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Tag: Guns

Trump Directs Justice Department to Propose Regulations to Ban Bump Stocks

File photo of guns, via ATF

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump, in a significant departure from his uncompromising, pro-NRA stance on guns, is directing the Justice Department to propose regulations to “ban all devices” such as the bump stocks used in the Las Vegas mass shooting.

Under intense pressure to address the alarming proliferation of mass shooters using assault-style rifles, Trump has indicated it’s time to move swiftly on guns designed to kill a lot of people.

“We must move past clichés and tired debates and focus on evidence based solutions and security measures that actually work,” Trump said during a White House ceremony.

The Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead at Majority Stoneman Douglas High School has placed on pressure on NRA-supporting Republicans to finally get tough on assault-style guns. They failed to act on a ban bump stocks last year.

Even the predominately conservative Florida state legislature, after many years of reluctance, is drafting legislation to reduce access to semiautomatic rifles.

“The Parkland shooting seems to be a change moment in terms of the way Republicans view gun control measures,” said Mac Stipanovich, a longtime Florida Republican lobbyist and operative.

On legislation drafted by state Senate President Bill Galvano, Stipanovich said, “None of these are necessarily earth-shaking, but all of them, at least in recent times, are unprecedented in the Florida Legislature.”

Protests broke out across the country over Republicans’ failure to address gun control.

FBI Faces Mounting Pressure over Failure to Act on Tip about School Shooter

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking at a previous congressional committee hearing.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s admission that it failed to properly follow up on a tip about the Florida school shooter has drawn mounting criticism, including calls for the bureau’s boss to step down.

Among those demanding the resignation of FBI Director Christopher Wray is Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who on Monday also called on the bureau to release “all details” on why it never acted on an anonymous caller’s tip on Jan. 5 that Nikolas Cruz “had a desire to kill people” and had “the potential” of “conducting a school shooting.”

“Last week, our state and nation was shocked to learn of the FBI’s inexcusable inaction after receiving a tip informing them of Cruz’s desire to carry out a school shooting,” Scott said in a statement. “The FBI’s failure to initiate an investigation raises many questions, and the victims’ families deserve answers now.”

Scott last week called for Wray to step down after acknowledging that FBI “protocols were not followed” following the tip.

“Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life,” the FBI said in a statement Friday.

The bureau also is facing heat from some prominent Republicans in the U.S. House.

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., sent a letter Friday to Wray indicating the FBI failed to act on “warning signs that (Cruz) was capable of such monstrous actions,” Homeland Security Today wrote

“The Committees are seeking to understand these protocols and why they were not followed in this case,” Gowdy and Goodlatte wrote. “Accordingly, the Committees request the FBI brief the Committees on the tip, protocols, and FBI’s actions before and after the incident as soon as possible, but no later than March 2.”

President Trump, who has waged a campaign to undermine confidence in the FBI amid the special counsel investigation into Russian interference, suggested over the weekend that the bureau missed “many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter” because of the resources spent on the Robert Mueller probe.

“This is not acceptable,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Trump’s response drew heavy criticism, including from current and former FBI officials who pointed out that the bureau employs more than 30,000 people and is capable of conducting numerous investigations at one time.

Some prominent Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, said Scott should not be forced to resign.

“I don’t think the director should resign, no, but there clearly is a serious problem here when you have threat information of that detail and it didn’t get triggered in terms of an investigation and action,” Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“There are only so many cases where you do have good input where people see something and say something, and to not follow up is inexcusable,” Schiff continued. “There needs to be a full internal investigation by the Justice Department and t

Russian-Linked Bots Suspected of Sowing Divisions Immediately After Florida School Shooting

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Suspected Russian-linked Twitter accounts pounced on the gun control debate just an hour after last week’s school shooting in Florida.

Many of the social media accounts, the New York Times reports, had been the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference during the presidential election in 2016. 

“This is pretty typical for them, to hop on breaking news like this,” said Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, a company that tracks online disinformation campaigns. “The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically.”

The news comes after last week’s indictments of 13 Russians accused of waging an unprecedented propaganda campaign to help Donald Trump get elected.

To experts on disinformation campaigns, it’s no surprise that Russian agents quickly seized the opportunity to sow division among Americans. The bots are designed to pit Americans against each other on divisive issues such as gun control, race and immigration.

The bots are “going to find any contentious issue, and instead of making it an opportunity for compromise and negotiation, they turn it into an unsolvable issue bubbling with frustration,” said Karen North, a social media professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “It just heightens that frustration and anger.”

Top intelligence officials warned Congress earlier this month that Russian agents, emboldened by their success during the presidential campaign, are planning a similar disinformation campaign during the mid-term elections this year.

The automated Twitter accounts pounced on the hashtag #Parklandshooting, injecting the issue of metal illness in the gun control debate. Some of the accounts also claimed the gunman searched for Arabic phrases on Google before the massacre.

FBI Admits It Ignored Warning about School Shooter’s Desire to Kill

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI admitted today that it failed to act on a warning in January that suspected mass killer Nikolas Cruz was armed and may carry out a school shooting, the first indication that federal authorities missed an opportunity to prevent the attack on a Florida high school.

The tipster, who was close to Cruz, informed the FBI that Cruz had a “desire to kill people” and there was “the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” the bureau acknowledged in a statement.

The FBI said the information wasn’t acted on and should have been assessed and forward to the bureau’s field office.

“We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received,” the bureau said. “The information was not provided to the F.B.I. Miami field office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.”

The bureau also was tipped off in September of a YouTube comment from a user named Nikolas Cruze who boasted that he was “going to be a professional school shooter.”

The FBI is reviewing how it handled the tip, but acknowledged that agents never tracked down Cruz to interview him.

FBI Reviewing How It Handled Tip Months Ago about Florida School Shooter

Nikolas Cruz via instagram

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is reviewing how it handled a tip months ago about a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz who boasted he was “going to be a professional school shooter.” 

The name is the same as the shooter who opened fire with an AR-15 on Wednesday at a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people.

Ben Bennight, a bail bondsman, said he flagged the comment on YouTube in September and emailed a screenshot to the FBI, who paid him a visit and asked whether he knew the commenter.

The FBI told the New York Times it reviewed databases and conducted open-source checks and is now trying to determine what steps were taken to identify the commenter.

“There was no particular information about the particular time, location or further identifiers about the person who posted the comment,” Rob Lasky, the F.B.I. special agent in charge in Miami, said. “No additional information was found to positively identify the person who posted this comment. There was no connection found to South Florida.”

The FBI said it’s options were limited because of scant information that would have made it difficult to obtain a grand jury subpoena to identify the YouTube user.

“I hope he would have been interviewed by the F.B.I. or referred to the local police assuming he was identified,” said Eugene Casey, a veteran former F.B.I. agent. “I would have done my best to identify the individual who made the threat, but he could have posted it to YouTube from a public computer in a library or somewhere else.”

Former FBI Agent Breaks Down in Tears on CNN over Florida School Shooting

Ex-FBI Agent Phillip Mudd broke down in tears on CNN.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Philip Mudd, a former FBI agent and deputy director for the FBI’s national security branch, has interviewed terrorists and investigated some of the most atrocious attacks.

That experience didn’t prepare him for news Wednesday that 17 people were killed by a gunman at a Florida high school.

A CNN counterterrorism analyst, Mudd broke down in tears while talking about the attack with the network’s Wolf Blitzer.

“I have 10 nieces and nephews who are talking about bump stocks,” he said. “We’re talking about legislation. A child of God is dead. Cannot we acknowledge in this country that we can’t — we cannot accept this.”

Mudd tried to continue but couldn’t: “I can’t do it, Wolff, I’m sorry.”

Second Person of Interest Identified in Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Newly released court documents reveal that investigators of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead and hundreds wounded identified two people of interest in the early phases of the case.

One person of interest, the deceased shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, has since been publicly cleared. The other, whose name was not included in the documents released Tuesday, was identified by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as Douglas Haig, a senior engineer at the aerospace who told reporters outside his home in Mesa, Ariz., that he is “the guy that sold ammunition to (shooter) Stephen Paddock.” 

Haig told reporters that he met the gunman once but declined to answer additional questions.

Newsweek reports that Haig was interviewed by ATF agents shortly after the massacre for about 20 minutes and hasn’t talked to them since.

“I’ve been interviewed, and that’s as far as it went. They were following up on a lead, and obviously it went nowhere,” he told Newsweek.

Haig said he “used to sell ammunition reloading components,” but he referred additional questions to his attorney.

“Until the investigation can rule otherwise, Marilou Danley and Douglas Haig have become persons of interest who may have conspired with Stephen Paddock to commit Murder with a Deadly Weapon,” according to an October document prepared by the Metropolitan Police Department document.

ATF: Gun Store Thefts Surge for Fifth Straight Year, Setting Records in 2017

ATF photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Thieves stole an alarming number of firearms from gun stores and other licensed dealers in 2017, setting a new record for the fifth consecutive year, according to annual statistics compiled by the ATF.

Burglaries and robberies resulted in the theft of 8,129 stolen guns from licensed firearms dealers across the country in 2017, a 3.3% increase over 2016.

Since 2013, the number of stolen guns has surged more than 135%.

Also on the rise for the fifth consecutive year was the number of gun stores that were robbed or burglarized. In 2017, 610 stores were targeted by thieves, compared to 347 in 2013.

Alarmed by the five-year upward trend, the ATF is urging gun dealers to create stronger security measures. Stolen firearms are particularly worrisome because they’re disproportionately used to commit violent crimes, according to numerous studies.

Without federal security requirements, gun store owners in most states are free to operate with no safeguards.

The surge in stolen guns has prompted federal lawmakers to introduce legislation to combat firearm theft. 

In October, many Democrats in the Senate have supported a measure that would require gun dealers to secure their firearms in a locked safe or vault after the store closes. But the proposal is opposed by the National Rifle Association because of potentially detrimental costs, and not one Republican  has offered to cosponsor the legislation.

The proposal with the best chance of passing was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and it calls for stiffer jail sentences for gun thieves.   Even many Democrats have pledged to support the bill.