E-DEMOCRACY | Straw buyers for street gangs

Jim Mork posted at 10:26pm, May 15

The Star Tribune printed a story I find both disturbing and thought-provoking. http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/259319431.html

I’m sure no one is caught off guard by the existence of straw buyers. Mexican cartels hire them all the time to buy weapons inside the United States. The idea they existed here for street gangs doesn’t surprise me at all. What is a little surprising is the fact that our governments employed people who assumed that role.

But when I think about it, the two accused women both work or worked in roles that would bring them into contact with gang members. And we also are familiar with stories of women responding romantically to criminal personalities. We might hope it isn’t true, but it is a story that is sadly familiar. A lot of murder victims become victims by inability to resist “roguish charm” (whatever that means).

A second theory that occurs to me isn’t romance at all but duress. Gangs with members behind bars recruit accomplices by threats against family members. In fact, even law enforcement and judicial professionals can be threatened. So we can’t always jump to a conclusion that cooperation is willing.

I worked in banking. And as an employee, I had compulsory training in banking law pertaining to criminal banking activities. Money laundering is something every single banking employee must know and be responsible to recognize. Well, I think there is something called firearm laundering. That is purchases made in such as way as to disguise the criminal intent. And this article makes me thing the retail industry dealing in firearms needs similar laws. It is too easy for people with clean records to be drawn or forced into serving the needs of criminal enterprises. Banks file SARS reports when “suspicious transactions” occur. Licensed dealers need a requirement to file suspicious activity when someone makes the kind of purchases not expected from them. Say a woman goes from dealer to dealer buying clips or rounds from several. That might cover up the grand total of purchases, but if law enforcement got the reports, they could collate the purchases and follow up. Maybe even save someone whose family has been threatened.

The other thing I seriously think is needed is a change in firearm identification. Either they need to cast the serial number in such as way that its removal destroys the usefulness of the weapon. Or better yet, include an RFID chips during manufacture in the body of the weapon. One benefit would be return of legally owned weapons to owners. I have a Metro Transit card, and the transit police have a phone app that reads my card on the LRT. Police could read gun RFID chips and get an instant history of the weapon when taken off a gang member. That could also trigger a burglary charge or illegal purchase charge, too.

These matters involve some difficulty. But that is not excuse for inaction.

Jim Mork
Cooper
Minneapolis

Michael Thompson posted at 10:36pm, May 15

OK, I'll bite.

Since you know banking and have been through the money laundering identification course, I assume the definition of money laundering was an integral part of the training. Can you please offer the definition of "suspicious transactions" as they may pertain to firearms? If it's gonna be a law, such transactions must be defined. AND.... in your proposal will firearms retailers be held responsible if they miss such a transaction?

Mike Thompson
Windom

Shelley Leeson posted at 1:45am, May 16

There was a bill in the MN legislature last year that would have strengthened penalties against straw buyers (and would have strengthened penalties on those who commit gun crimes, and would have strengthened the NICS background check system), HF1323. The bill was authored by Debra Hilstrom (DFL) and nearly 80 bipartisan co-authors and had the support of Hennepin County Atty Mike Freeman, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and the Minnesota State Sheriffs Assn.

However, many DFLers (those who scream loudest about 'gun violence'), paid gun control lobbyists, and 'community activists,' who also scream the loudest about 'gun violence,' vocally and vehemently opposed the bill and stopped it from moving forward in the legislature. You can thank them for protecting gangs and gang violence.

Meet the Hypocrites: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.488197621276619.1073741829.172653092831075&type=3

Regards,
Shelley Leeson
NE Minneapolis

Kris Broberg posted at 1:09pm, May 16

Here is the problem. You can never stop it. The harder you try the more money and violence you will introduce. It's sort of like making drugs illegal.

Another side effect of increasing enforcement is an even greater expansion if the police state. I heard the USDA is purchasing fully automatic .40 cal machine guns. Expanding the police state is a greater threat than straw buyers.

Also how can you distinguish (reasonably)between someone who buys a gun never uses it (or uses it for a short time) and resells it and a straw buyer.

I know you can distinguish but I don't trust the government enough to give them the power.

The crux is that you will never stop the bad guys from getting guns as long as the government can have them. (I mean that in all possible interpretations.)

Jim Mork posted at 11:47pm, May 16

I'm amazed people are asking such easy questions. The point is to deter the purchase. You can't tell at the sale point that the purchase of A gun is for arming gangs. But if you document purchases, and you see they aren't isolated, that PATTERN means something. Also, as mentioned before, if an arrest turns up a gun that links back to a legal purchase with an identified purchaser, you have reasonable questions to ask. Did the person lose it in a theft? Does the person work where contacts with gang members are likely? The point is to raise questions before the gun gets involved in robberies, shootouts, or whatever. Nothing in any of this stops a person acquiring a gun for self-defense. Or for carrying with a permit. The fact is our leaky system provides easy ways to arm people who are involved in a pattern of law-breaking. And we've heard over and over "just enforce the laws that exist". Fine, let's do what will make that possible. The laws are on the books, but the data system making them enforceable do not. Not even when the guns are used in crimes can we, a society, enforce laws adequately. Unless people just aren't sincere about "enforce existing laws", they should not block the police from having the tools to do that.

Jim Mork
Cooper
Minneapolis

Jim Graham posted at 12:33pm, May 18

An answer for Jim Mork,

Jim, we already have the tracking of "Sales". EVERY purchase IS tracked. With EVERY purchase there is a background check at the Federal level. That absolutely includes "Gun Show" purchases as well. Anyone in Minnesota making a purchase of a "Handgun" or a "assault weapon" (as silly as that definition might be" must have a "Permit to Purchase" OR have a waiting time while a further background check is done.

And it certainly would be easy enough to have a computer system to correlate the data. Of course given the example of comptuter efforts by government agencies (examples are the ObamaCare fiasco, and the V.A.) we probably have someone like Target or WalMart volunteer to show the fools how to do it. Of course Target and Walmart do it as matter of making their systems more effective and efficient while the government does it to make a profit for their friends who are the contractors.

We not only already have what you ask for, including the laws and background checks, but the "data". We just do not make a serious effort to do anything with it. We even have an Attorney General of the United States who tries to cover up our own government supplying Mexican cartels with automatic weapons with no other purpose than to create a political pawn about gun control.

The problem is NOT with the data or the laws, it IS with the politicians who play games with it.

There ARE ways to get illegal guns off of the streets. An illegal gun is anyone that is not legally owned by the person possessing it. And that includes anyone carrying a handgun who is not licensed to do so. No matter where they obtained the gun. So one more time...Set up a computer system and tip call-line where people can call in a tip on someone suspected of having an illegal weapon. Give the caller a code number and if the police successfully recover a truly illegal weapon then the tipster can get an anonymous $500.00 reward by giving that number to the assigned official place.

Remember the purpose is to get "Illegal Guns" off the the street. And while $500.00 sounds like a lot it is an insignificant cost compared to what the cost per recovered illegal weapon is now. It would result in all sorts of collateral effects as well. Drug buyers turning in Drug Dealers, bar tenders in bad places making as much money for anonymous "tips" as they do from drink tips.:-)

Minneapolis and Minnesota could probably even get federal dollars from "Homeland Security" or the BATF to pay for it. But lets face it are a high percentage politicians more interested in removing illegal guns from criminals or in creating politically correct rhetoric around removing guns from those legally able to safely have them. I think, given the rhetoric around the issue, is clear that the real effort and focus of those politicians is removing guns from law abiding citizens.

Jim Graham

Jim Mork posted at 6:33pm, May 18

Various types of news shows on TV talk about civilians buying weapons. A cliche shot is people at a shooting range, "training". Thinking a bit about it, I don't get the relevance. Why are people training for use of a gun at that kind of range? Even if they group the shots closer and closer, they are deluded if they consider that "getting trained". I'm pretty sure that police training goes beyond that. I can't exactly catalogue all the situations you might encounter in self-defense (assuming self-defense is the entire purpose, not "shootouts on Main Street a la Western movies). But I can guess the one you WON'T encounter is somebody firing at you from 20 or 40 feet away. They might stick the gun in your back. They might pull up their jacket, show the gun, and say "your money' or "your cell phone". They might be breaking in the front or back door of your house. To be realistic, you need to be aware what a small arm does when a shot fires, but becoming a marksman at distance is more about ego than about fighting off street thugs. I think, frankly, an "armed self-defense course" conducted or designed by law enforcement would make more sense. The thing is this, when you come to shoot the thing, you are wandering into a strange land where your motives will come into question. You need to have a settle mind so you don't ruin YOUR life in the process of defending it. We've had too many stories where highway patrol or city police see "an object", guess they are about to be shot and kill someone innocent, such as a 10 year old boy who was hot in Eagan or Mendota Heights back in the 80's, only to find the boy had a screwdriver not a gun. A citizen making a mistake like that may be alive but living under a dark cloud for the rest of their life.

Jim Mork
Cooper
Minneapolis

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