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  • Bad guys use 'good guys' to get their guns

    .
    http://www.startribune.com/local/896...3aPc:_Yyc:aUUT


    Bad guys use 'good guys' to get their guns


    It's hard to identify and prosecute straw buyers, people with clean records who sell guns to criminals.

    By JAMES WALSH, Star Tribune

    Last update: March 31, 2010 - 11:30 PM


    Brian Greer Murphy's shopping list for his gang-banger customers was extensive, if repetitive.

    Hi-Point .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol. Hi-Point .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. Hi-Point .9mm semi-automatic pistol. Hi-Point, Hi-Point, Hi-Point.

    From July 15, 2002, to Dec. 9, 2002, Murphy bought 73 firearms -- almost all of them Hi-Point -- for criminal customers who could not legally buy their own. Yet it was the single, unloaded .45-caliber gun wedged between the seat and floor of his car, found last year by South St. Paul police in a traffic stop, that put him away for more than three years.

    Prosecutors were able to obtain a heavier sentence for the one gun, thanks to his prior felony conviction for selling lots of guns.

    While that ends Murphy's career as a gun runner, the problem of straw purchasers -- people with clean criminal records who buy guns for criminals who can't -- still vexes law enforcement. Time and again, guns bought by straw purchasers show up at crime scenes months, and sometimes only days, later.

    "Almost all firearms in the U.S. originate with a lawful source," said Bernard Zapor, special agent in charge of the St. Paul division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). "But, at some point, they leave the legal retail process and hit the open exchange."

    "The harsh reality of gun crime in America is that they're sourced from the gray market," he said.

    Loopholes

    Federal law makes it illegal for a convicted felon to buy or possess a firearm. It also is illegal for someone to buy a handgun for somebody else. When you buy a gun from a licensed dealer, you sign a form saying you are buying the gun for yourself.

    You need a federal license to go into the gun-selling business. But nothing in the law forbids somebody from buying a gun -- or guns -- for themselves and selling it to somebody else later. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms. It does not require ordinary people to keep records of the guns they sell, and they are not required to do background checks on the people they sell them to.

    That makes sifting the straw purchasers out of thousands of legal gun buyers and sellers a tough task, officials say.

    Lots of guns

    One way federal officials can spot straw buyers is when they buy a lot of guns in a short period of time. Licensed gun dealers are required to file paperwork when people buy three handguns or more in a period of seven days.

    That may be what first got Murphy on investigators' radar.

    For example, in September 2002, he bought 11 handguns at Polar Bear Ordinance in Woodbury, including six from Sept. 3 through Sept. 8 and three more on Sept. 15, 16 and 17. In all, Murphy bought 39 guns from Polar Bear from August through December 2002.

    Which raises a question: Didn't the dealers get suspicious?

    The folks at Polar Bear Ordinance, located in a beige split-level home in a quiet Woodbury neighborhood, did not return calls seeking comment. Other licensed dealers who supplied Murphy also did not comment for this story.

    John Munson, owner of Bill's Gun Shop and Range in Robbinsdale, said his staff keeps the necessary paperwork for all gun sales -- and his workers are vigilant for suspected straw buyers. Sometimes, such as when a girlfriend is asking for a gun she isn't familiar with, it's easy to tell, he said. Often, it isn't. Sometimes, legitimate buyers simply like buying a lot of guns.

    "For some, it's like women buying shoes," Munson said.

    Gun dealers can refuse to sell a gun to anyone for any reason, Munson said. It's a point driven home by the ATF, which has launched a public education campaign called "Don't Buy for the Other Guy." But while such programs help, Munson said, they aren't always effective.

    "I tell my people all the time, 'If something doesn't feel right, call it in,'" Munson said. "But the truth is, mean people suck. And they're going to find a way around it."Often, guns bought by straw buyers soon show up at crime scenes. If investigators trace a lot of those guns back to a single buyer, they can sometimes build a case, Zapor of the ATF said.

    While officials would not give specifics -- gun tracing data are not public -- law enforcement sources say "several" guns bought by Murphy were either used in crimes or were recovered on the streets.

    Often, such guns are of a make, model and caliber popular with criminals, said Sgt. John Engle of the Minneapolis Police weapons unit. Hi-Points, like the ones Murphy bought, are such "crime guns" because they are less expensive.

    "They turn up all the time," Engle said.

    But the lack of a paper trail after the first purchase makes it hard to connect straw buyers to crimes. The lack of prior criminal records makes the penalty for being a straw buyer usually only a couple of years in prison -- not always a deterrent, officials say.

    It certainly wasn't for Murphy, 32, who has struggled for years with drug addiction.

    In October 2003, he was sentenced to two years in prison and three years supervised release for all those guns. Soon after he got out, he began violating conditions of his release and going back to jail.

    Then, last April, he was caught with a gun and a meth pipe in South St. Paul. Murphy's attorney, Rachael Goldberger, said he hoped to sell the gun to buy methamphetamine. U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle sentenced him to 37 months in prison.

    Federal investigators find solace knowing that Murphy's straw-buying career is over. Once, he was known as "the guy who can get guns."

    Now, that's another guy.

    James Walsh • 612-673-7428
    Last edited by HEDP; 04-01-2010, 02:14 PM.

  • #2
    If they are so dangerous that they can't be trusted with a gun, what are they doing out on the street? I am against the whole blanket felon prohibition as well as Lautenberg ammendment. When will it end? Not untill all civilians are prohibited I imagine.

    Comment


    • #3

      Ordinance? Could they have meant ordnance instead? I think my BS detector went off -- much the same as when a magazine is referred to as a 'clip' by mistake.


      I also wonder why the writer says that the Second Amendment "gives" us the right to keep & bear arms. It does no such thing. It GUARANTEES a pre-existing right that shall not be infringed (by government). Minor semantics, but not insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

      This kind of article reminds me of the efforts underway to close the so-called "gun show loophole" that we hear about so often nowadays. Straw purchases are illegal ANYWHERE - at a gun show or somewhere else. Let's go after criminals, okay? They're the ones who won't obey the law; not the rest of us. Jeez!

      The real agenda by the anti-gun people is two-fold: Get rid of gun shows altogether (don't they wish) AND establish a new database of every firearm sold or given to any private individual. As with other gun-grabbing schemes, it will do nothing to reduce crime or hinder criminals; though it will put up more obstacles to private citizens exercising our Second Amendment rights.
      Last edited by VA Dutch; 04-01-2010, 07:46 PM.

      The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

      The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

      ------------------------------------------------

      "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

      Comment


      • #4
        A lot of glaring errors in there: First, it's two handguns in 5 days that must be documented...not three in 7 days.

        The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms. It does not require ordinary people to keep records of the guns they sell, and they are not required to do background checks on the people they sell them to.
        COMPLETELY untrue! A 4473 federal form and a NICS background check is required for every transfer of a firearm.

        Also, I have trouble believing that the dealer this guy was going to didn't have at least a slight guess of what he was doing...where I work if someone buys even two of the same handgun in one sale, we raise the red flag.
        Last edited by GangGreen712; 04-01-2010, 09:02 PM.
        "If the police have to come get you, they're bringing an @$$ kicking with them!"
        -Chris Rock

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by GangGreen712 View Post
          A 4473 federal form and a NICS background check is required for every transfer of a firearm.
          Not between individuals, I don't believe.
          “We don't disagree, you are wrong. Until you have a clue what you are talking about we can't disagree.” - cgh6366

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by nuthead View Post
            Not between individuals, I don't believe.
            With handguns you do. Here in CT you need to send in a copy of a Connecticut DPS-3 form for every firearm transferred, and I'm pretty sure that a handgun transfer requires a 4473...I'll have to check with our ATF Administrator when he gets back from vacation.
            Last edited by GangGreen712; 04-01-2010, 10:37 PM.
            "If the police have to come get you, they're bringing an @$$ kicking with them!"
            -Chris Rock

            Comment


            • #7
              Not in GA.... all you need is a bill of sale for a purchase between two private owners.

              Comment


              • #8
                In Nebraska for long guns as long as you do not know the person buying the gun is prohibited then you are golden seller privatly, if a handgun you are required to see the buyers NE handgun purchase card which is a joke of a no picture permit hand written on a scrap of paper with no state issued number on it so easily forged.

                A 4473 federal form and a NICS background check is required for every transfer of a firearm

                Not true at all, Corporations and Trusts buy firearms all the time and they do not have fingerprints, or photos, or background checks.

                Police dept.s and other govment agencies buy weapons all the time with no 4473 and I have attended multiple public auctions of old duty and confiscated weapons sold to the public by the dept. with no 4473 so no 4473 ever gets done on those guns.

                Comment


                • #9
                  In October 2003, he was sentenced to two years in prison and three years supervised release for all those guns.
                  Huh? What crime was he sentenced for???
                  "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by David Hineline View Post
                    " A 4473 federal form and a NICS background check is required for every transfer of a firearm"

                    Not true at all, Corporations and Trusts buy firearms all the time and they do not have fingerprints, or photos, or background checks.

                    Police dept.s and other govment agencies buy weapons all the time with no 4473 and I have attended multiple public auctions of old duty and confiscated weapons sold to the public by the dept. with no 4473 so no 4473 ever gets done on those guns.
                    Most ffl's do a 4473 on SOMEBODY when a corp, an llc, or a trust buys a gun....and many cautious ones also do them even when the buyer is exempt due to the LE exemption (Frontline who we both know, is one who does) a cautious dealer will often do a 4473/nics on EVERY gun that leaves his bound books to a non ffl licensee. I certainly do.

                    All this fretting about criminals getting guns is at it's root an attempt to erode law abiding peoples rights. I do not think there is one place on this planet where a guy with the $$ cannot get a gun, even inside a prison.....if he has enough $$ he/she can get what they want.

                    I agree the ffl's in some of these cases had cause to be suspicious.....nobody that I know buys dozens of cheap junk guns a month..............not that they do not have the right to do so if it floats their boat....but who WANTS a dozen hi points ???
                    Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by David Hineline View Post

                      Police dept.s and other govment agencies buy weapons all the time with no 4473 and I have attended multiple public auctions of old duty and confiscated weapons sold to the public by the dept. with no 4473 so no 4473 ever gets done on those guns.
                      Must be different here in CT then. Even though the 4473 is federal, it has to be filled out for every handgun transfer here. Let me check with our administrator.
                      "If the police have to come get you, they're bringing an @$$ kicking with them!"
                      -Chris Rock

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jannino View Post
                        Not in GA.... all you need is a bill of sale for a purchase between two private owners.
                        Almost the same in IN, except that a bill of sale is not required.

                        Originally posted by GangGreen712 View Post
                        Must be different here in CT then. Even though the 4473 is federal, it has to be filled out for every handgun transfer here. Let me check with our administrator.
                        There are a few states that require all firearm transfers to go through an ffl and have a 4473 done. IL and CA do. And I guess CT also.

                        Gun control is not about guns, it's about control.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GangGreen712 View Post
                          With handguns you do. Here in CT you need to send in a copy of a Connecticut DPS-3 form for every firearm transferred, and I'm pretty sure that a handgun transfer requires a 4473...I'll have to check with our ATF Administrator when he gets back from vacation.
                          DPS-3 is the State police form in CT which is required for all handgun transfers in CT, retail or private.

                          A 4473 is a federal form done at the retail level.

                          It isn't required for private sales, as in someone at the range saying to you "Hey, I've been looking for a Wilson 1911 just like that. I'll give you $4,000 for it. Let me print out a form off the state police website, get the money and I'll be back in an hour so we can call it in...please..."
                          Last edited by Mitchell_in_CT; 04-02-2010, 02:30 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bigislander72 View Post
                            If they are so dangerous that they can't be trusted with a gun, what are they doing out on the street? I am against the whole blanket felon prohibition as well as Lautenberg ammendment. When will it end? Not untill all civilians are prohibited I imagine.
                            So you think felons should be able to possess firearms? I am not a fan of gun control, but I am absolutely against felons owning firearms. You obviously don't deal with many criminals.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GangGreen712 View Post
                              With handguns you do. Here in CT you need to send in a copy of a Connecticut DPS-3 form for every firearm transferred, and I'm pretty sure that a handgun transfer requires a 4473...I'll have to check with our ATF Administrator when he gets back from vacation.
                              In some states there are ways around it sadly, in OHIO they do not have gun registration so if someone buys a gun a check is done.....but the ATF has 24 hours to delete record of the check since they do not have any registration in OHIO.

                              Soooo.. 1 day after the check a bill of sale is the only record there

                              Comment

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