More on Bloomberg’s suit
The Bloomberg administration’s unusual move appears to circumvent the law signed by President Bush last year that gives gun makers and dealers broad protection from civil suits, except in cases where they violate the law.
Actually, it doesn’t if the dealers involved knowingly sold weapons to straw purchasers. Otherwise, there really is no negligence on their part. But it looks like they did, according to this report:
For the sting operation, the city singled out about 45 dealers based on gun trace data that links weapons sold in those shops to hundreds of shootings and other crimes in New York City from 1994 to 2001.
Private investigators wore hidden cameras and attempted “straw purchases,” where one person fills out the legal forms and makes the purchase for someone else. The scam, prohibited by federal law, is typically used by people who cannot own firearms, such as convicted felons.
The city said the undercover investigators entered stores in teams of two, usually a man and a woman. While the woman roamed the store and acted disinterested, the man made all the inquiries about the gun and made it clear he was the buyer. When it came time to make the purchase, the woman would step up to fill out the paperwork.
The majority of dealers refused the sale, Bloomberg said. In a video from one such attempt, the man behind the counter shrugged his shoulders, apologized and said it would be against the law for him to sell to the woman because she was clearly not the intended user.
But the 15 dealers named in the suit allowed the transaction, and Bloomberg called them “the worst of the worst.”
“They were either intentionally or negligently selling handguns in a manner that violates federal law,” he said.
Of course, the city of New York running sting operations out of its jurisdiction is a bit troubling.
Also, it rather depends on if the man was in fact a prohibited person. If he is, the investigators broke the law.
Update: No real details but the shops in Georgia are denying selling guns illegally:
Earl Driggers, the owner of A-1 Jewelry and Pawn, said his store has cooperated with authorities in a sting operation in the past, but was not a target of the probe. He believes he has always complied with the law. He said that once someone passes a background check and is sold a gun, it’s impossible for gun stores to control who the buyer gives that gun to.
“We certainly do everything we can to make sure guns don’t leave our store illegally,” Driggers said. “I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. If a guy comes in and meets all the criteria and you comply with the law, I don’t know what you do.”
His son, Greg Driggers, is owner of AAA Pawnbrokers. The younger Driggers said he, too, was baffled why his store was named in the lawsuit.
“We’re not selling guns illegally,” the younger Driggers said. He added, “If they wound up in the hands of criminals, that’s because people are doing things illegal, but it’s not on the part of us. At any time, anybody, any authority is welcome to come in and check my records.”