“Police say holes in firearms records make it difficult to track the source of weapons they recover from crime scenes,” sentinelandenterprise.com reports. “The ongoing investigation of a shooting on Fulton Street last month has shed light on an issue Fitchburg Police Chief Robert DeMoura said is putting his officers’ lives in danger.” You ready for this? Sure you are . . .
According to Massachusetts law, all residents must notify the Firearms Records Bureau of all sales or transfers of all firearms, which then go through the Massachusetts Instant Record Check to ensure that neither party is prohibited from owning a firearm. In other words, the Bay State has universal background checks (i.e. the gun control advocates’ wet dream). So how’s that working out?
On Jan. 24, Keno Berrick, 20, and Marquis Ford, 28, both of 21 Fulton St., were arrested following an alleged incident that day that involved the firing of a weapon in the street. Police said they found four firearms in their possession, three handguns and a long gun. Two of the guns had previously been reported stolen, one from inside the state and one from outside.
Police were unable to pinpoint the origin of the two other guns because of gaps in the firearms’ records.
“Where did (they) come from?” asked DeMoura.
Commonly, the answer is that police don’t know and may not be able to find out.
Question: who cares how the bad guys got the guns?
The police want to stem the flow of illegal guns to criminals. The police reckon they can use tracing information from guns used in crime to identify “straw purchasers” – people with clean records who bought guns to sell to criminals. Imprison the straw purchasers (min. 2.5 year jail sentence) and they’ll reduce the supply of guns to criminals. In theory.
In practice, only the stupidest of straw purchasers gets caught. Even if the police identify the original buyer as a straw purchaser for a “crime gun,” they have to prove the gun or guns were bought for a bad guy or guys. The straw purchaser can say, oops, I lost it or oops it was stolen. As we live in a country where people are innocent until proven guilty (at least in theory), proving that a person without a criminal record bought a gun for a criminal is tough sledding.
Besides, most guns used in crimes were stolen from lawful owners. Let’s look at the stats, shall we?
In 2011, 1,737 firearms were traced by law enforcement in Massachusetts, according to the ATF. These include firearms recovered by police or found lost or abandoned. It does not include firearms from gun buybacks or guns turned in to police by their owners. Of those traced firearms, 351 came from Massachusetts, 133 came from New Hampshire, 79 came from Maine, 60 came from Georgia, 56 came from Florida and 38 came from California.
Did you catch that? The records include lost or abandoned firearms. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know HOW MANY? And how many of these were stolen and how many were delivered unto evil hands via straw purchasers? * crickets chirping *
Again, who cares where these guns came from? Not to belabor the point, but tracing firearms has done sweet FA to reduce the crime rate in general and firearms-related crime in particular.
Which leaves us where? If you’re the Sentinel, it leaves you searching for a pro-registry argument. How about this one?
The lack of records also makes it harder for police to assess potential dangers. For example, when police serve a search warrant, [Fitchburg police Officer Ron] L’Ecuyer said they would like to know if the person living at the address has a high number of weapons at his or her disposal.
Since when does [theoretical] officer safety come before Massachusetts’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms without ANY government infringement? And what’s this about a “high number of weapons”? Shouldn’t that be “a deadly assault weapon”? Or is that an argument for another day?
Of course, the protect cops thing’s a side-issue. It’s all about “stopping criminal access to firearms.” Yes, well, is there any sane person who thinks that creating a national firearms registry would stop the flow of illegal guns from one state to another? No, but there are some insane people who do.
[Chief] DeMoura would like to see a national database where gun owners have to register all their firearms. Lowell police Chief Bill Taylor also said a firearms registry would help his department.
“I share the frustration that Chief DeMoura has expressed,” said Taylor. He said gun record searches tend to give “very mixed results,” and the older the weapon is, the harder it is to find information.
He’d like to see a federal registry — “the more comprehensive the better.”
He said the registration would help them determine if guns they recover had been previously stolen.
And then what? And then nothing. Other than, say, confiscation of legally held firearms rendered illegal by legislation or executive fiat (e.g., Connecticut and Hurricane Katrina). DeMoura doesn’t see it that way.
There is no pending legislation to create a formal state gun registry, or a federal registry. In fact, the failed gun-control legislation supported by President Barack Obama last year included passages that made creation of a gun registry illegal to improve the bill’s chances of passing.
DeMoura said he doesn’t look at this issue from a political perspective.
“I don’t have a political philosophy, I have a law-enforcement philosophy,” said DeMoura. “Some cop is going to get killed because of this.”
A “law enforcement philosophy.” I’m not sure I like the sound of that. Wait. No. No I don’t. Maybe that’s because not-so-deep thinker DeMoura reckons a national or “formal” gun registry will prevent crime by reducing criminal access to guns. Not surprisingly, his underling agrees, and adds “Let’s do it for the children!”
Fitchburg Deputy Police Chief Phil Kearns said there was a case in Fitchburg in which a caseworker from the Department of Children and Families was in an apartment when a child located an unsecured .357 handgun and fired it in a back room.
Which may or may not have been a stolen, straw-purchased, lost or legally owned firearm. Whose owner violated Massachusetts law about securing a firearm. In other words, WTF does that have to do with anything? In fact, whose idea was this article anyway? The chances of a national “formal” national firearms registry are thankfully slim. Ah, but a[nother] backdoor state registration scheme . . .
On Feb. 3, the state Legislature’s Committee to Reduce Firearm Violence listed 44 recommendations for state lawmakers on how to reduce gun violence. Their report did not recommend creating a formal registry, but it did recommend having gun owners sign an affidavit each time they renew their firearms license saying they still own all the guns they had previously reported possession of. The panel also recommended increasing civil penalties for failing to report a gun as stolen.
To think the American Revolution started in Massachusetts.