Utah Man Headed To Prison Over Machine Gun Kits

People have been complaining about bump stocks since the horrible events in Las Vegas back in October. They’ve repeatedly said that the stocks make guns into machine guns.

Folks who actually understand guns have pointed out that no, they don’t. They simply make it possible to pull the trigger faster. That’s a far cry from a machine gun.

However, it sounds like this guy doesn’t get the distinction, and is now going to prison.

A federal judge handed an American Fork man a nearly three-year prison term Thursday for illegally making and selling more than 1,400 machine-gun converter devices for AR-15-style rifles.

Scott Ray Bishop told U.S. District Judge Dee Benson that he thought his product was the same as bump stocks or trigger assemblies that are sold legally.

In my view, my kit was no different. In my view, my kit was as legal as they were. I was wrong obviously,” he said.

A jury in January found Bishop guilty of unlawfully engaging in the business of manufacturing machine guns and illegal possession and transfer of machine guns. Benson sentenced Bishop to 33 months in prison followed by three years of probation.

Benson called the case “troubling.” He said Bishop was seemingly unaware of how risky his endeavor was and that a lot of his clientele were people “we would not want converting anything into an automatic weapon.”

I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that Bishop knew damn good and well what he was doing.

In the process of doing enough research to know how to build these kits, he had to come across the information about why one shouldn’t. He also had to know that Bump Fire went to the ATF to get the thumbs up before ever selling their stocks. The same is true for other trigger modification devices. I find it highly unlikely that he didn’t pick up that information somewhere either.

However, Bishop’s case serves as a hell of a reminder here. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. Don’t get me wrong, I hate that, mostly because there are so many laws that it’s difficult to know all the laws, but when it comes to firearms, you don’t play around. You don’t assume something is legal just because you really, really want it to be.

Again, not that I buy Bishop didn’t know. Anyone remotely knowledgeable about gun laws would have told him that the ATF defines it as a machine gun if you pull the trigger once and can make the weapon shoot multiple times. These kits apparently did just that.

The only way that information got missed was through pure willful ignorance. If Bishop truly didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to know. He possibly wanted to try and play ignorant, hoping he’d get a warning if he crossed the line. Well, he didn’t get that. He got just under three years in the can.

Don’t be like Bishop. Know what you’re doing. If in doubt, ask the ATF. You’re not doing anyone any favors by playing the “better to ask forgiveness than permission” card when it comes to firearms.

For better or worse, that’s just how it is.

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Psychedelics & Danger

I am taken aback by the Christian readers who think that my speculations this week about Michael Pollan, psychedelic drugs, and what those drugs might be telling us about the nature of consciousness and reality, amount to me encouraging people to experiment with them.

I do not encourage that at all! I don’t encourage it because I have a strong sense that those drugs put one into a state of consciousness in which one’s psyche is more receptive and vulnerable to spiritual entities and forces that are actually there. I believe Michael Pollan’s interview subjects who said that good things happened to them on their psychedelic trips. I also take seriously this experienced guy, whose final acid trip went very badly:

These spirits looked much like the strange animals and creatures
depicted in occult books and dungeons and dragons monster manuals.

As intense as this was I was not afraid. Instead it was as much
a feeling of incredible power and evil and I could stand and it was exhilerating. It was then that Keely buried herself beneath a blanket and began screaming ‘I can see the demons around you!’ and I laughed. I was breathing them into the room and my friends were sharing this experience. With a tremendous intensity I summoned up a great figure who’s outline I could make out. This figure was standing in a circle and there was a gateway behind it. I could see a three headed dog and other smaller demonic creatures behind the great figure but it was forcing those creatures back through the gateway as they tried to escape into the house.

The figure itself was immensely beautiful. It was so evil yet so compellingly elegant and beautiful. It was wingless but it had horns and I could make out the facial features of its eyes and nose mouth and limbs although they were but an outline.

Pulsing within this great demon were all of the other spirits that combined collectively as a part of him. Where we would have veins and bone and muscle tissue, the angel of darkness had spirits that gleefully flowed throughout his frame. It was extremely intense. As he moved, the spirits that were making up his internals would constantly change form flicking from one shape to the next in an endless display of transformation.

More:

 As the monstorous form turned to me I was compelled to one knee. At this point my friends were watching intently. moments later though Keely had to watch off and on because she was so frightened she was trying to shut the site out by closing her eyes. Jon was nowhere to be found. Apparently he had left. The demon turned to me and outstretched his hand and flexed with great might as a display of power. His face flew off toward me and through me and this continued for a split second but it felt like hours. Gradually his form diminished as the ember from the incense stick burned out and the smoke was sucked out up the chimney of the fireplace. One by one each of the spirits traveled their way from where the demon form was standing and flew up the chimney. This was the last time I ever did acid.

It was incredible. It was intense. It has led me to the belief that acid is a gateway drug which can allow you to see into other planes of existance that run in parallel as our own, just at a different speed. I don’t know whether this was a mass visualization (3 people saw it including myself) or just a very intense hallucination from a mega dose of LSD and hash but it doesn’t matter to me. If my mind is capable of being that creative to be able to visualize something that intense (no artist could ever paint this.) I doubt it. I believe it was real. I believe and I will never see things the same way again.

Misspellings in the original. That appeared on the pro-psychedelic site Erowid.org.

Here’s an account from the Sydney Morning Herald about a teenager who had an experience with LSD that caused him nearly to kill himself. Excerpt:

At the fund-raising dinner which his parents are attending, Karl is perplexed when his phone begins to vibrate during a speech. Jasmine also grabs her phone, which is lighting up with messages from five different neighbours asking her to call them immediately. The couple hurriedly excuse themselves before Jasmine calls a trusted friend. “Tom’s all right,” she’s told. “But you need to go straight to the hospital.” On arrival around midnight, they’re greeted by a sight that haunts all parents: their teenage son unconscious in a hospital bed, covered in dried blood, with plastic tubes snaking out of his mouth and nose.

The outlines of this troubling story were sketched by Jasmine, who emailed me after reading a Good Weekend story of mine from June 3, in which I described my own (largely positive) experience with LSD. “LSD is like a monster in our house, sucking all the potential and opportunity out of my beautiful son… as well as creating massive stress for the entire family,” Jasmine wrote. “Let me tell you from my experience (and by the way, I am no LSD virgin), that for our precious kids, LSD is plain playing with fire. They can’t evaluate the high levels of risk versus the perceived mind ‘expanding’ benefits, and they are basically ending up, for want of a better word, completely f…ed.”

I believe that psychedelics ought to be studied for their possible therapeutic use. Pollan, whose book is now #1 on the New York Times list, discusses in depth the promise this class of drugs shows for depressed people, addicts, and others. I also believe that we should seriously consider what these drugs tell us about consciousness. But I also believe it’s playing with fire, and not a risk worth taking in most cases.

I have been reading other philosophical articles about psychedelics and the occult, written not by Christians, but by people who encourage the drugs’ use as a gateway to occult knowledge. I’m not going to post links. One I’ve just read is especially fascinating, because it’s about an academic who studies this stuff, and whose group of writers and academics sees the new interest in psychedelics as heralding a final smash-up of the Enlightenment. Their general model metaphysics and consciousness is surprisingly close to pre-modern Christianity’s … but it is occult. Again, I don’t want to post a link, but the Christianity of a medieval like Dante Alighieri, or of a contemporary Orthodox monk on Mount Athos, has a lot more in common with this way of seeing the world than it does, at least superficially, with average suburban 21st century Christianity.

Except a Dante or a St. Paisios the Athonite would clearly see the demonic element in this philosophy. The piece I just read, with its description of existence as an organic whole, direct experience of God, and so forth — it’s all there in pre-modern Christianity. It’s easy for me to see why bored and restless Westerners who think Christianity is about nothing more than dry propositions and moralism, would turn to psychedelics as spiritual seekers. If that’s you, I strongly encourage you to read The Mountain of Silence, an account of a modern-day Athonite monk who explains Orthodox Christian spirituality to the author, American professor Kyriacos Markides.

Markides is a sociologist of religion. As he writes in the introduction (which you can read on the “Look Inside” feature of that Kindle link), he lost his belief in agnosticism and philosophical materialism through his academic study of shamanistic and esoteric religious figures. He says that he explored Eastern religious traditions for years. He assumed that Christianity was withering away because it ignored the spiritual, mystical aspect of human experience. Then a friend on his native Cyprus told him he should go meet and study the holy men of his native spiritual tradition, Eastern Orthodoxy. Many of the things he found appealing about non-Christian spiritual paths were there preserved in Orthodoxy, from the first millennium of the Christian faith.

It’s an absolutely fascinating book, very readable for the ordinary reader. The lesson I take from it is that the people who turn to psychedelics in search of mystical experience aren’t necessarily wrong to want a non-cerebral encounter with the divine, but they are risking far too much, spiritually and otherwise, to approach it pharmaceutically, and outside the bounds of established Christian tradition. You’ll find in Orthodoxy that the monks who are the most spiritually experienced are very strong in cautioning spiritual beginners not to seek too much, too fast.

I need to find a way to write a book about what Orthodox spirituality offers to seekers after mysticism, as a truthful and holy alternative to the spiritual and mental dangers of these alternative traditions. E-mail me with your ideas. I’ll be thinking hard about this all weekend.

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‘Major, major game-changer’: Ebola spreads to big Congo city

In this screen grab taken from video provided by The Associated Press, WHO Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Dr Peter Salama speaks about Congo’s Ebola outbreak, at the WHO Headquarters, in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, May 17, 2018. Congo’s Ebola outbreak has spread to a crossroads city of more than 1 million people in a troubling turn that marks the first time the vast, impoverished country has encountered the lethal virus in an urban area.

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‘Whitney’ Review: New Cannes Documentary Reveals a Troubling Account of Sexual Abuse

It’s somewhat rare in this day and age that a highly anticipated documentary can create something of a news breaking bombshell but that’s the case with Whitney , which debuted as a midnight screening early Thursday morning at the 71st Festival de Cannes . The Kevin Macdonald directed doc focuses on the life of pop icon Whitney Houston who died at the age of 48 in 2012.

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NSSF Hires Lobbyist As Financial Industry Explores Gun Sales Tracking

A short while ago, we reported that the financial industry was exploring ways to track gun sales, which is a troubling development, and one that we need to act to prevent as best we can. After all, it’s none of their business what we buy so long as we pay our bills, right?

Well, now the National Shooting Sports Foundation has stepped into the fray by hiring a lobbyist.

Concerned with financial institutes implementing new gun control policies, the gun industry’s trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, retained the services of a banking lobbyist firm. The NSSF hired lobbyist Will Hollier, of Hollier & Associates, to encourage Congress to act on “discriminatory banking actions against [the] firearms industry,” according to a federal lobbying disclosure form filed May 1.

Larry Keane, NSSF senior vice president for government and public affairs and the organization’s general counsel, declined to comment on the lobbying strategy, but told Guns.com that gun owners and the industry should be concerned “about the troubling reports that banks and credit card companies are collecting information about their purchases and the potential for the misuse of that data including blocking or denying transactions.”

News surfaced last month that banks and credit card companies had informal discussions about monitoring gun sales as a means to reduce gun violence. In meetings, they floated using specific transaction codes and keeping data on gun buyers so they could identify possible criminality. Gun rights advocates have long resisted those types of policies, arguing such activity could lead to limiting legal gun sales or preventing them entirely. The federal government is already barred from monitoring legal firearm transactions once they’re transferred from a licensed dealer to a buyer.

Citing NSSF literature, publicly traded gun companies defended industry standards in addressing questions about risks associated with selling firearms. Also, the industry’s response to preventing further shooting massacres as led by the NSSF includes supporting current policies like background checks as well as enforcing current gun laws.

It’s important to note that nothing came out of that meeting last month. I want everyone to be clear on that.

That said, this is still troubling, and I’m glad the NSSF is stepping in to try and do what it can to kill anything like this. The last thing we need is our bank deciding what we are and aren’t allowed to buy. While I tend to believe private businesses are free to do just about anything they want, I do disagree with businesses colluding with one another in the process.

The result of that is that an industry standard can be set not by companies learning from one another what works, but by a conspiracy to change the way people live their lives by blocking purchases some don’t approve of. If that’s allowed to stand, what’s next? Will our bank suddenly decide we can’t pay rent because our apartment or house isn’t as energy efficient as they’d like? Will we no longer be able to buy more than X amount of gas each month because of fears over climate change?

The truth is, it’s none of their business, but colluding with one another makes it their business is troubling.

Luckily, the firearm industry isn’t going to take this lying down. Good.

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AFP Urges Congress to Reform America’s Farm Policy through Amendments to 2018 Farm Bill

Arlington, VA – Americans for Prosperity today released a letter calling on House lawmakers to rein in excessive spending and corporate welfare in H.R. 2, otherwise known as the 2018 Farm Bill, by amending farm and nutrition titles that perpetuate the harmful status quo of government overreach and irresponsible spending. In the letter to House members, AFP outlines 13 amendments to H.R. 2 that would help modernize the agricultural safety net, minimize taxpayer risk and reduce wasteful spending.

Read the full letter here

Americans for Prosperity Chief Government Affairs Officer Brent Gardner issued the following statement:

“The Farm Bill, as it currently stands, lacks meaningful reforms to protect taxpayers and limit government overreach. Congress has a real opportunity to rein in excessive spending, modernize safety net programs, and eliminate corporate welfare titles within the Farm Bill that put big agribusiness ahead of ordinary Americans.  The amendments listed in our letter would go a long way to limiting those giveaways and protecting taxpayers from an overgrown bill and a rotten process.”

Last week,  Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Congress detailing  the organizations’ opposition to H.R. 2, which was passed out of committee and is awaiting a vote from the full chamber.

Overall, this farm bill would continue a troubling pattern of irresponsible spending under this Congress that began earlier this year with the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Americans for Prosperity is prepared to work with lawmakers who ensure that reforms are included in both portions of the bill that will limit corporate welfare, preserve resources for those whom the need is greatest and protect American taxpayers.

For further information or to set up an interview, please send an email to [email protected].

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) exists to recruit, educate, and mobilize citizens in support of the policies and goals of a free society at the local, state, and federal level, helping every American live their dream – especially the least fortunate. AFP has more than 3.2 million activists across the nation, a local infrastructure that includes 36 state chapters, and has received financial support from more than 100,000 Americans in all 50 states. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org

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