Gun report's worth at issue Misleading, ATF says of findings

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  1. WAGCEVP

    WAGCEVP New Member

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    Gun report's worth at issue Misleading, ATF says of findings


    FYI (copy below):
    http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/vametro/MGBXJ60SNID.html
    ************************************************************
    Gun report's worth at issue Misleading, ATF says of findings

    BY MARK BOWES
    TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jul 28, 2003

    Federal officials have called misleading a report by a
    national gun-control group that lists 10 gun dealers,
    including one in Chesterfield County, among the nation's
    worst in selling guns linked to crimes.

    Using government statistics, the Brady Campaign to Prevent
    Gun Violence this month released a list of licensed gun
    sellers it regards as "the worst players in the gun industry
    - gun sellers that recklessly operate their businesses and
    allow criminals to get guns."

    The group cited Southern Police Equipment at 7609 Midlothian
    Turnpike as the third-worst in the nation.

    The Brady campaign says it compiled its "bad apple" list by
    analyzing data maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol,
    Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for 1989 through 1996.

    But the ATF appeared to question the Brady campaign's
    conclusions in a statement issued July 16, the same day as
    the Brady report.

    An ATF spokesman in Washington also wondered whether the 7-
    to 14-year-old data - the government data used by the Brady
    campaign and apparently the most recent available - was
    still relevant in 2003.

    "It is misleading to suggest that a gun dealer is corrupt
    because a large percentage of the guns sold in his store are
    subsequently used in a crime," the ATF said. "Many other
    factors - including high volume of sales, the type of
    inventory carried and whether the gun [dealer] is located in
    a high crime area - contribute to the percentages cited by
    the Brady campaign."

    Furthermore, "the statistics cited do not provide a complete
    picture of the types of activities that might warrant
    federal gun prosecutions," the ATF said. "Gun traces [of
    weapons used in crimes], for example, indicate only that a
    gun has come to the attention of law enforcement. They do
    not automatically implicate a dealer or purchaser in any
    wrongdoing."

    The ATF added: "[T]he fact is that the majority of
    federally licensed firearms dealers are not knowingly
    engaged in criminal activity."

    Karen Allan, owner of Southern Police Equipment, said the
    Brady campaign is deliberately distorting the facts to
    further its gun-control agenda.

    "It's total slander to us," Allan said. "I also got in
    contact with some of the other people on the list, and
    everybody feels the same way we do about it.

    "What Brady is trying to do, of course, is take all the guns
    off the street," Allan added. "They're always attacking us
    in any way they can attack us, and we're not doing anything
    illegal."

    Allan said her gun sales records with the ATF and the state
    of Virginia are "impeccable."

    "They have used me as a model before to train other gun
    shops how to do it," said Allan, who in the mid-1980s
    assisted ATF agents in apprehending gunrunners who came to
    her store. Her contribution was cited in a Washington Post
    story at the time.

    Allan said the statistics cited by the Brady campaign
    "didn't even represent 1 percent of the guns that we sold in
    those years - and they did not have the laws that they have
    today.

    "Today, everything's changed," she said. "They have the
    one-gun-per-month [law], they have instant criminal
    background checks [of potential gun buyers], and we support
    all of that."

    Rob Wilcox, a national spokesman for the Brady group, said
    the list highlights those gun dealers that have "lousy track
    records," and the numbers of crime guns traced to those
    dealers speak for themselves.

    "I wouldn't say we're ever suggesting that [these dealers]
    are selling guns [directly] to criminals," Wilcox said.
    "What we're saying very specifically is that there are crime
    guns being traced back to their stores, and for the entire
    country the most crime guns were traced back to these
    stores."

    Wilcox added that more than 50 percent of guns traced to
    crime come from less than 2 percent of the nation's gun
    dealers. "I think that they are doing things that are
    irresponsible," he said.

    The Brady campaign released the list as part of its lobbying
    effort to defeat a Senate bill that would prohibit "civil
    liability actions from being brought or continued against
    manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of
    firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from the misuse
    of their products by others."

    In its news release, the gun-control lobby says the
    legislation "would send bad apples [in the gun industry] a
    loud message that their reckless behavior is not only
    acceptable, but a protected privilege."

    ATF spokesman Tom Hill noted that large-volume gun dealers
    "probably will have more traces" of guns used in crimes than
    smaller ones.

    "That doesn't [necessarily] mean the dealer is committing a
    crime," Hill explained. "It just means they're selling more
    guns."

    A gun sold legally by a dealer can end up in the wrong hands
    through no fault of the dealer. Guns used in crimes
    frequently are stolen from the original buyers or obtained
    through "straw purchases," a process in which people are
    hired to buy guns that are later resold on the street.

    According to ATF data analyzed by the Brady campaign,
    Southern Police Equipment in Chesterfield sold 447 guns
    traced to crime between 1989 and 1996. Of those, 293 had a
    "short time to crime," as defined by the ATF, the group
    said.

    The guns were involved in at least 25 homicides, 32
    assaults, four robberies and 386 additional gun crimes, the
    Brady campaign said. In addition, the dealer sold at least
    35 handguns in multiple sales, the group said.

    The report doesn't take into account that people could
    legally buy multiple handguns in Virginia before 1993. In
    February of that year, the General Assembly - in an effort
    to curb gunrunning - approved a one-handgun-per-month limit,
    which at the time was considered one of the toughest
    firearms laws in the country.

    In its report, the Brady campaign tied a 1990-91 Virginia
    gunrunning case to Southern Police Equipment, although the
    dealer was never implicated criminally in the operation.

    In December 1993, Ian Ralph Blackstock, a convicted drug
    dealer from New York, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court
    to charges of obtaining guns through "straw purchases" at
    seven gun shops, including three in the Richmond area.

    The weapons, some of which were purchased at Southern Police
    Equipment, were resold on the streets of Washington and New
    York City, authorities said.

    According to evidence, Blackstock hired five men to make the
    purchases and provided them transportation to gun shops in
    Chesterfield, Prince William County, Petersburg and
    Fredericksburg. He told the men which guns to buy and gave
    them money for the purchases.

    There was no evidence presented during Blackstock's trial
    that Southern Police Equipment conspired with Blackstock or
    knowingly sold guns to his operatives.
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