Australia foils Islamic State plot to start lopping off heads. But… why there?

First, the good news:

Australian security officials say they stopped a suspected plan by Islamist extremists to capture random citizens and behead them in public and on camera.

More than 800 security personnel raided 25 homes across two cities early yesterday morning in what authorities said was the largest counterterrorism raid ever conducted in Australia.

Authorities said they arrested 15 suspects, one of whom, Omarjan Azari,  22, appeared in a Sydney courtroom later in the day. The raids also resulted in the seizure of computers, documents and a firearm.

To the Australian agents and officers involved: well done. You saved lives because these terrorists would absolutely have done what they were threatening to do.

The report does raise an interesting question, though. You’ll note that they confiscated a firearm. Now, how did that happen? I mean, they’ve banned the private ownership of firearms over there for years. So, there can’t possibly have been a firearm possessed by someone who wasn’t a police officer or some other government agent, right? Or, perhaps, a law that says you can’t own a firearm just wasn’t that compelling to people who have already decided they’re going to pull random Aussies off the street and cut their heads on YouTube. In short – laws don’t stop criminals from acting criminally. It’s the decision to ignore the law that makes them criminals to begin with. The only people these laws keep guns away from are people who abide by the law in the first place.

This incident, frankly, should be making Aussie across their country take a moment to wonder just what they would have done if these people hadn’t been caught. If confronted by a group of men (and women?) armed with swords and, presumably, 1 with a gun who aren’t interested in your valuables or whether or not you even stand against them, politically and religiously, who have decided they’re going to kill you in a very gruesome fashion, what will you do? How will you defend yourself when you’ve legislated away any real means of doing so?

Note that Australia hasn’t been all that active in the Middle East and they aren’t really on the leading edge of actions that these terrorist groups allege to be upset about. So why did these people make the plans to start sawing off heads in Australia? Why not in, say, Dallas? Or, perhaps, Tampa? Parts of Virginia, maybe? Why is it that these people feel like taking to the streets to behead a random person in places like England or, now, Australia? Could it be that they’re choosing those places because they know the citizenry can’t really stop them? Because if they try that in Virginia, they’re seriously taking a risk of discovering that they’ve brought a machete to a gun fight.

These people believe they are at war and they have no issue whatsoever with killing non-combatants. In fact, it’s part of their strategy. I would suggest that unless one wishes to remain at serious risk of being a mourned statistic on some news show somewhere that everyone get a bit more serious about retaining the ability to defend one’s self, family, and community. We are part of the law enforcement in a free nation. I believe we should act like it. And I believe our long-time allies should, too.

MagPul pulling out of Colorado

True to their word, MagPul Industries has announced that they are moving their manufacturing and headquarters facilities out of Colorado in the wake of that state’s legislative actions to effectively outlaw the sales of their products. MagPul’s factory is moving to Wyoming while their HQ is moving to Texas.

Magpul Industries has announced that it will relocate its manufacturing, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Governor Matt Mead expressed his support in helping with the move, which begins immediately and his appreciation for Magpul recognizing the state’s benefits to a manufacturing company.

The company plans to lease a 58,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution facility while the construction of a new 100,000+ square foot build-to-suit facility is being completed in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. This two-phased approach allows for rapid movement of operations out of Colorado where the company is currently located. Additionally, Magpul is moving its corporate headquarters to Texas.

I mentioned MagPul in 2 previous posts, one in which I also referenced Beretta’s talk of moving out of Maryland and Smith & Wesson considering moving out of New York. Both of those firms cite the exact same reason as MagPul – a steadily worsening business climate driven by nonsense legislative action implementing more demonstrably ineffective “gun control.”

The other post, I’d like to remind all involved, dealt with the voter ramifications of pushing those laws. Colorado saw 2 of their fairly “big deal” Democrats get recalled specifically over their votes to enact those laws. Of course, that didn’t repeal those laws, so, MagPul was still left with the situation where the Colorado government was basically asking them to stay and pay their taxes but not sell their products in the state. I do hope Coloradans are paying attention to the fact that they’re losing a long-time community industry, the hundred of jobs related to that, and a consistent contributor to their tax base. They should act accordingly.

Remington R-51 pistol announced

While I will admit to wanting to fire some guns in the past based solely off their looks, I’m really more of a function-over-form kind of guy in that department. The capabilities of a firearm, more than how it looks in my hands, is what has usually driven my interest. This time, however, I’m firmly in the camp of “to look at this beauty is to want one.” Introducing Remington’s R-51 handgun:

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The R-51 uses the Pederson action but that’s where we depart from the original. As you can see from the photos the entire pistol has been streamlined and dehorned. There’s not one sharp edge anywhere on this pistol. The magazine release is ambidextrous. There is the usual internal drop safety. The primary safety is the grip safety. As you draw the pistol you can feel as well as hear the grip safety click and disengage. Once the grip safety is depressed you’re ready to fire. The R-51 has an internal hammer you would term this a single action.

A good deal of time was also spent on getting the grip circumference and angle as close to perfect as they could manage. They did a good job because the grip not only feels good but it’s a natural pointer. When you draw and bring the pistol on target the sights are pretty much lined up. The shooters hand also sits very high and much closer to the bore axis reducing felt recoil.

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There’s a lot of good features listed right there and the pictures of the gun are like something out of an art gallery.  The Firearm Blog linked above did a great job of a first look so I recommend hopping over there and reading their whole thing.

The official findings of Sandy Hook released; many initial conclusions and reactions were unfounded

In just a couple of weeks it will be 1 year since a mentally disturbed young man stepped up to his mother’s bedside and shot her to death in her sleep, drove to a local elementary school with guns he had then stolen from her home, and committed murder on a level so disgusting to normal people that it quite literally defies understanding. Six adults – several of them teachers and school officials moving to try to protect their students without any means to do so – and 20 children, all under the age of 8 were simply gunned down before the shooter shot himself just as police arrived at the school. The State of Connecticut released their final report (PDF) of the investigation this week and that report offers details that show many of the initial conclusions and reactions to the shooting were ill-informed and unfounded.

It just as clearly lacks the answer to the one question most people ask when they hear of the murdered: why?

Let’s look at the facts as they are now known and dispense with the most obvious and immediate inaccuracies of the “prevailing wisdom” regarding the attack. The shooter was armed with a rifle, 2 pistols, and a shotgun when he arrived at the school. He left the shotgun in the car and it was not used in the shootings at all. The rifle was a semi-automatic Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S chambered in 5.56 caliber. The 2 pistols were a Glock 20, a gun that fires 10mm rounds, and a Sig Sauer P226 in 9mm. The only time either pistol was used was when the shooter shot himself to death with the Glock 20 and that shot was the only one fired from a pistol during his rampage. The Sig Sauer was not used at all.  The shooter fired 154 rounds from the rifle from start to finish. His decision to shoot himself came just as police entered the building; it is likely that the knowledge of their entry into the building was the cause of that decision.

The first responders were not even finished with their work at the site when the assumptions, accusations, and conclusions started to fly. The questions of how the shooter got into the building, what was his connection to the school, if any, how he had gotten the guns in the first place, all were immediately asked and answers were just as quickly assumed. As with nearly every single incident of this type that has occurred in my lifetime, many – if not most – of the assumptions were incorrect. The school has a locked door that must be buzzed open so the assumption was that the school employees were familiar with him and let him in. He had guns, so the accusations were that either no one had done a background check or that the check was faulty. The first story was that his mother worked in the school, then that the shooter, himself, had been a student in the classrooms where he killed those children. Throughout all of this, the assumption was that he was mentally unbalanced. There was a story running around that his mother was about to have him committed and that’s what set off this lunatic killing spree. That guns were simply laying around his mother’s house was all it took to sent him off. All of these assumptions were wrong.

The shooter used the rifle to shoot out the glass beside the locked door and stepped through, completely avoiding the door and rendering the buzz-in system moot. Once inside, there was no physical impediment to reach any room in the building. His mother hadn’t worked there. He, himself, had been a student at the school, but not in the classrooms where he shot and killed those kids. The guns and ammunition were safely and properly stored. His mother’s only mistake was in allowing the shooter to know how to access the safe with the guns. It should be noted that the shooter entered her room while she was asleep and used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot her to death. She likely never saw it coming. That rifle was not taken to the school.

Investigators found that the shooter had spent a great deal of time planning this attack. He kept a list of previous mass-murders. He made sure to bring earplugs with him to avoid an injury to his ears that would have slowed him down or diverted him, somehow. He deliberately damaged his computer’s hard drive to slow any investigation. He removed the GPS system from his car to make sure he couldn’t be tracked if the police were alerted to his mother’s murder sooner than he anticipated. He was most assuredly mentally ill, but he hadn’t simply snapped and gone off on an unthinking, violent outburst.

Reporter and author Emily Miller wrote an article in the Washington Times that details the findings of the report framed in the question of who or what to blame for this shooting. It’s understandable that we seek something to blame. We want to understand why this happened and we want to fix the problem that caused it so it won’t happen again. It’s understandable and even laudable. But it’s not always possible. As important as finding out what, if anything, could have been done to prevent this tragedy is to not lay the blame incorrectly and take action not warranted.

Family of armed thief upset that armed citizen shot their son

An 18-year old man in Mobile, AL, decided to rob a Family Dollar store on November 12th, bringing a gun with him to threaten the store’s employees. While in the middle of the robbery, standing over an employee he had ordered to their knees and hold his gun to their head, a customer who was carrying a concealed handgun entered the store to do some shopping. Seeing the man with a gun to the employee’s head, the armed citizen drew his own gun and told the thief not to move. The thief responded by attempting to swing his gun around onto the citizen who then opened fire, hitting the thief 5 times. Police and paramedics responded, bringing the thief to the hospital where he is recovering.

Pretty cut-and-dry, here. Arming yourself for defensive purposes is usually phrased as “self-defense” but the laws are pretty clear that you are permitted to engage in order to protect your own life or the life of another if the threat against either is immediate and credible. Anyone who argues that a situation where an assailant has ordered someone to kneel down and is holding a firearm against that person’s head doesn’t qualify as an immediate and credible threat against a person’s life is seriously stuck on stupid.

And on that queue, enter the thief’s family:

A family member who did not want to be identified said White should have never been shot to begin with.

“If his (the customer) life was not in danger, if no one had a gun up to him, if no one pointed a gun at him – what gives him the right to think that it’s okay to just shoot someone?” said the relative. “You should have just left the store and went wherever you had to go in your car or whatever.”

Bob Owens of Bearing Arms is pitch perfect:

The thug’s degenerate family blames the man who shot their son, their son’s friends—everybody but their two-time loser son, who was out on bond for a prior robbery when he was shot by the shopper, an act that perhaps saving the employee’s life.

Indeed. What makes it okay to just shoot someone, they ask? The fact that their son decided to point a gun at someone in the commission of a crime, that’s what. Had the kid not been trying to commit armed robbery none of this would have happened. Suggesting that everyone else should simply ignore when their fellow citizens are having their lives threatened by criminals and go happily along with their day rather than holding their family member accountable for his own actions is disgusting, to say the least. The family should be counting their blessings that their son is still alive and, therefore, able to actually mend his ways. He’s got the chance to correct his course in life and still make something positive of himself. I know a few armed citizens that are sufficiently competent in their marksmanship that it wouldn’t be a situation where the criminal was recovering in a hospital after 5 shots.

Political ramifications of the Colorado recall elections and the willful blindness of the losers

One of the stories I was following closely (even as my laptop was in the repair shop and I couldn’t actually write about it) was the recall elections in Colorado. Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron were at the forefront of efforts to pass some of those ridiculously ineffective, knee-jerk response laws to enact “common sense” gun control. Among the more ridiculous was the magazine size limitation wherein selling of mags of greater than 15 rounds was outlawed. That law was quite hypocritical given the lawmakers’ advances to Colorado’s MagPul Industries, a well-known maker of the standard 30-round magazines for AR-15 class rifles. They wanted MagPul to stay and keep the jobs and tax revenue coming, but they just weren’t allowed to actually, you know, sell their product in the state. It’s far, far too dangerous to have such things being sold around their homes, but they were perfectly fine with the company selling them in other states. MagPul saw that hypocrisy for what it was and was one of the firearms-related companies that were seeking to move to states that actually support the whole US Constitution.

Support for those laws were clearly not as solid among their own constituents – you know, the people they’re supposed to be representing – as was believed, apparently, and a recall effort was launched. In spite of big names in the Democratic Party swinging by to offer their support to Morse and Giron and in spite of being outspent by the anti-recall forces by a factor of 7-to-1, the recall proposal got more than the needed number of signatures to go to a vote. That vote was held this past Tuesday and the results were both clear and rather stunning to the gun-banning crowd. Both Morse and Giron were recalled.

Colorado’s state senate president and another legislator have conceded in an unprecedented recall election triggered by their push for stricter gun control measures. The outcome is likely to be viewed as a referendum on the hot-button issue that has divided the country this year.

The senate leader, John Morse of Colorado Springs, and state Sen. Angela Giron of the Democratic-leaning city of Pueblo were targeted by a highly contentious recall effort that drew big-name donors on both sides of the debate. The legislative recall effort is the first in state history.

With about 80 percent of voted counted, the Denver Post and other local media outlets reported that Morse had conceded Tuesday night. The final counts showed Morse was voted out 50.9-49 percent. Giron was ousted 56 percent to 44 percent.

For the record, both of those senate districts voted for Obama in 2012 by margins of 12 and 20 percent. In the wake of that loss both Giron and the Democratic National Committee explained the losses as a matter of… voter suppression.

Giron appeared on CNN Thursday and said, "We know what really happened here. What this story is really about, it’s about voter suppression."

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made a similar statement the day before: "The recall elections in Colorado were defined by the vast array of obstacles that special interests threw in the way of voters for the purpose of reversing the will of the legislature and the people," she said. "This was voter suppression, pure and simple."

According to Colorado Recall Effort Consultant Kurt Bardella, Giron and Schultz "have been rewriting history. [This] is either a manifestation of a desperate attempt at damage control or a complete and fundamental lack of understanding of what happened Tuesday night and why."

Bardella both Wasserman Schultz and Giron are ignoring the only real suppression that took place—suppression of Coloradans who wanted to speak against gun control while it was being debated in the legislature but were not allowed to do so.

Precisely. No voters were suppressed in getting to vote, none were denied access to the polls. But they were absolutely denied the ability to speak out before the law was rammed through. Passing the law in the state’s legislature, however, is just 1 hurdle. The Governor has to sign the bill, and sign this one Gov. Hickenlooper of CO most certainly did. In speaking on the results, the Governor looked and sounded just a little nervous:

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado defended his record on gun control after two Democratic state senators were recalled by their constituents in an election on Tuesday.

Hickenlooper admitted that the special election results were likely the result of the new laws limiting high-capacity magazines and requiring universal background checks for firearms purchases, but suggested that it was an overreaction.

Wow, where to start with that one? First up, the elections weren’t “likely” the result of these 2 alleged representatives of the people pushing through a law their constituents didn’t want. They were emphatically and explicitly the result of those laws. To suggest that there might have been something else to this is simply a matter of plugging one’s political ears and loudly chanting “la la la la la – I can’t hear you!” And following that up with a dismissive comment about it being an “overreaction” is, frankly, something the Governor might live to regret. What really gets me, though, is a comment the Governor made to a question about what these elections might mean for his own political future. He replied, “Obviously, I have to do a better job of getting the facts out there.”

Implying that the people who voted for the recall only did so because they lacked the facts. Hubris, Governor. The facts were out there just fine. It’s just that the people disagree with what you’re concluding from them. Strongly. And two of your colleagues paid for that little bit of deliberate blindness. I would suggest you worry more about your jobs, your taxes, and your state’s operations and less about trying to make criminals out of free citizens who are quite capable of deciding for themselves whether and how to arm themselves. You might want to do so before another recall crops up… with your name on it.

Illinois Supreme Court finally says it: The Second Amendment’s protections extend outside a person’s home

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution famously refers to government being prohibited from infringing on “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…” but, for some reason, some folks out there seem to want to ignore the “and bear” part. After the Heller and McDonald decisions finally laid the rest the mistaken notion that the right to keep and bear arms wasn’t an individual right those who still wish to find some way to keep citizens from arming themselves sought to read the 2nd Amendment in such a way that the right only allowed someone to own a gun in their own home. They seek to make it illegal to actually bear the gun out into public. A case bringing that issue before the courts made it into the Illinois Supreme Court and, effective yesterday, the ISC ruled on the matter. In a unanimous decision in People v. Aguilar, the Court said:

As the Seventh Circuit correctly noted, neither Heller nor McDonald expressly limits the second amendment’s protections to the home. On the contrary, both decisions contain language strongly suggesting if not outright confirming that the second amendment right to keep and bear arms extends beyond the home. Moreover, if Heller means what it says, and “individual self-defense” is indeed “the central component” of the second amendment right to keep and bear arms, then it would make little sense to restrict that right to the home, as “[c]onfrontations are not limited to the home.” Indeed, Heller itself recognizes as much when it states that “the right to have arms *** was by the time of the founding understood to be an individual right protecting against both public and private violence.

My thanks to Instapundit and the Volokh Conspiracy for the links. This is wonderful news and I find it interesting that it should happen in Illinois, of all places, given the attitude of their largest city on the matter. Of course, it would also provide the largest chance for pressing a case to arrive at a decision like this, so perhaps it’s not so suprising.

The clear text of the 2nd Amendment should make it clear to anyone not deliberately trying to skew the language that it is the right of a free citizen to arm themselves in defense of themselves, their family, their property, their community, their nation, and their God-given rights. It is equally their right to be able to go armed in said manner wherever they may legally be present and, certain narrow exceptions notwithstanding, to be free of governmental interference in doing so.

I applaud the Illinois Supreme Court for this ruling.