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January 29, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (1-29-2014)

Is Straw Buying a Gun Actually Legal?

Well I always just assumed not since there's a question about it right on the ATF form 4473 and answering yes to buying a gun intended for someone else (a 'straw purchase') will get your transaction refused at a minimum and might result in your prosecution.


But there's a case now before the Supreme Court, Abramski v. United States, that questions whether or not 'straw purchases' really are illegal based on the 2009 arrest of Bruce Abramski for buying a Glock 19 and then immediately selling it to his uncle.

Bruce Abramski is a former cop who is legally allowed to buy firearms. His uncle Angel Alvarez, can also legally buy firearms.  Abramski purchased a Glock 19 pistol from a dealer using his law enforcement discount to get a better price, then sold the gun to his uncle. Both transfers-from the Virginia FFL to Abramski, then from Abramski through another FFL to Alvarez in Pennsylvania-followed the law.

The ATF then charged Abramski for perjuring himself on the ATF's form 4473 for saying he was the "actual buyer.

But it turns out that the ATF basically decided on their own that 'straw purchasing' must be illegal and added the above question to the 4473 form back in 1995 and started enforcing it as a law. But no where in any federal statute is there a reference to straw purchases much less a prohibition against them. Even the ATF admits that they're off in penumbra-land when it comes to this rule:

The assistant to the solicitor general, Joseph Palmore, admitted to the court that the ATF was "interpreting" the will of Congress when it added the "actual buyer" question in 1995 on the background form.

And during oral arguments before the court both Roberts and Scalia were highly skeptical of the government's arguments that the 1968 GCA somehow implies that straw purchases are illegal without ever actually mentioning them.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. seemed to side with the plaintiff's position that the ATF had overstepped into trying to create criminal law. Referring to the Gun Control Act, the chief justice said, "This language is fought over tooth and nail by people on the gun-control side and the gun-ownership side."

He called it "very problematic" for the government to cite going after law abiding people who resell firearms as a purpose of the law since "there are no words in the statute that have anything to do with straw purchasers."

There's interpreting the will of Congress by government agencies and then there's just making up laws you'd like to enforce. In a reasonable country this kind of overreach would be quickly struck down.

We're in the Best of Hands

And only a heart beat away from President Joe Biden.


The Lone Survivor Controversies

So there seems to be a simmering debate among the services over the performance and planning of the SEAL mission recounted in Luttrell's book, Lone Survivor - particularly between Marines and the special forces community.

Daniel Smith, the son of blogger Herschel Smith of the Captain's Journal offers the Marine view here - A Marine Corps View of Tactics in Operation Red Wings.

And Hognose of WeaponsMan presents the special forces view here - About some Lone Survivor controversies.

Both are well worth reading and in agreement on some of the mistakes made. I think Hognose makes a good point when he points out that Marines and SEALS do fundamentally different types of missions and that the high risk/high reward style of the SEALS lets them do things that the Marines don't - along with a correspondingly greater chance of having a deadly day at the office.

Daniel, in his personal experience, does not understand the difference between recon and long-range recon, which the Army and SF have called things like LRR, LRP, LRRP, SICTA, and SR over the years. The principal difference, in tactical terms, is that a Marine unit like Daniel's, like any combat unit, normally pushes ground recon patrols only to within its area of influence. A commander may push them out to his whole area of interest, but he's accepting that they're beyond the reach of his fires if they get into the $#!+.

In the interests of force protection, the commander may enlarge that patrol, but there's a tradeoff: a larger recon patrol brings back less ground truth than a smaller one. A platoon patrol is thirty-plus guys with heavy packs, machine guns, and maybe even an attached mortar or two. They can fight if they're seen and engaged; what they can't do is hide.
In SOF doctrine, a strategic reconnaissance patrol goes deep, alone, and fundamentally unsupported. SF, SEALs, and other sophisticated US SOF are accustomed to going 1000 kilometers or more into a denied area or, if you will, "behind enemy lines." If they get into a fight, their tactic is to call for extraction, run, and engage the enemy to delay his pursuit.

...Remember: these small teams are what brings the commander the ground truth, a substance rarer than diamonds and worth more than gold. There are lessons to be learned from this operation, but "don't send out patrols lest they be eaten" is not one of them.

Herschel Smith has a rebuttal here.

Patterico Reviews His Sous-Vide Experience So Far

When I had tonight's tri-tip, things were quite different. This was a delicious meal that distinctly surpassed the results I have gotten from the same cut of meat on the grill. I tossed it in the Sous Vide Supreme for eight hours at 135 degrees, and at the end of the process, fired up my gas grill good and hot, to 600 degrees. Tossed it on there for one minute each side, and the results were amazing.

...This was very, very good. Very tender, but not mushy; juicy, and done perfectly to my taste. This is the only way to do tri-tip.

And here are some examples of how to make your own sous vide machines.


The Cost of a Hitman

The reality of contract killing in Britain tended to be striking only in its mundanity, according to David Wilson, the university's professor of criminology. He said: "Far from the media portrayal of hits being conducted inside smoky rooms, frequented by members of an organised crime gang, British hits were more usually carried out in the open, on pavements, sometimes as the target was out walking their dog, or going shopping, with passersby watching on in horror."

Researchers found that the average cost of a hit was 15,180 [$25,132 USD], with 100,000 being the highest and 200 the lowest amount paid. The average age of a hitman was 38 with the youngest aged 15 and the oldest 63.

Okay it's Britain but still $25K isn't that much and probably swingable if you really need to have someone whacked.


Fear the Extroverts

Because they're likely to be disease super-spreaders.

Wonder who will be first to die in a massive killer pandemic or perhaps in a zombie apocalypse? Those who have an especially large web of contacts. At least the authorities in Singapore are going to know who these people are. As soon as some of them start acting like zombies all of them should be hunted down in order to save the city. That much is clear. Other parts of the world face a grimmer prospect.

Who Says Roman Tactics Are Dead?

They've just been resting and hanging out in Kiev during the recent riots.


Did You Know These People?

In the early morning of Aug. 9, 1976, the bodies of a young man and woman were found on a secluded dirt road in Sumter County, S.C. Each had been shot in the throat, chest, and back. Both were white and in their mid-20s. They bore no identification, but there were signs that they were wealthy: He wore an expensive Bulova watch and had had specialized dental work, and she wore a jade ring.

"They were clean, neat," remembered county coroner Verna Moore. "She was beautiful, real pretty girl. He was also."

In the 38 years since they were found no one has ever come forward and identified them.


Repairing a Plane in Antarctica

What do you do when your 1940s era DC-3 crash-lands in Antarctica? Well in this case they came back with tools and parts and a team to fix it up enough to fly it back out.

On December 20, 2012 a Basler BT-67 Turbo 67 (DC-3T) - named Lidia - went down in Antarctica. Thankfully out of its 15 passengers there were no fatalities. For full details on the crash you can check out the accident description on the Aviation Safety Network.

Lidia was built back in the 1940's, with its wings apparently put together by Rosie the Riveter herself in 1943. Its virgin flight was in 1944. Today, it is operate(d) as a tour plane, and before the accident it was conducting a tour of the Holtanna Glacier in Antarctica.

The plane sat in the snow for almost a year, before a team came back to repair it and bring it home. The expedition lasted two months, and they brought with them two new engines, a new cockpit, landing gear, and fuselage repair supplies.


25 Things You May Not Know About RoboCop

Such as it was actually filmed in Dallas and was written as the inverse plot of BladeRunner.


Worst Knitting Ever?

Quite possibly. But then maybe there was a period in the 70s when knitted Tin Man masks and quiches were fashionable which fits into my theory that everything was fashionable at some point in the 1970s.

knitting masks

Teh Tweet!

Le AoSHQ groupe de Yahoo. Ooh la la!

Tonight's post brought to you by Dali walking the anteater:

Paris - Juillet 1969 --- F?ru de "happenings", Salvador DALI est descendu dans le m?tro avec un tamanoir, animal symbole du surr?alisme. En sortant de la station Bastille, celui-ci a trouv? sur le sol du lait dont il est tr?s friand. Mais le lait est aussi un symbole dalinien : l'ang?lisme.

L?gende photo donn?e par l'artiste lui-m?me : "Salvador Dali sortant du sous-sol du subconscient tenant en laisse un tamanoir romantique, l'animal qu'Andr? Breton avait choisi comme ex-libris."

Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to maetenloch at gmail. Otherwise send tips to Ace.

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posted by Maetenloch at 10:30 PM

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