Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shock of shocks, Batman! Convicted felons hunt with firearms!

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel makes a big spash about convicted felons hunting with firearms and how a computer cross-match between hunting licenses and probation and parole clients led to 19 arrests.

In northern Wisconsin where hunting is a way of life probation agents have known for years that convicted felons go deer hunting and, unless there was an incident, they generally looked the other way. Fortunately the incidents were few and far between.

The law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms without a pardon or special dispensation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

I never thought it made sense for probation agents to look the other way -- the you-know-what would hit the fan pretty quickly if there was an incident -- and the Journal-Sentinel deserves credit for blowing the whistle on an inept system that allows felons to buy hunting licenses with no background check.

And that's just the beginning, folks.

The "Brady bill" mandating background checks for gun purchasers -- at least those who visit authorized dealers as opposed to gun shows where they can buy an arsenal with no questions asked -- isn't worth much more than the paper it's written on.

That's because conviction data is so incomplete and inaccurate that it's easy for convicted felons -- even murderers -- to buy guns because the conviction didn't get into the computer.

I've worked with "rap sheets" for decades and can tell you first hand that there can be pages of arrests but no convictions because the courts in a particular jurisdiction never bothered to send in a disposition report. No disposition reported, no conviction on the "rap sheet" and, voila, here's your gun, sir.

Some states -- Michigan being one of them -- do a very good job of reporting conviction data. Wisconsin doesn't have much to brag about -- although it's getting better -- while Illinois criminal histories are notoriously incomplete.

Of course, the nitwitness newsies at the Journal-Sentinel and other media outlets are too inept to pick up on the real story. They only scratched the surface here. Real reporters would have uncovered the "Brady bill" scandal.

3 comments:

Dad29 said...

gun shows where they can buy an arsenal with no questions asked

I take it you've been to countless gun shows and can back up this inane statement with documentation.

RAG said...

According to the Bradys, this loophole makes gun shows attractive sources of guns for criminals, terrorists, and other prohibited purchasers. They can easily avoid criminal background checks by shopping at gun shows where many sellers are willing to do business with no questions asked. Many unscrupulous gun dealers also exploit this loophole to operate full-fledged businesses without following federal gun laws. A report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives summarizes the problem:

"Gun shows provide a large market where criminals can shop for firearms anonymously. Unlicensed sellers have no way of knowing whether they are selling to a violent felon or someone who intends to illegally traffic guns on the streets to juveniles or gangs. Further, unscrupulous gun dealers can use these free-flowing markets to hide their off-the-book sales. While most gun show sellers are honest and law-abiding, it only takes a few to transfer large numbers of firearms into dangerous hands."

Gun shows continue to be a "major trafficking channel" according to the ATF, accounting for the second highest number of trafficked guns per investigation by ATF. In the period from July 1996 to December 1998 alone, trafficking from gun shows accounted for over 26,000 illegally diverted firearms. More than a third of these guns ended up being used in crime, including homicide and robbery. Felons sold or purchased guns in 46 percent of the gun show trafficking investigations performed by ATF.

The gun industry has long acknowledged the problem of criminals getting guns at gun shows. The National Alliance of Stocking Gun Dealers endorsed a federal bill dealing with the gun show loophole in 1999 and even the National Rifle Association at one-tiome supported at least a 24-hour waiting period for gun show purchases in order to run backround checks.

Seventeen states -- Wisconsin is not one of them -- have closed the gun show loophole and require background checks for all sales at gun shows or require some version of a firearm owner identification card to purchase a gun at a gun show. These states are in the minority and the loophole needs to be closed on a federal level.

National polling has consistently shown almost universal support for measures to close the gun show loophole. In November of 1998, Florida's voters passed a constitutional amendment to close the gun show loophole by a margin of 72% to 28%. Additionally, Oregon (62% to 38%) and Colorado (70% to 30%) both passed initiatives to close the gun show loophole in 2000.

Dad29 said...

trafficking from gun shows accounted for over 26,000 illegally diverted firearms. ...Felons sold or purchased guns in 46 percent of the gun show trafficking investigations performed by ATF

Uh huh. Let's accept BATFE's numbers at face value, without double-checking other sources.

46% of 26,000 is about 12,000.

12,000 guns purchased or sold by felons in 30 months. (How many felons sold guns to NON-felons who would clear an instant-check?)

Not exactly a stupendous number when you consider that there are 200 million+ guns in the USA.

The "gun-show loophole" is WAAAYYY over-hyped--and in SE Wisconsin, in the last 5 years, I've only seen ONE gun for sale by a private party at a show.

ONE.