Amid an ongoing spate of horrifying acts of gun violence, lawmakers are discussing ways to limit access to guns by dangerous people. One proposal is to require mandatory background checks for all gun sales. Activists say that many sales take place over the Internet, where sellers don't necessarily know who the buyers are, and buyers don't necessarily know where the sellers got the guns in the first place.
Recent charges against a Pennsylvania man help illustrate some of the issues involved. Federal prosecutors charged the man with selling machine guns, other firearms and a huge amount of ammunition that were allegedly stolen from a federal storage facility. Federal agents said they seized about 100 guns, almost 124,000 rounds of ammunition and other material in a search.
According to prosecutors, the man worked in coordination with a security guard at a firearms-disposal facility operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The facility stores and destroys weapons that are seized during investigations or disposed of by federal agencies. The guard told prosecutors he would take weapons and ammunition from his workplace to sell to the Pennsylvania man, who would then sell the items over the Internet.
Investigators said they began to suspect something was wrong at the storage site when officers found a gun with a serial number that matched the number of a gun that was reported destroyed at the facility.
It is important to remember that everyone who is accused of a crime deserves a defense. The penalties can be especially serious for those convicted of federal crimes, and it is important that people facing these charges get help from an attorney who has experience with federal criminal defense.