Over at baltimoresun.com, Dan Rodricks penned an article entitled Enablers of ‘bad guys with guns’ hard to trace. Now I know what the gun control proponents will say: “just because tracing the source of ‘crime guns’ and arresting their providers is nearly impossible, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.” If it saves just one life, and all that. The time and money-wasting-happy antis might even suggest that we go back to the firearm’s original owner and waterboard the bastard (paraphrasing). Create a safe storage law and get them for violating that! Like they have in Massachusetts where . . . it doesn’t work. Anyway, here’s the money shot from Rodricks’ investigation . . .
First of all, if a felon caught with a gun was the one who stole the gun — rare circumstance, [U.S. attorney for Maryland Ron] Rosenstein says — he’s unlikely to admit it.
If he bought it, he’d have to decide to cooperate with the feds or cops and give a name and an address, and that’s assuming he even knows the true identity of the guy who sold him the gun.
“Even when defendants cooperate, usually they either truthfully tell us they bought it from some unknown dude on the street, or they lie and say they bought it from some unknown dude on the street,” says Rosenstein.
“When a cooperating defendant gives us a name of the alleged seller, we have a lead but no useful evidence. You cannot prosecute anyone with just the testimony of an armed criminal who has multiple convictions, and usually a string of other crimes for which he was not convicted, and who is hoping for a lighter sentence in return for his testimony.”
While it’s possible to trace guns purchased recently from licensed firearms dealers, tracing guns from the underground market is much harder. “Most crime guns were probably last purchased on the street and no report was made,” says Rosenstein. “There is no way to know how many times they changed hands.”
I know! Why don’t we just forget the whole gun tracing thing? It’s an “extremist” idea I know, but the fruitless pursuit enables organizations dedicated to infringing on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Like . . . the ATF.
But agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives still investigate such cases, Rosenstein says.
“Sometimes we are able to send the cooperating defendant in as an informant and make an undercover purchase of illegal weapons or catch the seller with illegal guns,” he says. “Successful cases are rare, but not because of any lack of interest or effort by ATF.”
Success is rare. And so is common sense.