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Small Arms Data by Wire (SADW): October 1999

By Nick Steadman

SADW is a monthly electronic publication from Nick Steadman Features. Nick, intrepid world traveling reporter for much of the arms industry, files this 40,000 to 50,000 word report once a month to his loyal subscribers. Those lucky ones pay a mere $50 (US) £32.50 (UK) per year for the privilege of getting the hot tips and insights from one of the industry’s insiders. Nick’s unique perspective is globally based, as is his wit. Each issue is full of insight and information for those with an interest in Small Arms, as well as his observations on world travel.

EVEN MORE STEYR SCOUTS WITH KLA: in his recent jottings, Col Jeff Cooper reports that he was told in Austria that there are 35-50 Steyr Scout Rifles in Kosovo. Since we understand the KLA is allowed to keep its commercial bolt-action rifles and any shotguns, we guess they’ll be staying there. We’d be very interested to know where the Scouts actually came from, however.

NATO BOMBING CAMPAIGN HAD NEGLIGIBLE MILITARY IMPACT: a Daily Telegraph item said a NATO review of the Serbia bombing campaign had concluded this had virtually no military impact on Milosevic, who only rolled over after losing Russian support. It found that the Serbian forces in Kosovo had remained essentially unscathed, and that bombing of strategic targets was badly planned & executed. If starting out again, NATO would probably opt to go after targets such as public utilities more fiercely and earlier in any hostilities, and most likely also scrap the policy of ‘phasing’ the bombing of Serb military targets which allowed Milosevic time to regain the propaganda initiative.

The alliance also believes it needs to acquire more remotely controlled, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for detailed low-level reconnaissance and target identification. However, whilst this soul-searching analysis is all fine and dandy, we hope NATO will not find it necessary to re-test its tactics anytime soon, which would reinforce growing hostility outside the ambit of the alliance to the power projection - as opposed to defensive role that NATO has newly created for itself.

PERSUADE US THAT KOSOVO WILL NOT GO PEAR-SHAPED: we’re still convinced none of the outsiders, starting with NATO, who have been pulling the strings in Kosovo have the foggiest idea what dangerous stuff they’re playing with. We quote:

‘The rebel-led provisional government of Kosovo refuses to acknowledge unconditionally the legal authority of the United Nations civilian administration in the region, and warns that it could revert to armed struggle if the UN administration fails to lead Kosovo toward independence’ (Wall Street Journal Europe, 5 Jul 99)

Kosovan independence, you’ll recall, was never on the cards as far as anyone other than the KLA was concerned, but NATO sought & accepted the KLA’s help during the expulsion of Serb forces from Kosovo; now it’s insisting on the Kosovan resistance being disarmed. No-one heeded the old admonition that one never messed with the Balkans except at one’s own peril. We can now see another Northern Ireland already in the making.

COLT ‘BETTING THE COMPANY’ ON SMART GUN: there was another minor publicity blip for the Colt Smart Gun in late Jul 99 when Newsweek ran a piece reporting that a patent had been applied for. It said that Colt president Steve Sliwa, whose mission was get the Smart Gun up & running, was not a gun-owner when he joined the Hartford firm and quoted him as saying “We’re essentially a 1950s company with old equipment”. As to the implications of the Smart Gun, Sliwa reportedly said “We’re betting the company on this”.

$2.95 A MINUTE FAX ‘POLL’ CREATES WAVES: in late May 99, a warning was issued by Better Business Bureaus (BBB) about a so-called ‘National Gun Control Poll’, voting papers for which were faxed unsolicited to ‘over 4 million’ recipients in the USA by a firm calling itself 21st Century Fax Ltd in New York, though this was reportedly only a ‘mail drop’. BBB said that the ‘poll’ actually originated from 21st Century Fax Ltd in London, which has a Website http://www.pollresults.co.uk/ showing that it also sells such exciting stuff as exercise and weight loss tips by fax and Internet.

Significantly, the poll (a copy of which is on our files) notes that replying by fax will take around 1-2 minutes, and calls to either of the two 1-900 numbers shown would cost $2.95 a minute. Ermmm - over four million forms at $2.95 to $5.90 a whack? That’s an awful lot of premium phone-rate income.

Complaints were made to the FCC http://www.fcc.gov/ and FTC http://www.ftc.gov/ about this fax poll, and an investigation was under way - FCC rules prohibit unsolicited commercial faxes.

BBB went on to say that, according to a Washington Post report, a temporary injunction was obtained earlier this year by regulators in the UK against the director & other officers of a sister company, 20th Century Fax Ltd, alleging it sent deceptive & misleading information in faxes offering a ‘Yummy Yum Yum Diet’. However, anyone taking seriously any communication about something with such a daft name as this probably deserves all he gets.

STINGERS STILL CIRCULATING: those Stinger SAMs the CIA originally supplied to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan keep popping up unexpectedly - The Asian Age recently showed an Indian army NCO inspecting a sample recovered from Pakistani troops, along with a number of 7.62mm MG3 GPMGs, a GPMG sustained-fire kit and a 30mm AGS-17 grenade launcher.

HIRED GUNS: an Independent on Sunday story in May 99 said that, in an attempt to persuade Hollywood moviemakers to come to the UK, the British government was offering to hire out regular & reserve military personnel and equipment, to which end a new MOD liaison post had been created. The MOD will charge ‘commercial’ daily rates of £60 per head for troops used in movies, but the servicemen themselves will get nothing extra. Ministers are thought to be miffed because Steven Spielberg borrowed 1,000 troops from the Irish army to make ‘Saving Private Ryan’.

GLOCK INC ON SMART GUNS: The New York Times quoted Glock’s general counsel, Paul Januzzo in Jun 99 on the controversial subject of ‘smart guns’: “The first guy to invent an affordable and reliable smart gun will be a Trillionaire. It’s absurd to say we’re hiding this technology. Why would someone be hiding it? They’d be a wealthy person.” We guess we can take this as a heavy hint as to what Glock itself may be up to.

IANSA GUN-BURNING STUNT: we’ve mentioned before the ‘bonfire of guns’ (aka Flame of Peace) event orchestrated to mark the launch of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in the Hague on 11 May 99). Saferworld’s Summer 99 Update newsletter carried a photo of this immortal event, with a Kenyan dignitary lighting a tripod of wooden poles, towards the apex of which were tied, Christmas tree-style, a number of distinctly non-flammable MAC-10 lookalikes, as symbols of evil incarnate.

The whole thing had the bizarre appearance of one of those old Salem witch-burnings. If this cheap stunt is any indication of the quality of debate we can expect from IANSA in the future, we shouldn’t worry too much. What subsequently happened to the slightly-scorched MAC-10s was not disclosed, though the whole thing might have had rather more impact if they’d tied some of the convicted triggermen to the stake rather than trying to cremate a few innocent Ingram clones.

AERIAL GUNFIRE A PROBLEM IN ARIZONA: A Jun 99 report in the Arizona Republic claimed that bullets randomly fired into the air in Phoenix were an increasing public safety hazard. It cited a recent case in which a 14-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet while standing in her own back yard which had an eight-foot wall around it. Phoenix police say they get at least 50 ‘shots fired’ calls a night, and other cities nearby report similar trends.

In reality of course, it is not usually ‘spent’ bullets fired into the air and plunging to earth under the sole influence of gravity that cause the deaths, but bullets which are still ‘under power’, albeit often at the outer extent of their ballistic trajectory.

UK MOD Y2K PREPARATIONS: it’s been confirmed by the UK MOD that it’s now thoroughly checked its ‘nuclear deterrent’ and the ministry claims there’s ‘no risk of it being fired accidentally through any computer failure’. Nice to know, now we’ve had the house re-painted.

Royal Navy ships should be cleared by Aug 99 and army ‘mission critical’ systems, including weaponry, by Sep 99. All RAF aircraft have already been certified safe to fly after 31 Dec 99.

BRAZIL GUN BAN - OPPOSITION GETS ORGANISED: the National Association of Firearms Owners and Retailers (ANPCA), formed in Brazil to fight government proposals for an outright gun ban, says it has already managed to get the ‘urgent’ classification of the legislation dropped and also secured a decision from the courts that the Rio de Janeiro state ban, which the federal ban would resemble, is unconstitutional. It furthermore claims that public support for the federal legislation is waning.

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