Bloomberg V. Guns
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard details of Michael Bloomberg and the city of New York hiring private investigators to conduct a sting on out of state gun dealers that are the source of crime guns in New York. USA Today had the story first:
Wearing hidden cameras, the investigators entered stores in teams of two and attempted “straw purchases,” in which the buyer completes the paperwork and passes the background check, but later hands over the weapon to someone else who is not allowed to own a firearm.
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.
Trouble for Bloomberg is that if this is how it went down, then it’s not necessarily illegal, assuming that the man was not a prohibited person. If the man was a prohibited person, the investigators broke the law. Also, said private investigators from New York have zero law enforcement authority in the states wherein they committed these supposed investigations. They may have also committed felonies by giving false info on ATF Form 4473, which asks specifically:
Are you the actual buyer of the firearm indicated on this form?
Further, it looks as though Bloomberg’s antics jeapordized real investigations:
Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to hire private investigators to conduct undercover stings at Southern gun shops has potentially jeopardized several criminal cases, law enforcement sources charged.
Four cases were compromised and an additional 14 were put at risk by the six-week sting aimed at gun stores in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, the sources said.
The sources argued that several suspects being watched by authorities had frequented some of the 15 gun shops–but are now cleaning up their acts or lying low because of the publicity. None of the ongoing cases was linked to New York, the sources said.
“A bunch of private eyes straight out of ‘Barnaby Jones’ run their own sting operation and all the real enforcement agencies find out about it on the day they are having a press conference? Not good,” said a law enforcement source in Washington.
The Justice Department held a meeting last week to review potential problems, another source said. “The goal is to lock up gun criminals, not file civil lawsuits with publicity stunts,” the source said.
And, the final bit of funny, is that the ATF may be investigating this sting:
ATF has said they will be investigating every aspect of these “sting” sales (and there were ATF people present who repeated that). This may be bad news for the city, since IF the sales were illegal straw sales, their investigators committed felonies.
I’m going to go ahead and call Bloomberg’s latest antics of sending private investigators to investigate gun shops in other states for the purpose of suing them a victory for gun rights. Why, you may ask? Simple. It essentially shows that NY’s stringent and draconian gun laws are not having the desired affect. Since folks are unwilling to deal with the real issues after their ideas fail, they must have a scapegoat. In this case, that scapegoat is SC, GA, VA, etc. The facts are that NY has some of the most stringent/draconian gun laws in the country (in third place, with DC first and Chicago second) but they still have a significant number of gun crimes. Since they passed the laws, there must be some reason those aren’t working and it must be due to the failure of other states. Otherwise, they’d have to admit their laws are not an effective means to their end.
And watching the failures and consequences of the actual investigation unravel is kind of amusing.