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Tag: Guns

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.

Ganja or Guns? Sessions’ Crusade Against Marijuana Imperils Firearm Ownership

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ zealous opposition to marijuana has placed the gun-loving Trump administration in the crosshairs of many firearm supporters. 

When Sessions gave federal prosecutors the green light two weeks ago to crack down on marijuana in states that have legalized it for medicinal or recreation use, he placed gun owners in a serious bind: Federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to anyone suspected of using cannabis or any other other controlled substance.

Although marijuana is illegal on the federal level, 29 states have legalized cannabis in some form.

Under President Obama, U.S. attorneys acted in accordance with each state’s marijuana laws, largely disregarding the federal ban.

But Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” has opened the door for federal law enforcement to bar marijuana users from buying guns.

“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law,” ATF spokeswoman Cherie R. Duvall-Jones told the Philadelphia Inquirer

That means many pot smokers may have to choose between ganja or guns.

In Pennsylvania, which plans to roll out its medicinal marijuana program early this year, health officials announced Friday they will no longer provide the names of medical marijuana patients to law enforcement agencies.

The state also called for the federal government to reclassify marijuana so it’s legal on the national level. 

“Pennsylvania, and the other 28 states where medical marijuana is legal, need the federal government to recognize what voters and bipartisan legislatures across the nation have overwhelmingly called for, and that is that medical marijuana must be rescheduled as a Schedule II medication,” the Health Department statement read.

FBI Knew Las Vegas Shooter Had Big Cache of Guns, Ammunition, Explosives

Stephen Paddock

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents investigating the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. knew the gunman left behind a large cache of guns, ammunition and explosives when they requested search warrants for his properties and online accounts.

Newly unsealed court documents revealed new information about  Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler who killed 58 people and injured hundreds more before killing himself, the Associated Press reports

An Oct. 2 search of Paddock’s three-bedroom house in a retirement community in Mesquite uncovered 19 guns and several pounds of potentially explosive materials, according to unsealed court documents obtained by  AP.

While searching Paddock’s car outside the hotel suite where he unloaded his weapons on an unsuspecting crowd turned up several pounds of ammonium nitrate.

The investigation revealed that Paddock methodically plotted the attacks, which included modified assault-style rifles to shoot rapidly.

The FBI still doesn’t know what motivated Paddock, who appears to have acted alone.

Loaded Guns, Inert Grenades, Throw Star Among Top Confiscated Items at Airports in 2017

Sculpture made with an inert grenade, via TSA

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Festively wrapped narcotics, loaded guns, inert grenades and “Satan’s” pizza cutter are among the top 10 items confiscated at U.S. airport in 2017.

In a YouTube video, the TSA’s “Blogger Bob” Burns lists the most unusual forbidden items confiscated at airports.

Other eye-popping confiscated items include a menacing-looking “face-tenderizer,” a sculpture with inert grades, a pointed fidget spinner, a throwing star, a scythe, a bone knife and an umbrella that resembled a knife.

“Some people travel with weird stuff because they are collectors: it’s an heirloom, they have ADHD [attention deficit hyperactive disorder] and it’s their fidget, or they want to use the item as a training aid in a seminar,” Jeff Price, an aviation security expert and professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, told CNBC

Still, “a lot of people who don’t travel frequently just don’t understand that some of these items can be used as weapons,” he said.