They Came For Our Guns, They Came For Our Freedom
Bill St. Clair notes this new entry in the patriot canon.
Book Seven concerns the decision of the federal government to put an end to the private ownership of guns and its arrogance in pursuing this political agenda.
As the story opens, twenty-two battle-geared agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) conduct a late night raid on the house of an ordinary citizen who was reported as having an unlicensed machine gun. What he actually had was an AR15 semi-automatic rifle which, while it was being shot by a friend, malfunctioned and went full-auto. Before the owner of the rifle could take it to a gunsmith for repair, his door is broken down, guns are stuck in his family’s faces, his wife is knocked unconscious, his jaw is broken, his children are terrorized, and his is house virtually destroyed by the BATF search for the offending rifle.
Three old men read about the raid on the house and the treatment of the family, followed by the arrests and the prosecution of this hapless gun owner, and they decide that they did not serve in World War II to sit idly by while their own government acts like Hitler did fifty years ago. They formulate a plan in which they will hire Sam and Nick to act as their communicators with the BATF. Their message is that either the BATF backs off of the prosecution of this gun owner or the old men will start shooting BATF agents. The BATF declines the offer and the old men start shooting.
The president, who wants to see the end of private gun ownership, begins to monitor the situation, and when public unrest seems to be going against the government, orders a nationwide gun confiscation to be carried out by police and the military. Gun battles erupt all over the country.
Meanwhile, BATF is pursuing the shooters and manages to get one of the old men to surrender. But in the course of the surrender, the old man is shot and killed. No one knows at that point that there are also two other old men, and his two surviving comrades identify themselves at his funeral, which is attended by more than 60,000 people at Heinz Field. The two surviving old men announce that they are carrying on the fight against gun confiscation, they ask for the support of the nation, and they escape before police can find them.
The CIA, which has also been monitoring the situation, hires Sam and Nick to intervene with the old men and try to cool things down. The CIA is also concerned because it sees the BATF as loose cannons and the president as a nut case.
At one point, Washington is shut down under martial law and the president is locked up in the White House. The Pentagon, acting in concert with leaders in the Congress, suggests that the president resign so that the country can return to normal. At first he resists . . . .
What follows is a chapter in which the old men who survive the deceitful arrest and then murder of their colleague use the .950 JDJ rifle to gun down the Director of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Chapter excerpt from They Came For Our Guns, They Came For Our Freedom:
...For the next three days, the headlines were full of the arrest of the ATF killer, an eighty-one year old World War II veteran. The killer’s attorney, Bradford Hayes, gave brief interviews in which he said that his client was a patriot and that he had appeared voluntarily to meet with the BATF pursuant to a promise of immunity for any participation in the killing of the two ATF agents. He said that ATF had reneged on its promise and that whatever his client had done, it was a patriotic act in response to the excesses of the BATF.
Talk shows buzzed with endless discussions of why an eighty-one-year-old man would do such a thing and editorials condemned vigilante justice. Police organizations condemned the killing of their brother officers, and the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania promised swift and sure justice. The Director of ATF appeared before Congress and praised the outstanding work of ATF agents in accomplishing the almost impossible task of finding the man responsible for the killing of ATF agents. “Only the most highly dedicated, professional, capable agents could have possibly have solved these terrible crimes,” he said.
The Director of ATF also announced that he would go to Pittsburgh to personally decorate the agents of that office with citations for bravery and outstanding service to the United States. “Thank God we have come to the end of this chapter of senseless violence,” he said on Prime Time Television. “Now it is time to recognize the brave men and women who, on a daily basis, risk their lives so that you all can live in safety, and who solved this crime against heavy odds. It is a great day for federal law enforcement.”
* * *
Pittsburgh International Airport is located eighteen miles north and west of the city. The main route connecting the airport and the city is the parkway, also known as Route 376. Near the city, the parkway goes through a tunnel, which opens onto the Fort Pitt Bridge and a spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh. At that point, one is roughly a mile from the federal building in downtown Pittsburgh, home of the BATF regional offices.
Between the airport and the tunnel, the parkway winds through valleys, industrial areas, and semi populated neighborhoods nestled in trees and hills. Two miles from the tunnel, the parkway passes under a tall railroad trestle made of heavy timbers and steel braces. The tracks are one hundred fifty feet above the road and they disappear into woods high overhead on either side of the road.
Sam and Jamie Berenger sat by the side of the tracks in the hills high above the parkway within a few feet of the trestle bridge that spanned the hills and passed over the road. The sound of cars and trucks passing far below was almost mesmerizing, steady and undulating like waves. The heavy rifle rested, muzzle up, on a rolled-up mat near where the two men sat, sipping coffee from a thermos.
“You know,” Sam said, “when we get out there on that trestle, if a train comes, we’re done.”
‘I know it,” Jamie Berenger said. “Mincemeat.”
“You see the shot,” Sam said. “It looks to me like about two hundred fifty yards.”
“Yeah,” Jamie Berenger said. “Two problems. I’m shooting down and the car will be moving toward me.”
“Probably about sixty miles an hour, maybe faster. We’ll get Nick to follow them and call in their speed.”
“I’m gonna guess that when he gets to that middle pillar on the bridge, I should be holding on the road in front of the bumper,” Jamie Berenger said.
“Sounds right,” Sam said. “A hit in the engine compartment is really what we want. But even if you overshoot, the round will penetrate the passenger compartment and cause all kinds of damage. So either one will be o.k.”
Sam’s cell phone rang. Nick and Jesse were sitting alongside Route 60 near the airport, waiting for the appearance of the convoy of black cars transporting the director of ATF from the airport to the downtown office of BATF. The director was as good as his word: he was going to present medals to the Pittsburgh ATF staff. The convoy passed Nick at 2:07 p.m. Two motorcycle policemen led a black Suburban followed by an armored Lincoln Town Car, another Suburban, and two more motorcycle policemen.
“They’re just leaving,” Nick said.
“Got it,” Sam answered. “Can you give us an estimate of road speed?”
“Wait a minute. I’ll call you back,” Nick said.
Nick accelerated the Audi A8 and caught up with the convoy. They were passing everything on the road with lights and sirens blazing. Nick tracked them for a mile or so and then called Sam. “They’re going about 70,” he said. “I think the motorcycles are slowing them down.”
“Got it,” Sam said.
“They’re going about 70,” Sam said to Jamie Berenger. “Let’s get ready.”
Sam slung the seventy-pound rifle and tucked the rolled-up sleeping mat under one arm, then headed for the tracks. Jamie Berenger followed with a large knapsack containing sandbags, the coffee, and five of the 3500-grain rounds for the rifle. Sam stepped on the railroad ties that made up the bridge and began walking on the ties toward the center of the trestle bridge. The road below was clearly visible between the ties. There were no safety railings on the trestle. It was made for trains, not people. Sam continued down the tracks onto the trestle with Jamie Berenger behind him.
When Sam got to roughly the middle of the bridge, he stopped and signaled for Jamie Berenger to unload the sandbags. Traffic zipped by below. Jamie Berenger put three large sandbags down, one on the rails and two on a railroad tie. Sam rolled the mat out on the railroad ties as Jamie Berenger backed up to allow the mat to unroll. When it was flat, Jamie Berenger knelt down and Sam placed the fore-end of the heavy rifle on the sandbagged rail. Jamie Berenger slid down into a sideways prone position and fixed two of the sandbags under his right armpit and under the stock. He removed the scope covers and dialed the scope down to 6.5 X. Sam checked the scope for tightness and Jamie Berenger settled in to a shooting position.
Sam handed Jamie Berenger a 3500-grain round and the shooter chambered it in the big rifle, thunking the oversized bolt closed and again sighting through the scope with both eyes open. The rifle was pointed at the road where the car would be at a distance of two-to-three hundred yards.
Sam handed Jamie Berenger a pair of electronic earmuffs and he put on his own. These muffs would allow the two men to communicate but would shield them from the terrific blast of the rifle by electronically shutting down their sound transmitting circuits at the moment the rifle was fired.
“Are you steady?” Sam asked.
“Steady. Stand by with the reload,” Jamie Berenger said.
“It’s ready,” Sam said. “I’ll alert you when I see the motorcycles top the ridge.”
Jamie Berenger lay silent and steady, his one foot braced against the rails to his back, his shoulder firmly and comfortably on one sandbag, the rifle stock firm and steady on the other.
“Here they come,” Sam said. “Four hundred meters for the limousine.”
“Got it,” Jamie Berenger said.
“Three hundred meters now,” Sam said.
“Got it,” Jamie Berenger said.
“Closing on the point of aim,” Sam said.
Two seconds later, the sound of the big rifle boomed throughout the valley. The muzzle lifted off the fore-end sandbag a good six inches and fire shot out the slits in the muzzle brake. Before Sam could recover from the blast, Jamie Berenger had cycled the bolt, extracted the spent round, put it in a pocket, and, with his cheek glued to the stock of the rifle, waited to be fed the second round. Sam put it in his hand like a nurse handing a scalpel to a surgeon. Jamie Berenger chambered the round and rammed the big bolt home.
When the bullet hit the limousine, a huge cloud of smoke, debris, and fire exploded into view and then disappeared behind another dense cloud of smoke and destruction. When the smoke cleared, the limousine was turned sideways. What remained of the front pointed directly at the concrete barrier on the right hand side of the road. The big bullet had hit the engine block at the midpoint. A half-pound of solid brass traveling at 2800 feet per second penetrated the 700-pound engine block through and through and shattered it on impact. The engine, reacting to the pressures of the huge bullet ripping through its middle, instantly became a 700-pound bomb containing a million shards of cast iron, steel and aluminum exploding through the firewall, the fenders and the hood at supersonic speeds. This explosion obliterated the entire front section of the car and the two people sitting there.
After the smoke cleared, one could see that the limousine no longer had a front seat, although two lengths of twisted steel, which were the remains of the frame, stuck out the front and were jammed into the concrete barrier. Smoke rolled from underneath the chassis of the ruined car and what remained of the rear portion of the car. The windows appeared to have been blown out the smoldering passenger compartment and there was no sign of movement.
The rifle boomed again after the chase car pulled up to the wreckage and men jumped out with submachine guns at the ready, running toward the limousine, presumably to rescue the director. As the men approached the car, the second round, which was aimed at the trunk area of the limousine, ruptured the fuel tank. What was left of the Lincoln erupted in a fiery explosion engulfing the three agents in flames. The driver of the chase car spun his wheels backing away from his flaming comrades. The chase car was still spinning its tires in reverse gear when it crashed into one of the police motorcycles, knocking the policeman one way and the cycle another. The runaway Suburban bumped over the downed motorcycle and then smashed into a car that had stopped on the parkway, ending the Suburban’s flight to safety.
The three agents, covered in fire, ran around like figures in a cartoon flapping their arms and falling over each other. Two of them fired all the rounds in their submachine guns as if that would help extinguish the fire that was burning them alive. Bullets spattered and pinged off the wreckage, the road, the concrete barriers and even the Suburban they had just been riding in. Agents from the lead car, who were now running back to the wreckage, dived to the ground for cover. By the time they got to their burning comrades, the burned men were dead, as were all the passengers of the limousine, including the Director of the BATF.
Meanwhile, drivers traveling in the opposite direction on the Parkway, although separated by concrete Jersey barriers, could see clearly the fiery conflagration on the other side of the road, and as cars stopped to rubberneck at the unbelievable spectacle, other cars rammed into them, and then still other cars rammed into those cars, until multiple vehicle fires were in full blaze, and cars skidded at every angle trying to avoid the cars stopped in front of them. Within minutes, traffic was stopped for miles on both sides of the parkway.
“Feed me,” Jamie Berenger said. He had carefully ejected the second round and put it in his velcroed cargo pants pocket along with the first. Sam gave him a third round.
This time, the bullet hit the lead escort car. When the limousine crashed into the concrete barrier, the lead car had screeched to a stop and done a Y turn in the middle of the parkway, speeding back to the stricken limousine. It was now facing away from Jamie Berenger and pointing toward the limousine it was supposed to be protecting. Three of its occupants stood helpless near the burned out wreckage and the driver remained in the Suburban. Jamie Berenger fired the third round into the roof of the remaining Suburban about a foot back from the windscreen. The bullet penetrated the roof, ripping through the front passenger compartment, exploding the windscreen, and again hitting the engine block. This time, the impact was to the rear of the block, and the ensuing explosion of the engine sent shrapnel through the firewall of the car and everywhere else on a 360 degree axis, killing the driver instantly. Within seconds, fuel dripping from the open fuel line caught fire and the wreckage of the lead car was also engulfed in flames.
Jamie Berenger carefully ejected the third round and put the empty casing in his side pocket.
“I think we’re done,” he said.
Plainly wearied by the exertion, he got up slowly and surveyed the destruction below.
“Take the mat,” Sam said. “I got everything else.”
Jamie Berenger rolled up the mat and hobbled off the railroad trestle more slowly than he had come on.
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