FoxNews On Project Gunwalker Hearings

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The accompanying story reports that DOJ officials are in “panic mode” which they well should be. According to the story, the following will come out in the second hearing scheduled for Wednesday, June 15th:

– The ATF allowed and encouraged five Arizona gun store owners to sell some 1,800 weapons to buyers known to them as gun smugglers.

– It installed cameras inside the gun stores to record purchases made by those smugglers.

It hid GPS trackers inside gun stocks and watched the weapons go south on computer screens.

– It obtained surveillance video from parking lots and helicopters showing straw buyers transferring their guns from one car to another.

– It learned guns sold in Phoenix were recovered only when Mexico police requested “trace data,” which is obtained from their serial number.

What has really caught my eye about this story is the third item on GPS trackers inside the gun stocks. Back in April, I had a couple of posts discussing GPS trackers after Michael Bane had speculated about it on his weekly podcast. I didn’t go further with this because I couldn’t find evidence of purchases by ATF of RFI tags or GPS trackers within a government contracting/purchases database. I should have looked harder because it appears our speculations were correct.

Sometimes Old-Fashioned Methods are More Reliable

Glitch shows how much US military relies on GPS

DENVER (AP) – A problem that rendered as many as 10,000 U.S. military GPS receivers useless for days is a warning to safeguard a system that enemies would love to disrupt, a defense expert says.

The Air Force has not said how many weapons, planes or other systems were affected or whether any were in use in Iraq or Afghanistan. But the problem, blamed on incompatible software, highlights the military’s reliance on the Global Positioning System and the need to protect technology that has become essential for protecting troops, tracking vehicles and targeting weapons.

“Everything that moves uses it,” said John Pike, director of, which tracks military and homeland security news. “It is so central to the American style of war that you just couldn’t leave home without it.”

GPS, whether hand-held or in the car, is a wonderful tool. However, as the quote from the article above illustrates, GPS is technology dependent and can fail when you need it the most. The ability to read a map and use a compass are skills that everyone needs to learn.

I am blessed with a good sense of direction as well as geographic memory (I remember places where I’ve been). That said, the skills I learned in the Boy Scouts on how to read a map and how to integrate a compass with that map have been invaluable.

Books such as Bjorn Kellstrom’s Be Expert with Map and Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook and David Seidman’s The Essential Wilderness Navigator: How to Find Your Way in the Great Outdoors, Second Edition are good starting points on how to learn to use a map and compass.

Among the compasses that I own include a Suunto M-2 and a Brunton 15-DCL. However, virtually any compass from Suunto, Brunton, or Silva is good. I don’t have experience with the military lensatic compasses so I can’t speak to them.

So for under $10 for a compass and a trip to your public library, you can get started learning how to reduce your dependence on technology that can fail when you need it the most.