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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

Beware the Ex-Military Plumber

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I heard the story of the Plumber to Remain in Jail on Drug, Weapons Charges on WRAL this morning and went to the web site to investigate further. From the media report, it sounded like we had a terrorist in our midst:
Travis Edward Aurand, 29, of 146 Anterbury Lane, is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and deliver, maintaining a dwelling and vehicle for the purpose of selling marijuana and possession of weapons of mass destruction, including assault rifles and homemade explosives.

Police seized eight weapons, including an AK-47 and an SKS assault rifle, 3,000 rounds of ammunition, two gas masks, a flak jacket, a bullet-resistant helmet, blasting caps, a time fuse, assorted pipes, chemicals that can be used to make explosives, 19 cultivated marijuana plants and $7,910 in cash from Aurand's townhouse, according to a search warrant.
Weapons of mass destruction! Call Jack Bauer!

So they caught a guy with some pot. But is he really the next Timothy McVeigh? Let's go through the list:

Police seized eight weapons, including an AK-47 - OMG, not a dreaded semi-automatic AK-47! Perfectly legal.

an SKS assault rifle - in other words, a semi-automatic SKS. Legal.

3,000 rounds of ammunition - ok, so he's a lightweight and doesn't have enough ammo around.

two gas masks - you mean like the ones they've been selling on the internet since DHS told us to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting? Nothing illegal about that. And I can see why a plumber might be interested in protecting himself against noxious fumes.

a flak jacket - like the body armor available on Ebay, or a WWII flak jacket? Legal.

A bullet-resistant helmet - it's called an army helmet, a lot of people -- especially ex-military -- have them. Legal.

blasting caps - Not illegal in NC You just can't sell them to someone without verifying their identity.

a time fuse - not illegal.

assorted pipes - OMG! Call the National Guard! A plumber has assorted pipes!

chemicals that can be used to make explosives - ah, like household cleaners?

19 cultivated marijuana plants - well, this is what this is really about.

$7,910 in cash - which wouldn't have even required a report if he deposited in his bank.

So other than the drugs, this is nothing more than an ex-military guy who likes guns and making things go boom for a hobby. And he's smart enough to have protection.

Frankly, I've thought about picking up some inexpensive body armor on Ebay. Guys who bought their own to go to the sandbox are now selling it on Ebay since the government has finally gotten around to equipping them. I'd feel a lot better about being on a big rabbit hunt with 20 guys I don't necessarily know well if I was reasonably certain that a 12 guage blast of #6 to the chest wouldn't do very much. I'll bet Dick Chenney's lawyer friend wished he had been wearing some.

I don't have any blasting caps around, but I know plenty of people that do. Heck, I've got friends that think blasting off homemade cannons out in the country is a great way to spend a Friday night during deer season. You haven't heard loud until you've heard several Pyrodex pellets go off at once. I wonder what the cops would think of my muzzle loading equipment.

So how exactly did this elite police force crack this case?
"For us, it's a horrible concern to have all these things mixed together in one spot," Apex Police Chief Jack Lewis said.

Police stumbled onto the operation when responding to a complaint about a barking dog. An officer who went to the townhouse smelled marijuana and investigated, police said.
So much for the Fourth Amendment. A cop smells the odor of pot and can get a warrant to bust in and haul the guy off to prison. He probably heard Grateful Dead music playing, which is enough to get a warrant these days. I'm glad the police are out busting pot smokers instead of less serious threats like illegal aliens that get drunk and crash into incoming traffic.

The worst thing is that most people will read this report and think that "assault rifles", "pipe bombs", and "flag jackets/helmets" are illegal and that this was a huge bust that narrowly avoided a disaster. I'll bet most of the cops thought it was illegal to have that stuff. Maybe this was the early stages of domestic terrorism and they'll produce some tapes of the guy plotting to blow up the acorn in Raleigh. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

But I know a lot -- and I mean a lot -- of law abiding citizens that the cops could tell the same story about. Not that cops or DAs have a track record of lying in NC.

Read between the lines in these stories. They could be talking about you.

Ok, they wouldn't find the body armor or gas masks at my house, but certainly some ammo (cough) and rifles (cough cough) and pistols (cough, cough, cough).

And they'd find some jewelry worth a lot more than $7K plus a fair pile of cash.

What? Oh, I've been married a long time and like to give my wife presents.

They'd also find a laptop with encrypted files.

What? Oh, for work.

They'd also find Arabic writing.

What? Oh my wife had to learn to read Aramaic for a work project. (Yes, she is the smart one.)

Not that they'd report the last - might lead people to suspect an Arab/Terrorist connection!



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