Sunday, October 17, 2004

OK...

So here we have Gun-shop owner in D.C. sniper case faces tax charges. So, far, so good--this guy isn't' the first small businessman to either mistakenly or purposefully get his taxes in a wad. Nothing blogworthy, right?

Wrong.

Between 1997 and 2001, guns traced back to Bull's Eye were used in 52 crimes, including homicides, kidnappings and assaults, a rate that put it among the small percentage of gun dealers whose guns repeatedly wind up in the hands of criminals.

OK, this might mean something; it might not. Not enough information to really determine which.

In 1994, the ATF traced a crime gun back to his shop and found problems in his record-keeping. At that time, he was warned about the consequence of future violations. In repeated inspections from 1998 to 2002, he was unable to account for 238 guns, and in 2000 received a warning that any future violations would be viewed as "willful in nature."

I'll stipulate that ATF takes record-keeping by FFL holders very seriously. PITA, but those are the rules FFL holders must play by. (Now of course, if he was that bad, why didn't they lift his license?) But let's also note there's no problems since the 2000 warning:

But it was no simple matter charging Borgelt (chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office--Bill) with a crime, according to Sullivan, who said Borgelt cleaned up his record-keeping after the serious warning. The legal requirement that the violations be willful could not be met, he said.

So does the guy get any points for getting his act together, even if it is one of those "finally" moments? Doesn't seem like it. It seems more like Mr. Sullivan was looking for something--anything--he could charge the business owner with.

Dig long enough, you'll find something:

Brian Borgelt, owner of Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, was charged in U.S. District Court in Tacoma with five misdemeanor counts of failure to file a tax return.

Even at this point, my sympathy is limited--the guy failed to file for 5 years, with a total of unreported income in excess of $600,000? I should make that kind of money.

But the plot gets a bit thicker.

"If we have this one dealer, there's obviously others," said Joe Vince, a former ATF agent who now runs a consulting business, Crime Gun Solutions.

Now I start getting worried. Yeah, they guy is a former agent, but you have to wonder if this is indicative of the thought process of current agents. Of course, I doubt logic is a required course for ATF agents.

I'm aware that this isn't a perfect case to look at, but this whole thing, especially the Joe Vince quote, really bothers me. In the US, gun laws, much like tax laws, are voluminous and subject to interpretation. And if those who do a lot of the interpreting (US attorneys and ATF agents) are predisposed to believe that gun retailers and gun buyers are the bad guys, then gun owners have a problem.

Like we didn't know that, right?

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