Let’s start with the money shot: “Whether a person who acquires a gun with drugs does so in order to obtain the gun (as Gardner and Gladden did) or to sell drugs, that person furthers the sale of the drugs by possessing the gun because, in either case, but for the possession of the gun, the sale of drugs would not have occurred.” That’s the ruling in U.S. vs. Gardner down at the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. Makes sense to me. Now, the fun bit: the description of the transaction leading up to the decision [via leagle.com]:
On that occasion, Williams testified that he, Gardner and Gladden were sitting in Gladden’s SUV when a Pontiac car pulled up next to them and parked. A few minutes later, a man entered the passenger seat of Gladden’s SUV with a black backpack. The man asked for $600 for two guns that were in the backpack. Gladden stated that he did not want to pay cash for the guns, but instead wanted to give the man “some work,” meaning some crack cocaine, for the guns. The man responded that he “[didn’t] know about that” and that he wanted some cash, at which point he put the guns back inside the backpack, told them to give him a minute and exited the vehicle.
Williams then saw the man enter the Pontiac and noticed that there was another occupant in the driver’s seat of that vehicle. When the man returned to Gladden’s SUV with his backpack, he stated “all right, we will take work for the guns,” meaning that he would take the drugs for the guns. The man then pulled out the guns and handed them to Gladden. Gladden stated that he would give the man an onion, meaning an ounce of crack cocaine, for the guns, and the man agreed. The man then exited Gladden’s SUV and got back inside the Pontiac.
After the man exited the SUV, Gladden turned to Gardner and instructed him to get an onion, and Gardner went inside the house and returned with the drugs. The man then entered Gladden’s SUV again and Gladden handed him the drugs. Presumably because an ounce of crack cocaine was worth more than $600, Gladden told the man that, after they finished selling the drugs, they should give him back $200. The man then pocketed the drugs and exited Gladden’s SUV, and Gladden handed the firearms to Gardner and asked him to “put these things up for me.” Before Gardner and Williams left, Gladden got a call on his phone. Williams noticed that the driver of the Pontiac was also on the phone. Williams testified that the man on the phone told Gladden that he did not want crack cocaine and that he wanted powder cocaine instead. Gladden responded “that that will take a minute” and that he had to “go around the block to deal with that.” Gardner and Williams then exited the vehicle and went inside their house where they inspected the guns. There is no evidence in the record regarding whether Gladden actually swapped the crack cocaine for power cocaine.
Gardner and Gladden were charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), which provides that “[a]ny person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime… uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm,” shall be subject to a penalty in addition to that for the underlying crime.
Bang to rights, as they say.