up our gun rights. SOF is also pleased to endorse Joseph DeBergalis, who is running for the BOD for the first time. There are many qualified individuals running for the board. However, we feel we especially need to re-elect John Sigler, Robert Sanders, Manuel Fernandez, David Keene, Owen Mills, Edie Fleeman, Wayne Anthony Ross, Don Saba, Ronald Schmeits and Robert Viden.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gunnuts Radio and GNOGG

Many thanks to Caleb and Breda
for hosting me on Gunnuts Radio last night. We talked about New Orleans and the gun confiscations that occurred after Hurricane Katrina as I and Todd Masson documented in "The Great New Orleans Gun Grab."

This is such a hot topic with gun folks, we frequently get carried away with outrage at what happened, and I neglect to point out the good that came from this travesty--how obvious it became to the world that the only way to survive in the aftermath of great disaster is to have a gun. In case after case, we heard of frightened people flocking to the protective cover offered by armed citizens.

One story that did not make the book, because I could never find the guy again, was a resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast who came over to New Orleans to speak at the NRA Town Hall Meeting on April 18, 2006. It was this meeting which led to the idea of the book to publicize what happened in the hell after the hurricane.

Since we only repeated stories we could document, I couldn't use it. But the guy told it on himself at the meeting, and I will repeat it here for you.

He stated a friend who suffered through the bad hurricane that struck South Carolina a few years ago (Hugo?) warned him that within a couple of days after the hurricane, the great underclass one never sees would be in ascendancy--the homeless, the addicted, the criminals who plied their trade selling drugs--they would be roaming the streets, unable to make their connections, looking for any relief they could find, and stealing as they saw fit.

As an armed citizen, he stayed in his home and rode the storm out. He must have lived some blocks from the coast, because Katrina wiped out the first several blocks off the beach, and pushed storm surge in a mile or more.

Gulf Shores, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, all the beautiful old beachfront towns along Highway 90 saw their homes and businesses wiped away as cleanly as a man strokes off his beard with a straight razor. To this day, driving down the coast highway, most of what you see are slabs and empty lots, as the beach towns try to rebuild nearly four years later.

This armed citizen stated his friend was right, the looters and thugs came out after the storm, and there was much misery as emergency services did not exist--no power, no water, no...nothing. But he had emergency supplies, and he had something else--he had guns.

And as the word made its way among the devastated survivors, he had a small tent city grow around his home--single mothers with children who came to him for protection from the dregs that roamed the streets. They slept in his yard in makeshift shelters under his umbrella of protection. He fed them and watched over them all until one family at a time, they were taken in by the burgeoning emergency services.

His story drew great applause, even considering the receptive audience he had. I made an effort to try to catch him before he disappeared in the crowd, but to chase him would have meant missing other stories equally riveting about surviving the storm, looters, and thuggish cops.

I wish I could have talked to him privately--it would have been a hell of an addition to the book. Even if it didn't occur in New Orleans, it would have reinforced the premise of the entire book--that to survive, you not only need basics like shelter, food, and water--you also absolutely need a way to protect those precious things from the vicious predators who take advantage of such tragedies, and prey on the weak.

Obviously as the book showed, when you are armed, you are not weak.

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