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Worst JobIn a blog earlier this week on gun control, I was critical of all the investigation into the background and motives of the two San Bernardino terrorists. I wanted solutions, not explanations. My impatience was misplaced. The value of all of this investigation, recently well summarized in the Los Angeles Times, has served to constructively reveal how ill-prepared our country is for this kind of “low profile” terrorism. And at least some of the steps we must now take to level the playing field. Quickly.

The San Bernardino killers were radicalized before they married and before ISIS even formally existed. Her k-1 marriage visa contained a false address that conveniently concealed her true address that would have revealed radical family ties. Several years ago, he was associated with persons in Chino previously convicted of a terrorist plot to kill Americans in Afghanistan.

U.S. authorities initially missed all of this.

It turns out her k-1 application may have been fabricated by foreign terrorist organizations specifically to seed her in the U.S. for terrorist purposes. Several hundred thousand k-1 visa applications were granted at about the same time. Only 20% of these applications were denied.

With the advantage of hindsight, several observations can be drawn from this recently revealed additional intelligence: 

1. Our entry system is way too lax and porous.

2. There can no longer be any genuine doubt that the 20,000 Syrian refugees that are to be admitted into the United States will include some number of foreign terrorists pretending to be refugees who will escape detection, just like she did. We can stick to our historically compassionate attitude to open our shores and borders, and then explain to the grieving families of the next wave of victims how our naïve compassion allowed the admission of still more terrorists than are already here.

3. U.S. authorities are foolishly releasing this newly acquired intelligence to the public, which will only alert foreign terrorists still seeking admission to be subtler and more covert. The ONLY real justification for doing this is to educate our liberal do-gooders as to why their attitudes must change–for the safety of their children and grandchildren, if not themselves.

4. It seems apparent that all admissions over, say, the past five years–numbering hundreds of thousands–need to be re-vetted with much greater discipline and diligence. One can only wonder how many of these persons have gone to ground and disappeared? They must be found. Where warranted, they must be deported.  Can this actually be achieved? Watching the investigative skills of the FBI following the San Bernardino catastrophe, I think it can be. Of course, I’m just a volunteer backseat driver.   

5. We need to substantially clamp down on future admissions, whether by visas, visa waivers or refugee admissions.

6. Can anyone still rationally doubt that a gun licensing AND vetting program must be instituted AND that semi-automatic weapons must be outlawed without ANY exceptions AND that ALL purchases of such weapons for at least the past five years, if not longer, must be traced and confiscated (and justly compensated at least to the extent required under Constitutional principles)? This won’t be perfect, we won’t bat 100%, but that is no excuse not to do the very best we can. This will decrease the “ability” (give me a break!) of “we the people” to defend ourselves against government coups and high profile military terrorists and organized crime, but the odds of success of such amateur heroics are modest (and frankly I think our government has demonstrated that it is reasonably well up to the task of identifying and defeating high profile terrorist endeavors before they really get off the ground) compared to the certainty that there will be more low  profile terrorist attacks like the one that occurred last week in San Bernardino. Those are the terrorist attacks that presently seem to be the most difficult to identify and address before it’s too late.  Could the low profile San Bernardino terrorists have obtained their assault weapons (from their neighbor now revealed to be a relative by marriage) had these protections been in place? Maybe, but maybe not. Sure, some other low profile terrorists will procure their weapons nonetheless, BUT NOT AS MANY AS CAN EASILY DO SO AT PRESENT.

7. Be realistic. Please. Which scares you more, takeovers of our way of life by our government or organized crime if we the people are not armed with guns to resist that or the occurrence of more San Bernardino tragedies when guns are too easily obtained (now that we have learned with the advantage of hindsight what we could/should have learned before San Bernardino occurred)? While the liberals are the naïve and misguided problem on porous admissions into our country, the conservatives are the naïve and misguided problem when it comes to necessary gun control reform.

8. Between the liberals and the conservatives, we are killing ourselves, literally.

 An equal opportunity critic, I have now managed to criticize and alienate everyone. It’s a tough job, but . . . . That’s okay; I’m not running for office, I’m not looking for a job, and I’m not trying to win any popularity contests. What I am trying to do is encourage peaceful, rational and constructive dialogue. We desperately need some of that. Right now, what we have is too much . . . nothing. If you listen carefully, you can actually hear it. All the . . . silence.

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  • Jane S Taber

    How will laws prevent our own government from gun running? Isn’t that what Fast and Furious was about?
    People who want guns will always find a way without following any laws. What are the statistics on the number of lives saved by gun owners as opposed to those going out and killing people?

    • Hey, Jane, I’ll admit that I didn’t see Fast and Furious if you’ll admit that you did! Either way, it’s hard to be swayed by an argument that relies only F and F for authority. 🙂

      And since you like to ask me questions, are you telling me you are actually worried about what our own government might do to us if we put any controls on the right of “we the people” to arm ourselves? How often has our government attempted to overthrow things in our 240 year history? If our government actually tried something like that, what do you think our citizens and their supposed 2nd Amendment right to bear arms could do to “prevent” it? Don’t you think our government is already messing up our lives enough without having to resort to guns to do it?

      When you say that “people who want guns will always find a way” no matter what laws we pass to outlaw that, you miss my point. I don’t disagree with you that some people will get their hands on guns no matter what laws we enact. However, I do submit that less people, even the bad guys, will do so if we impose well crafted, well thought out controls than if we impose no controls at all, as at present, when people on government watch lists can freely and lawfully buy assault weapons. With proper controls in place, no one will be permitted to buy an assault rifle, or more than one gun of any kind, or any gun at all before they are fully vetted to reject anyone with any history of mental illness, terrorist affiliation, other criminal activity, or any unexplained gaps in their background. Records will be required of all buyers, absent which buyers and sellers alike, including any straw buyers, will be guilty of a criminal felony. Jail time. If need be, we’ll build some more jails. If the seller was in the business of selling guns, he or she will need to find a new line of work. Will terrorists still be able to find guns? Sure, but it’ll be a lot tougher than it is today, and less guns will end up in the wrong hands than is possible today.

      As for the statistics you seek, great idea. Why don’t you dig those statistics up and come back and share. I would but I’m too busy writing my blogs. However, I will say this in response to your concluding question: I’m not really aware of many lives at all being saved by Wyatt Earp or Annie Oakley; certainly it’s a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of innocent folks being killed by gun owners. That’s precisely my point. The laws we have today aren’t saving any lives at all. There is no indication that the good guys are doing anything worthwhile with their guns. So why fight so hard to let them keep their guns? And the bad guys are killing way too many people, precisely why we need to try something new–because what we have now isn’t doing anyone any good. Even if not perfect, we should be able to find something better than what we have now. Just ask the families of the 20 innocent people who were killed in San Bernardino.

      • Jane S Taber

        Well Ron . . . this is an area where we disagree.

        When I find the time . . . I will look up the statistics . . . I too am busy. I have read that the numbers saved by guns are much higher than those killed by guns. But you would never hear that from the lame stream media. Only murders make the news.

        I guess you are all for gun free zones . . . that’s working well . . . ? California is one of the toughest gun control states.
        Do you think more government control will work? Government does not do an adequate job at anything.

        As for government tyranny . . . I would not be so sure that it can’t happen. I do not hold faith in our government system any longer.

        The best of America is gone.

        • Nothing wrong with friends disagreeing. Even The Wife and I sometimes disagree. You know, like what movie to see.

          Didn’t mean to suggest you aren’t also busy. My statement about being too busy . . . blogging was just my attempt at tongue in cheek humor. However, it does seem that the one who wants certain matters researched is the logical one to take that on, when time permits. 🙂

          Excluding law enforcement or military action, I am dubious about the reliability of any reports you “have read that numbers saved by guns are much higher than those killed by guns” and that “only murders make the news.” “Lame media” such as the Washington Post report that mass shootings (four or more killed or wounded) in the U.S. this year exceed one per day. Conservatively, that’s 1,200 killed or wounded by guns this year–so far. I will indeed be interested to learn what your research shows about the number of lives saved by citizen guns this year, as well as the source of your research.

          As for your observation that lame media only reports murders, I assume you have read about Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stones, the three young Americans (along with one Englishman and one Frenchman who wish to remain anonymous) who captured the gunman on a French train a few months ago before he could hurt anyone (Spencer Stones suffered an injured hand in the melee)? (The gunman’s lawyer denies that his client was a terrorist, saying he was “just” trying to rob one train passenger.) These three heroes have been celebrated by the lame media more than most mass shootings this year, including televised recognition by President Obama at the White House and Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at a Lakers game, and appearances on countless TV shows.

          And, yes, I am for gun free zones in places such as our schools, which is not to say that security personnel shouldn’t be armed. I can’t tell you how well gun free zones are working–just like you can’t tell me things are not better than they would be if we didn’t have them. When in doubt, I prefer more in the way of gun free zones than less of this, but I do think it’s a second string attempt in contrast to more complete gun control reform.

          As for my views on “government control,” my problem is not with our system of government, but rather with those who are running it–on both sides of the aisle–and perhaps how we go about selecting them. However, the ultimate responsibility for that rests with “we the people.” If we passively accept poor performance on the part of our leaders, then we deserve what we get. Perhaps that is something you and I can agree on?

          You say “government does not do an adequate job at anything.” Really? Anything? That seem kind of harsh, but it may be a matter of what you mean by “adequate.” We can certainly always do better. My advocacy for more gun control has two basic components, licensing and vetting. I believe the vetting of those permitted to lawfully purchase guns today has not been adequate. Do you feel all such vetting is simply inappropriate government intrusion? In contrast, the licensing of various activities in the U.S. does seem to work reasonably well, and to be adequate, for example licensing of the use of cars and airplanes, the licensing of various professions and the licensing of the sale of liquor in restaurants.

          As for government tyranny, anything is theoretically possible, but the odds of that are to me so remote that such concern should not be allowed to hinder or stand in the way of responsible gun control reform.

          Finally, I appreciate our frustration, that you feel the “best of America is gone.” I prefer to think of the best of America as just in hibernation, waiting for our voters to choose the right leaders to put us back on the right course. Perhaps you will at least take some solace in that I said the “right” leaders and not the “left” leaders. 🙂

          • Jane S Taber

            As for the lame stream media . . . on occasion they get it right 🙂 I was speaking more in general terms that it is mostly a man bites dog presentation.

            How is the gun situation in Israel . . . not speaking of any terrorists but amongst the citizens? It appears that most have guns.

            As for the increase in gun violence . . . do you think the lack of belief in God and the Ten Commandments has anything to do with our moral center that is dwindling? Perhaps turning away from God is inversely proportional to the increase in gun violence . . . meaning that this may be a factor . . . not the whole reason.

          • Jane, you are nothing if not insightful, provocative, and humorous. Lame stream occasionally gets it right, like our cat walking across my keyboard and occasionally tapping out “cat”?

            Not sure what to make of Israel, where I do understand as you say that most do have guns. Israel is such a unique circumstance that I’m not sure there is anything in general to be learned from what goes on there. That said, all those citizens with guns doesn’t seem to be reducing violence there and that would seem to support my argument for reducing guns in the hands of all non-military persons, good guys and bad guys alike.

            As for your Godly point, by including the word “increase” in the sentence, did you mean to say “inversely” or “directly”? In any event, I take it that you are raising the notion that a decline in religious and moral fiber may help explain the increase in gun violence, particularly when visited on innocent third parties. While I have no quarrel with your predicate that religion and morals are on the decline, I’m again also not in possession of statistics to affirmatively agree that those matters are on the wane. Nonetheless, I suspect that the likes of ISIS, given their alleged devotion to Allah–according to some–would disagree with your possible explanation, especially when you expressly include the Ten Commandments. I don’t recall that Allah has endorsed those. 🙂

        • Given your stated interest in statistics, here’s a little piece of information reported by Jennifer Mascia, a writer for The Trace (which I suspect you may not trust because of its backers and perhaps because Mascia’s father was a convicted killer whose choice of weapons was guns), quoted at page 134 in the December, 2015 issue of Vogue, as saying: “There is no government database with the specifics and circumstances of gun deaths and injuries. Access to criminal and gun-permitting records varies widely state by state–and sometimes county by county. Because of political pressure, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research into gun violence has been frozen for nineteen years, and because of a law pushed by the gun lobby, the ATF can’t release gun-trace data to anyone but law enforcement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is legally obliged to destroy all approved gun-purchaser-records within 24 hours.” Doesn’t sound to me like the gun lobby, or their government lackeys, want the statistics you are calling for to see the light of day. Good luck with your research!