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PA Police Promote PSH

I don’t see how this “case of mistaken identity” had a positive outcome, other than no-one was harmed by the police responding to a bogus “Man With Gun” call. And then the cops double down and encourage people to make bogus calls. Topped off by the Lancaster Safety Coalition “review[ing] footage” and “see[ing] how the tripod could be mistaken for a gun at first glance.” Mrs Grundy in the 21st Century?

A high-schooler, a clock, a bomb?

L’affaire Ahmed has been reverberating across my facebook feed for a while now, and it looks like we’ve gotten about all the facts that are going to be shaken loose outside of discovery in a civil suit (if there is one). And while I can’t say I’m surprised at some of the knicker-twisting, I’m a little disappointed. First, a picture of the clock (or hoax bomb). CNN says this is police provided. No real scale is provided, but note the power plug – the case is approximately the size of the top half of a piece of paper, when closed, per this amazon listing. (Amazon listing complete with self-amusing internet jokers in comments)


clockbox closeup

According to this post and comments (which is where I pulled the above pics from), the guts are a 1970s-1980s vintage digital clock, contained in a pencil box available on Amazon. Since the CNN article notes that it was discovered in Ahmed’s backpack when an alarm went off, I’m going to assume that there was a 9V battery in place at the time (or some other on-board power source since removed).

Now, there are (at least) two competing narratives running around. Ahmed’s story is that he made this as an alarm clock, brought it in to show a teacher, and then another teacher discovered it and brought it to the attention of the authorities, who then flipped out, etc. The other narrative is that he deliberately made a fake bomb, and allowed it to be discovered, because Reasons. The second narrative really doesn’t pass Occam’s Razor for me, though. First, that’s a really bad fake IED. A real IED is supposed to be innocuous, of course, and not draw attention to itself until too late. A fake one, that you might want to use in a bomb scare, on the other hand, needs to be obvious. This is a pencil box when closed up, with nothing (except possibly the power cord) showing on the outside to make you think it’s anything else. And when it’s open, where’s the “payload?” Even Hollywood Bombs have obvious explosives in them. No play-doh, no red-painted cylinders with wires coming off of them, nothing that shouts “I’m a thirty-minute bomb, I’m a thirty-minute bomb!” Secondly, there’s the whole “he didn’t make that” meme, because it’s a commercial product, disassembled and half-way mounted into the case; rather than being a from-scratch project. The thing is, it’s a 30-ish year old clock, in a recent case. There’s an incongruity there that irks me. Finally, Ahmed’s behavior doesn’t fit. Why did he establish the device was his own practically as the first thing he did upon bringing it to school, and why did he maintain possession of it the entire time he was in school?

Here’s my theory. A 14-year old tinkerer was bored one day and opened up a broken alarm clock made before he was born, and got it working again (loose wire, broken solder, what have you). He decides to install the repaired clock into a pencil case, and he’s “made” himself a custom alarm clock from stuff lying around his desk. In a fit of 14-year-old enthusiasm and forethought typical of 14-year-old enthusiasm, he takes this alarm clock he made into school to show his friends and teachers this cool thing he did. In previous times, it might have been a shiny new pocketknife, or a wrist rocket (slingshot), etc. He shows it to a friendly teacher, who may have encouraged his ambitions, but tells him to keep it out of view because someone might overreact. Ahmed goes on with his day, forgetting he has an alarm set (or not knowing. I have a similar vintage alarm clock that is distressingly easy to accidentally arm the alarm on, and it’s defaulted to 0000 hrs. Very annoying). Alarm goes off in his backpack, disrupts class, teacher wants to see, teacher freaks. Then the school administration, being a bunch of zero-tolerance idiots, freaks and bring in Johnny Law. Ahmed insists he’s done nothing wrong – it’s a clock, see? Keeps time and everything. Possibly following the advice given out regularly around these parts of “don’t talk to the law without a lawyer.” The notable thing at this point is that the school administration never believed it was a real bomb, since they didn’t do evacuate the school or otherwise put into action bomb-scare plans. Instead, they jumped right to bringing down the hammer on what, at most, is a little understandable high-school-frosh eager stupidity, and thus splashing this all over the country.

Bringing the thing into school wasn’t the wisest idea in the world, and I’m not going to say the school should have not reacted at all, but calling the cops in and interrogating a student without benefit of counsel with the cops present? Yeesh.

The Eloiification Continues

Tam recounts a story from the TODAY show, where a grown man admitted on television, in front of the nation (or well, at least about 1.6% of the nation) that he was afraid of using a fire extinguisher. Not in the panic of a house fire, mind you, but in a controlled environment, meant to teach people how to use fire extinguishers. If I had done that, my father (a volunteer firefighter for 45 years and counting) would have disowned me. I’ve had a few pan fires, and never really thought much about dumping baking soda or going to the fire extinguisher. Putting the lid on the pan does the trick. Oven fires will generally go out on their own if you turn off the oven and just leave the door closed.

If Jeff Rossen and Savannah Guthrie are intimidated by an ordinary household fire extinguisher, I wonder what they would think of mine?


Sometimes I don’t think it’ll be that long before we’re all buying Brawndo.

Responsible Firearms Use & Drones

I meant to blog about this the other day, but I have to admit that I’m still a little floored by the news out of California about a guy who shot down the drone that his neighbor was playing around with in the area.

The drone was never over the shooter’s property according to GPS and mapping data. The drone wasn’t equipped with any kind of camera or anything that would give just cause to worries of an electronic peeping Tom situation.

But I think the most troubling aspect came out of that initial story on Ars Technica. This is from the drone owner’s very polite email to the shooter:

This is the third time discharge from your firearms has hit our house and property. The first incident left a bullet hole in the door by our garage. The second incident occurred last Thanksgiving when birdshot from your skeet shooting activities rained into our backyard. The third, of course, being what we’re currently discussing.

I’m obviously a big fan of pretty much any lawful recreational firearms use. However, I can say that if I discovered bullet holes near my door, had shot raining down in my backyard, and then had one of Sebastian’s remote helicopters shot out of the sky over my property, I would not be nearly so polite in addressing your unsafe and irresponsible firearms use.

Unfortunately, the attitude and disrespect from the shooter only makes this case so much worse. The fact is that he was in the wrong to shoot down the remote device that wasn’t over his property. He seemingly has a history of unsafe shooting at his neighbor’s house. Refusing to pay, even after being ordered to by a court, isn’t the way to go. In fact, if I was the judge and had any avenue to do so, I would have also ordered a required NRA safety course for the guy in addition to the money owed the victim. Instead, the shooter is argumentative and is now the cause of stories on recreational shooter bad behavior that have run nationwide and even abroad. Congratulations for working so hard to make gun owners look so bad!

Progressive Racists Don’t Count?

Students at UT Austin are angry that their campus has a statue of a racist on campus:

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Statues of George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and Woodrow Wilson, can all be found on the UT Austin Campus. But another historical figure among them, has some students angry.

Wait, another figure? You were talking about Wilson right? God help us that these ignorant and poorly educated kids will be running the country when I’m old.

“Jefferson Davis stood for some things that are pretty abominable today; Slavery, racism.” Rotnofsky believes. “They’re just not in line with the university’s core values.”


Without diving into the debate over Jeff Davis, if you’re going to tear down the statue of Davis, because he was a racist, you’re going to have to take the one down of ol’ Woody too, because in addition to being a good old fashioned racist and segregationist, unlike Jeff Davis, Wilson also bought into the eugenics movement, all the rage among progressives, that would later go on to form the basis for Nazi race theory.

But it’s OK for us to honor racists, as long as they were sufficiently progressive, right?

Sometimes You Need to be Reminded Why Social Media Sucks

Somehow my post about FedEx refusing to ship Cody Wilson’s CNC mill has generated far more Facebook drama than I’m used to. I don’t honestly do much to cultivate my Facebook presence, because for the most part I hate Facebook.

First, Facebook’s late policy of charging me money to access the audience I worked to create annoys the ever living hell out of me. I’m not sure how almost every other post of mine ends up “outperforming 95% of your other posts,” and surely you want to give Facebook money so you can access your followers? If you don’t, we’ll be sure to only show your posts to about 1/8th of your audience, so pay up!

Yeah, screw Facebook, even though it’s my number two non-search engine referrer behind SayUncle. Facebook is evil.

Let’s also remember that Facebook is anti-gun owner. You remember Brain Aitken right? He was prosecuted in New Jersey for activity that is legal in nearly any other state (transporting an unloaded firearm), and is only a free man because of being granted clemency by Governor Christie. Facebook is arguing his plight to get custody of his son back violates its policy of advertising firearms.

I do social media, because you just kind of have to these days. That’s not to say I like it. Compared to what blogging was in its heyday, it’s a vast wasteland, much like Cable TV.

I’m Sure This Will Help to Get Open Carry Passed in Texas

Treason! You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means:

“We should demanding these people give us our rights back or it’s punishable by death. Treason. Do you understand how serious this is Texas?” Watkins asks. “This is treason against the American people. You don’t sell my right back to me. You’re going to find trouble.”

But wait, it gets even better:

“I don’t think they want to mess around with us too much longer. They better start giving us our rights or this peaceful non-cooperation stuff is going to be gamed up. We are going to step it up a notch. I think here in Texas we are tired of jacking around with people in suits,” Watkins said.

Apparently all the videos are getting pulled down, including the one linked to in the article. Now he’s saying he meant nothing violent by his statements, but the damage has already been done.

UPDATE: More commentary here, though it’s important to note that this is OCTC, and not OCT behind this. OCT has condemned stuff like this.

UPDATE: Bearing Arms has the video back, and this: “At this moment, I think that there is an argument to be made that Kory Watkins is the single most effective advocate for gun control in the United States. I hope he’s smart enough to ask Mike Bloomberg for a check.”

Another Response to Jan Morgan

I believe this response goes farther than either Caleb or I did in excoriating Jan Morgan from banning muslims from her gun range, much of which I agree with. Reading some of the comments over at Caleb’s post, I was struck by how many folks don’t really get the context under which we’re arguing, so I thought I’d take a minute to explain it.

The key law at work in this context is Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on race color, religion, or national origin in “public accommodations.” When most people talk about the Civil Rights Act, they usually mean the 1964 Act. There could be some debate about whether a gun range is a public accommodation under the act, but I think it would be quite surprising if a court were to agree that it is not. There had been an attempt in the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to use the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to reach a similar result, but the Supreme Court said no. The 1964 act relied heavily on Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. So it has been established law for some time that this type of discrimination is unlawful.

There are some who argue that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went too far in regulating private behavior and limiting property rights. Barry Goldwater was one of the more famous opponents to Title II of the Civil Rights Act, but it’s likely his opposition cost him his bid for the Presidency. I do believe the libertarian argument against Title II of CRA64 is a legitimate one, is not based in a desire to perpetuate racism, or beyond debate. But politically, I’ve written before, opposition to CRA 64 is a non-starter, and probably will continue to be for some time.

It’s worth making sure people understand what the law currently says about what Jan Morgan is doing, and why I think that makes her a distasteful person to have on “our side.” Opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has never been a winning political position, and she’s bound to lose any lawsuit. This was attention grabbing, pure and simple.

Discriminating Gun Range?

Bob Owens has the story about a gun range that has decided to exclude muslims. I’m with Caleb of Gun Nuts Media on this one. This does not show gun owners in a good light, and merely serves to reinforce the stereotype of gun owners being ignorant bigots. This kind of discrimination is also illegal, so this is certain to invite a lawsuit which Jan Morgan will lose.

She could refuse to rent to someone who came in and said “Please, I would like to rent a semi-automatic rifle so I can practice killing infidels.” But refusing to rent to someone for just being muslim would violate the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on discrimination in public accommodations.

It’s my view that this is a shameless publicity stunt done by a woman who makes money feeding the worst instincts of the political right. One problem I think the right has is too many people who make a living doing that.

The KISS principle & Stupid Jerks

Caleb at Gun Nuts Media talks about a topic that I sort of hinted at in the comments on a post from yesterday: “There are a lot of jerks, idiots, and assholes in the world, I can guarantee that some of them legally own guns.”

Not every bad situation involving guns is invented by anti-gunners. The fact is that there are some people with very poor decision-making abilities who use cars in a dangerous manner, exercise their right to speak to say dumb things, and even brandish guns in a way that reflectors poorly on gun owners. As Caleb notes, we should be calling out these people for their poor decisions and bad actions and making clear that this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable in the modern gun community.

I realize that the easiest form of thinking is to just assume that everything is the fault of gun controllers, but just stop and consider it for a moment. Think of every hoop they would have to jump through to make whatever bad incident you’re thinking about happen. Chances are, you’ll realize that it’s really outlandish.

Energy spent coming up with conspiracy theories in every single situation is better spent on being a better representative of the pro-gun community and encouraging others to do the same.

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