Badger Guns case brings probation

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    Thumbs down Badger Guns case brings probation

    Badger Guns case brings probation - JSOnline




    Woman sentenced for 'straw buying' last year at store
    By John Diedrich of the Journal Sentinel

    Posted: Oct. 24, 2009


    Badger Guns sold a .38-caliber revolver to a 55-year-old woman, despite warning signs that she was buying the gun for her felon boyfriend, according to court records.

    Sherrill Worthy went to Badger in November 2008 to buy a gun for James Funches, a convicted drug dealer who was wanted on a weapons charge in Arkansas, records show. The clerk at Badger stood behind the counter and asked Worthy which gun she wanted, she said.

    "(Funches) picked it out. He told me which one he wanted," said Worthy, of Milwaukee. She told authorities all she knew about the gun was its caliber and that it was "pretty."

    Worthy said Friday after her sentencing in federal court that she was not sure if a Badger employee heard Funches pick out the gun, but prosecutors, law enforcement and other gun store owners have said the scenario of a woman buying a gun with a man standing by silently should warrant tough questions.

    Adam Allan, the owner of Badger in West Milwaukee, has insisted these are just the kind of people he kicks out of his store. But that didn't happen and the sale was made to Worthy.

    Worthy said she came back a few days later to pick up the gun, but went into Badger alone while Funches waited in the parking lot - another telltale sign of "straw buying," when someone buys a gun for a felon, according to authorities.

    Funches, 40, was caught with the gun a couple months later after he was stopped for speeding, according to court documents. He had the .38-caliber revolver from Badger, loaded, in his coat pocket. Beside him was his teenage grandson; Funches also had an ounce of marijuana in the car, the documents say.

    The scenario is similar to another straw-buying case at Badger in May when 18-year-old Julius Burton - who couldn't legally buy a handgun at Badger because of his age - picked out a gun in the store and had 21-year-old Jacob Collins buy it for him, court records show.

    That gun was used to shoot two Milwaukee police officers in the head a month later, according to prosecutors. Collins pleaded guilty in federal court to straw buying, and will be sentenced in January.

    Burton's case is pending in state court.

    Badger has been under fire after Milwaukee police found during an operation that felons frequent Badger, even practicing at the store's shooting range. Badger and its predecessor have accounted for roughly one-third of crime guns recovered by Milwaukee police each year and have been among the top stores in the nation for selling crime guns. The past six officers shot in Milwaukee have been wounded with guns from Badger.

    Allan was out of town and unavailable for comment Friday. He has said he has taken a hard line on straw buyers. Federal court records show Badger has been the scene of more straw buying than any other gun shop in eastern Wisconsin.

    Nine of 10 straw buyers prosecuted since 2007 made their purchases at Badger Guns or its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, a review of court records shows. In the past five years, the store accounted for 21 of the 27 cases prosecuted.

    Worthy was one of those cases. She was sentenced Friday to three years' probation and fined $3,000 by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa.

    Like most straw buyers, Worthy had a clean record. If done properly, background checks make it impossible for felons to buy a gun for themselves. But experts say there are plenty of people willing to act as straw buyers because the penalties are light. In Wisconsin, it is a misdemeanor for someone to buy a gun for a felon. Lawmakers have proposed making it a felony.

    It already is a federal felony, so virtually all straw buying cases in eastern Wisconsin are sent to federal court, authorities said.

    Federal sentencing guidelines called for 10 to 16 months in prison for Worthy, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Johnson recommended probation because he said Worthy helped in the prosecution of Funches, who has pleaded guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a gun. He has not been sentenced.

    Johnson said the U.S. attorney's office has prosecuted gun dealers who knowingly sell guns to felons through straw buyers, but that can be a tough case to make. He said the circumstances don't support such charges in this case.

    "We would have to prove the seller knew she wasn't the buyer," Johnson said. "We have no way to prove what they knew."

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    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel ...Johnson said the U.S. attorney's office has prosecuted gun dealers who knowingly sell guns to felons through straw buyers, but that can be a tough case to make....

    "We would have to prove the seller knew she wasn't the buyer," Johnson said. "We have no way to prove what they knew."
    Hence the problem with the entire background check system. It is easily subverted by any felon with half a brain and a clean friend. FFL's and LEO's get caught trying to enforce these silly rules based on winks and nods.

    I don't see any evidence the Brady Background System has made any significant difference in the availability of firearms to criminals.

    If that many "crime guns" do come from this one FFL, there might be something fishy going on. It might also just be close to the bus stop... At any rate if if Worthy keeps selling guns, he is asking for trouble (both from his felon "customers" and the ATF).

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    Senior Member Array Lewis128's Avatar
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    Anyone know how these laws line up with gun sales between individuals?
    If I buy a .357 for myself, then decide after 1 box of shells that it's just not for me, can't I just sell it?
    If so, am I required to do a back-ground check, or get a FFL-holder to mediate the transaction?
    What protection do I have from a gung-ho prosecutor if the nice young man living next door who buys it off me turns out to be a felon?

    My VERY limited understanding of the law is that sales between individuals is not regulated, so whom does the burden of proof fall to if I sell my .357 the same day I pick it up?

    (I actually do have a .357 on layaway so this hypothetical question is based on actual possibilities)
    The views expressed above are the opinion of the poster and may or may not be total bunk.
    Viewer discretion is advised.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis128 View Post
    Anyone know how these laws line up with gun sales between individuals
    Depends on your state laws. In AZ, private sales between individuals simply require that the buyer be identified as an AZ resident. Other states are far more restrictive.
    Smitty
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    Distinguished Member Array nutz4utwo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis128 View Post
    Anyone know how these laws line up with gun sales between individuals?
    Federal law: They must be a resident of your state and the transaction should take place in your home state. You cannot sell pistols (or pistol ammo) to someone under 21 or someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm (like a felon)

    State law might have different requirements:

    Here in Washington State, there is no requirement to do any background checks if you are an individual selling. There is a form you and the buyer can optionally fill out and mail to the state attorney general that documents the sale in their system.

    In Virginia, (I believe) the Sheriff's office issues a $5 permit that shows you passed a background check and you give it to the seller when you buy. The seller keeps it as a record.

    I always write out and sign a simple contract when selling a gun "I Mr. Seller sell this pistol serial #0001 to Mr Buyer on October 27, 2009 for $375. Mr. Buyer has paid cash in full."

    check your local laws...

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