by: William McGregory
Jim Spencer, editorialist at Charlottesville’s daily newspaper, has outdone himself.
Not content with being a propagandist so blatant that the newspaper employing him should never again be considered the area’s presse de reference, Spencer has displayed a shocking disconnect from reality in his latest masterpiece published April 6th, 2022, under the innocuous title “Machine gun charge brings new worries.” One wonders after reading this drivel whether Spencer draws his paycheck directly from the local Party, or if he is simply on parole from Western State Hospital.
We begin with a hilariously stock photograph of a Sig Sauer 556 semi-automatic rifle, new-in-box and clearly intended to frighten the reader into thinking that one can walk into the Chantilly gun show and purchase the fully-automatic Swiss military version of this firearm for a pittance, no background check required. The intern who was tasked to search the first page of the Google Images result for “scary black gun” couldn’t even be bothered to retrieve an image with suitable dimensions or resolution. It’s a guarantee, therefore, that nobody bothered to learn that this particular rifle has never existed in the United States in a “machine-gun conversion,” as it was assembled and sold in this country between 2006 and 2017. The Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act (misnamed in that classic Congressional fashion, since it further denigrated many of the rights already abused by the 1968 Gun Control Act) outright banned the civilian possession of a machine gun manufactured after 1986, and subjected those machine guns already in existence to a capricious taxation and registration scheme within a closed market that has driven the cost of fully-automatic rifles similar to the Sig 556 upwards of $20,000. This economic manipulation has driven the cost of legally-obtainable machine guns far out of reach of common street “thugs,” to use Spencer’s term previously decried by his party as racist. Perhaps the Mexican drug cartels can afford to purchase these weapons, but why bother when they can obtain them in another country without a year of background checks, fingerprinting, and correspondence with multiple law enforcement agencies and simply traffic them over the most porous border this side of the line between England and Wales?
Spencer’s incredulous revelation that Charlottesville’s “thugs now carry” machine guns reeks of indignant rage. How dare our criminals, long so favored and coddled by our benevolent “justice” system, abuse the great latitude they have been given? We chose to prosecute our police officers, not them, and this is how they repay our magnificence? Never mind that multiple crimes on the Corner and in downtown have been perpetrated with machine guns since the collapse of the police department in 2020. Those have been too easy to ignore until now, because acknowledging them at the time might force us to reconcile the damage we did to law enforcement and the consequences of those actions. The important people weren’t harmed. The danger has drawn too close for comfort now, though.
Imagine criticizing the people that “felt compelled to carry weapons” after those people survived the most significant shooting in the city in at least several years. While Spencer undoubtedly lives in a safe neighborhood full of milquetoast neighbors that call the police for barking dogs instead of shots fired, you would expect anyone commenting on cultures which he clearly doesn’t understand to attempt to empathize with people who have a need to defend themselves. Dangerous people will always exist, and if you find yourself in close proximity to them on a regular basis, why should you not obtain the tools by which you may preserve your life? This communist mindset reflects the belief that you do not own your life, the state does. Your existence is subject to the needs of the state, the foremost of which in any authoritarian system is the disarmament of the people, because any educated person on the matter will tell you that the main goal of a government of any persuasion is the maintenance and increase of its own power. The United States at its conception was a radical departure from this idea. The “experiment,” as it was long referred to, was the test to see if a government could break the mold. The experiment has ended, and the results are not good.
Luckily for Spencer, the Code Of Virginia defines a machine gun for him, in a manner so simple that even the BATFE could understand (and promptly ignore). While some machine guns can and occasionally do accept higher-capacity magazines up toa hundred, most people well-versed in the subject will tell you that machine guns firing rifle cartridges have a very difficult time with common box-style magazines, those hundred-monstrosities that you have been told to be afraid of. Early twentieth-century machine guns solved the feeding issue in a variety of ways, like top-loading gravity-assisted magazines or rotary drums, but the only really reliable way to feed these without jamming is from a belt. The M249 SAW, in US service since the 1980’s, can be fed from a magazine or belt. Any serviceman worth his salt has a horror story of that weapon jamming the instant a magazine was introduced into the receiver. As no belt links were reported to be found at the scene, we can readily assume that the “thugs” were not packing crew-served weapons. Further belying his ignorance, the vast majority of legal firearm owners will be happy to explain that feeding issues are common in magazines of any type over about thirty rounds. Simply put, the magazines Spencer claims will make already-illegal machine guns more dangerous are novelties, with little practical purpose.
The odd part is that Spencer gets so close to reality that he can practically taste it. “No law guarantees that weapons or ammunition will ever be unavailable to those forbidden to have them,” he writes. He unwittingly made the most factual statement he has ever uttered, and then follows it up with “laws only restrain those that respect them.” He’s so close. The leap to the logical conclusion is but a small step.
This is a step too far. The brainwashing and Party line overcome him. He decries the people that respect the law as “crazies.” He advocates banning “weapons that kill people, not animals.” In that moment, he joins a local personality described by one employee forced to endure her despicable treason as the most “morally corrupt human” he has ever had the displeasure of working for. “I believe any weapon that can be used to hunt individuals should be banned,” then Charlottesville Police Chief Rashall Brackney told a flabbergasted Congressman. Clearly not believing that a serving police officer could have so little regard for one of the most basic rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, he attempted to clarify if she was advocating for the ban of all firearms, since any firearm can be misused to kill an undeserving person. No, that’s not far enough. “I said ‘any weapons,’ so that’s my answer.” Not just guns. Knives, rocks, human hands. She and Spencer would like to see us subjected to the forcible emotion-suppressing injections a la Equilibrium or Brave New World in order to ban the most basic human instinct that drove Cain, the second man on Earth, to that fateful day in the field. These people demand the elimination of humanity from human systems in their pursuit of ever-progressive perfection. Freedom be damned. The Fourth Amendment makes finding evidence and prosecuting crimes more difficult, so we should eliminate all search warrants. Guilty people are sometimes declared innocent at trial, so we should eliminate the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Speech is violence, there goes the First. We’ve never really needed it, so the Third is just redundant and a waste of paper. We can’t even mention how badly the Ninth and Tenth have already been tortured, because they have been functionally powerless since the Lincoln and FDR administrations. The rights of citizens make controlling them more difficult, so we should eliminate their rights. Spencer and Brackney don’t just believe that they are your wisers and betters. They would supplant God Himself as the grantors and seizors of your self-determination.
The ”crazies” that insist that they will resist forcible government disarmament must not have leg to stand on besides their delusions of successfully outlasting armies intent on fulfilling that supplantation. After all, the most powerful military force in human history has never been defeated, not even when it invaded Vietnam and Afghanistan. Perhaps they’d have a better chance at victory if they possessed weapons protected by Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Miller. “In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense,” wrote Justice McReynolds in the majority opinion. In other words, the Supreme Court declared that the only weapons explicitly protected for general possession were those suitable for military purposes. Those weapons only good for killing animals are, in fact, the only weapons not protected by the Second Amendment. Don’t let a hundred years of sidestepping and bureaucratic infringement convince you otherwise. This case is still the first and most significant challenge ever made to the National Firearms Act of 1934, the onset of all modern gun control. As a side note, the impetus for the NFA was a gang shooting. In retaliation, ordinary citizens were punished for the actions of outlaws killing each other.
It is not an abdication of “humanity” and “duty” to give into emotion and rob us of our rights and principles, even if any of the proposed infringements Spencer desperately wanted the U.S. Senate to impose over firearm access after Sandy Hook. It is actually the exact opposite, to be willing to throw off the philosophies that have elevated our civilization past animalistic instinct. Think of the children, we are constantly told, as we are exhorted to relinquish our freedom. A better argument for the imposition of “background checks for firearm purchasers at gun shows or online” (which already exist and have for a long time nationally when buying from any federally-licensed dealer, and since 2020 in Virginia for all legal gun transfers between private persons) would be the Las Vegas musical festival shooting, where the criminal apparently obtained all of his weapons lawfully. The problem there is that this crime disproves the idea that more access restrictions can prevent all bad things from ever happening, and doesn’t invoke the natural emotional response of a harmed child. Spencer apparently only believes what he has been told about Sandy Hook, not what really happened. The criminal in that case made no attempt to purchase his weapon, magazines, or ammunition legally. He murdered the rifle’s owner and took it for himself. No law could have stopped him. It is a sad but realistic truth. The elimination of much federal funding for long-term compelled residential asylums in 1981 is perhaps the only political action that might have prevented such a heinous crime. Detaining the mentally ill in the name of societal safety has been debated ever since the modern concept of mental healthcare was introduced, and faces particular difficulties in our nation where we have strict protections against arbitrary imprisonment by the government. That debate will likely never achieve a conclusion, as the question of where we draw the line between freedom and public safety is ever-shifting, and more rapidly in recent years than ever before.
Spencer belies his willful ignorance, or sheer dishonesty (which is worse?), of how to legally obtain a firearm with perhaps his most demonstrably false statement to date. It is made even worse because he writes it so matter-of-factly, as though it were God’s gospel truth. He claims that a “semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round clip” (actually a magazine, as clips are rare in modern firearms except for storing or loading ammunition) is “legally accessible with a few keystrokes and a transfer of funds.”
Wrong. Dead wrong. So wrong, in fact, that any newspaper employing him should fire him on the spot. It doesn’t matter if he pens his fictions under the guise of “editorialism.” This sort of blatant falsehood, stated as a fact from which to derive an argument, is so willfully and maliciously misleading that it calls into question the veracity of anything printed in the rag that holds Jim Spencer up as a paragon of virtue and integrity. He cannot possibly claim ignorance, because that indicates a complete lack commitment to the profession of journalism. A single Google search would save him the embarrassment of having to admit that he is wrong. The alternate explanation is that he is a bald-faced liar, so hell-bent on spinning the tired yarn about the dangerous anarchy of American gun sales that the only newspaper fit to print his drivel would have been Pravda. Shame on the daily newspaper for ever having employed him, and greater shame on them for not issuing a retraction or correction, or just admitting that they were duped into hiring him and firing him. Then again, this is the newspaper that still refuses to acknowledge that the entire contrived criminal case against CPD Officer Jaeger was dismissed with prejudice; you’d think that would be newsworthy after the breathless coverage they gave that story until the whole thing collapsed. Integrity has no home there.
In Virginia, there is no such thing as a legal acquisition of any firearm without a background check. The only people that can receive guns without a check run by the FBI or Virginia State Police are federal firearms licensees, which are people running businesses that buy and sell guns. Those licenses are only issued after extensive application processes and background checks, and Virginia takes it a step further by requiring that the employees of these licensees undergo separate screening and be issued a firearms dealer license. Private party transfers of firearms between two consenting adults, as long as the seller has no reasonable suspicion that the purchaser might be a prohibited person, were legal until 2020, when Virginia banned the practice. Private buyers are now forced to undergo the exact same background check as they would at a gun store. This also closed the so-called “gun show loophole,” which never actually existed except in the demented minds of people like Spencer who have never visited such an event. Although many sellers at gun shows are private citizens, and were previously free to dispense of their firearms, Virginia has outlawed all those private sales without a background check; VSP now attends all advertised shows just to run background checks. Licensees frequently attend these shows, and still run checks as they would in their stores. There is even a section on the federal background check form (ATF 4473) to document any transaction occurring off-premises, almost always meaning at a gun show. The ATF can and does inspect all licensees in the country, which entails auditing all background check records against the “bound book” of what weapons the licensee has received and disposed of. If there are any discrepancies at all, the ATF can close the business on the spot and the owners and employees face criminal and civil charges. Every single gun must be tracked, whether released to a customer with an accompanying 4473 or sent to another licensee (who must exchange current licenses with the sender before any transfer can take place). Long story short, it is simply impossible to legally obtain a firearm in Virginia without your background being inspected for disqualifying characteristics. Jim Spencer is a liar.
The good news is that Spencer is apparently a better gambler than he is a journalist, because he bets that the Fry’s Spring machine gun suspect, Miracle Sims, did not obtain it legally. We have already discussed why this is almost a complete certainty. It is downright laughable that Spencer feels that it is “even easier- and only slightly more risky” to get a weapon on the street. Perhaps he should go down to “the street” and buy a gun, if it’s so easy, and then he can tell us all the story. As far as risk goes, of course it is risky. Guns on the street are sold by criminals, who usually use violence to protect wares of high value, such as firearms and drugs. That is why police forces throughout the country work in task forces that target such illicit commerce, such as JADE locally- until the criminal-loving Brackney pulled city police out of JADE, leading to a decrease in gun seizures. Brackney left guns in the hands of “thugs” who perpetrate crimes like this because she did want to enforce the law, only persecute cops and make the actual practice of law enforcement as impossible as she could. Where policing is diminished, there will crime flourish. The only risk for a criminal trying to get a gun in a store is if he lies on the background check, which is a federal felony punishable by up to ten years in prison or a $250,000 fine. If a prohibited person tells the truth and is summarily denied the transfer of a firearm, there are no criminal penalties because we still possess a Constitutional right to be free of compelled self-incrimination. It is much riskier to obtain a gun the illegal way, and therefore much less easy, if you find yourself straying outside the bounds of the myriad of incredibly strict gun laws we already have on the books (how they are enforced and prosecuted is another story).
In a rare moment of agreement, we can concur with Spencer’s suggestion that Sims likely modified an otherwise legal gun, illegally possessed, into an automatic machine gun. It’s a shame that people like him hate the police so much, because officers from Customs & Border Patrol on down to local departments nationally have been increasingly sounding the alarm for several years now about a new phenomenon being smuggled into the country from communist China. If you go on Wish.com, you can buy a small block that fits into the back end of a Glock pistol slide and turns an ordinary semi-automatic pistol (one of the most popular handgun models in the country, with millions in legal circulation) into a machine pistol. You can have this block, or switch, for under $30, and installing it requires no machining. If Spencer actually cared about the lives of police officers who have been encountering these devices on the street, he would’ve sounded the alarm when a wanted felon used such a modified Glock to kill a Houston police officer and seriously wound another as they attempted to arrest him last September. If Spencer actually cared about Charlottesville, he might’ve sounded the alarm last May when Raheim Bolden brazenly fired a machine gun on the Corner in front of a police officer, likely a similar weapon. He might even have gotten concerned enough when a machine gun was used to kill a bystander in her own home while she slept in November 2020, as thugs chased each other through town in cars shooting at each other while the police were cowering in fear from their own administration. Of course, Spencer is a relatively new addition to our fine community, and we can’t fault him for not taking notice of events that predate his arrival. To pretend like Fry’s Spring is the onset of this problem locally, however, is disingenuous and incorrect. The real onset for the proliferation of these machine guns is a police department neutered by a now-fired police chief, reductions in border security coupled with ever-increasing Internet commerce and global trade, and despicably lax prosecution and sentencing for criminals, many of whom rarely see accountability for their actions.
Spencer tries to invoke the gangland shooting in Sacramento as proof that the machine gun problem is growing out of control. As I have said previously, Fry’s Spring would be talked about right alongside Sacramento if it were not for poor marksmanship. But “mass shootings” (another emotionally-charged term often applied to gang crimes such as these in order to instill fear in the wider populace, which is occasionally drawn in by stray gunfire but more often than not secluded from these crimes) have existed for a long time and will continue to go on with semi-automatic weapons. Machine guns are used so infrequently in crimes compiled under Uniform Crime Reporting that they are statistically insignificant, joining “mass shootings” as a miniscule percentage of total crimes against persons. What nobody in this community, from the propagandists to the police department and certainly not the Commonwealth’s attorney will tell you is that Fry’s Spring has more in common with Sacramento than they want you to know.
The primary suspect in Sacramento was revealed to have been released in 2018 halfway through a prison sentence for corporal injury and assault likely to cause great bodily injury. He should’ve been in prison through 2023, according to his sentence. He also has prior convictions robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Only nine years past his eighteenth birthday, it is a wonder that someone could have compiled such a serious rap sheet and yet spent so little time in prison. Enter Miracle Sims and Rymese Walker of Fry’s Spring infamy. In his short five years of adulthood, Walker has managed to obtain four misdemeanor charges and ten felony charges. He has been convicted of four felonies, including manufacture of a controlled substance, larceny of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, and violating probation imposed for a firearm charge. Though it is unclear from court records how much time he has actually spent in jail or prison because of pretrial detentions and concurrent sentencing, the vast majority of his prison sentences were reduced to mere fractions of what the law demanded. This past February, less than a month before the shootout, Walker was sentenced for the firearm larceny probation violation. The total time hanging over his head was nine years. All of that time, except for seven months, was suspended- despite the fact that those nine years had already been suspended from a ten-year sentence. To add insult to injury, that sentence was served concurrently with a sentence following conviction for felon in possession of a gun and brandishing a firearm. Although the actual sentence for those crimes was five years, all time was suspended except for seven months with a token probation upon release (despite being concurrently sentenced for violating probation). If that wasn’t bad enough, those sentences (now totaling fourteen years, reduced to only seven months) were to be served as home incarceration.
This is how little your courts and Commonwealth’s attorney thinks of your safety. This man, a hardened criminal with a predilection for firearms, repeatedly escaped justice because they held the door open for him. The Commonwealth even went so far as to nolle pros a class 2 felony for armed burglary- a home invasion in a class of crimes usually reserved for murder. That deal netted a plea to a single felony of felon in possession of a gun and misdemeanor brandishing, with a total active sentence of seven months at home in time-out (to be served concurrently with other sentences, so it’s really no sentence at all). Four weeks later, Walker was shooting into a crowd, while innocent people slept in their homes not knowing if a stray bullet would punch through their walls and strike them or their children. Among the other crimes that the city Commonwealth’s attorney declined to prosecute were bail violation, OAR noncompliance, and grand theft auto.
With seven years of adulthood under his belt, Sims has managed to accrue ten misdemeanor and twenty-one felony charges, resulting in ten felony convictions. Among a large number of theft and burglary charges, Sims caught seven felonies for credit card fraud and forgery. He was sentenced on two of those charges to two years each in prison, with all but three months each suspended. He was later convicted of violating probation for credit card larceny and grand larceny. Apparently unsatisfied with financial crimes, he was convicted of feloniously eluding the Augusta County sheriff while in possession of a gun. Back in Charlottesville, he pled guilty to again being a felon in possession of a gun. He received five years in prison, with all but one year suspended. That charge has an offense date listed as 1/6/21. Six days later, he was charged with possession of schedule I/II narcotics and felon in possession of a weapon or ammunition. The city Commonwealth’s attorney declined to prosecute both of those. The lenient sentence for that single gun conviction in the city was handed down on 2/4/22. A month and a half later, Sims was unloading a machine gun in the middle of one of Charlottesville’s safest neighborhoods. The common theme with this wily duo is plain. Crimes forgiven, sentences massively reduced, and complete refusal to punish them commensurate with their actions.
You would think that Jim Spencer would think more highly of Peace in the Streets, the organization who has shouldered the mantle of reducing gun violence so that the police don’t have to do it in their way. Sadly, he writes them off (not by name, but the implication is clear) as “ex-gang bangers” and “”do-gooders.” Unfortunately, he believes that intervention in crimes committed with machine guns is futile even by the police, those people equipped and trained (at one point in time) to do exactly that. While we can concur that Spencer’s hopelessness regarding the police’s efficacy is unfortunately true these days, it doesn’t have to be like that. If only there were special police units, with thick armor and a wide variety of tools to coax and cajole the most violent offenders out of their lairs with minimal injury to the involved parties or to the community at large. We used to have something just like that. It was called CPD SWAT, and Rashall Brackney destroyed it because her fragile ego couldn’t take the members making slights against her. What if instead, we had an investigative unit that was dedicated solely to interrupting the traffic of guns and drugs before they arrived at their final, deadly destinations? We’ve already mentioned it- it was JADE, and Rashall Brackney pulled CPD out of that task force because they did their job in Fifeville and came up empty-handed, as happens frequently in police work. One setback doesn’t mean that an entire unit and missionset is pointless, but one baseless complaint does mean that the rest of the community can be damned. Better bodies hit the floor than a single person be subjected to law enforcement activity. Even patrol officers doing their due diligence, proactively searching their areas for signs of crime and vigorously pursuing wherever those leads send them, can make a huge difference in seizing guns before shootings and deterring wannabe “thugs” from even trying. Rashall Brackney ended the most basic police activities through her campaign of terror against our officers. Over eighty percent of CPD officers reported reducing their normal work activities out of fear of their own commanders. Those normal work activities include actively seeking out guns and drugs before the crimes occur, not just picking up the pieces afterwards.
She couldn’t do it alone, though. Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania’s lily-livered approach to prosecution keeps “thugs” on the streets as long as possible, leading cops to wonder why they should throw themselves in front of a bullet at all. “Officers are frequently responding to firearm calls and the CA’s office usually fails to strongly prosecute these dangerous offenses”, observed one frustrated officer. Another reported that one of the single biggest problems preventing the department from being effective was “being charged by a liberal CA who cares more about an assault case than when an officer got shot”. This refers, of course, to Platania putting noticeably more effort into prosecuting Officer Jaeger for a misdemeanor that was perjuriously instigated after being cleared through use-of-force review, than he did into prosecuting Timmy Miles for attempted capital murder after he shot Corporal Huber in the chest at point blank range, on video and after having conversed with the officer by name. Platania threw the murder counts, only securing convictions for much lesser charges of shooting in an occupied dwelling. Police officers from the city and county who attended both trials in supports of these victim officers could tell a clear difference in priorities, effort, and sincerity.
As Jim Spencer finally concludes his scree with a bad pun, he makes the solemn pronouncement that Charlottesville will now have to reckon with an “ugly truth” if machine guns are going to be a “new ‘thing’” amongst the city’s criminal element. As out of touch as when he first set fingers to keyboard, the machine guns have been a “thing” already. They were “new” several years ago, when the police were crippled and criminals given a free pass to do in the open what was once rarely attempted in living memory. Some neighborhoods have already been reckoning with constant violence and gunfire for decades, stymied only the best efforts the police could put forth. If the city truly wants to have a “reckoning,” it is not with one criminal and a machine pistol. The reckoning will have to be the destruction that the citizens and their leaders and representatives have done to the police and to the justice system. They will have to either reckon with the new normal of the consequences of a police-free society, or begin to undo the years of damage. The police department will have to eat crow and earn the trust of the officers back, that they can once again perform the full gamut of their duties without fear of a knife in the back. They can start by making things right with Officers Jaeger and Wood, Corporal Oberholzer, and Sergeants Hudson and Godfrey. It won’t bring back the decades and centuries worth of lost wisdom and experience, but it is the first and toughest step towards recovery. The citizens will have to deal with Platania. Though we are rarely given any good choices on the ballot, it is clear that he has acted in the worst interest of the city and conspired to maliciously harm the general safety of the community in pursuit of personal power and favor with people ignorant of reality. It will take all of us in the community to make change if we want to stem the tide, lest we be overtaken by a hail of bullets. It will take leaders of courage, morality, and resolve. That will be the real miracle in all of this.
“While our Country remains untainted with the Principles and manners, which are now producing desolation in so many Parts of the World: while she continues Sincere and incapable of insidious and impious Policy: We shall have the Strongest Reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned Us by Providence. But should the People of America, once become capable of that deep… simulation towards one another and towards foreign nations, which assumes the Language of Justice and moderation while it is practicing Iniquity and Extravagance; and displays in the most captivating manner the charming Pictures of Candour frankness & sincerity while it is rioting in rapine and Insolence: this Country will be the most miserable Habitation in the World. Because We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by… morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition… Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
-John Adams, in a letter to the Massachusetts militiamen, October 11th, 1798
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