Convicted Felons Are Getting Guns, No Questions Asked

6 years 1 week 2 days ago Monday, May 14 2012 May 14, 2012 Monday, May 14, 2012 3:45:00 PM CDT May 14, 2012 in News
By: Kim St. Onge
loading

COLUMBIA - Imagine a convicted felon getting a gun at the drop of a hat-no questions asked. Because of a hole in state and federal law, this scary thought may not be too far-fetched.

Ralph Gates got his first gun for his eighth Christmas in 1952. Since then, he has built up a large collection of guns, earning his home the nickname "Fort Ralph."

"If you can count ‘em, you don't have enough," Gates joked when asked how many guns he owns.

Gates bought most of his guns from major distributors, but said he has also purchased and sold guns amongst friends and family. While Gates said he is very careful to whom he sells guns, a lack of regulation for private sales means one of his guns could end up in the hands of a dangerous criminal.

Because guns are only registered to the buyer who purchases the firearm from a major distributor, once the gun is sold privately, the gun can no longer be traced. If the firearm is used in a crime, the state and federal agencies will only be able to track the gun back to the licensed dealer-- creating some problems for the original buyer.

"If I sold that gun to you for example and you used it in a commission of a crime and it was recovered, that gun could be traced back to me," Gates said.

In an effort to avoid this from happening, every major distributor like Target Masters or Bass Pro Shops has strict procedures for gun sales. Buyers must fill out a 4473 form. This form includes basic information such as name, date of birth, and height. There are also several questions on the 4473 form regarding criminal background.

A buyer must also pass a national instant criminal background check system, or NICS, with the FBI. Within minutes, the distributor will know if the individual passes, is delayed or failed.

If the buyer is delayed, the FBI has three business days to further investigate the individual. A delay can be simply questions because the individual has a common name such as "John Smith."  If there is no response to the seller within those three business days, the distributor can choose to sell or refuse the buyer or purchase the gun.

An individual will automatically fail the background check and be unable to purchase the gun if he or she has been convicted of a felony. While this varies from state to state, the only way to be in possession of a gun in Missouri after being convicted of a felony is to be pardoned by the governor.

In other states such as Kansas, after a certain period of time, often 10-15 years depending on the severity of the crime, the record is expunged and the individual may purchase a gun.

But not all gun sales are this strictly regulated-or even regulated at all. With individual-to-individual sales, there is no background check or record of the purchase required.

"If they have the cash boom, the transaction took place. And there really was no paper trail," Detective Tom O'Sullivan of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said.

But Trista Frederick with the Kansas City ATF, or Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco, said the agency is limited in what it can regulate.

"It's not a provision given to us by Congress. We are only allowed to enforce the laws and regulations that Congress authorizes us to do," Frederick said.

Instead, Congress allows the Kansas City Field Division-- which covers a four-state territory including Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska - to investigative suspicious individuals who have already obtained or used guns illegally.

ATF also makes frequent visits across the states to make sure distributors and manufacturers are following the law.

Target Masters manager Barry McKenzie said ATF makes frequent visits to his Columbia business.

"There's not a week goes by that we don't get a call from the ATF tracing center tracing a gun that was involved in--it might have been stolen. It might have been involved in a crime," McKenzie said.

These frequent calls could partially be because since 2003, the Kansas City ATF Bureau has led the country in firearm investigations. In the year 2011 alone, the Kansas City ATF Bureau conducted 1,722 criminal investigations for illegal possession and firearm trafficking.

Because there is no regulation of private gun sales, the state can't even track the number of guns sold individually, making it impossible to know how many crimes were committed with these guns.

"Criminals will always be able to lay their hands on guns. "They'll steal 'em, break into houses. They'll always get guns. That's a situation that's never gonna go away," O'Sullivan said.

Frederick said because there is no regulation in private sales, she urges those who buy or sell guns without going through a distributor to be extremely careful. If an individual looks suspicious, a seller may also request the buyer get a background check.

 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after Athletic Director Jim... More >>
1 hour ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 4:54:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in Sports
MONROE CITY - Some people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease fight back, as did Michael Crager, the founder of Rock Steady... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 4:18:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – The U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services made changes to a family planning program, which the... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:56:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - In sometimes heated testimony, members of a Special House Investigative Committee looking into the Eric Greitens... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:54:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A report on a statewide rape kit audit shows that there are at least 4,889 untested sexual... More >>
3 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 3:23:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - With the holiday weekend approaching, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR)... More >>
5 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 1:28:00 PM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A statewide program bringing together prisoners and puppies is celebrating a major milestone. A four-month-old redbone... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 10:15:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he thinks Kim Jong Un wants to do "what's right" but says it's... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 10:09:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
RANDOLPH COUNTY - A Huntsville man pleaded guilty to murder on Tuesday and received a life sentence with no chance... More >>
10 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 8:37:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
BUNNIK, Netherlands (AP) — An international team of investigators said Thursday that detailed analysis of video images and photos... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:58:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Potentially more than one thousand Missourians could lose their hunting, fishing and trapping licenses after a Department... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, May 24 2018 May 24, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018 2:27:00 AM CDT May 24, 2018 in News
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump is violating the First Amendment when he... More >>
23 hours ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 7:10:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in Continuous News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal district court in St. Louis has ruled that the Missouri prison system must... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:48:22 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
MID-MISSOURI - If you look at the forecast you can easily tell that summer is here early. Don't forget that... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:43:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in Weather
JEFFERSON CITY - A new report by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce identifies challenges in the Missouri workforce. The... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:41:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
(CNN) - NFL players must stand during the National Anthem this season, team owners decided Wednesday, a reaction to fierce... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:36:38 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Temperatures are rising, and one expert says animals need more attention when tethered outside. "Heat exhaustion... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:07:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
COLE COUNTY - Cole County deputies say a man accused of having pipe bombs was cooperative when they asked to... More >>
1 day ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 3:54:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 81°
7pm 84°
8pm 81°
9pm 77°
10pm 76°