Just the facts, please, when talking down gun shows

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edited December 2001 in General Discussion
Just the facts, please, when talking down gun shows By John H. Smith, For the Journal and Courier E-mail this article to a friend Printable version of this article A Dec. 24 guest column by the state and national representatives of Americans for Gun Safety pointed out three cases where "terrorists" obtained firearms at gun shows, and urged the governor and legislature to plug the Indiana gun show "loophole." Americans for Gun Safety is funded solely by Internet billionaire Andy McKelvey -- a former board member of Handgun Control, Inc. If these three cases are so critical that they demand change, a close look at the facts of each might be instructive. First, the Ali Boumelhem case. Ali, a legal resident of Michigan, and his brother, Mike, a U.S. citizen of 18 years, own an auto parts store in Dearborn, Mich. Customs officials intercepted a cargo container being shipped to Ali's auto repair business in Lebanon, where he was reputed to be an officer of Hezbollah. Along with auto parts, the container had hidden in it two 12-gauge shotguns, 750 rounds of ammunition, parts for an AR15, flash suppressers and speed loaders. Ali had been convicted of grand theft in California, and was unable to possess guns or ammunition legally. Mike could own firearms and ammo. Both men had together made the rounds of gun shows in Michigan, and Mike had legally bought at least one shotgun from a dealer and had given it to Ali. They had been under surveillance by FBI and ATF agents for several months. Ali was convicted of five counts of a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, one count of conspiracy to ship arms to Lebanon, and one count of conspiracy to ship firearms and ammo without notice to the carrier. Mike was acquitted of all charges. Second, the Florida IRA Arms Smuggling case. Four Irish nationals were involved, but the two who did the purchases -- Anthony Smyth, and his girlfriend, Siobhan Browne -- bought the guns from licensed dealers. Smyth was a 10-year legal immigrant, and under U.S. law could purchase firearms, as he had no felonies. His girlfriend, Browne, was a U.S. citizen, and had no felonies. She drew law enforcement attention to the ring when she attempted to purchase more weapons from a dealer in a five-day period than allowed. The ring was shipping the handguns (120 of them over several months) and ammunition by U.S. mail to Ireland, hidden in toys. Any gun show connection was minimal -- the majority of the purchases were through licensed dealers, by legal buyers. The third incident was that of a Pakistani, Muhammad Asrar of Alice, Texas. Asrar had been in the United States illegally for 13 years, after he withdrew from school and purchased a convenience store. Suspicious neighbors turned in his name to the FBI after Sept. 11, as he had asked a number of them to photograph tall buildings for him. Agents searching his house found pictures of guns that Asrar admitted he had bought and sold in gun shows over the years. Asrar was convicted in federal court for being in possession of 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition, and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He remains in jail while a grand jury investigates possible terrorist ties. A frequent claim by the old Handgun Control organization that the majority of the vendors at gun shows make sales without federal firearms background checks is quite misleading. Many vendors at gun shows do not offer guns for sale, but they are most of the "majority" quoted. All federal firearms dealers at shows must do background checks. Only individuals selling or trading guns from their private collections are not required to make background checks on their customers, although many do ask dealers to check for them. Individual sellers may not want to deal with anyone who fits the profile of a possible terrorist, after Sept. 11. Americans for Gun Safety is gearing up for a big push in the Congress and in several states to enact more gun control legislation. They are targeting registration and licensing. That is their right. However, the issues should be decided on facts, not on skewed stories designed to frighten people. Our law enforcement systems work. There is no evidence that illegal aliens are amassing guns for terrorist attacks here.
Smith is Battle Ground resident. http://www.lafayettejc.com/news20011229/200112290local_opinion1009633207.shtml
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