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Homeland Security

You just can’t make up this stuff.
I was going with buddy, Mike Best to the Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show. I had been a couple of years before and it was a blast. (Pun intended) I had repaired a machine gun, a fine Browning thirty caliber for a friend and client, Robin Reynolds who lived just outside of Bloomington, Illinois. I decided to make a slight detour and deliver the weapon to him. We were flying in my Piper Warrior, a fine four seat aircraft that was my second love.
Arriving in Bloomington, we not only had Robin’s weapon, but were also armed to the teeth with several other machine guns and lots of ammo to feed them. Getting out of the aircraft at the FBO (Fixed Base Operator, which is where the private planes get gas and park), I saw Robin on the other side of the fence, and walked with his weapon on my shoulder with a belt of ammo to the fence and handed it over to him. I then went inside and made arrangements to have the aircraft fueled.
We got in Robin’s truck and headed out to his place where he had a shooting range so we could demonstrate that the weapon would function to his satisfaction. At the Acme Gadget Division we don’t confuse effort with achievement, and wanted affirmation of that.
The weapon performed flawlessly. As she was cooling down, I got a call from the airport. It was the Sherriff, a bit agitated……..advising that I was in big trouble and better get back to the airport ASAP. In retrospect, he turned out to be a good guy caught up in something he didn’t understand.
When we got back to the airport, every blue light was winking and they had the place triangulated, regulated, and securely surrounded. Some very irate gentlemen in uniform demanded we keep our hands in sight and come with them.
Local law enforcement guys and the Homeland Security agents wanted some answers. So did I. After about an hour of interrogation the head DHS guy (no he didn’t have dirty knees), advised that the investigation would continue even after we leave. I advised Mike that I thought I heard a key word………leave. And that we did without delay.
We went on to Oklahoma and enjoyed the mission that we planned. Oh, there’s a side story that I have to record here. Again, you can’t make up this stuff. When we left Oklahoma, the Shoot was still going on. It was Sunday. We took back the rental car and got underway in the aircraft. I did a fly-by at the range and finding it at a ‘cease-fire’ state did a low approach and got a photo of the firing line. Ready to head home, I got the bright idea…….. I asked Mike to fish around the baggage area and see if there was a roll of toilet paper back there. He found one. I did another low approach and ‘rolled’ them with the paper, just enough unrolled to make it ‘stream’ to the target. Satisfied with a good mission, we came home. A few weeks later we were informed that a fellow named Nap (Napoleon) was in the woods relieving himself. The range had run out of paper. Then comes a roll from the sky to his astonishment. My faith in the time-space continuum is reinforced.
OK, back to the ****-storm in Bloomington. The event there was on 22 June, 2006. I get a letter from Homeland Security dated 16 August. ( I was struck by lightening and died briefly four days later…………another chapter.
Here’s the letter……..I have the original.

August 16, 2006
CERTIFIED MAIL- Return Receipt
Mr. Ryland Fleet
Tanstaafl Machine Tool Service,Inc.
10475 Talleysville Rd.
New Kent, VA, 23124
Dear Mr. Fleet:
The purpose of this letter is to follow up on an incident that occurred on 22 June 2006 at the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, Illinois. Soon after arriving at the Fixed Base Operator, (FBO), site within the general aviation area of the airport, you and another individual (later identified as Mr. Henry M. Best) were observed transporting what appeared to be a “machine gun” and a bandolier of ammunition. Reportedly, you transported this weapon and ammunition in the open while crossing the FBO ramp area. You or Mr. Best then handed the weapon over to a Mr. Robin Reynolds who, in turn, transported the weapon a short distance across a public parking lot.
FBO employees who observed your arrival were alarmed upon seeing an openly exposed weapon and ammunition of this type. They responded appropriately by immediately reporting the situation. Their report of your actions resulted in a considerable response from the law enforcement community and federal agency representatives.
Since 11 September 2001, significant efforts have been taken to enhance security methods, systems, and procedures involving public transportation. These efforts have increased public awareness. Airport, air carrier, and airport tenant employees are much more likely to take immediate action in the presence of suspicious activity. Openly transporting weapons and ammunition at or near a commercial airport constitutes “suspicious activity”.
A copy of this letter has been forwarded to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, (ATF) Springfield, Illinois, at their request.
Dominic J. Lilak, Ph.D.
Assistant Federal Security Director-Regulatory
CC: ATF Springfield, Illinois

I read this, and read it again. Here’s my reply…………
Dear Mr. Lilak,
I am responding to your letter of August 16, 2006 and would like to fill in some ‘blanks’, insert my opinion, and offer some advice. Be advised, I am not a PH.D, indeed , I finished the 10th grade by cheating and that’s where my education by professionals ended. I am, however neither dull nor uninformed.
On 22 June 2006, I delivered to Mr. Reynolds his 1919A4 Browning belt-fed rifle to him personally at the Central Illinois Airport. The rifle was repaired by my firm, was noted in my ATF “Bound Book” as per Federal requirements. I removed it from the aircraft and walked 100 yards to hand it directly to him, the legal owner. We then drove a short distance to his private range to determine if the weapon would perform to his satisfaction.
Federal Law provides that a citizen may transport a firearm from a legal departure point to a legal destination. Further, an aircraft captain may have onboard at his disposal firearms for protection, survival, or signaling purposes. This is not practical locked in a case.
The manager of the facility told me when I was about to depart, that the only reason he called you was because he had been ‘set up’ a number of times by airport security by sending unauthorized persons out to the aircraft operating area, and then citing and fining him. He was in no way alarmed or even annoyed by my actions.
I disagree that this constitutes ‘suspicious activity’. Would a criminal or a terrorist walk openly with a weapon of this type and the ammunition as well?
You told me personally that this was about ‘appearances’. It would appear that the entire TSA mode of operation is about appearances. The money you spend taking Granny’s shoes off might better be spent on a few more checked-baggage bomb screening machines. From my perspective, except from arming captains and hardening the cockpit doors, the stuff the TSA is doing is so much security masturbation!
We, the honest citizens of this Great Nation are your best first responders. Our underpaid law enforcement guys are spread too thin for an adequate job of doing anymore than mopping up bad situations .I submit that if our Second Amendment Rights had not been so diluted, on 9/11 an armed citizen may have been able to affect the outcome. Perhaps we would have lost aircraft and lives onboard, but perhaps not the Towers or the Pentagon. In this age of terrorism and uncertainty, I further submit that this is not the time for honest citizens to hide and lock away their weapons.We are many and your frontline troops.
Be advised, it is part of my normal routine to openly transport weapons of the type discussed here to shows, exhibitions and competitions, to various destinations. My local Airport Police Captain was advised and consulted prior to beginning this activity years ago and the FBO manager is aware and comfortable with my activities as well.
Having said that, I am an honest, hard working citizen, and a gentleman as well. I do not wish to joust with your agency, or make your job any more difficult than it is. Please advise any regulatory item that I can comply with or even a personal suggestion that will make you more comfortable.
A copy of this letter has been forwarded to my local ATF Branch, as well, not by request, but in my usual style of openness.
Ryland Fleet, President
Acme Gadget Division
‘Expert Since 10 AM’

I did not get a reply. The ATF raided Robin’s place and with News7 camera crews bringing up the rear. He was in compliance and they all went away disappointed.
I wish I had something brilliant to leave in conclusion. I don’t. Perhaps the readers will find that for themselves.


4,953 Posts
As usual my hats off to you Ryland for handling this situation like the professional you are, PhD or no PhD. :eek:

742 Posts
Ryland, you are the wind under my wings after reading this pithy tome! Actually, I'm normally the wind under my own wings (which is generally covered up with the application of several books of lit matches! ;D ), but today you have taken that place with your, as always, scholarly ramblings. Well done sir!

7,250 Posts

Not a bad idea. We all need to be reminded of the actions that need to be observed and followed during our normal course of business,especially the firearms business. SALUTE...to Ryland for his superlative accounting of what could have resulted in a legal ****-storm. Cool heads prevail in such situations. We all need to be reminded of this from time-to-time. As one of our members puts at the bottom of his posts..."Be polite...be a gentleman....but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.".....or something like that.

283 Posts
Homeland inSecurity, what a joke.

I salute you for giving them a politely worded F-You! Funny thing is, they're too stupid to know they've just been told F-You!

Oh, and love the tactical TP drop on the firing line.

Although not anywhere as big of a shitstorm as your story, it does remind me of the time I got jammed up for my semi-auto 1919a4 and an AR pistol out here in CA. The local authorities had never seen either and thought they were going to make a "huge bust" and take my guns "off the street". First off, I don't leave my guns on the street, and secondly I was in full compliance of state and federal law. I had to explain the complex set of CA laws to the cops to show them I was in compliance. It was kinda fun in a way. You could hear their voices go from what was initially very authorative, to some someone that just got their candy taken away and realized they wouldn't get it back.

697 Posts

AAA++ to you.. Hat's off,, Im Shure the news had a lot of facts right off the bat ,, With no apologies after the fact,,
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