Agents Find No Record of Rifle Sale
By Brian Melley - The Associated Press
~ Foreword ~
The press has bought the "gun show loophole" nonsense hook, line and sinker. In this story the reporter purports that any sale at a gun show would not require a check. Leading readers to believe that this would be the case even if sold by a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) dealer.
Also, the dealer should have booked in any firearms stock received or sold, so if he had the rifle and transferred ownership without following the required process, HE has big legal problems with the BATF.
What the press does not know, or at least tell, about guns and gun sales, is absolutely journalistically irresponsible. Especially considering how they spout off incorrect "factoids" like a gum ball machine dropping candy. Editor
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Federal agents said Saturday they had found no records to indicate how the rifle used in the Washington, D.C-area sniper shootings got into the hands of suspect John Allen Muhammad.
The gun arrived at Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in June, but the store apparently has no records indicating it was ever sold, said Richard Van Loan, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent involved in the search.
Gun dealers are required to keep such records
Agents spent a third day at Bull's Eye on Saturday trying to "find out how the gun got out of the store," Van Loan said. They were taking inventory of every gun there and trying to determine if others were missing, he said.
The Seattle Times reported Saturday that an ATF audit of the shop two years ago found it lacked records for 150 gun sales.
Bull's Eye owner Brian Borgelt acknowledged that ATF agents were seeking to determine if he sold the .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle seized when Muhammad, 41, and John Lee Malvo, 17, were arrested early Thursday in northern Maryland.
But in an interview, he avoided the issue of whether Muhammad did purchase the rifle there.
"Regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, it's this hollow, empty feeling you can't describe - no matter how remote a connection," Borgelt said Friday. "It's all of a sudden, going from swearing at this guy every day and then having some kind of affiliation, possibly."
Maryland authorities on Friday charged Malvo and Muhammad with six counts of first-degree murder and said they would seek the death penalty against Muhammad.
The sniper had killed 10 people and injured three since Oct. 2.
If Muhammad purchased the rifle, he would have to have done so illegally because of a restraining order brought against him by his estranged wife in March 2000.
That order should have prompted any licensed firearms dealer to reject Muhammad on any attempted purchase. Such restraining orders are among several factors in federal law that disqualify a person from buying firearms.
It's not clear whether the background check system broke down or whether Muhammad bought the weapon through an intermediary, such as at a gun show. It could have been stolen.
To buy the weapon from a licensed dealer, Muhammad would have had to lie on a federal form that asks if the prospective buyer is under a restraining order.
The order also should have tripped the National Instant Check System - the FBI background check system firearms dealers are required to use. The federal law that mandates background checks requires NICS to search all available databases.
"It's probably fair to assume that NICS is checking that database, but I can't tell you that for a fact," ATF spokeswoman Martha Tebbenkamp said.
Ray Lauer, a spokesman for the FBI in Seattle, did not return a phone call from The Associated Press.
Officials of Pierce County and the Washington State Patrol say the restraining order against Muhammad was uploaded to the background check database right away.
The NICS system is notorious for missing domestic violence restraining orders, said Jim Kessler, policy and research director at Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Gun Safety.
AP Writer Paul Queary in Olympia contributed to this story.