December 13th, 2006 09:56 AM
Bullets slip through hole in gun laws
Bullets slip through hole in gun laws
Probe links ammo sales to gangs
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 12/13/06
BY NICHOLAS CLUNN
TRENTON — Criminal offenders bought handgun ammunition from nine stores in Monmouth and Ocean counties, according to testimony heard Tuesday by a state panel investigating the link between bullet sales and street violence.
Seven of those stores were in Ocean County, which ranked first among the 19 counties probed by the State Commission of Investigation, an independent watchdog of state government.
The commission used those figures to expose the lack of state laws regulating ammunition sales and how some of those purchases end up in the guns of gang members who use violence to control some of New Jersey's most dangerous neighborhoods.
Most sales to criminal offenders in the Shore area and elsewhere were legal, as vendors are only required to write details about the sale into a log book and to make sure that buyers of handgun bullets are at least 21 years old.
"You can be a convicted criminal and buy as much as you want," said Lt. Col. Frank E. Rodgers, deputy superintendent of investigations for the State Police.
Rodgers was one of several high-ranking law enforcement officials who testified before the commission, which is preparing a report to be released early next year about how the state can better regulate ammunition sales.
The commission surveyed 60 of the 330 state-licensed retailers of ammunition and found that 43 had conducted sales with at least one criminal offender. The stores were located in all but two counties.
Drug dealers, sex offenders and individuals convicted of aggravated assault were among the shoppers. The rounds of choice were the often-lethal hollow-point bullets for 9 mm pistols and .357-caliber Magnums, rounds often used in homicides, said Thomas R. Maltese, the commission's investigations administrator.
The commission was able to find criminal offenders among shoppers by conducting background checks on names listedin the log books kept by vendors.
Lee Seglem, commission spokesman, said the commission could not release the names of the stores that sold ammunition to criminal offenders, citing the possibility of retaliation against those businesses.
Investigators also used confidential informants with criminal records to attempt to buy bullets. They succeeded in 22 out of 25 attempts, Maltese said.
In one instance, Maltese said, a vendor joked with an informant about using the bullets for murder by asking, "Who are you going to kill with this box?"
Ammunition has also been traded on the street for heroin, cash and protection, Maltese said.
A confidential informant identified only as "Mr. Smith" testified that while underage, he or she had bought ammunition 135 times over a three-year period for a Bloods gang leader in an unidentified New Jersey city.
The commission placed the informant in a different room and distorted the informant's voice to protect the identity of the witness.
To stay low-profile, gangs often have nonmembers buy ammunition, testified U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie. Called "straw purchasers," these buyers are sometimes college students looking to make quick money, he said.
"There is not a county in this state where there isn't a gang problem," said Christie, who noted that Asbury Park has a "significant" gang problem.
Commission investigators also showed how easy it was to buy ammunition over the Internet. Maltese said he did not have to submit his date of birth or driver's license number when he used a credit card to order 1,200 hollow-point bullets through a Web site run by Cabela's, a national retailer of hunting gear.
"It's like buying a toaster or a coat over the Internet," he said.
Commissioners also heard testimony from law enforcement officials on how the state should regulate ammunition sales.
Some ideas came from three officers who work in a section of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office that deals with gang-related crime.
Brian Rubino, a captain with the prosecutor's office, said vendors would confront suspicious buyers more often if the state required regular reviews of purchase records by local law enforcement officers.
"I don't think they are in a position to turn them away," he said.
Rubino also said a sign notifying buyers about such reviews might intimidate straw purchasers and people who plan to use the rounds to commit a crime.
Other witnesses suggested making it illegal for criminal offenders to buy ammunition, requiring special identification cards for ammunition buyers, and equipping vendors with computers to log purchases.
Nicholas Clunn: (732) 643-4072 or firstname.lastname@example.org
December 13th, 2006 10:08 AM
Here we go... they discovered our soft spot.
December 13th, 2006 10:31 AM
We already went through the vendor log keeping, maybe we could move to Ill an get FOID cards.
Originally Posted by SIXTO
December 13th, 2006 10:31 AM
AS IT SHOULD BE!! I suppose it was only a matter of time until focus shifted from evil black rifles to evil hollow-point ammo.
Originally Posted by raysheen
I don't care how much ammo someone buys, they have to have a gun to shoot it out of before it's useful. Otherwise, it's just a heavy box. Firearms are already over-regulated. But at least the definition of "firearm" is narrow (a certain reciever, for example). Introducing the same level of regulation to the other parts of the system, especially an expendable part like ammo, will do nothing to reduce gang activity (they break the laws to get the guns, they'll just break the laws to get the ammo too. Black market, anyone?). But, it will introduce an unimaginable amount of red-tape to lawful gun-owners who just want to go shoot. Now that I think about it, that's probably the goal.
And ID cards to buy ammo? Well, let's just tie it in to RealID and get the intermediate stage over with. What better way to get gun-owners dependant on government permission to excercise their rights?
Ok, rant over. I don't know why, but this article in particular just grinds my gears (to make a family guy reference). But thanks for posting it all the same.
December 13th, 2006 11:35 AM
Ah New Jersey.
Procrastinators are the leaders of tomorrow.
December 13th, 2006 12:15 PM
This is the dumbest thing I've seen.
Originally Posted by Scott
What about reloaders? Now if your a reloader will you have to wait 6 months when you buy your new serialized Dillion 550B or Rock Chucker because you can make your own ammo? What about regulating devices that regulate casting lead.
December 13th, 2006 02:49 PM
I'm waiting for the 'One box per month' subject to come up.
Hey, we're limited to one box of Sudafed per week, why not ammo?
And the 2nd amendment says _nothing_ about ammo...
We've got to overcome the entire idea that _things_ cause crime. Guns, ammo, knives, ball-bats, rocks, drugs... none of these things have ever committed a violent action.
IT'S THE CRIMINALS, STUPID
Banning a tool isn't effective. Criminals don't care if it's illegal for them to have a particular tool, just as they don't care that the criminal activity itself is illegal. Suppose you could completely rid society of a particular tool being used by criminals... the criminals will simply use a different tool!
Violent crime wasn't invented at the same time as gun powder... it's been around since Cain and Abel. While their story was deemed important enough to be recorded in the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur'an, none bothered to even write down the weapon that was used! It's the person, not the tool.
Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. It's worth it.
December 13th, 2006 03:12 PM
Instead of going overboard, I'll just say that cmidkiff is spot on. Time to write some letters, I guess.
Oh, but it's not in my state.
If Bloomberg can do it, so can I!
December 13th, 2006 07:42 PM
I've got a novel idea !
rather than outlaw something that might be used in a crime, lets just make it illegal to use it in a crime....
Its not about common sense. Sometimes I forget . My apologys to those living in N.J.
I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
AR. CHL Instr. 07/02 FFL
Like custom guns and stuff? Check this out...
December 13th, 2006 07:49 PM
What the heck do you think your doing, interjecting logic into the equation. Quit confusing me with the facts!
Originally Posted by HotGuns
When the messenger arrives and says 'Don't shoot the messenger,' it's a good idea to be prepared to shoot the messenger, just in case.
December 13th, 2006 10:51 PM
December 14th, 2006 11:49 AM
You know they would ban applesauce if there was a "humane treatment of apples" special interest group lobbying them.
This Country's leaders are ignoring the real issues. They are focusing on cracking down on bullets while important issues go unnoticed. They talk about Mark Foley, banning the burning of the flag, gun control, pledge allegiance in school, abortion, and gay rights. They are using these issues to distract and divide the country. These are all none of mine or anyone else's business, as long as they do this stuff in the privacy of their own home.
Meanwhile, open borders, North Korea's nukes, Iran's nukes, Iraq, soaring healthcare costs, depleting social security, failing public education, 30 year trade deficit, outrageous national debt, and a slew of other problems plague our nation.
This is just proof that they (elected officials) continue to fail us on a daily basis.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of the ultimate CC gun!
December 14th, 2006 04:30 PM
The Bloomberg type legislators can pass all the "loophole" fix it laws they want. It never seems to impact on the bad guys who never follow the law to begin with.
"To disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them."
"Gun control is a job-safety program for criminals."
John R. Lott
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