Now The Controllers Want To Regulate Night Vision Equipment

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 9 months ago


In July 2015, a North Korean native named Song Il Kim walked into a Honolulu hotel room to hand over $16,000 cash for three pairs of night vision goggles that he was planning to mail overseas.

Kim, 42, lives in China and was traveling on a Cambodian passport. He planned to ship the goggles from Hawaii to China in a box labeled “toys.”

The sale turned out to be a sting operation, and Homeland Security agents arrested Kim a short time later. Federal prosecutors charged him with violating the Arms Export Control Act, which regulates the sale of military equipment, and a judge sentenced him to 40 months in prison after he pled guilty in 2016. A separate smuggling charge was dropped as part of a plea deal.

But Kim’s crime wasn’t buying military-grade technology — it was his attempt to export the equipment without a license. Prosecutors argued that the high-tech military equipment could have ended up in the hands of the North Korean government.

The kind of gear Kim was trying to export was once prohibitively expensive, but low-end night vision gear is now marketed to hunters and can be purchased from sporting goods retailers for under $100. Advanced models can cost over $20,000, but are also perfectly legal and available to buy online. There are a variety of models on the market — goggles, handhelds, devices integrated in rifle scopes. Some models allow users to see in the dark by electronically enhancing the amount of light available, while others use thermal imaging to create a picture from the heat radiating from bodies or objects.

If Kim had an export license, very little would have prevented him from sending the equipment to North Korea, which is a major concern for experts who warn that military-grade night vision gear could fall into the hands of terrorists or rogue states.

Low-quality night vision equipment is easily available overseas and used by the militaries of most countries. But the high-end equipment available in the U.S. isn’t ― and if exported, that gear could give adversaries similar night vision capabilities to those of the American military, said Adam Routh, a research associate with the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

While the Las Vegas massacre rekindled the debate over the millions of assault-style rifles owned by American civilians, there’s been much less public scrutiny of all the gear designed for military operations that is now marketed directly to civilians.

Armasight, a San Francisco-based company specializing in night vision and thermal imaging equipment, sells the FLIR PVS-7 night vision goggles with an ad featuring a man dressed in a black military-style uniform. It offers many other kinds of goggles, binoculars and sights, including a set of $9,250 night vision goggles that, it says, have “optics that are equal to or better than current military night vision.”

Hunting retailer Cabela’s sells dozens of night vision scopes, including Armasight’s Zeus Pro, a $7,000 thermal scope. “Take versatile and sophisticated thermal visibility into your nighttime hunts,” says a blurb on the store’s website.

And a Texas company, HeliBacon, advertises expeditions where participants can hunt feral hogs under cover of darkness using night vision gear. Its website features pictures of customers swooping down on prey from helicopters, dressed in tactical gear and wielding machine guns ― something more like a military raid than a hunting trip. The tag line that appears when you visit the site is “Wait… so you’re telling us you’ve never shot machine guns from a helicopter?!”

Hunting with night vision equipment is illegal in many states. But in parts of Texas, shooting feral hogs is considered pest control, which means almost any type of equipment is allowed. For a rate of $695 per person, HeliBacon’s customers get the opportunity to use assault-style rifles and night vision gear similar to what U.S. special operations forces use — equipment that’s worth about $25,000 per set, according to HeliBacon co-owner Chris Britt.

Okay, so let’s not pretend that only the military has the best equipment.  That’s ridiculous and certainly false.  I saw the crap the Marine Corps issued to my son in the Marines, and he usually got better equipment of all kinds at TAGs (Tactical Applications Group) right outside Camp Lejeune than he got in the military, whether boots, tactical vests, or whatever.

Furthermore, every Marine got issued a Colt M4 that had too many rounds through it to be reliable, and he demanded that the action in his SAW be replaced before he deployed to Iraq because of reliability issues related to SAW operation.  They did, and it changed everything for him by giving him a reliable machine gun.

The Marines used ACOGs, we can get ACOGs and any number of other good optics.  I have a Vortex Strike Eagle 6X scope with illuminated reticle and BDC holdover indices for much less than an ACOG costs, and just as good.  The Marines got used and beaten up M4s, and if we’re willing to spend the money, we can get Rock River Arms, Daniel Defense, Head Down, or any number of better and newer rifles.  As those who financially support the military rather than being members of the professional military, we can purchase the very best Night Force scopes if we can afford them.  Virtually every innovation comes from the market, e.g., PMags, lighter MLOK forends, etc.

We can choose to purchase a very good 1911 from Springfield Armory, Smith & Wesson Performance Center, or Dan Wesson (CZ).  For a little more, we can have a Wilson Combat if we can afford it.  We get to choose.  If we want a double stack gun, the sky is the limit and the field is wide open.  And as we’ve discussed so many times before, the way to have the very best equipment for your military is to vet it in the civilian marketplace before you deploy it.  If it fails, ten thousand negative posts and discussion threads will be written on it.  The market is the best gauge of success.

It’s no mistake that the author of the article, Sascha Brodsky, contacted CNAS for his moral support.  This is the group led by Michele Flournoy, and upon whom Obama relied so much during his failed tenure.  And it’s no mistake that they sent the author to supposed expert Adam Routh, who is former military.  He is not stupid, and he knows and understands everything I’m saying.

But note his “concern.”  It’s not for cost or equipment success in the market in order to deploy the best equipment.  It’s for imperial operations overseas.  We need to “own the night,” as they say.  In order to effect open borders and a sociological death wish by ensuring diversity, we need to tamp down on the sources of violence overseas, as if that’s ever going to be possible.  The problem Adam is worried about is a problem created by the globalist elites who want to fundamentally change America.  Otherwise, this isn’t really the problem it’s purported to be with a closed and sealed border and diversity not the ruling factor in American politics.  Adam knows this.  The author, I suspect, is just stupid.

Finally, in addition to the idea that we will always be able to afford better equipment than the military (and I haven’t even brought up for discussion the fact that we simply cannot continue to throw away money on defense as if costs don’t matter), Adam also knows that the ownership of firearms under the second amendment isn’t about hunting or self defense, it’s about the amelioration of tyranny.  Thus, whether weaponry can fall into foreign hands is a secondary concern to the notion that our own standing army has it, and they are potentially a greater danger to us than any foreign army.  At least, the founding fathers saw it that way.  Based on a survey of history and the nature of mankind, that idea isn’t antiquated.

As a postscript, note the misdirect thrown in by the author that feral hogs are considered pests in Texas and thus there are no limits on hunting them.  In fact, there are very few limits on hunting them anywhere, anytime, and the word pest doesn’t even begin to describe the ecological disaster wrought by these awful creatures.

To the author, Sascha, may the turds of a thousand swine lay in your own yard and you need a gun you don’t have to kill them.

To the controllers, you will not be successful trying to control night vision, since it is just cameras and optics.  I suggest instead that you try to find a support and therapy group for your problem.  You can begin like this.  “I am a controller.  I think I’m smarter than everyone else.  I want to control everything people do.  I want to control what they think, how they behave, how they talk and what they say, what they have, what they do with it, how they spend their money, and what they believe.  I am admitting my problem to you in open honesty.  The only thing I don’t want to control is myself.  People hate me for it.  No one loves me.  I’ve been a controller for ___ years.  Please help me.”

Adam, you’re very young to be such a control freak, and you need to consider a support group like this too.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On November 2, 2017 at 2:53 am, Stacy0311 said:

    Maybe I’m just a contrarian, but every time I read something like this, I have the urge to go out and buy exactly whatever it is they’re trying to ban. Mainly as a big FU to the people trying to control the item.

    But with regards to night vision, I’ve already been looking into purchasing some. Mainly for wildlife photography. Now I’ll just have to speed up the research process, make an informed decision and buy the best I can afford.

  2. On November 2, 2017 at 8:58 am, Fred said:

    And which war have we won due to this technologically superior equipment?

    That’s what I thought. Technology doesn’t win wars, it’s used to control populations.

    Killing everybody and destroying everything, total and utter devastation wins wars, always has, always will.

  3. On November 2, 2017 at 5:07 pm, Hartley said:

    Um, Fred – night vision has been used to good effect in every war since Korea, but technology alone doesn’t “win” anything. And the North Vietnamese won their little war not by “killing everybody and destroying everything” but simply by having an effective 5th column in the US.

  4. On November 2, 2017 at 9:41 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    I think that’s Fred’s point.

  5. On November 3, 2017 at 11:18 am, scott said:

    One thing that stood out to me:

    Even if our best gear would turn NK assassins into the smartest ninjas on the planet, why try to smuggle it out by putting it in a box with a fake label? If Norks want high quality equipment of any type that has export restrictions, why not use the normal smuggling routes that move illegal drugs and guns internationally? I think they know how to do that, actually, and they and everyone else is doing it. If we can’t keep heroin out, we sure aren’t going to keep night vision in.

    So maybe someone found themselves an Oswald for this caper.

  6. On November 3, 2017 at 7:17 pm, Stephen Russell said:

    Dont need this now, either since NV can aid in SAR alone.
    I say NO.

  7. On November 4, 2017 at 10:49 pm, Fred said:

    But the commies did “kill everybody and destroy everything”. Show me the American men who would fight socialists today. Name the American institution that still stands.

  8. On November 5, 2017 at 9:35 am, Chuck said:

    Believe WW II was terminated using a technologically superior weapon, the atomic bombs that we dropped on Japan. Took the fight right out of them.

  9. On November 5, 2017 at 10:33 pm, Fred said:

    Night vision is not a weapon.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Gun Control and was published November 1st, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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