*This was intended to see post Tuesday. However, a conversation with a friend Monday night made me think on the subject and about my initial reactions and words. Ultimately, I’ve decided to post what I wrote Monday, but with corrected references to the day with regards to tense and an additional piece at the end explaining the take my friend had. While my gut doesn’t fully subscribe to her take on the matter, it does have merit and it unfortunately comes from a perspective that I was not looking at the matter from. Most of you reading this likely know my feelings about the outcome from reading some of my shorter comments here and there in the last few days. If you want to skip the long version and go straight to the newer bit, scroll down and start reading when the font color changes.
So, Monday morning had a bit of a surprise to it; more than one actually.
I logged into Facebook and one of the first things I saw in my news feed was the news out of Georgia that Ed Kramer had pled guilty to the charges of molestation. I have to admit, I honestly didn’t believe it at first. For one thing, I didn’t think that they were even going to get him into court for his December 2nd court date at all. Kramer has spent the last 13 years proving that he could manipulate the Gwinnett courts with ease and often came off looking as though he was easily able to outsmart their entire system. This was something done in large part because of what appeared to be a totally inept system that made one wonder at times how they managed to get anyone tried and convicted. I was sure that the day’s news would be about yet another delay in the long series of delays and a new court date for some time in 2014.
My surprise grew even greater when I clicked the link and read that Kramer had pled guilty before the jury had even been assembled. Now, you, if you’ve not followed this case, have to understand that this just comes across as totally unKramer-like. In the last 13 years, Kramer has gummed up, twisted up, and dragged out the system with every trick he could pull out of his hat. And his ability and desire to engage in annoying shenanigans to infuriate the system hadn’t come across as diminished in any way in the last year as report after report came out of the jails about his filing hundreds upon hundreds of complaints and grievances with the jails, complaints and grievances that they were required to spend time, money, and man hours responding to, and lining up yet more “medical problems” to stall the December trial. I fully expected the man to continue gumming up the works and to continue avoiding justice until the day he stood face to face with the devil himself. And even then I fully expected him to have Old Scratch ripping his hair out for a while. To see a news report that indicated that he pled guilty essentially before the trial had even started, they were docketed for jury selection after all, just seemed unreal. Then I saw two things that made me want to throw my laptop out the window.
1) Kramer’s attorney had worked out a plea deal. And, the most galling aspect of that, Kramer pled guilty without even admitting to wrongdoing. As a matter of fact, he denied any wrongdoing to the very end. See, he entered something known as an Alford plea. For those of you who don’t know the term, I give you the Cornell University Law School definition of an Alford plea.
“Also known as a “best-interests plea,” an Alford plea registers a formal claim neither of guilt nor innocence toward charges brought against a defendant in criminal court. Like anolo contendere plea, an Alford plea arrests the full process of criminal trial because the defendant — typically, only with the court’s permission — accepts all the ramifications of a guilty verdict (i.e. punishment) without first attesting to having committed the crime. The name, Alford plea, is taken from North Carolina v. Alford 400 U.S. 25.”
The most common usage of this plea is claiming innocence while stating that the prosecution has enough evidence to “wrongly” convict. In Kramer’s case, his attorney said that due to breathing problems, a broken neck, and the lingering effects of having undergone numerous surgeries, Kramer “just wasn’t physically able to stand trial.”
The idea with this kind of thing is sometimes to offer to save the court time and money and to then bargain for reduced or dropped charges and sentences in return. In most cases that I know of, the plea also means that you surrender your right to appeal. Both sides hammer out the deal and everything is essentially done. The Fat Lady sings her song and everyone goes home. But at least the punishment, after all of these years of manipulation, games, breaking the terms of his house arrest multiple times, embarrassing the D.A.’s office, and leaving the state to prey on others ON TOP OF the original offenses should be pretty damned stiff, right? Nope. That’s number two.
2) From what I’ve read, Kramer is getting a slap on the wrists. Some charges were either dropped or reduced. What Kramer was finally hit with was this. He will be registered as a sex offender. He was sentenced to five years for each of the three charges, one for each victim, which will be served concurrently with his last two-plus years in jail awaiting trial counted in against the sentence. Basically, he’s set to serve 34 months of time. And it gets better.
Some time back I quoted Danny Porter, the D.A., stating that the elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about was that, even if they ever convicted Kramer, they would never be able to keep him in jail. His complaints and his “medical issues” would make him too expensive to keep and almost impossible to deal with. Apparently, he still felt that way this week. Ed Kramer is getting 34 months on monitored house arrest.
You read that right. After molesting three children, breaking the terms of his bonds over and over again, roaming the country unmonitored while the Gwinnett authorities thought they knew where he was, and seemingly attempting to prey on yet another child, the man gets to spend the next 34 months in his home with a monitor bracelet on.
He also has to pay each of the three victims $100,000 and will, after house arrest be on a “strictly monitored” probation for another 15 years. During this time, he cannot leave the county. One only hopes that the “strictly monitored” probation is handled better and more attentively than his prior times out and about when he went where he pleased and where the embarrassed D.A.’s office actually admitted to not even realizing that Kramer was in some of the places that he was in fact in.
And he never admitted to the crimes. He never admitted wrongdoing. He never even stood trial.
I can’t help but to read the news stories and think that, ultimately, Kramer won. He has played the system like a game for thirteen years, making the rules, pulling their strings, and making them dance to his tune, and he just wore the system down. Three lives permanently damaged, embarrassing the system on a repeated basis, and essentially thumbing his nose at the courts, the jails, and the D.A. for all of this time, and the punishment is less than I’ve seen people get for over getting busted with pot.
I’ve been following this with some level of interest mixed with professional curiosity since late 2005. By that point there was already a huge amount of news stories available in the five year ordeal and reading through it became an exercise in infuriation. While many of the earliest news stories and blog threads didn’t have enough concrete information, just rumor and speculation, to feel strongly enough about guilt or innocence one way or another, there was plenty there to make you want to smack your head with your hand at how poorly the case was being handled. Stories closer to 2005 gave a much greater indication of a guilty man working the system and creating delay after delay, but it also painted that much more of a picture of an ineptly handled legal case by that local system. Reading about someone twisting the legal system in knots like that was, professionally, annoying as hell.
I don’t think there was another major development in the situation until around mid-2008 when they lifted his house arrest. Even that seemed strange when I heard about it in the latter half of the year. If you were at all familiar with the case by that time, you knew how badly he played the system and how many times he had violated the terms of his bond. Hearing the news that they had decided to basically just let the man start roaming free in the area just seemed asinine to me. In 2009 they were back to talking about a court date in the first half of the year. By the time 2010 was upon us, there had been yet another delay. After that, the only real Kramer related news items for a while were the lawsuits he was launching against others.
Then 2011 happened. Kramer was nailed in a Connecticut hotel room with a young boy. He was in violation of the terms of his bond, serious violations as well, and he had publicly embarrassed the D.A.’s office who had to admit that they had no idea that, despite being responsible for keeping up with his whereabouts and activities, Kramer had been traveling so much or even that he was in Connecticut. And there was anger at this point. There was anger not only by the embarrassed D.A.’s office, but by the people in two states who were now reading about this ineptly handled, eleven year old case that had somehow never made it to trial. I actually thought we were going to see something happen at last. Turns out, at least then, I was wrong. 2011 turned into 2012 and that turned into 2013, and still we saw no trial. We saw lots of talk about fast tracking the case to trial and having everything ready to go at last, but we didn’t see a trial. And, of course, we saw Kramer playing games again.
Then the boycott happened. As I outlined in my first post on the matter, my major problem with the boycott was (outside of the inaccuracies, exaggerations, lies, attacks on people’s family members for disagreeing with them, attempts to attack people’s employment for disagreeing with them, declarations of wishing people would die painful deaths for disagreeing with them, gleefully calling women who disagreed with them cunts, etc.) that I felt that the target, the convention that Kramer had had nothing to do with for more than a decade, was the wrong focus of for the energy. Here was a group of people claiming that they wanted justice, yet their target was an organization with zero ability to control, contain, or imprison Kramer or to in any way get the man to trial. The focus, as I stated back then, should have been on the legal system and in letting them know that they were being watched and scrutinized. It should have been about using the army of people that could have been raised to raise awareness rather than spitefully alienating an army to raise a troop.
But despite that, there was a positive aspect of the boycott with regards to the legal system. There was increased media coverage and media coverage in places that hadn’t followed the matter in years if at all. But then the boycott went away and the media spotlight dimmed just a bit. And that’s when, with regards to this matter specifically, I actually worried a little bit that we were going to start seeing a repeat of the prior 13 years of the case starting up all over again. And, truth be told, it was starting to look that way.
And now this happens. After 13 years of running them in circles and wearing the system down, Kramer bargains his way out of even ever standing trial and into what feels like an insignificant slap on the wrists.
It’s an insult to anyone who wanted to see justice done and it should be an embarrassment to the system down there that a man who did so much wrong for so long is getting off with less punishment than the millions of other people in prisons who have done far, far less.
Oh… One word of advice to the other people out there who are as angry about this as I am and have been trying to rationalize this into something positive-
I understand the need to do so. It’s probably better for you in the long run and less expensive than putting your fist through your monitor. But, please, think before you type. I’ve already seen some people trying to find a positive in this with a scenario that looks like you’re hoping for something really bad. Some of you have said that the good thing is that the deal allows him no appeal and no recourse should he violate the terms by reverting to form in the upcoming years. It’s been described by some of you as basically a trap. He’ll revert to form, do it again, and then go to jail for the rest of his life.
Uhm… No. I sympathize with wanting to make silk out of this sows ear, but think about what you’re writing and how that looks. Yes, we would love to see him face justice and go away for a very, very long time, but we do not want that at the expense of another life destroyed. I know what you mean and I know what you’re really saying, but, please, think it through a bit more before your type it.
And with that, I am once and for all truly and finally done writing about Ed Kramer.
Okay, welcome to part two and a few days later. It’s been an interesting few days of thinking not only because of a perspective that I didn’t have before, but because of learning something I didn’t know about someone I know.
I have a friend who is a few years older than I am and a fellow raving geek. She’s become familiar with this case over the last roughly three years and found my link page to be rather useful reading to catch up on the back story with. As such, she’s gotten a fairly good handle on things at this point. I figured that she, also in a job that has her at least affiliated with law enforcement and legal matters, would be kind of pissed about the slap on the wrists. Instead, she said something that hadn’t crossed my mind or even gotten into my thick head by Monday night.
“But is that what the victims wanted?”
I’ll freely admit that I think I looked at her for a moment as if she was speaking a foreign language and I was an idiot trying to decipher it. I asked her to explain. She did, and, oh boy, was it a doozy of an explanation.
Years ago, long before moving here, she was the victim of a nasty assault. A man came at her from out of a dark, bush covered area, grabbed her, threw her down into the bushes and beat her to within an inch of her life. He then prepared to rape her. Fortunately, despite the cliché, someone heard what sounded like a struggle and someone in need of help and actually called the police rather than turning away. The responding units must have been pretty close, because they arrived before he was able to actually rape her.
And then her experience with the courts began. Her case went on for a little over a year. She said one of the worst things was wanting justice, but feeling this giant ball of fear and anxiety in her stomach growing every time a court date was approaching. And what was even worse than even that was when a last minute delay would happen and that anxiety would just explode and she would have it start all over again when the next date was coming up. It was a year she doesn’t like to remember or think about and she was more thankful than she thought she would be when it was over.
And then she said that she has absolutely no idea how hellish it must have been for his three victims. For one thing, they were children when it happened to them. For another, it was a deeper violation than what she experienced. And, lastly, their experience with seeking a trial and closure has lasted over a decade.
When it first started, the set dates turning into delays were fairly close together. Then they spaced out onto months. Then they spaced out into years. I think the longest stretch between discussed dates in court was roughly seven years. As she put it, they were never being given closure, but they were likely being given time to start healing. And then, years later, he would come along and rip the wounds open again. In thirteen years, there has been no closure for these young men and no ability to put it behind them and start trying to heal the scars without fear of him coming back into their lives and ripping it all apart again. Her point of view is that these young men very much wanted justice, but that, at this point, they likely needed closure just as much if not more.
And she may well have been right. In talking about it with her, it jogged something along those lines in my memory. Back in 2006, Kramer had attempted to immigrate to Israel. The deal worked out with Porter was that he would leave the country and never return and that this would essentially pass as a sentence for the crime. I was kind of glad that this immigration attempt failed at the time. Setting a predator lose among new potential prey just because he was a pain to deal with seemed irresponsible. But it was Porter’s comments explaining it that became important in the here and now.
Porter stated that he spoke to the victims about the deal before agreeing to it and they were on-board with it. The reason they agreed to it? They just wanted to finally get it behind them.
And that was seven years ago. It had only been six years at that point. We’re up to year thirteen now.
I don’t think that anyone that ever reads this can know what was in the heads of the victims as this was being settled upon. No one can know what they all felt they wanted or, more importantly, needed at this point. And I mean no one can as there has never been a case involving crimes like this with the games, the delays, the incompetence, and the infuriating longevity of this one anywhere else that I know of. They’ve had thirteen years with no closure for them and no ability to start healing without the fear of it all crashing down around them again.
Maybe this isn’t the level of justice that some of us wanted to see done here and maybe the punishment seems to us to be insignificant when compared to the crimes, but then, maybe, as my friend pointed out, some justice with ultimate closure was what was needed now rather than the risk of another half decade to full decade of this continuing on as it has so far.
Yeah, you and I can point to how ineptly this was handled, point to what look like gross failures by the local legal system, and say that it should never have dragged out this long, but the fact of the matter is that is has dragged out this long and it could have kept on going even longer. And, yeah, in my gut and likely yours that still doesn’t sit well, but it is something to think about and maybe consider when commenting on the matter elsewhere right now.
And now, with that, I am actually once and for all truly and finally done writing about Ed Kramer.
Steve Niles could use some help right now.
According to a report in Bleeding Cool, Steve’s Austin, Texas home was flooded out whenstorms rampaged through the area over the weekend. The good news out of it is that reports so far indicate that everyone in the house, people and animals alike, managed to get to safety through the waste-deep waters. The bad news is that Steve has lost a good deal of what he had, including unique items that likely cannot be replaced, and the worse news is that he didn’t have flood insurance.
Personal issues with comments made about Dragon Con and Dragon Con attendees (and then, as a fallout from that, about me) earlier this year be damned right now. Niles has been a good friend to and supporter of people I know and been a supporter of some things and events that I also support. And more important than that right now, he’s a human being and as a human being Steve Niles could use some help right now.
According to a report in Bleeding Cool, Steve’s Austin, Texas home was flooded out when storms rampaged through the area over the weekend. The good news out of it is that reports so far indicate that everyone in the house, people and animals alike, managed to get to safety through the waste-deep waters. The bad news is that Steve has lost a good deal of what he had, including unique items that likely cannot be replaced, and the worse news is that he didn’t have flood insurance.
Steve Niles commented on the matter with this statement:
Woke up at 6am to water rushing into the house. Already ankle deep by the time we saw it. We got as much as we could off the ground and tried to block but there wasn’t much we could do. The worst was trying to get to Gil. It was waist deep almost and strong enough to throw around logs. I reached him and he was submerged and freaking out. Don’t remember much more then lifting him and carrying him all the way back to the house. Looking back I can see how scary it was.
We are securing the house as much as we can and going through the damage. A scrapbook full of original art I’ve kept for 30 years is gone. A lot more.
Our friends Belinda and Steve are setting up a fund to help. I feel terrible about this but once things settle I’ll have to face up that we need help. I just wish I could catch my breath for 5 minutes and I can make my own money. Austin has had other ideas I guess.
We’ll keep you posted. We’re sort of trapped here for right now. Going to pack and move as much as we can before the next storm hits.
Thank you guys so much.
The fund set up for Steve that he references in the above statement can be donated to through Paypal to: HelpSteveNiles@gmail.com
Bottom line: This is a horrendously bad turn of events for anyone to face without some help. Steve’s given a lot to the horror community over the years. A little bit given back right now might not be such a bad thing.
Well, for one major thing, I’ve been on another blog. I haven’t abandoned my personal blog by any means. No, there will certainly be things that I want to get off of my chest (like this) or talk about that won’t fit there and thus will be placed here.
Oh, where’s “there” exactly?
That would be here.
Little start up that was looking for content and contributors. They needed someone who likes horror and was willing to do a lot of horror content for October and Halloween. Enter me.
I have a few article up with them already. I have more in their pending file. Most of what’s up right now has a little bit of humor about it, but there will be a few things I have planned for submission that are serious in tone as well. I even snagged an interview for an upcoming book about the ghosts that haunt some of downtown Richmond’s most famous buildings.
It’s going to be an interesting October. If they want me around after that? Well, that should be interesting as well, but with a little less content to provide.
The other thing was a trip down to NC. Adrenalin‘s new feature film, Fix it in Post, is underway at last. Spent a fun weekend camping out on the set and filming the movie within the movie. We were doing the fake film Ninjas VS Zombies and the shoot was fun. We were supposed to be acting like we had no clue what we were doing and N VS Z is supposed to be Ed Wood level incompetent film making, so there was a lot of room in there to improvise some ridiculous slapstick. And my son finally got to play an onscreen role, so he had fun with that.
By nightfall, we were filming the scenes that set up the initial kickoff for the main plot of the actual film. Less improve, but just as much fun.
I have so much else that I should be working on right now, but this has been really bugging me for the last week or so. We’ve got enough issues with what is and isn’t legal to buy and own insofar as firearms that it isn’t funny. And, of course, everyone has their own line to be drawn in the sand on the matter that is in direct opposition to everyone else’s line in the sand and that range anywhere from banning all guns to allowing just about anybody access to just about anything.
Well, now we have a new toy entering the marketplace that should have a lot of people scratching their heads and wondering WTF the people that decided to market this were thinking (let alone the people that regulate such matters) and debating just how heavily regulated this thing should be. Everybody, give a warm welcome to the new kid in the debate. Welcome the TrackingPoint XS3.
The one thing you should know upfront about the TrackingPoint XS3 is that it is in many ways not a rifle by most conventional lines of thought. It looks like a standard rifle with a scope and it fires a sizable round, but it’s almost more accurate to call it a computerized weapons system than it is to call it a rifle. That’s not a statement of hyperbole by the way, that really is a pretty damned close assessment of what this thing is.
The TrackingPoint XS3 is a rifle/scope combo that falls under the category of Precision Guided Firearms or PGFs. The scope isn’t actually a scope in the normal sense though. For one thing, it’s an integrated system of the rifle. You’re also not looking through multiple lenses at the magnified image of your target. You look into the eyepiece and you’re looking at small screen with a heads-up display system run through a series of microprocessors. And guess what these microprocessors do? Just about everything you used to have to do.
You set this baby up and get a bead on your target. When you’ve got the target nicely in your sights, you pull the trigger. And that’s when this thing, despite its appearance, stops being a gun and starts being a computerized weapons system. Because when you pull that trigger, the rifle does not fire.
Pulling the trigger and holding it back activates the system and it “tags” your target. Once your target is tagged, the system locks onto it for so long as you have it clearly in your sights. The system begins calculating basic things like the range of the target as well as making adjustments for things like drop, inclination angle, elevation, cant, temperature, relative humidity, pressure, lock time, and a host of other things that all impact the accuracy of a long distance shot. The computer gives you sights to line up on the target and only when the computer has determined that you’ve aligned the barrel correctly to make the shot will the .300 Winchester Magnum round actually be fired. And you don’t have to be particularly skilled with a gun or a crack shot with distances to make the shot either.
This system also eliminates the possibility of other forms of shooter error. There’s no need to control your breathing when you pull the trigger and a jumpy shooter cannot ever jerk or slap the trigger and throw off the shot. Again, pulling the trigger does not fire the gun. The gun fires itself only when you have properly targeted your shot in the little heads-up display (or big heads-up display as it can send video to devices like an iPad) and only when the shot is a surefire hit. The only thing you have to manually adjust for is wind speed and direction of the wind and that’s usually only a major adjustment for extreme distances or if you’re dealing with heavy winds.
Simple field tests with the TrackingPoint XS3 have led to people making dead on accurate shots at targets without any form of distance/range markers ranging from 200 yards out to almost 1,103 yards out on their very first shot. In practical application testing, the system locks on to even moving targets that have been tagged and adjusts as the target shifts and travels. What you’re looking at here is a one (sniper quality) shot, one kill with very little needed skill weapon.
And a missed shot, a shot that might otherwise warn a target, is almost a thing of the past with this system. The gun will not fire if the shot is bad. If you lose your tagged target and it slips off of the heads-up display, the gun simply disengages the shot and does not fire the round. If your target is moving and slips behind cover, the rifle terminates the shot. If something else comes between you and the target, the rifle terminates the shot. You either get a clean kill shot in or you don’t waste the round or warn the target. You just have to reacquire and retag your target when you can and try again.
Normally talk like this would make you think that the military has one hell of a new weapon, right? Not the case here. This is being marketed to civilian gun owners. The initial plan is to market it to hunters. As matter of fact, my first real awareness that this system was being marketed for civilian applications was through a cover feature in the October 2013 issue of Petersen’s Hunting.
You can see their online article on the system as well as a video showcasing its abilities at the following link.
You can view just the video on YouTube here.
Watch the video or just think about what’s being laid out here. This PGF can accurately fire a round that can take down large game at distances greater than 10 football fields. And you don’t truly need any great skill to do it. If you play video games on just about any home gaming system, you’re probably more than skilled enough to shoot this weapon with deadly accuracy at ranges of 1,000 yards or more.
And this is being made available to anyone who can purchase a gun.
Right now the cost is prohibitive to the casual buyer. I’ve seen some breakdowns on this that say that a low end model might come in priced as low as $17,000. The one reviewed in Petersen’s Hunting was presented as package deal. You get the TrackingPoint XS3 rifle with integrated scope system, in .300 Winchester Magnum, 200 rounds of custom loaded Barnes ammunition, Harris bipod, and a Pelican case for $27,000.
Of course, the thing with this price tag is that this is new tech cost. This is, as I said above, more of a computerized weapons system than it is simply a gun. The computer components put together in this manner are what you’re paying for and we all know that new tech like this usually drops substantially within few years after the initial release to the market. We’ve seen this drop in price with computers, DVD and Blu-Ray players, HD televisions, and a host of other items that are “new” electronics/tech heavy in their nature. And we’ll likely see the same thing here with this system’s price coming down to a more realistic price point for wider sales.
I called this a kind of a WTF moment up top for a reason. You kind of have to wonder WTF people were thinking when they approved this for the same basic sales restrictions as any other hunting rifle. This thing has the potential of making almost anyone who picks it up a crack sniper shot at long distances. Now put that into the context of (1) why we restrict certain types of firearms sales and (2) into the context of some of the mass shootings of the last few decades.
(1) We don’t allow sales of full auto in the same manner that we do semi-auto. Yes, there are circumstances where you can become eligible to purchase full-auto firearms in the United States. We just try to make that a very difficult thing to qualify for.
The reason we don’t want them out on the open market is that a fully-automatic rifle is an insanely dangerous weapon to have in the general population with limited practical uses. The level of lethality was weighed against its practical uses and both the safety and needs of the general population and deemed to be not really all that needed on the open market.
This strikes me as much the same. Most hunters I know would have no use for this thing. Most hunters actually do feel a need to have some level of challenge on the hunt. They want to learn their craft and hone their skills and they don’t want something that does everything for them. I even know hunters who are retro-grading their gear and moving away from higher end scopes and guns and back to the basics that they grew up with. Still others are seeking out that feel of having a challenge again by going to back to the bow. There’s even one guy who’s gaining some level of fame in hunting circles for becoming wildly successful at taking large game after having gone back to using a spear. Even the Petersen’s Hunting article notes that many hunters may eschew the use of this system as it flies in the face of the Fair Chase standards that many value and hunt by.
But what about others?
Target shooters? Why? For as much as this thing takes the skill and challenge out of the equation and turns it into a live-action video game you might as well cut down on the dent in your ammo budget and just play a damned target shooter video game. Looking at what this thing does, there’s no one with a shred of pride in their skill who is going to feel any level of achievement after a day on the range and a stack of targets with tight, center mass groupings in them thanks to this thing. Hey, you didn’t do it, the gun pretty much did it all and you’ll know that.
This is not a home defense weapon. This is a weapon that by its very design and nature serves no practical purpose as a home defense weapon and that fires the type of round that would endanger people in the next room and even neighbors who own homes located in close proximity to yours.
Personal protection weapon? No. It’s not fitting neatly into your waistband or purse and its size and weight makes it impractical as a personal protection weapon unless you plan to swing it like a baseball bat.
Defending and protecting liberty? Sorry, but if your Alex Jones and Glenn Beck fueled delusions of you standing your ground when the evil Obama (or fill in whatever other politician you hate) turns to martial law and a full military dictatorship is your argument; you’re frankly too stupid to be in the conversation. You just have a gun, even if it’s a high-end, high-tech, advanced weapons system type of gun. The military has jets, drones, tanks, and an assortment of weaponry that would remove you and your gun from the face of the Earth the moment you became an annoyance to them. For that matter, Iraq’s military and Saddam’s personal guards had fully automatic guns, rocket launchers, grenades, and an assortment of military vehicles at their disposal. Go ask them how well that worked out for them back in March of 2003 when they faced the U.S. military.
And, seriously, if you’re staking out the position that you think that the United States Military will as an institution turn its guns on the citizenry in support of and on orders from a President that has decided to make himself President for Life… Well, you’re showing everyone that you’re likely pretty crazy and that you’re likely mentally unstable enough that you shouldn’t be allowed to own any sort of gun to begin with.
And you’re not defending the country from your bunker if the extremely unlikely event of a full scale foreign invasion should occur. No, the real military will be doing that for you and letting you know when you can come out.
So, really, what is the TrackingPoint XS3 outside of a trendy toy to trendy hunters or wealthy people more interested in collecting big game trophies for the ego stroke? Well, for one thing it’s an integrated weapons system that turns the average disgruntled/unstable video game jock into an almost military level sniper with almost no training. That leads us to…
(2) Most of the mass-shooting shooters out there as of right now are not going to use this thing and they’re also not likely to use the future generations of this thing in the very near future. But the price dropping and availability increasing would both change this.
It’s true that a lot of the people behind various mass shootings are not great at planning out their rampage. However, this is not true of all of them. The Aurora Colorado theater shooter actually spent a pretty penny and his guns, ammo, and other toys starting several months ahead of the shooting. The Fort Hood and Virginia Tech shooters both bought their weapons through legal dealers well in advance of the shootings they were engaged in. Hell, even the Columbine shooters actively prepared for their spree. And they’re not alone in this.
And then there’s the type who uses the weapons that others provide them. The shooter who walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School did so with weapons that he took from the home he was living in. And the home he was living in was filled with guns bought by someone who many would call a gun nut. For him, the weapons were basically handed to him on a silver platter. Some truly are provided the best available weapons purely by chance and circumstance.
And of course some mass shooters, the really dangerous ones, do plan ahead and do look at what will work best for them. Give anyone like them the opportunity to use a weapon like this, a weapon that would allow them to pick off one target or many targets as far away as the length of ten football fields, and you’ve got a massacre. And you’ve got one were tackling the shooter is out of the question and being a good guy with a gun on the scene isn’t likely going to be very helpful. One person with that gun or a later generation of it in a school bell tower or like-structure or in an old abandoned building where there’s a clear view of a crowd in an open area, be it during a special event or just the daily pedestrian traffic, and you have a massacre.
Or you’ve got an assassination. Put something like the TrackingPoint XS3 into the hands of someone like the Tucson Arizona shooter and he doesn’t have to get up close and personal with his weapon to ensure a lethal shot. All he has to do is find the right event with a clear view, even just a clear view while the target is walking to and from their car to the building, and they can make their shot from 400, 500, 600 or 700 yards away with a guarantee of accuracy that they would never have had before and the ability to be gone before anyone arrives to stop them or detain them.
At this point this thing is hitting the market. That seems to be a done deal. And, with the gun lobby being what it is these days, the only thing that’s changing that fact would be a TrackingPoint XS3 or a next gen model of the system used to assassinate a beloved figure of the Right. But regulation may not be too much to ask for here.
This thing should see its sales regulated almost to the degree of full auto weapons in this country and registration of ownership should be implemented and enforced to the Nth degree. There should be no sales where registration of ownership is not documented whether or not the sales are made via a licensed gun dealer or two guys meeting up at the local gun show. If you own it, it’s registered. If you sell it, it’s documented.
This thing is not like a typical hunting rifle or a high end shotgun. This thing is not even like one of the various guns on the market that frequently get labeled as an assault weapon in the various news stories that follow every mass shooting we see these days. No, this thing is, as I called it above, essentially an integrated weapons system that just happens to look like a rifle. This is a one shot, one kill, almost no skill sniper’s rifle that gives almost anybody, the “right” kind of person or the “wrong” kind of person, the ability to make precision shots at anywhere from 100 to 1,103 yards. And as the price of the tech in this thing comes down, it will start to become more and more available to just about anybody.
I’m not anti-gun. I’m all in favor of gun ownership and of people enjoying a day on the range or a day in the woods. Or even a day on the range that is a day in the woods as some of my friends can do with the size of the property they own. I’m not even against the idea of some people collecting firearms the way some others collect baseball cards. Everybody has their thing that brings them joy.
But I’m definitely in favor of using some common sense when placing new weapons on the market. Putting this weapon on the market and not having it under tighter, stricter regulations than your average Winchester SX3 Cantilever Buck hunting rifle does not particularly strike me as common sense. And given the trends in our country, given the mass shootings that we’ve seen and the fact that over half of the top ten deadliest mass shootings in this country have all taken place in around just the last decade, putting weapons like this on the market without stricter regulations and registration seems the exact opposite of common sense.