Gun dealer tied to fatal shooting (MD)


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LaEscopeta
October 17, 2007, 09:17 AM
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_county/bal-md.guns17oct17,0,5197259.story

Gun dealer tied to fatal shooting in Parkville faces trial today

By Matthew Dolan | Sun reporter
October 17, 2007

The early-morning call from a Parkville condominium sounded dire. A woman said her estranged boyfriend had a rifle and was threatening to kill himself.

Officers responded to the scene after 2 a.m. on Feb. 18 and tried to persuade Keith J. Showalter to surrender, but he refused, according to a police account. The 25-year-old then came out of the building on Lowell Glen Road brandishing a Yugoslavian military-style rifle and fired seven rounds at police just yards away. Two officers returned fire, killing Showalter.

Today, prosecutors are slated to take to trial the case against the gun dealer charged by the Baltimore County state's attorney with illegally providing weapons to Showalter.

It is the latest, and potentially the most serious, chapter in the long legal
saga of Sanford M. Abrams, the former National Rifle Association national board member stripped of his license by federal agents last year for failing to keep track of hundreds of weapons in his shop's inventory.

In the Parkville case this year, Baltimore County police charged Abrams, saying in court papers that the sale was illegal because Showalter had a criminal record that prevented him from owning a gun legally and because such gun sales are supposed to be reported to the Maryland State Police. Police also found an illegal machine gun in Abrams' custody during a search of his property.

If convicted, Abrams could be sentenced to up to 10 years on the machine gun charge alone. He also faces four other counts related to the illegal sale and possession of firearms.

Reached yesterday, Abrams, 58, of Owings Mills, and his criminal defense attorney, Norman King, declined to comment on the charges. The prosecutor in the case, Kristin Blumer, also declined to talk about the case scheduled for trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court in Towson this morning.

Gun-control advocates who have tracked Abrams for years applauded a rare state prosecution of a licensed gun dealer, but decried the lack of federal criminal laws governing the sale of weapons by rogue dealers.

"Over and over again, these guns dealers can evade federal sanction and, thanks to the NRA, it's very hard to bring a federal criminal case," Daniel R. Vice, senior attorney at the Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project, said yesterday. "We're lucky here these police officers were not killed and that the state decided to step in and charge Sandy Abrams."

Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, whose office handled the federal civil case over Abrams' license revocation, declined to comment on why Abrams has not been charged federally.

Baltimore County police first became involved with Abrams more than a year and a half ago. Federal agents asked county police for help in seizing the firearms at Abrams' Valley Gun shop in the 7700 block of Harford Road after his federal and state firearms licenses had been revoked. After the weapons were secured, Baltimore County Detective William Ryan wrote in charging documents that he began to receive several tips that Abrams was still selling weapons.

Abrams had lost his license after the federal courts determined he had more than 900 violations of recordkeeping regulations designed to help police track guns used in crimes. Richard E. Gardiner, Abrams' lawyer in the federal case, said yesterday that the former gun dealer decided not to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court after losing on appeal.

Abrams said at the time he planned to sell his remaining 700-gun inventory on consignment to an independent shop next door in a building owned by his family. But after Showalter shot at police, Baltimore County authorities said in court papers that they found otherwise.

After the February fatal shooting, Ryan wrote that he found two guns on Showalter's body and one inside the safe of his apartment. In addition to the Yugoslavian rifle, the others were a Bushmaster assault rifle and a Remington semiautomatic rifle with the butt stock and barrel sawed off.

Records showed that all three weapons had been in the possession of Abrams, but there was no record of a sale to Showalter. The Yugoslavian rifle, Ryan wrote in court papers, was not covered by Maryland firearms laws. But the other two weapons were, he wrote.

Contrary to Abrams' pledge, the owner of Just Guns, the shop that took over for Abrams' Valley Gun, did not receive all of Abrams' inventory, according to police interviews. In addition, Ryan found that Showalter had been convicted of second-degree assault in 2002, making him ineligible to possess any firearms.

Those facts, Ryan wrote, "are indicative of Sanford Michael Abrams trafficking/selling firearms without abiding by current laws," Ryan wrote.

Later, at Abrams' weapons supply shop, county police found a machine gun and paperwork indicating Abrams was in the process of selling it.

"The actual possessor of a machine gun is required to register that machine gun to themselves and in this case Sanford Abrams failed to do so," Ryan wrote.

Finally, police wrote that they found records that show Abrams sold Showalter the Bushmaster rifle but failed to follow firearms regulations and report the sale to the State Police.

"If Mr. Abrams had followed legally prescribed methods to sell the firearm," Ryan wrote, "the sale would not have been approved due to Keith Showalter's prohibiting criminal record."

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com
Sun reporter Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.

Copyright 2007, The Baltimore Sun

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Seancass
October 17, 2007, 09:52 AM
looks to me like the guy deserves to be in jail. seems like he had an awful long rap sheet to still be selling guns.

FieroCDSP
October 17, 2007, 10:16 AM
Maybe it's just me being only half awake this morning, but I feel an underlying tone in the article along the lines of "this is why gun shops should be shut down". I agree to some extent. THIS guy was likely dealing illegally, and should face the consequences. Don't lump all shops into one group.

Gunfyter
October 17, 2007, 11:06 AM
We already have an uphill battle here in Maryland trying to keep what rights we do have and now this pops up. :fire: I have been to Annapolis a number of time in support of "Good" gun bill and Sandy has been there in support of the bills. He seems to have gone to the dark side for some reason. :o Our gun hating Governor should have a field day with this.:cuss:

obxned
October 17, 2007, 01:34 PM
I'll wait for the rest of the story.

LaEscopeta
October 17, 2007, 01:50 PM
I'll wait for the rest of the story.Well, here are two previous parts of the story:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=211208&highlight=Sanford+Abrams+Valley+shop

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=185359&highlight=Sanford+Abrams+Valley+shop

Stricky
October 17, 2007, 05:04 PM
He is interviewed in this video with Penn and Teller:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2807602702866411553&hl=en

strat81
October 17, 2007, 05:12 PM
decried the lack of federal criminal laws governing the sale of weapons by rogue dealers.
How illegal can something be? Perhaps we should try him as a war criminal in The Hague?

Anyway, the dealer does sound like a bad apple.

Spot77
October 17, 2007, 05:27 PM
SKS in Md is an unregulated firearm.

It can be sold face to face.

A Bushmaster AR15 with an HBAR is an unregulated firearm in MD and can be sold face to face.

After the February fatal shooting, Ryan wrote that he found two guns on Showalter's body and one inside the safe of his apartment. In addition to the Yugoslavian rifle, the others were a Bushmaster assault rifle and a Remington semiautomatic rifle with the butt stock and barrel sawed off.

The Remington sounds an awful lot like a receiver with no stock or barrel, doesn't it?

FYI - The Brady Bunch are calling it a "Remington Assault Rifle."

Blackfork
October 17, 2007, 05:40 PM
Have burned their credibility with me. Maybe he did something. Maybe he's just Red's Gun Shop in Omaha. Maybe the Feds, the locals and the BATFE are who they always are these days.

I don't trust them not to lie.

LaEscopeta
October 17, 2007, 05:43 PM
It can be sold face to face.That is my understanding, as long as both parties are private individuals. If the firearm is owned by a business (i.e. the gun store before it was closed down), or if one of the individuals is in the business of dealing in firearms (a nebulous definition) I believe in Maryland the sale has to be recorded and the NICS check run.

Spot77
October 17, 2007, 06:32 PM
That is my understanding, as long as both parties are private individuals. If the firearm is owned by a business (i.e. the gun store before it was closed down), or if one of the individuals is in the business of dealing in firearms (a nebulous definition) I believe in Maryland the sale has to be recorded and the NICS check run.

You are correct.

However all the guns that Mr Abrams is charged with transferring illegally in this particular case came from his private collection (which was basically the store's inventory that he transferred to himself. The transfer was APPROVED to his private collection by the Feds.)

I'm not claiming the man is innocent, but we all know how the media distorts things and repeatedly refuses to get clarification before printing these types of stories.

We in MD are facing the worst anti-gun General Assembly we've ever seen, and the Baltimore Sun is throwing every log they have on the fire.

FieroCDSP
October 17, 2007, 07:14 PM
Okay... It's certainly clearer with the info that he closed up shop and transfered his remaining supply to his collection. In that case, he might be guilty of selling to someone with nefarious intentions, but if he had no way to determine that, they can't nail him for dealing because Face-to-face is legal. Regardless, he'll have to do something to cover his legal bills on this one.

bunnielab
October 17, 2007, 10:13 PM
I live in MD and "JustGuns" is a store I frequent.

Everything I have ever heard from fellow shooters, FFLs and even a few cops all paint Mr. Abrams in a very very bad light.

While I realize this is all just hearsay and gossip, the fact that someone so prominent in a relativity small community seems to have so few supporters is rather telling.

chipperi
October 18, 2007, 11:24 AM
Wow I used to work right down the road from Valley Guns. I thought they were a supplier to alot of LEOs in the area. I used to go in there all the time. Hell I remember when they were robbed by a bunch of boo's that drove a car through the front window. Shortly after that they buried big 4" steel pipes filled with concrete to prevent that from happening again. It's a shop that had been around for years. I can't emphasize enough how glad I am I moved away from MD.

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