August 2006

Downrange: 08/06

Are NY Snoops Straw Buyers?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is taking a closer look at the information used to support a federal lawsuit filed by the city of New York against gun shops around the country.

The lawsuit contends that 15 gun shops in five states broke federal law by letting one person buy a gun for another in what is called a "straw purchase."

The bottom line here is whether the gun stores in question violated the law. But the ATF has also started looking into the actions of the investigators who made the gun buys.

"We are on a fact-finding mission right now, and we told them we are going to have to look into what happened," ATF spokesman Joseph Green said. "We will have to look into whether any laws were violated."

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The South Carolina Senate closed an early-June session by passing H4301, the Castle Doctrine bill that would remove the "duty to retreat" if a law-abiding citizen is attacked anywhere that person may lawfully be. Also, a conference committee took up S 1261, a bill originally introduced to allow qualified individuals who own property in South Carolina but do not reside in the state, to apply for a Right-to-Carry (RTC) permit.

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A double-amputee Iraq-war vet is suing anti-gun activist Michael Moore for $85 million. Sgt. Peter Damon, 33, said he never agreed to be in the 2004 movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. In Fahrenheit 9/11, the bandaged National Guardsman is shown in an NBC clip laying on a gurney complaining that he feels like he’s "being crushed in a vise…." His image appears seconds after Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) says, "You know, they say they’re not leaving any veterans behind, but they’re leaving all kinds of veterans behind." Damon is asking for up to $75 million because of "loss of reputation, emotional distress, embarrassment, and personal humiliation." In addition, his wife is suing for another $10 million because of the "mental distress and anguish suffered by her spouse."

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Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has announced another gun-buyback program. This time, people who turn in guns to police will receive $200 in Target gift cards.

The gun-buyback program is a throwback to an effort last undertaken in Boston more than a decade ago. Between 1993 and 1996, 2,800 guns were turned in to police, in exchange for $50 in cash for each weapon.

This time, the incentive is a gift card rather than cash, which some people previously used to purchase newer, better guns. No identification is required of people who hand in guns, and they will not be charged with possession. However, the weapons will be turned over to the police crime lab and traced for connection to past shootings.

-Todd Woodard