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Thread: Crime commission to seek action against cigarette trafficking - Violent Crime

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    Regular Member Repeater's Avatar
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    Crime commission to seek action against cigarette trafficking - Violent Crime

    First, the story here:

    Crime commission to seek action against cigarette trafficking


    The Virginia State Crime Commission is drafting legislation aimed at illegal cigarette trafficking following a closed briefing from law enforcement agencies earlier this month.

    The commission chairman, state Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-Williamsburg, said he was alarmed by the pervasiveness and sophistication of the trafficking and said the legislature and the public needs to be educated about of the threat.

    Norment and state Sen. Janet D. Howell, D-Fairfax, did not comment on the specifics of the 2½-hour closed-door meeting. But, said Howell, "We're finding that the ties to organized crime and terrorism are real and the trafficking is increasing."

    "For Virginia, it's not just the revenue loss, but we're bringing bad players into our commonwealth," Howell said. "They're setting up shop here and particularly down the (Interstate) 95 and 81 corridors."

    ...

    Last year (Senator Janet) Howell prompted a Crime Commission study of the illicit trafficking that continued this year. "What little did I know," she said. "I thought it was a minor problem. I had no idea it was going to be this serious."

    In May, for example, New York authorities announced the arrests of 16 Palestinians, some with connections to terrorist organizations, who allegedly shipped 1 million cartons of cigarettes from Virginia to New York making an estimated $65 million profit.

    Just last month two of the defendants were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder after allegedly plotting via telephone from the Rikers Island jail to kill witnesses.

    The trafficking is bringing the state the same kind of unwanted attention it once drew as a major source of firearms for illegal gun traffickers.

    A story last November in The Economist began: "The busy interstate highway that zips through Richmond, Virginia, and up to the crowded cities of the north-east has long been a conduit for handguns bought wholesale in Virginia and sold to drug-dealers in New York. Now I-95 is siphoning northwards another form of contraband: black-market cigarettes."

    ....

    Virginia's excise tax for a carton of cigarettes is $3 while in New York City it is $58.50.

    Virginia, with the second lowest cigarette tax in the country, is located near states with some of the highest taxes. A carton of cigarettes that sells in Virginia for $40 to $45 costs $120 to $150 in New York City.

    A car load of 750 cartons driven from Virginia and sold in New York without paying New York taxes can mean a profit of nearly $43,000.

    Virginia is unlikely to increase its excise tax while states like New York are unlikely to decrease theirs. "The solution is obvious, but there's not the political will to do it," Howell said.

    As a result, Virginia is a top source state for cigarette traffickers. The General Assembly stiffened some laws during the last two sessions in response to the dubious distinction -- but the problem appears to be worsening.

    The illicit trafficking is so lucrative it has corrupted some investigators, led to murder and assaults, has been linked to terrorist organizations and leads to ancillary crime such as fraud and money laundering.
    I'll tell you all something: I've seen this. I've seen this along the Midlothian corridor.

    {The following may be offensive to impressionable lurkers}

    I've seen dark-skinned muslim-looking foreigners driving up in vans with out-of-state license plates at certain convenience stores that also sell gasoline (I'm leaving unnamed but you figure it out).

    These men get out of the van one at a time, go inside and order the maximum: 5 cartons. Then they pay in CASH. They usually have EXACT CHANGE. The guy exit the store; the next one comes inside; repeat.

    The driver usually does not go inside; instead he's usually on his cell phone watching the situation around him. He looks with hostility at any person watching him or the van. When the last person gets in the van, it leaves. Usually, it will go to ANOTHER store. Repeat. And repeat. I have to wonder if they're armed. Imagine a confrontation.

    Honestly, it's scary, what I've seen. Somebody gonna get killed.

    Having said all that, the proposed solution potentially concerns me: making the ABC more like the ATF. What do you all think about that?
    Last edited by Repeater; 11-26-2013 at 04:07 PM.

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    Activist Member JamesCanby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Repeater View Post
    First, the story here:

    Crime commission to seek action against cigarette trafficking


    I'll tell you all something: I've seen this. I've seen this along the Midlothian corridor.

    {The following may be offensive to impressionable lurkers}

    I've seen dark-skinned muslim-looking foreigners driving up in vans with out-of-state license plates at certain convenience stores that also sell gasoline (I'm leaving unnamed but you figure it out).

    These men get out of the van one at a time, go inside and order the maximum: 5 cartons. Then they pay in CASH. They usually have EXACT CHANGE. The guy exit the store; the next one comes inside; repeat.

    The driver usually does not go inside; instead he's usually on his cell phone watching the situation around him. He looks with hostility at any person watching him or the van. When the last person gets in the van, it leaves. Usually, it will go to ANOTHER store. Repeat. And repeat. I have to wonder if they're armed. Imagine a confrontation.

    Honestly, it's scary, what I've seen. Somebody gonna get killed.

    Having said all that, the proposed solution potentially concerns me: making the ABC more like the ATF. What do you all think about that?
    I'm straining to find the relevance to properly holstered, openly carried handguns....
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    Regular Member Primus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Repeater View Post
    First, the story here:

    Crime commission to seek action against cigarette trafficking


    I'll tell you all something: I've seen this. I've seen this along the Midlothian corridor.

    {The following may be offensive to impressionable lurkers}

    I've seen dark-skinned muslim-looking foreigners driving up in vans with out-of-state license plates at certain convenience stores that also sell gasoline (I'm leaving unnamed but you figure it out).

    These men get out of the van one at a time, go inside and order the maximum: 5 cartons. Then they pay in CASH. They usually have EXACT CHANGE. The guy exit the store; the next one comes inside; repeat.

    The driver usually does not go inside; instead he's usually on his cell phone watching the situation around him. He looks with hostility at any person watching him or the van. When the last person gets in the van, it leaves. Usually, it will go to ANOTHER store. Repeat. And repeat. I have to wonder if they're armed. Imagine a confrontation.

    Honestly, it's scary, what I've seen. Somebody gonna get killed.

    Having said all that, the proposed solution potentially concerns me: making the ABC more like the ATF. What do you all think about that?
    It seems your on the ball with being aware of your surroundings. Next time make a call to the PD or get the plate number and send it in as a tip. We know it falls back on us if these guys do start shooting people with guns, it'll just lead to more gun laws and crazyiness. Also,(more importantly to me), if these dudes are operating literally in your neighborhood then get them out of there. If they get "spooked" and decide to go down with a bang, you and yours could be harmed along with countless others. Even just a tip of the plate and location of the store they used would help. I'm sure some of the gas stations have cameras to pull up photos or videos of the guys. If this commision is set up, then you have a perfect place to forward the info to.

    Good luck and be safe.

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    Regular Member Repeater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Primus View Post
    It seems your on the ball with being aware of your surroundings. Next time make a call to the PD or get the plate number and send it in as a tip. We know it falls back on us if these guys do start shooting people with guns, it'll just lead to more gun laws and crazyiness. Also,(more importantly to me), if these dudes are operating literally in your neighborhood then get them out of there. If they get "spooked" and decide to go down with a bang, you and yours could be harmed along with countless others. Even just a tip of the plate and location of the store they used would help. I'm sure some of the gas stations have cameras to pull up photos or videos of the guys. If this commission is set up, then you have a perfect place to forward the info to.

    Good luck and be safe.
    That's very good advice. I do wonder how OC would "spook" the lookout. I'm telling you, these guys seem potentially dangerous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Repeater View Post
    That's very good advice. I do wonder how OC would "spook" the lookout. I'm telling you, these guys seem potentially dangerous.
    Do you carry in an attempt to frighten smugglers from smuggling?

    If you see something, say something. (I cannot believe I actually am posting that with a straight face.) Be aware that if you are observed by the alleged smugglers, especially if they observe you taking pictures/video of them, they may decide to take exception to that, and express said exception physically. Case law does not seem to be settled as to your behavior not being confrontational and the instigation of any interaction, as opposed to being an inncocent bystander suddenly caught up in someone's rage.

    The above is not to discourage you attempting to document any suspicious activity you see. Just to begin the conversation of how far one might go before a) assuming too direct a role in community policing, and b) deciding in advance when discretion is the better part of valor.

    stay safe.
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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesCanby View Post
    I'm straining to find the relevance to properly holstered, openly carried handguns....

    Me too James.....sigh.

    I suppose someone will tie OC in to avenging tax cheats soon

    I guess I'd better be careful. I was OC'ing at a Martins and waiting outside for my wife....BUT I was smoking a cigarette in front of a Please do not smoke sign. About the same amount of others peoples business as foreigners buying cigarettes at WaWa,
    Last edited by peter nap; 11-26-2013 at 07:16 PM.

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    Regular Member FBrinson's Avatar
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    I've seen this behavior at a gas station/ convenience store on Rt 1. It's been going on for years now. I have brought it to the attention of a State Trooper who was in the store getting some coffee while 4 guys were taking turns at each register buying cigarettes and putting them in the back of a van. The trooper just shrugged and walked away.
    Nobody cares that this is happening. At one point last year, the store manager at this particular store was bringing in stacks of cases of Newports and keeping them behind the sales counter in piled up in the office to support this. I've often wondered what the incentive was for doing that. Growing sales for his store, or ..
    The manager isnt at that store anymore.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBrinson View Post
    I've seen this behavior at a gas station/ convenience store on Rt 1. It's been going on for years now. I have brought it to the attention of a State Trooper who was in the store getting some coffee while 4 guys were taking turns at each register buying cigarettes and putting them in the back of a van. The trooper just shrugged and walked away.
    Nobody cares that this is happening. At one point last year, the store manager at this particular store was bringing in stacks of cases of Newports and keeping them behind the sales counter in piled up in the office to support this. I've often wondered what the incentive was for doing that. Growing sales for his store, or ..
    The manager isnt at that store anymore.

    They're paying the Va Tax on them FB.
    They're not hurting Va at all.
    Why would a State Trooper care anymore about people buying Cigarettes legally, then they would someone OC'ing a handgun.

    When I was a Ski Instructor, you couldn't buy Coors Beer. Every month or so someone would drive out West and load up a Van.

    The world didn't end, the Tater Crop didn't wilt, the state didn't go broke.

    Remember the 11th Commandment. Mind thine own business.

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    Regular Member FBrinson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    They're paying the Va Tax on them FB.
    They're not hurting Va at all.
    Why would a State Trooper care anymore about people buying Cigarettes legally, then they would someone OC'ing a handgun.

    When I was a Ski Instructor, you couldn't buy Coors Beer. Every month or so someone would drive out West and load up a Van.

    The world didn't end, the Tater Crop didn't wilt, the state didn't go broke.

    Remember the 11th Commandment. Mind thine own business.
    Yah, I get that. I know buying cigs isnt illegal, but crossing state lines and reselling in NY, NJ, PA, etc must be. Once the folks that legally purchased those cigarettes have crossed the state line and sell them tax-free on the black market they become criminals. I don't like criminals coming (back) to Virginia.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBrinson View Post
    Yah, I get that. I know buying cigs isnt illegal, but crossing state lines and reselling in NY, NJ, PA, etc must be. Once the folks that legally purchased those cigarettes have crossed the state line and sell them tax-free on the black market they become criminals. I don't like criminals coming (back) to Virginia.
    NY, NJ, PA can deal with them when they become criminals. Here, they're just stockpiling cigarettes...legally.

    I buy 2 boxes of 22's nearly every day. That's the max the place will let me get. I might be doing it so I can sell them to Yankees. But then again............

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    Regular Member FBrinson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    NY, NJ, PA can deal with them when they become criminals. Here, they're just stockpiling cigarettes...legally.

    I buy 2 boxes of 22's nearly every day. That's the max the place will let me get. I might be doing it so I can sell them to Yankees. But then again............
    How do you feel about Straw Purchases of firearms?

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBrinson View Post
    How do you feel about Straw Purchases of firearms?
    I feel like it's illegal. HERE, NOW, not in a place far far away that I could care less about.
    Now ask me how I feel about private purchases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    I feel like it's illegal. HERE, NOW, not in a place far far away that I could care less about.
    Now ask me how I feel about private purchases.
    § 58.1-1017.1. Possession with intent to distribute tax-paid, contraband cigarettes; penalty.

    Any person other than an authorized holder who possesses, with intent to distribute, more than 5,000 (25 cartons) but fewer than 100,000 (500 cartons) tax-paid cigarettes is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense and is guilty of a Class 6 felony for any second or subsequent offense. Any person other than an authorized holder who possesses, with intent to distribute, 100,000 (500 cartons) or more tax-paid cigarettes is guilty of a Class 6 felony for a first offense and is guilty of a Class 5 felony for a second or subsequent offense. Additionally, any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of (i) $2.50 per pack, but no more than $5,000, for a first offense; (ii) $5 per pack, but no more than $10,000, for a second such offense committed within a 36-month period; and (iii) $10 per pack, but no more than $50,000, for a third or subsequent such offense committed within a 36-month period. The civil penalties shall be assessed and collected by the Department as other taxes are collected.

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    Lower the tax on the product then .... I would not find anyone guilty regarding any taxing of a product to the point of cigs.

    Period.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBrinson View Post
    § 58.1-1017.1. Possession with intent to distribute tax-paid, contraband cigarettes; penalty.

    Any person other than an authorized holder who possesses, with intent to distribute, more than 5,000 (25 cartons) but fewer than 100,000 (500 cartons) tax-paid cigarettes is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense and is guilty of a Class 6 felony for any second or subsequent offense. Any person other than an authorized holder who possesses, with intent to distribute, 100,000 (500 cartons) or more tax-paid cigarettes is guilty of a Class 6 felony for a first offense and is guilty of a Class 5 felony for a second or subsequent offense. Additionally, any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of (i) $2.50 per pack, but no more than $5,000, for a first offense; (ii) $5 per pack, but no more than $10,000, for a second such offense committed within a 36-month period; and (iii) $10 per pack, but no more than $50,000, for a third or subsequent such offense committed within a 36-month period. The civil penalties shall be assessed and collected by the Department as other taxes are collected.
    OK FB.....next time you see one of those Arabs buying 5 cartons of cigarettes, count em and if there are more than 5000 smokes in them, make a citizens arrest.

    Or,,,,,, you could minority report them because anyone buying 5 cartons of cigarettes is guaranteed to sell them North of the NI.

    If you're trying to tie that into a straw purchase, the crime committed at the time of purchase (In Va) was answering that it was for him. You'd still have to prove that he intended to buy it for someone else when he answered that question.

    I've never seen an unsworn oath on paperwork to buy Lucky Strikes.
    Last edited by peter nap; 11-26-2013 at 10:13 PM.

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    Regular Member FBrinson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    OK FB.....next time you see one of those Arabs buying 5 cartons of cigarettes, count em and if there are more than 5000 smokes in them, make a citizens arrest.

    Or,,,,,, you could minority report them because anyone buying 5 cartons of cigarettes is guaranteed to sell them North of the NI.

    If you're trying to tie that into a straw purchase, the crime committed at the time of purchase (In Va) was answering that it was for him. You'd still have to prove that he intended to buy it for someone else when he answered that question.

    I've never seen an unsworn oath on paperwork to buy Lucky Strikes.

    I was discussing groups of 4-5 guys/gals buying 5 cartons at a time, taking them back to the van, coming back in and buying 5 more from a different cashier and repeating the process.
    The folks I've witnessed were filling up the back of a mini-van with no less than 30 cases of cigarettes (before someone asks, I parked next to them and they had the back of the vehicle opened and were covering the cases with towels as I pulled up.) The people were not Arabs as far as I know but I didnt ask and don't recall suggesting they were.
    The vehicle had PA license plates. Were the guys making legal purchases? It's possible all those cartons of Newports were empty, I suppose. It looked suspicious enough that I brought it to the attention of the State Trooper. And as pointed out in the link from the original post of this thread, there are connections to organized crime and terrorism. I'm not going to back off from reporting what I think is illegal activity to the police if I see something suspicious. I would think you would encourage that.

    But like I said earlier, nobody really cares.
    Last edited by FBrinson; 11-26-2013 at 10:37 PM. Reason: changed 'cartons' to 'cases'

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBrinson View Post
    I was discussing groups of 4-5 guys/gals buying 5 cartons at a time, taking them back to the van, coming back in and buying 5 more from a different cashier and repeating the process.
    The folks I've witnessed were filling up the back of a mini-van with no less than 30 cases of cigarettes (before someone asks, I parked next to them and they had the back of the vehicle opened and were covering the cases with towels as I pulled up.) The people were not Arabs as far as I know but I didnt ask and don't recall suggesting they were.
    The vehicle had PA license plates. Were the guys making legal purchases? It's possible all those cartons of Newports were empty, I suppose. It looked suspicious enough that I brought it to the attention of the State Trooper. And as pointed out in the link from the original post of this thread, there are connections to organized crime and terrorism. I'm not going to back off from reporting what I think is illegal activity to the police if I see something suspicious. I would think you would encourage that.

    But like I said earlier, nobody really cares.

    I know FB...I'm just having fun BUT...each one of that group can have 5000 cigarettes and still be legal.

    Back to the 22's. Often my wife will buy two boxes so we have 4 boxes in the car.

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    Regular Member FBrinson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    I know FB...I'm just having fun BUT...each one of that group can have 5000 cigarettes and still be legal.

    Back to the 22's. Often my wife will buy two boxes so we have 4 boxes in the car.
    My wife wont buy me 22 ammo. But!!! She lets me buy as many used 22 rifles as i can to practice refinishing as part of my gunsmith training! I bought that crappy Remington 514 from GT's yesterday and hope to have it looking like new within the next week or so! (She said it looked sad sitting there on the rack)

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesCanby View Post
    I'm straining to find the relevance to properly holstered, openly carried handguns....
    me too
    Carry On.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBrinson View Post
    My wife wont buy me 22 ammo. But!!! She lets me buy as many used 22 rifles as i can to practice refinishing as part of my gunsmith training! I bought that crappy Remington 514 from GT's yesterday and hope to have it looking like new within the next week or so! (She said it looked sad sitting there on the rack)
    Did you show them your receipt on the way out.

    I've never seen anyone as embarrassed as Loss Prevention when I explained there was no law in Va to allow that, that the person they chose to pull that stunt with was one of the more respected firearms activists in the state...and that they had just about assured the success of Hopkins guns.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Did you show them your receipt on the way out.

    I've never seen anyone as embarrassed as Loss Prevention when I explained there was no law in Va to allow that, that the person they chose to pull that stunt with was one of the more respected firearms activists in the state...and that they had just about assured the success of Hopkins guns.
    LOL! On the way out the guy asked where the bolt to the rifle was and my wife said "in my purse' and kept walking.

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    Regular Member Repeater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Me too James.....sigh.

    I suppose someone will tie OC in to avenging tax cheats soon
    Sarcasm notwithstanding, this is a violent crime issue. Here is the latest report from the VSCC:
    Page 14:

    • Conclusion: Illegal cigarette trafficking is not a “cigarette issue.”
    • IT IS AN ORGANIZED CRIME ISSUE.
    • Trafficking hurts all legitimate manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, and leads to an increase in attendant crimes, such as credit card fraud, money laundering, burglaries, robberies and homicide/murder for hire schemes.

    Page 21:

    • In May of 2013, a multi-agency police investigation of a cigarette smuggling ring led to 16 arrests in New York and Virginia.
    • The defendants are believed to be associated with both Hamas and Hezbollah operatives.
    • This criminal conspiracy involved Palestinians smuggling up to 20,000 cartons of cigarettes a week.
    – The cigarettes were bought in bulk from a wholesaler in Virginia, stored in Delaware, and then trafficked into New York.
    – It is estimated that at least $65 million were made by the defendants.
    • In October of 2013, two of the leaders of this conspiracy were charged with an additional crime: attempting to arrange the contract murder of two witnesses

    Page 25:

    • In April of 2012, Onesimo Marcelino and three defendants were arrested in New York for trafficking cigarettes.
    • They purchased over 111,000 cartons of cigarettes in Virginia and transported them to New York.
    – Payment was made with “millions in cash, thousands of grams of cocaine, an expensive SUV, and two firearms.”
    I take this incursion seriously. So should you.

  23. #23
    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Repeater View Post
    Sarcasm notwithstanding, this is a violent crime issue. Here is the latest report from the VSCC:


    I take this incursion seriously. So should you.
    As long as they behave in Virginia, I don't care what they do in New York.
    And if you want an honest opinion, New York charging a $53.00 tax are the criminals.

    The report had to throw in the terrorist card too.
    I give it a high BS rating.

    AND...it isn't an OC in Virginia issue.
    Last edited by peter nap; 11-27-2013 at 12:08 PM.

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    Have seen this at Costco before…,

    and they're buying more than five cartons, a heckuva lot more than five cartons. Might seem like a backdoor way to track terrorist and their money, but how much good is that really doing? Will we ever really know? I think the problem we need to see here is that government is increasingly trying to make us all felons in one way, shape or form, using any front door, backdoor, window, mouse hole, and crack in the wall possible. Why do you "need" five hundred cigarettes? Do we need to reduce high capacity cigarette packs from 20 to 7? And remember…, it's for the children.

    sidestreet

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    we are not equal, we will never be equal, but we must be relentless.
    Last edited by sidestreet; 11-27-2013 at 01:39 PM.

  25. #25
    Activist Member JamesCanby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    As long as they behave in Virginia, I don't care what they do in New York.
    And if you want an honest opinion, New York charging a $53.00 tax are the criminals.

    The report had to throw in the terrorist card too.
    I give it a high BS rating.

    AND...it isn't an OC in Virginia issue.
    +1 .... Why are we talking about this here?
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