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Tag: NRA

FBI Investigating Whether Suspected Russian Mobster Funneled Money to NRA to Help Trump During Election

Russian banker Alexander Torshin, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin, mobsters and money laundering illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Two sources familiar with the investigation told McClatchy that FBI counterintelligence investigators are scrutinizing the activities of Aleksander Torshin, who has been described as a godfather of a major Russian criminal organization.

Torshin, a leading figure in President Vladimir Putin’s party, is a lifetime member of the NRA. Authorities said Torshin met with Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., at an NRA event in Kentucky in May 2016, when his father won an early endorsement from the gun-rights group.

The investigation comes as special counsel Robert Mueller continues a far-reaching probe into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the 2016 election. 

ATF: Gun Store Thefts Surge for Fifth Straight Year, Setting Records in 2017

ATF photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Thieves stole an alarming number of firearms from gun stores and other licensed dealers in 2017, setting a new record for the fifth consecutive year, according to annual statistics compiled by the ATF.

Burglaries and robberies resulted in the theft of 8,129 stolen guns from licensed firearms dealers across the country in 2017, a 3.3% increase over 2016.

Since 2013, the number of stolen guns has surged more than 135%.

Also on the rise for the fifth consecutive year was the number of gun stores that were robbed or burglarized. In 2017, 610 stores were targeted by thieves, compared to 347 in 2013.

Alarmed by the five-year upward trend, the ATF is urging gun dealers to create stronger security measures. Stolen firearms are particularly worrisome because they’re disproportionately used to commit violent crimes, according to numerous studies.

Without federal security requirements, gun store owners in most states are free to operate with no safeguards.

The surge in stolen guns has prompted federal lawmakers to introduce legislation to combat firearm theft. 

In October, many Democrats in the Senate have supported a measure that would require gun dealers to secure their firearms in a locked safe or vault after the store closes. But the proposal is opposed by the National Rifle Association because of potentially detrimental costs, and not one Republican  has offered to cosponsor the legislation.

The proposal with the best chance of passing was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and it calls for stiffer jail sentences for gun thieves.   Even many Democrats have pledged to support the bill.

FBI’s Gun Background Checks Are Missing Millions of Problematic Cases

background checkBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Millions of people who should be barred from legally buying guns may still be eligible to purchase a firearm because government agencies are failing to alert the FBI’s background-check system of citizens with criminal convictions and mental illnesses.

The Air Force, for example, acknowledged it erred by failing to notify the FBI of the Texas church shooter who killed 26 people earlier this month. The gunman had been court-martialed on charges of beating his wife and child. He also escaped a mental health institution after threatening to kill superiors.

The Air Force’s failure to flag the former airman is part of a larger systemic breakdown in which government agencies are failing to forward criminal records and mental health diagnoses to the FBI gun background checks, the Washington Post reports

The FBI is uncertain how widespread the problem is, but the NRA estimates about 7 million records are missing from the system, according to a 2013 report by the nonprofit National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. The reported found that “at least 25% of felony convictions … are not available” to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

NRA’s Influence Over Congress Leaves ATF Understaffed

atf-gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even if the government decided to take away people’s guns, the ATF is so understaffed that it would be unable to follow through.

“Look, we don’t have the people,” Corey Ray, an ATF spokesman told Mother Jones. “Even if we were like, ‘Yeah, we’re coming to take your guns,’ 30 years from now you might get a knock on your door.”

The ATF said the lack of manpower is the result of the NRA’s powerful influence over Congress.

“Look, we don’t have the people,” Corey Ray, an ATF spokesman told Mother Jones.  “Even if we were like, ‘Yeah, we’re coming to take your guns,’ 30 years from now you might get a knock on your door.”

The ATF estimates that there are more guns than people in the U.S., and an additional 10 million new guns are manufactured every year.

To put that into perspective, the ATF has 2,600 special agents. 

Special Report: Lenient Prison Sentences and Weak Laws Frustrate ATF’s Battle Against Gun Trafficking

By Jeffrey Anderson
For ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Nutveena Sirirojnananont is staring at a possible 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine for ordering eight guns online that she directed to a federally-licensed firearms dealer in New Hampshire, but she’s all but guaranteed a fraction of that.

The Newmarket, NH, woman pleaded guilty in January to purchasing the weapons from Suds and Soda Sports, a licensed gun dealer in Greenland, NH, and using intermediaries to ship the weapons to associates in California, Florida and New York, who then shipped them to Thailand.

Sirirojnananont pocketed a 15 percent markup on the guns, which she sold through her online beauty-supply export business, cheapshop4you.com, in Portsmouth, and through an EBAY business called the PookyWookyShop. Sentencing is set for May 5.

The prospect of a light sentence isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s more the rule than the exception in gun trafficking cases around the country, a point that frustrates the top gun enforcement agency, ATF, to no end.

The chief problem, ATF officials say, is that there is no comprehensive federal statute in place that expressly outlaws gun trafficking and so-called “straw purchases” in which third parties buy weapons for people, often affiliated with crime organizations.

Paperwork Violations 

Instead, ATF says it’s forced to rely on “paperwork” violations such as making a false statement on the forms required to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer.

“Currently there is not a firearm trafficking law,” says ATF Agent Timothy Graden, a spokesman for the agency. “Trafficking cases typically involve people with little or no criminal history, therefore allowing them to buy firearms and then divert them to the criminal element.”

Consequently, there are cases all around the country in which people get off light for gun trafficking. Some even get probation.

Such is the case of Neil Smith, of Little Rock, AR, who got off last year with felony probation after ATF agents purchased seven firearms from him. Smith later admitted to illegally selling between 50 and 100 guns for profit.

In St. Paul, MN, Paul De La Rosa, who purchased over 119 firearms that he trafficked to Mexico, allegedly to a drug cartel, received just 36 months in prison.

And then there’s the more highly publicized case of Denver woman Stevie Vigil, who in March was sentenced to less than three years in prison, after pleading guilty to buying and transferring a firearm to a convicted felon and prison gang member who used the gun to murder Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements at his home, and a Dominos pizza delivery man named Nathan Leon.

Read more »

NRA Casts Ex-ATF Agent in Good Light to Trash the Agency

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The National Rifle Association has never really been much of a friend of ATF.  The NRA  sees the agency as carrying out a mission that is contrary to its own.

So it’s interesting that NRA News has put together a video that casts an ATF agent in good light. Then again, it does that by essentially casting the agency itself in bad light.

The following is a video on ex-ATF Agent Jay Dobyns, who is suing ATF. It’s an interesting video.

 

Oft-Maligned ATF Plays Critical Role in Solving Major Crimes Like Boston Bombing

 
 
Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The ATF gets its share of criticism from Congress and the National Rifle Association.

But the agency still plays a vital role in solving crimes like the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Washington Post reports.

In the past two weeks, ATF agents investigated the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilized plant explosion in Texas.

“The ATF brings an institutional knowledge of previous bomb incidents around the country and around the world,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Post. “In Boston, they tried to reconstruct the device, looking at the component parts and feeding that information into their bomb data center to see what may be similar to other devices used around the world.”

If Dead Kids Doesn’t Do It, What Will?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s nauseating to say the least to see how spineless our Washington lawmakers are, how fearful they are when it comes to standing up to the NRA and the people who insist that universal background checks are too intrusive and assault weapons are necessary to own.

The Newtown shootings should have been enough to give lawmakers the backbone to stand up.

No, the Gabby Giffords shootings should have been enough.

No, the Aurora movie theater shootings should have been enough.

No, the Virginia Tech shootings should have been enough.

No, the Columbine shootings should have been enough.

You get the point, nothing, not dead high school kids, not dead elementary school kids, not a dead federal judge, nothing will move some of our lawmakers.

Granted, banning assault rifles at this point won’t instantly remove them from circulation. But we have to start somewhere, and banning assault rifles will eventually make them much harder to get. And the universal background checks, well, that’s another no brainer. Currently, about 40% of guns purchased from places other than licensed gun dealer (like collectors and guns shows) do not require background checks. That would change under a new proposal in Washington that is under intense debate.

I’m afraid we’re missing the window of opportunity to enact some tougher gun laws. No, I’m not advocating taking away guns. But we need change. Now. Not after 10 more tragedies involving unstable people.

In most societies, the senseless, mass deaths of kids is enough to make politicians respond.

Apparently, not in this society.

Which really really worries me.

If dead children doesn’t do it, what will?