Years After Sale, Handgun Haunts Ex-Owner in Court


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Joe7cri
August 15, 2006, 03:42 PM
I saw this on the internet and thought it should be posted, maybe I should have put it in L&P, not sure. I sure do feel bad for the seller.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C0DE7DC1739F935A25751C1A9669C8B63


Years After Sale, Handgun Haunts Ex-Owner in Court

By DIRK JOHNSON
Published: December 16, 2000
On the day in October when a police officer was shot to death here, Terry Walker was 70 miles away.

But Mr. Walker, a 49-year-old cook, has been jailed on charges of involuntary manslaughter, even though there is no evidence that he knew the killer, Ljeka Juncaj, who shot himself to death after the slaying of the police officer, Chris Wouters.

The charges stem from Mr. Walker's failure to file the legal forms several years ago when he sold the handgun that wound up in the hands of the killer.

Criminal justice experts say the case is an extraordinary attempt to hold a gun seller responsible for the ultimate use of the gun, even if the weapon changed hands several times before it reached the killer.

Macomb County prosecutors say the charge against Mr. Walker should send a message to gun owners about the dangers of improperly transferring weapons.

But gun rights groups and other conservatives say the prosecution is an unfair use of gun laws to blame a man who had no real connection to the shooting.

''This is a real stretch,'' said Mitch Pearlstein, the president of the Center of the American Experiment, a conservative research organization in Minneapolis. ''It reminds me of these cases we're seeing now of landlords being held responsible for the misbehavior of their tenants.''

Advocates of gun control, meanwhile, say the case demonstrates the importance of the laws on transferring guns. If the gun had been properly registered, they say, it would be less likely that the weapon would have fallen into dangerous hands.

Nancy Hwa, a spokeswoman for Handgun Control in Washington, defended the notion of a ''chain of responsibility that the gun industry and gun owners bear for their product.''

Mr. Walker, in an interview this week at the Macomb County Jail, said he was shocked when police officers arrived at his home in Capac, Mich., last month and arrested him.

''I remember hearing about the shooting of the cop, and I feel bad for him and his family,'' Mr. Walker said. ''But I had nothing to do with it.''

Eric Kaiser, a prosecutor in the case, said it was ''not relevant'' whether Mr. Walker knew the killer, nor did it matter how many times the gun might have changed hands after Mr. Walker sold it.

''If I have a stick of dynamite and I hand it to you, it might be eight people later before something happens,'' the prosecutor said at the arraignment. ''But it doesn't matter. The damage has been done.''

Criminal justice experts say prosecutors have recently become more likely to file charges against people who supplied guns used in crimes.

The Colorado man who supplied the guns used in the Columbine High School shootings, Donald Manes, was sentenced to six years in prison. And the gun dealer who sold two guns used in the rampage by a white supremacist in Illinois was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

As much as 40 percent of all gun sales occur in the secondary market, without a licensed gun dealer, said Phil Cook, a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Only a handful of states, including Michigan, require buyers in these private sales to file purchase permits with law enforcement authorities, he said. Even in those states, Mr. Cook said he believed that a relatively small percentage of gun buyers complied with the registration laws.

In the case of Mr. Walker, Judge John Chmura of State District Court has told prosecutors and defense lawyers to file briefs in January about whether the matter should go to trial. Until then, Mr. Walker is being held in lieu of $250,000 bond. People in his hometown have taken up a collection for his legal defense.

Mr. Walker could face up to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charges. He has also been charged with illegal possession of a gun as a felon. Mr. Walker was sentenced to probation in September for embezzling from a former employer.

The maximum penalty for failing to properly record a gun sale is $100 and 90 days in jail.

Timothy Barkovic, the lawyer for Mr. Walker, said his client was being made a scapegoat. Mr. Barkovic said the police officers failed to search Mr. Juncaj while arresting him on drug charges at his home on Oct. 11. A search would have found the weapon and averted the killing, he said.

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orangelo
August 15, 2006, 03:45 PM
I'm sure they can find some police officers and departments in michigan that had weapons they sold/lost used later in crimes. Maybe they should string up the entire police force and state government on manslaughter charges.

Don't forget to try Walmart for selling the car battery to the shooter, and Exxon for selling gas to him which enabled him to be mobile. Then they can go after McDonalds because the shooter once obtained sustenance there.

Henry Bowman
August 15, 2006, 03:48 PM
Maybe this will spark some movement to get some bad laws repealed. This is a concrete example of why such laws are just too dangerous to have around.

Father Knows Best
August 15, 2006, 04:09 PM
Or so they say. Michigan requires purchasers of handguns to obtain a purchase permit, and then to present the purchased handgun to law enforcement for a "safety inspection." That's how they got the law passed -- by claiming that it wasn't "registration." This case is a perfect example of why gun registration laws are a really bad idea.

Unfortunately, it's also an example of why you should ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LAW IN YOUR JURISDICTION, even then the law is stupid and arguably unconstitutional. Failure to do so can result in a lot of misery.

Are there any gun rights or civil liberties groups willing to step up and handle this guy's defense, or at least mount an attack on the "safety inspection" law in Michigan?

dracphelan
August 15, 2006, 04:21 PM
1. Thanks for the reminder about being careful where I live (or even visit).

2. The Colorado man who supplied the guns used in the Columbine High School shootings, Donald Manes, was sentenced to six years in prison. And the gun dealer who sold two guns used in the rampage by a white supremacist in Illinois was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Both of these dealers broke laws in selling to the individuals directly responsible for committing these crimes. In other words, they violated laws already on the books.

Phenom
August 15, 2006, 04:21 PM
What a crock of s--- :mad: Any "gun" can be properly registered and still easily be used in a crime. Firearms get stolen all of the time, registered or not.

creitzel
August 15, 2006, 04:24 PM
Michigan's "safety inspection" is indeed a pistol registration. The inspection consists solely of the clerk recording your name, and the serial #/make/model of the gun.

Personally, I'd love to see the registration go. It makes buying a pistol a pain (have to make a couple trips to the police station, along with the trip to the gun shop to get the gun). However, getting rid of it now, would probably be a very long and hard battle. As far as I know, all of the LEO's and most of the general populace here in Michigan support it.

Are there any gun rights or civil liberties groups willing to step up and handle this guy's defense

I think it's a bit late for that. That article is from 2000. I'm searching now to see if I can find more information on the outcome of this.

Edited to add: I've been searching on the web for the past half hour or so. I can't find anything more than the original story, and some forum posts from around the time that the incident happened. I'll continue my search when I get home from work.

Chris

GSPKurt
August 15, 2006, 04:26 PM
Has the NRA commented or stepped up with counsel on this?:scrutiny:

I just noticed the date, too. Disregard.

Joe7cri
August 15, 2006, 05:45 PM
Oh, I'm sorry for posting, didn't see the date either, I thought this was current.:o

panzermk2
August 15, 2006, 06:02 PM
Funny thing about paperwork. Awhile ago I read somewhere that the BATFE lost 3500 Dept. guns including sub-machine guns and just wrote them off.
How come they can get away with that and CA is going after that guy?

That’s rite double standard the Government can kick your door and kill your family because the got the wrong address and get away with it.

You on the other hand are a serf to them and subject to their whims

PinnedAndRecessed
August 15, 2006, 06:30 PM
Wait! Michigan doesn't have "registration"!

Really? I lived there briefly in 1990 (from January to September).

I had to carry every one of my handguns downtown (Flint) and register them.

Some ignorant govt employee had to write down each serial number and log it in.

That's not registration?

Creeping Incrementalism
August 15, 2006, 06:34 PM
Edited to add: I've been searching on the web for the past half hour or so. I can't find anything more than the original story, and some forum posts from around the time that the incident happened. I'll continue my search when I get home from work.

It's been my experience that in smaller gun arrests that when charges are dropped because they were BS to begin with, you never hear about it again. I think it's because the arresting agency calls the media to announce their big bust, but don't call again when the charges get dropped because evidence was improperly obtained, or for other embarassing reasons.

Father Knows Best
August 15, 2006, 08:24 PM
Some ignorant govt employee had to write down each serial number and log it in.

That's not registration?

[sniff, sniff]

Smell that? It's called "sarcasm."

If you actually read my post, you'll see that I was making the point that Michigan does indeed have handgun "registration." They claim they don't, but they do. They call it a "safety inspection" but anyone with half a brain realizes that is just newspeak for "registration."

Standing Wolf
August 15, 2006, 09:53 PM
If the gun had been properly registered, they say, it would be less likely that the weapon would have fallen into dangerous hands.

They say all kinds of stupid, irrational, anti-logical things, but they're wrong.

Haymaker
August 15, 2006, 10:28 PM
This is Not Right!:fire: :cuss:

Zen21Tao
August 15, 2006, 10:58 PM
But gun rights groups and other conservatives say the prosecution is an unfair use of gun laws to blame a man who had no real connection to the shooting.

Wow, this is a blatant display of partisanship.

Advocates of gun control, meanwhile, say the case demonstrates the importance of the laws on transferring guns. If the gun had been properly registered, they say, it would be less likely that the weapon would have fallen into dangerous hands.

That is just ridiculous speculation. Most guns used in crime are obtained through illegally means that have no connection to registration. A registered gun is just as easy to steal or obtain through deceit as an unregistered gun.

Nancy Hwa, a spokeswoman for Handgun Control in Washington, defended the notion of a ''chain of responsibility that the gun industry and gun owners bear for their product.''

The reasonability should be on the criminal that committed the crime and the system that allowed him back into society if he had previous violent crimes.

I also find it funny that Libs talk about “responsibility” when everything they support is a way to abandon personal reasonability in favor or being cared for by a nanny state. How about doing away with welfare, minimum wages, abortion, drug rehab instead of prison, and other cherished Lib beliefs and demand that people take responsibility for their own actions?

Eric Kaiser, a prosecutor in the case, said it was ''not relevant'' whether Mr. Walker knew the killer, nor did it matter how many times the gun might have changed hands after Mr. Walker sold it.

''If I have a stick of dynamite and I hand it to you, it might be eight people later before something happens,'' the prosecutor said at the arraignment. ''But it doesn't matter. The damage has been done.''

This is just stupid logic. If an object is inherently dangerous than there is an obvious risk associated with its use that divorces the seller of personal liability. As for the idea that # of sells doesn’t matter, how about holding the original owner of a car responsible when the 5th person down the chain of ownership uses it to rob a bank or commits an acident related DUI? This is just stupid because it assumes that the mere sale of an item is THE causal link responsible for the outcome. This takes causal responsibility away from the person that used the item by treating them as if they had absolutely no voluntary free choice in the event.

LAK
August 16, 2006, 03:23 AM
A fear along these lines has been instilled in some people in order to discourage them selling privately whether it been at loophole shows, or classified ads etc.

If it was a legal requirement he file paper for the sale, then he should have been charged accordingly. Otherwise, this is just another perversion of the law and justice - and the judges that allow such cases to progress beyond the first hearing need to be impeached or other avenue of removal by the legislature.

---------------------------------------------

http://ussliberty.org
http://ssunitedstates.org

Jim K
August 16, 2006, 02:41 PM
First, anyone who expects reason or balance from the NYT on gun control is in cloud cuckooland.

Second, this is so old I would like to see the outcome, not the original story.

Third, the man who sold the gun was a felon who could not legally own the gun in the first place.

Fourth, as a felon, the Supreme Court has ruled that he cannot be prosecuted for not registering the gun, since to register would be self-incrimination. He can be prosecuted for an illegal sale.

Fifth, those who say that they have the right to sell guns without caring who they sell to, and on principle won't even ask the buyer for ID might take the story as food for thought. It is rare that such a sale will get the seller into trouble, but it can happen, and a charge of accessory to murder one is not something to look forward to just to make a few bucks or kiss off the law. If a prosecutor really wants to nail someone, he will find a way.

Sixth, the story also shows that no matter what some folks think, guns can be traced, even through many hands.

Jim

RioShooter
August 16, 2006, 06:43 PM
I did some research, and discovered that when Walker sold the gun he was not yet a felon. I'm still looking for final outcome.

strambo
August 17, 2006, 05:10 AM
Fifth, those who say that they have the right to sell guns without caring who they sell to, and on principle won't even ask the buyer for ID might take the story as food for thought. +1
Because I am a responsible person, I do check ID and make sure I know who I'm selling to and write a receipt with the guns serial #. It is no one else's business and won't matter unless I get a knock on the door from the police years later like this guy. I do want to know I'm selling guns to responsible people. Firearms may be easy to get for criminals, but they aren't gonna get them directly from me.

Kramer Krazy
August 17, 2006, 10:51 AM
Just another excuse to never sell a gun.........I've only ever gotten rid of one gun.....I traded it for a 1983 Husqvarna WR-430 dirtbike that a local police officer owned......I really wish I still had that Colt. :(

Punkermonkey
August 17, 2006, 11:27 AM
I am unable to find any information relating to the original charge of manslaughter for Mr. Walker however he did plead guilty to "WEAPONS-FIREARMS-POSSESSION BY FELON" 750.224F. If you are interested, this (http://maxweb01.macombcountymi.gov/pa/pa.urd/pamw2000.o_case_sum?528254) is the link to the court report.

one-shot-one
August 17, 2006, 01:29 PM
Michigan nuff said.

Ryder
August 17, 2006, 03:53 PM
Nuff said about what? The seller has no responsibility to do anything after the transfer. It is the buyer's responsibility to follow up with the police after the sale in Michigan.

If the buyer he sold to had the required police issued permit the seller is free and clear. No two ways about it.

Eightball
August 17, 2006, 03:59 PM
If the gun had been properly registered, they say, it would be less likely that the weapon would have fallen into dangerous hands.And thus begins the primary argument of stupidity. REGISTERING GUNS TARGETS LAW ABIDING CITIZENS, NOT CRIMINALS!!!!!!!!:fire:

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