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By Eddie Devir

What’s been the constant drumbeat from the administration — almost to the exclusion of anything else — ever since Sandy Hook? “Common sense” gun control measures (read: civilian disarmament) are what’s really needed to keep Americans safe. In response, the NRA’s been asking why new laws would make a discernible difference when those on the books now 1) already make everything the Lanzas and Loughners of the world did illegal, and 2) aren’t consistently or vigorously enforced as it is. Which has to make you wonder why Barack Obama included Larry Wayne Thorton in a batch of 17 presidential pardons he signed Friday . . .

According to,

Larry Wayne Thornton of Forsyth, Ga., was sentenced to four years of probation for “possession of an unregistered firearm” and “possession of a firearm without a serial number.”

Unregistered? So…the gun was an NFA-regulated item? A full-auto gun or SBR? Along with taking a Dremel to the heater’s serial number, those are two fairly serious offenses. Just the types of infractions the ATF tends to go after like a Pit Bull on a Bichon Frise.

Let’s hop in the Wayback Machine, though, and set the dial for January of this year — when the anti-gun furies were really raging — and take another look through those 23 executive orders the Disarmer-in Chief unveiled with such fanfare. Remember lucky number 13?

Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

How is pardoning a felon convicted of a couple of unambiguous firearms no-nos consistent with that order? And why would the President knowingly expose himself to the inevitable cries of “hypocrite!” for a guy who only got probation anyway? It’s not like he’s doing hard time.

Maybe the better question is, who (or maybe what) does Larry Wayne Thorton know?

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  1. Not sure who he knows, but if I were running the NRA, I’d make sure everybody knows who Larry Wayne Thornton is.

  2. Without knowing the specifics of the case it really isn’t worth speculation.

    Wearing my reasonable-doubt hat I’ll toss out the hypothetical legit manufacture that didn’t have all his “I”s dotted or “T”s crossed. Maybe just messed up the register/manufacturer/engrave sequence?

    • +1

      Unless someone has the case specifics, I am not sure why we are casting stones here. Yes, Obama is a hypocrite, are any of surprised? But, without details we are no better than the anti-gun crowd.

      Maybe legit, maybe not, but without more info or a link to the case, not sure what to make of it.

      • Thanks Pascal, I think that it’s an excellent point that some of the millions of gun laws knocking around awaiting the latest often innocent victim are arbitrary, unjust and have no reason to be enforced at all. It’s the one item of disagreement I have with the NRA.
        I refer to item 7 on a “Bill of Rights” I’ve been working on – what do you think?

        Gun Owners Bill of Rights

        The first of which is, of course, the 2nd Amendment itself:
        A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
        But what does this mean exactly? The Miller, Heller and McDonald cases provide a partial answer but are as yet unfinished. Meanwhile, the more important question for us is what are our goals, what do we want?

        OK, here we go:

        1/ No general registration of gun or ammo buyers or positive background checks. Negative background checks – in the sense that a potential buyer can be checked against a “prohibited” list – may be OK but should be done by a third party and no permanent record kept. Whatever list is maintained has to be carefully monitored for mistakes, typos and the usual junk such lists are ‘er to with easy-to-use appeal and corrective procedures.
        2/ No general registration of any legally purchased and kept non NFA firearms – all FFL records to be destroyed in due time and any government violation of this rule to be held to strict account.
        3/ Although the idea of placing the mentally disturbed on a “no sell” list has it’s merits it must be also be carefully controlled by judicial review to prevent any “medical professional” – who may themselves be “disturbed”- or believe anyone owning or wanting to own a gun is “disturbed” – to have such an arbitrary power, a violation of due process. This can also have the undesirable effect of deterring some people who could use help from seeking aid.
        4/ Any restriction on types of firearms can not fall below that of weapons commonly used as individual weapons by the military or police as specified by the Miller decision of 1939. They can draw the line at fully-automatic and burst features which can be controlled under strict regulation (as they are now) but under revised rules. If the police need over a hundred officers with “assault rifles” and 30 round mags to deal with 1 nut then why do I need less to deal with multiple criminals by myself?
        5/ No restrictions or records on “regular” ammo sales. These have proved themselves to be unworkable and useless and can only be used to compile a troublesome and misleading database of misinformation. A violation of the “Arbitrary and capricious” phrase in the Heller decision.
        6/ No more exceptions for retired police, political pals or whatever without some provision for persons with the same level of qualification and trust. This is plainly a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
        7/ No possession, transfer or technical violation, such as overall sizes or barrel lengths, to be treated as a crime without some showing of criminal intent. The sad history of some hapless or unknowing innocent threatened or actually imprisoned for some unintended violation has just got to stop – period. No Constitutional citation here. just common sense and humanity.
        8/ No criminal prosecutions for travelers passing through “restricted” states or areas who are making an honest effort to comply with the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act even if in violation of some strict interpretation of the same.
        9/ Any “Reporting of Theft or Loss” laws must be carefully crafted so as not to entrap any innocent oversight or ever to include any casual loss of ammo, accessories or parts.
        10/ No more large area “Weapons Free” zones that – in any built up area – cover virtually everything.
        Although banning specific small zones passes Constitutional muster, any attempt to use this as some end run around legal gun carry is unacceptable and in violation of both the Heller and McDonald decisions.
        11/ The carry licenses issued by any one state should be honored by all others. Although a valid States Rights issue they can be “encouraged” to do so by federal law. Basically it’s a violation of the Constitution Article IV, Sec 2 – Privileges of Citizens – under which driver’s licenses, for example, are recognized through all the states.
        12/ Whatever restrictions are passed must always include the “grandfathering” of any existing items. Anything else is a violation of Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment and the deprived of property clause of the 5th Amendment.

    • Apparently he had a friend’s “illegally altered” shotgun in the trunk of his car back in ’74. Thirty-nine years later he’s allowed to vote again. I don’t see anything worth getting agitated over yet.

  3. Or how much Larry Wayne Thornton’s family contributed to the Obama campaign or who do they know???

  4. definitely seems like something the NRA could put some effort into investigating and if it looks like they have a legit case, spread it far and wide.

      • Why would they apologize for investigating? Other news outlets actually modify audio recordings and add their own words or they take Dorner’s manifesto and edit the parts thet don’t like out. They don’t apologize for that but the NRA should apologize simply for investigating?

  5. Tyranny isn’t effective if it applies equally to everyone. Obviously this man donated to the Obama campaign!

    • Not 100% sure but I don’t think the President can pardon criminals of state crimes, only federal, so it would have to be NFA regardless of state. That or it’s another case of faulty firearms reporting from the liberal media.

    • Sawed-off shotgun would be the most likely reason, based on what Kelly in GA contributed here.

      But this pardon was around of his “I’m not a dictator” spiel. Maybe he was feebly try to polish his “human being” eminence front.

    • …and I suppose if he’d asked for Thornton’s advice a few years back we’d never have known our Border Patrolman was murdered with an official Attorney General Special.

  6. I’m guessing Mr. Thornton is pro-choice, pro-big government, pro-tax & spend, pro-Obamacare, pro-spread-the-wealth, pro-community organizing, anti-Israel . . . . you know, just like a guy who would be in Obama’s neighborhood.

  7. Every non violent gun “criminal” should be given a pardon. This guy wasn’t convicted of causing harm to anyone, so there was no crime. After giving all the gun “criminals” pardons it will be time to move on to all non violent drug “criminals” and pardon them.

    • A Straw-Purchase is a Non-Violent crime, do you want to excuse those too?
      If so, why the push to increase the penalties for such activity?

  8. Hey Barack! While you’re at it, how about a pardon(with full restoration of rights ) for G. Gordon Liddy? he’s an American patriot who deserves it—oh I get it, never mind.

    • Let’s see here: burglar, RNC operative and dirty trickster, Neo-Nazi, eater of cooked rats…..

  9. We (our household) were discussing this and were thinking maybe he pardoned the guy to prevent his case from going before the Supreme Court. Depending on the exact circumstances it might be better for the gun control cause to pardon him than allow it be struck down.

    • Dunno though, I don’t really know much about this case. That was one of the first thoughts we had when we read the headline. Now that I’ve read a little more about it that seems unlikely.

  10. I don’t understand this criticism. This is great: a guy who was convicted of several victimless crimes will have his civil rights restored. A gun writer of all people should know that being prohibited from owning a firearm is its own sort of “hard time.”

    Suggesting that defacing a serial number and unlawfully possessing NFA firearms are crimes deserving of punishment is ridiculous for a gun rights advocate.

    I am all for Obama departing from his anti-gun principles and pardoning people who were convicted under stupid federal firearms laws.

    • Yes, but he’s pardoning someone while pushing to make even more things into crimes.

      Is he planning to pardon all of us? Wouldn’t it just be easier to not pass the bad laws in the first place?

      • Look, I’m not an advocate for Barack Obama. Of course I think that he is generally terrible on guns. I’m just saying that the pardon being discussed here is probably the least bad thing he has done since assuming the presidency, and I would be delighted if he pardoned more people convicted of violations of federal gun laws.

  11. Long ago it was entirely legal to both make and sell firearms in the USA that had no serial numbers. If such a firearm hasn’t been in the hands of a FFL dealer or repairer, it might still not have any.

    I don’t think that had anything to do with the pardon.

    • Long ago, cocaine and heroin could be bought at your friendly neighborhood pharmacy, as was marihoochie…

      I’m actually agreeing with you; I think it’s a terrible, cynical act to turn decent people, who have hurt no one other than themselves, into felons.
      But it’s all in the service of the land-office business that is the Military/Industrial/Entertainment/Prison Complex.

  12. Obama Pardons Gun Crime Convict…Why?

    Thornton was sentenced to four years on probation for his gun conviction. He said his brush with the law happened in 1974 after he gave a friend a ride from Macon to Atlanta, where the friend found a gun he wanted to buy. Thornton said he loaned his friend $20 to buy the shotgun, and he decided to keep it wrapped in a towel in the trunk of his car until the friend paid him back.

    Two weeks later Bibb County detectives came to Thornton’s home, he said, and found the shotgun — which wasn’t registered and had no serial number — in Thornton’s trunk. Thornton said he suspects his friend called the police. He said his trial in federal court lasted mere minutes.

    “I found out after I was arrested that the gun didn’t even have a firing pin,” Thornton said.

    Read more here:

    For that he hasn’t been able to vote for his representation for almost 30 years. I see nothing wrong with this pardon, except that it probably should have been done at the conclusion of his probation.

  13. It sounds like Mr. Thornton deserves the pardon. I am happy for him. I also think that this does smack of hypocrisy on the part of the POTUS. But what it really shows, is what we have been saying all along. All of the “get tough on gun crime” rhetoric, and any new laws, will do little, if anything to reduce real crime or violence. All it is intended to do is to make a certain class of people feel better about themselves. To let them sleep a little better at night, thinking that they “did something for the children” Bleh.

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