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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Court Ruling May Be Good for Gun Dealers

This news happened a couple weeks ago but has not gotten wide play in the press. With he General Assembly going on I have just gotten around to posting about it.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak said in a January 25th ruling that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration did not commit a crime when it sent undercover investigators into gun shops to attempt illegal weapons purchases. He ruled this way because he said no straw purchase ever took place because the firearm never changed hands after it was purchase. This may be good news for the dealers who have not settled with Bloomberg and are still being sued by "His Honor" including Chesterfield's Bob Moates Sports Shop. Of course Bloomberg is spinning the ruling as good news for his side.

Bloomberg's scam was was conducted two years ago as the basis for a civil lawsuit brought by the city against 27 gun dealers in Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. Fifteen dealers have settled and agreed to let a special master monitor their sales, and a suit against several of the remaining 12, include Bob Moates is proceeding in federal court in Brooklyn.

A Myrtle Beach newspaper has reported that as part of the discovery process for the case, lawyers for some of the gun shops argued that the city had itself violated the law by attempting the illegal purchases. The National Rifle Association also have complained that Bloomberg's gun sting was a criminal stunt and the Justice Department even did its own inquiry as to whether the city was out of bounds.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak said the court had found "that the city's actions do not constitute a crime or fraud." the Magistrate agreed with the city's argument that the critical factor in a straw purchase is the intent of the buyer and in the purchases made by the city's investigators, the buyer did not hand over the purchased gun later. She said "No 'straw' sale took place because ownership was never transferred." While Bloomberg thinks this is good for him, I can't see how this could be considered good news for his lawsuits because if "no 'straw' sale took place" then how could the dealers have done anything wrong?

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