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Entries in Firearms (11)

Tuesday
May292012

Chicago Plans Anti-Gang Crackdown on Heels of Bloody Weekend

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced new crime fighting initiatives Tuesday after 40 people were shot over Memorial Day weekend.

On Tuesday, Emanuel and McCarthy outlined their strategy for dealing with Chicago’s gun violence -- including improved intelligence on gang activity, increased efforts to rid communities of the “cancer” of liquor stores where much of the violence occurs, and ridding the streets of guns responsible for so much of that violence.

"We determined that we needed to create a multi-faceted approach that is objective and not merely based upon making arrests," McCarthy said. "It requires commitment from many resources and angles. Our enhanced Gang Violence Reduction Strategy includes intelligence. It includes enhanced technology."

Emanuel announced the city’s collaboration with federal authorities to heighten crime-fighting initiatives across the city after at least 10 people died over the holiday weekend.

They plan on closer monitoring of social media as well where the violence can start with gang members “calling each other out,” as McCarthy put it.  He noted that 70-80 percent of the shootings are gang related and that “4 percent of the population drives 90 percent of the violence in the city.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Probe Finds 62% of Private Gun Sellers Sell to Prohibited Individuals

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than six in 10 private gun sellers agreed to sell a firearm to a buyer who said he probably couldn't pass a background check, according to a report released Wednesday by New York City officials as part of an undercover investigation.

"Our investigation indicates illegal online sales are a problem that's national in scope," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference Wednesday.

Federal law prohibits felons, domestic abusers, drug addicts, and the mentally ill from buying firearms, and federally-licensed firearms dealers are required to conduct background checks and keep paperwork on their buyers.  But unlicensed private sellers -- who account for about 40 percent of U.S. gun sales -- do not have to conduct background checks on their buyers.  They are prohibited, however, from selling firearms to someone they know to be a prohibited purchaser.

These private sellers have found a safe place to conduct their business in the online market, where sellers' identities are not required and transactions are often not recorded, according to the report.

In the last 15 years, a large percentage of firearms sales in the U.S. have moved online, through sites like GunBroker.com, which reported about $1 billion in sales in 2009 -- up from about $12 million in 2000.  The site has over 1.8 million registered users.  Many sales on sites like GunBroker.com are, "largely unregulated and undocumented," according to the report, making it difficult to calculate the exact number of online gun sales.

But investigators are certain the online market is vast.  This year, on 10 websites alone, investigators found more than 25,000 guns for sale, according to the report.

The report, called "Point, Click, Fire: An Investigation of Illegal Online Gun Sales," documents the findings of city investigators who tried to determine whether unlicensed private sellers advertising firearms online refuse to sell to buyers who could not pass a background check.

Members of the 15-person investigative team posed as illegal purchasers, asking sellers to meet in person to exchange guns for cash.  Investigators recorded telephone calls with the sellers, and used concealed cameras to videotape their in-person interactions where guns were exchanged for cash.

Investigators looked at 125 online private sellers in 14 states who advertised on 10 websites, and 77 agreed to sell a gun to a buyer who could not pass a background check.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov232011

Boy, 11, Uses BB Gun to Fend Off Mom’s Attacker

ABC News(BELLINGHAM, Wash.) -- A heroic 11-year-old in Bellingham, Wash., took fast action to save his mother from an attacker in their home on Tuesday morning, using the only weapon he had -- his trusty BB gun.

“He kept on hurting my mom, so I went and grabbed my BB gun and I said, ‘Get off my mom. Get off my mom,’” Kobe Sturgen told ABC News’ Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV. “And then I shot him with my BB gun.”

The attacker, Paul Newman, received three or four BB gun shots to the face, not serious injuries, but wounds apparently painful enough to stop the attack: he was later treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The incident began when Newman, who was renting a room in the home of Sturgen and his mother, allegedly arrived home intoxicated around 7 a.m., according to the Bellingham Police Department.

Newman apparently became angry because his room was messy and kicked in the door to Sturgen’s mother’s room and tried to strangle her.

“The 10-year-old heard commotion, woke up, ran into the bedroom and tried to get Newman to stop by yelling and screaming,” Bellingham Police Department spokesman Mark Young told ABC News. “When that didn’t work, he grabbed a board and smacked him with this board, which was successful in stopping the attack on Mom.”

Newman then turned and went after Sturgen, chasing after the boy who he believed had run out of the house. When Newman got outside, the mother closed and locked the front door with herself and her son inside. Newman tried to get back into the house through an open window. The mother rushed to try and close the window, but Newman grabbed her through it.

It was at this point, Young said, that Sturgen went and retrieved his BB gun to shoot Newman.

“The son levied a couple shots in his direction, three to four times, and that action proved effective,” Young said. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

An injured Newman fell back onto the ground outside. The mother and son, who believed Newman had taken their cell phone, ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911.

Newman was arrested and charged with one count of felony assault and two counts of felony harassment. The mother was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep302011

Ohio Bars Open Doors to Gun Owners

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The signs outside Shooters Bar and Grill in Galion, Ohio, are clear, albeit ironic: “No weapons allowed.”

Owner Vicki Bash says that won’t change as Ohio’s controversial new gun law takes effect Friday. It allows people licensed to carry concealed weapons to take them into taverns, hotels, restaurants and other places where liquor is served.  But those carrying guns are not allowed to drink.  And taverns, such as Shooters, can still keep weapons out as long as they post signs banning them.

“People aren’t supposed to drink and drive either,” Bash said. “But they do.”

She worries that bartenders have no way of knowing who is carrying a weapon so they must rely entirely on customers’ following the law. “I’m not against guns,” Bash said, but “alcohol creates stupidity.”

But other bars, including the Crazy Fox in Bucyrus, Ohio, don’t have a problem with concealed weapons as long as their owners don’t drink. The law passed despite objections from the Ohio Restaurant Association, which represents more than 5,000 mostly independent establishments.

“Alcohol and guns are typically not a good mix,” association spokesman Jarrad Clabaugh said.

Ohio is the latest state to allow gun owners to take their concealed weapons into bars. In Tennessee, which passed a similar law last year, Nikki Goeser has been a strong advocate, saying, “You know what, we need to be protected because the bad guys are going to carry their guns.”

In 2009, before Tennessee passed its new law, her husband, Ben, was shot and killed inside a Nashville tavern. “I had to leave my legal, permitted weapon locked in my vehicle that night,” she said. "And I’ll probably wonder for the rest of my life if I could have saved Ben.”

But many bartenders and waitresses are wary of the new law. "After a couple of drinks, they get their beer muscles and start swinging fists,” Nashville cocktail waitress Jessi Morrow said, adding that she fears guns add more danger to such volatile situations.

Waiter Chris Reeves isn’t comforted by the law’s prohibition against drinking by gun-toters. “Maybe he’s not drinking. But another guy has had several and has an attitude.” he said. “You could have multiple shots scattered in a matter of seconds.”

In Tennessee, Ray Friedman, who opposes guns in bars and restaurants, publishes a website listing which establishments ban them. “It’s tough for restaurants to be put in that position, but in fact they do have to make a choice,” he said.

But gun advocate Goeser said she is safer in a bar or restaurant, knowing her .38 Smith & Wesson Special is tucked into a hidden sleeve of her purse.  “Do I feel like I could stop someone from hurting innocent people?” she asked. “I think so.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

ATF Head: Not Sharing Weapons Tracking Info 'Eye-Popping'

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Interviewed by congressional investigators earlier this month, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Ken Melson agreed that the allegations that federal agencies weren’t sharing information regarding the Fast & Furious program were “eye-popping,” according to transcripts of the interview exclusively obtained by ABC News.

In the controversial Fast & Furious program, the FBI allowed assault weapons to be trafficked across the Mexican border in order to try to locate criminals. But many of the guns have since shown up at crime scenes in the U.S. One theory investigators are exploring is that the ATF agents were unknowlingly selling weapons to straw purchasers created by the FBI using informants and maybe even taxpayer money.

Melson was asked about this -- politely called an “interagency communication issue” -- when he testified behind closed doors to congressional investigators over Fourth of July weekend. In the below excerpt from that testimony, Melson describes a conversation with the deputy attorney general (DAG) Jim Cole on July 16, the day after the ATF hearing on the Hill. “IG” is a reference to the inspector general who is investigating the Fast & Furious case internally at the Justice Department.

Below is the relevant exchange:

Q: Do you have any concerns that because you raised the interagency communication issue with the DAG and also with the IG that you might be viewed as speaking out of turn.

MELSON: Well, I guess I have -- I have got concerns about talking with you about it, as well as pushing it as I have in the Department, because it could be a very sensitive issue.  I don't know.  Better communication with them would have helped me understand how sensitive it is, if it is, or what the ramifications of its disclosure is. I mentioned it to the DAG's office in good faith to try and avoid further damage to the Department or the government if this thing is as you have laid it out and it unravels and the American public sees ATF investigating straw purchasers and another agency working the money angle and the ordering of the weapons.  I mean, that would make us look pretty silly, I think.  So my mention of it to the DAG's office was simply to let them know, to give them a head's up so if this was occurring, they could figure out what to do with it.  And we weren't getting any responses.  I'm still concerned about it.  I'm still concerned about not just what was done, but what could be ongoing as well.

Q: When I first heard about the information sharing issues, my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

MELSON: Well, so did mine.

Q: I'm curious when you communicated that to the DAG, did his eyes pop out of his head, did he think this was a big problem.

MELSON: I can't tell you what he thought or how he thought.  But he simply said, "We will have to look into it."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who is investigating the operation, has accused the Obama administration of "stonewalling" his efforts. "This administration, at the highest levels approved a process that allowed thousands of high-powered weapons...to go to the worst of the worst on both sides of the borders," Issa told Fox News last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr282011

247 On US Terror Watchlist Bought Guns In 2010

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- More than 200 individuals who were on the federal terrorism watch list passed background checks and were allowed to buy guns in 2010, according to a new government review.

A review by the Government Accountability Office determined that 247 people on the watch list bought guns last year, and also showed that between 2004 and 2009, more than nine out of ten individuals on the list who tried to buy guns succeeded.

"It defies common sense," said Sen. Lautenberg, D-N.J., who requested the GAO report, "that people on the terror watch list continue to be cleared to buy weapons legally in the United States."

Current federal law does not prohibit people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns unless there is a prohibiting factor, such as being a fugitive, a felon, renouncing U.S. citizenship or suffering mental impairment. Sen. Lautenberg has introduced legislation that would close this loophole and prevent known or suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms.

"This is a homeland security issue, not a gun issue," said. Sen. Lautenberg, "and there's no reason we shouldn't be able to stop a terrorist from buying a dangerous weapon in the United States."

In 2009, though they are not known to have been on the terror watch list, two men who had been under federal scrutiny for possible terror ties bought firearms that they then allegedly used to kill U.S. soldiers.

In August 2009, accused Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased a handgun despite having been the subject of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation for his contacts with radical Yemeni cleric Anwar Al Awlaki. Hasan is now charged with killing 13 people during the November 2009 shooting spree at the Army's Ft. Hood in Texas.

Just months before the Ft. Hood massacre, Carlos Bledsoe was arrested for allegedly shooting two Army privates and killing one in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bledsoe, also known as Abdul Hakim Muhammad, was allowed to purchase a rifle at a Walmart in the weeks before the shooting despite having been under investigation by the FBI for his extensive travels to Yemen.

The GAO sent a letter to Sen. Lautenberg on Wednesday detailing the results of its review. The letter notes, "From February 2004 through February 2010, individuals on the terrorist watch list were involved in firearm and explosives background checks 1,228 times, of which 1,119 (about 91 percent) of the transactions were allowed to proceed while 109 were denied."

Under existing federal law, legal firearms purchases are checked with the FBI's National Instant Background Check System, which runs record checks through the FBI's National Crime Information Center. Part of the NCIC database checks the FBI's Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File for individuals with gang or terrorism records.

The FBI unit responsible for background checks on gun purchases does provide leads to the FBI about some high priority terrorism suspects; but that watch list is not inclusive of everyone the government may have concerns about.

Although an FBI background check was run on Carlos Bledsoe, the FBI counterterrorism investigators working his case were apparently unaware and never informed of his purchase.

At a June 2009 Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III explained the current notification system. "We are notified when there is a -- appears to be a purchase of somebody who is affiliated with a terrorist group," said Mueller. "But that is different than barring that individual from the outset from purchasing a weapon. But again, I have to defer to the Department of Justice in terms of the policy position that it is going to take on that issue."

Asked about Sen. Lautenberg's proposed legislation, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said, "The Department is committed to doing everything within its power to keep firearms out of the hands of persons who may intend to use those weapons to commit terrorist acts. To the extent Congress wishes to provide the Department with additional tools that would improve the status quo, we remain committed to working with them to achieve that goal."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr272011

Household Gun Ownership Lowest Since 1977

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A declining percentage of Americans are keeping guns in their homes.  A new report released by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center shows household gun ownership in the U.S. has dropped to its lowest level since it peaked in 1977.

In 1977, 54 percent of American households reported having guns. That percentage dropped to 32.3 percent in 2010.

The report cited several factors for the decline of gun ownership, including an increase in single parent homes headed by women, the aging of the current gun-owning population, the decreasing popularity of hunting, and a lack of interest in guns by youth.

Additional findings from the VPC report:

  • Personal gun ownership peaked in 1985 when 30.7 percent of Americans reported personally owning a gun.  By 2010, that number had dropped t0 20.8 percent.
  • Male gun ownership peaked in 1990, when 52.4 percent of men reported personally owning a gun.  That percentage dropped to 33.2 percent in 2010.
  • Female gun ownership peaked in 1982 at 14.3 percent. In 2010, the rate of female gun ownership was 9.9 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr252011

Tot Shoots Mom, Police Probe Dad's Role

The Miramar Police Department responded to an apartment due to a 911 call stating that a toddler had shot his mother, Julia Bennett, shown in this undated photo, April 20, 2011. (Courtesy Miramar Police Department)(MIRAMAR, Fla.) -- A toddler blamed for shooting his mother in the face keeps asking for his mom, while police are asking whether a two-year-old boy was really capable of holding and firing the gun.

The boy's father, Troy Bailey Jr., may be charged for negligence for leaving his gun out where the boy allegedly picked it up and fired it. A gunshot struck his mother, Julia Bennett, 33, in the face, killing her instantly last Wednesday.

"This is not a clear cut case," said Tania Rues, spokeswoman for the Police Department in Miramar, Fla. "There is a still a lot of work we need to do to determine if this was an accident or not."

Bailey has a license to carry a concealed weapon. He told police he briefly left the gun unattended on a table while visiting Bennett's home. Bailey, who was not married to Bennett, told police he watched as the boy picked up his pistol and shot the woman. The boy's name was not released by police.

Police said there was more to the investigation that simply determining if the child could and did pick up the gun and pull the trigger. The gun was a Glock 9mm, which weighs three pounds when loaded and takes 4.5 to 5.5 pounds of pressure to pull the trigger.

Even if it is determined that the boy pulled the trigger, the father could still be charged with negligence, Rues said.

Police said there had been no previous reports of violence at the home.

The boy was initially taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families, but following a hearing Friday was put in the custody of a maternal aunt.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan312011

Undercover Probe: Semi-Automatic Weapons, No Background Check

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New York City-led undercover investigation at a Phoenix, Ariz., gun show found that despite the mass murder and apparent assassination attempt of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month in which a semi-automatic handgun with an extended clip was used, buyers who likely wouldn't pass a background check can still easily purchase similar weapons.

In two instances private sellers were willing to sell a semi-automatic handgun to undercover investigators who told them they "probably couldn't pass" a background check.

The sellers were willing "to break the law and endanger their fellow citizens just to make a quick sale," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.

The investigation, conducted by the nationally recognized private investigative firm Kroll Inc. at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix, Ariz., also found a Glock pistol capable of firing 33 rounds -- similar to the one allegedly used by Jared Loughner in the Tucson shooting that claimed six lives earlier this month -- was legally purchased without any background check.

The purchase exposed a "dangerous gap in our existing federal gun laws," Bloomberg said.

In the instances in which the buyers said they likely would not pass a background check, the omission should have immediately stopped the sale, officials said, because even though unlicensed occasional sellers are not required to run background checks using the FBI database, it is a federal felony for them to sell guns to people they have reason to believe are prohibited purchasers.

High capacity magazines were purchased three times during the investigation, along with the three weapons, a city official said.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 30 percent of guns involved in federal illegal gun trafficking investigations are connected to gun shows. Because no records are kept, guns sold by private sellers at gun shows become virtually untraceable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan272011

Over 62,000 Guns 'Missing' from Gun Shops Since 2008

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- More than 62,000 guns disappeared from U.S. firearm dealers' inventories in the past three years without any record of being sold, according to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

The estimate means, on average, that dealers "lost" 56 firearms a day between 2008 and 2010.

In many cases, the weapons were likely stolen or sold under the table or on the black market, circumventing established registration procedures and background checks, experts said.  Without a record of a purchase, the weapons are considered hard to trace.

"No wonder it's so easy for gang members and dangerous people to get guns," said Paul Helmke, president and CEO of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group favoring stricter gun control.  "It's obvious these folks aren't losing inventory -- they're selling it under the table or out the back door, feeding the criminal market."

Helmke said the numbers, first publicized by the Brady Center Wednesday after appearing in a public ATF slideshow presentation at a Las Vegas trade show last week, likely understate the extent of the problem.

The ATF data are based on spot compliance inspections of 20 percent of the more than 60,000 retail gun dealers in the U.S.

The ATF, which has approximately 600 inspectors, conducted 10,500 inspections in 2010.  Following those inventories, dealers could not account for more than 21,000 guns.

Dealers who improperly complete licensing forms or fail to report multiple handgun sales, among other violations, could face fines or have their retail licenses revoked.  Sixty-seven dealers were shut down last year, according to the data.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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