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Gun shop owner makes case for no jail time

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Desertdog, Jun 26, 2005.

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  1. Desertdog

    Desertdog Member

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    Gun shop owner makes case for no jail time

    Pleaded guilty in February to firearms charges
    http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsnews/253nd4.htm


    By Chris Hack
    Staff writer

    The owner of a Sauk Village gun shop told a federal judge Friday he should not go to prison for keeping two illegal sawed-off shotguns in his store because stickup artists aren't fazed by shopkeepers armed with mere handguns.
    Philip Stutts, a former Ford Heights police officer, was scheduled to be sentenced on six felony firearms charges. Stutts, 47, pleaded guilty to the charges in February in a so-called blind plea that was not worked out with prosecutors.

    Stutts Firearms and Ammunition at 1715 Sauk Trail was shut down after a federal raid last year. Agents seized more than 250 guns from the store and another 70 from Stutts' home.

    Stutts, of Chicago Heights, admitted he possessed the two sawed-off shotguns — one behind the counter, the other in his office. He also pleaded guilty to having two guns with obliterated serial numbers.

    Stutts admitted to filing false records of a February 2003 sale at his store. According to a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives affidavit, Stutts sold a .380-caliber pistol to a 20-year-old man who later brandished it during a street fight in Harvey, and recorded the sale as happening a year later, when the customer would have been 21. Sale of firearms to anyone younger than 21 is illegal.

    Under advisory sentencing guidelines, Stutts is eligible for 30 to 37 months in prison — and prosecutors Friday requested the maximum. But a lawyer for Stutts argued his client doesn't deserve any prison time.

    In a personal plea to U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall, Stutts said he knew the sawed-off shotguns were illegal but insisted he needed them.

    "The only purpose of these weapons was for the protection of the store," Stutts said. "Looking back, I admit to having bad judgment. But I had a choice — stay alive or get killed."

    Stutts claimed that over the years workers and owners of neighboring gun shops in Glenwood, Calumet City and Northwest Indiana have been shot and sometimes killed in holdups.

    Gottschall asked why he couldn't have just reserved one of the hundreds of legal weapons in his store for self-defense.

    "People don't come to rip me off at night — they come in during the day and stick me up," Stutts said. "And when they come in, they come in with a 12-gauge.

    "If you come in the door with something big, and I'm pulling a handgun ... I'm in trouble. We had a strong store, and we weren't taking any nonsense from anybody."

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Miller said it didn't matter why Stutts had the illegal guns.

    "This was a blatant disrespect for federal firearms laws," Miller told the judge. "There are no legitimate and no lawful reasons to have them.

    "These are the same weapons we find in the hands of criminals and gangbangers routinely."

    The sentencing was put off until next month while authorities test-fire the guns with the rubbed-off serial numbers found in Stutts' home. Stutts claimed Friday the guns were kept in a glass case for decoration only and didn't even work.

    Chris Hack may be reached at chack@dailysouthtown.com or (708) 633-5984.
     
  2. beerslurpy

    beerslurpy member

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    ***, self defense isnt a legitimate and lawful use of firearms?
     
  3. Zrex

    Zrex Member

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    I get to go in for Jury Duty the first week of September. I hope they pick me, and I hope I get a chance to do some of that Jury Nullification stuff I keep hearing about.
     
  4. goalie

    goalie Member

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    I hope that if you do, nobody looks here and sees that you talked about doing it beforehand.
     
  5. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

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    She can't be as stupid as she is pretending to be, can she?
     
  6. Zrex

    Zrex Member

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    Bah. Who cares? It's not like we have a working justice system in this country anyway. If they want someone in jail, they will put them in jail. Too many things are illegal - they can get anyone anytime they want. And if they can't, well, they will make up some conspiracy charge or something and then bankrupt you trying to get a conviction. Remember - they have unlimited resources and you do not. But, to ease your mind, I do not plan on lying to anyone about my intentions. Given that, I do not expect to be selected.... but one can dream.

    :D
     
  7. joab

    joab Member

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    Here's my unpopular opinion.

    He was in the business, he knew the law.

    An 18 inch shotgun is no less deadly or intimidating than a 14 incher.

    A ground off serial number does not make any gun more or less efficient nor does selling one to an underage person

    If he did these things because he thinks the laws are unjust I salute him, but only if he stands up and says that that is why he did them.

    Until then he id just another criminal trying to excuse himself out of trouble, and to hell with him for causing more problems for legitimate gun owners
     
  8. Matthew748

    Matthew748 Member

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    Hear me on this. I was at this store a year or so before the initial bust with a friend of mine who goes by the screen name The Grand Inquisitor at this site. We were coming back from either Fetla’s Trading Post in Valparaiso Indiana or the Crown Point gun show via side streets and state highways (to avoid 80/94 weekend traffic), noticed the shop, and decided to check it out. Very, very bad idea. Everything about his operation screamed “get out now!”

    This guy was renting handguns, yet he had no range on the premises. Everything he was selling was marked up to approximately double the manufacturer suggested retail. If looks could kill, my friend and I would be dead right now. I am not being dramatic when I say that I feared for my life in his shop.

    My friend thought it was an ATF sting operation. I thought it was the type of place that a lot of cash could get you a gun with no questions asked. It looks like I was closer to the truth. Based on my experiences, I can say that this is not a case of the ATF or local government trying to shut down a gun shop on purely political, anti-gun bias.
     
  9. boofus

    boofus Guest

    All that moron had to do was pay $500 for a Class 2 or Class 3 special occupation status, since he had a FFL already. Then he could legally have as many short barreled shotguns as he wants. I hope saving $500 was worth spending time in prison and losing his business and all his firearms.

    Destroying the serial #s off his guns is just plain stupid however.
     
  10. sturmruger

    sturmruger Member

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    Matthew748 did you post anything back when you visited this shop? Your description of his business practices sounds very familar. It is too bad he was such an idiot. Why the hell would you sell a gun to someone that isn't of age??
     
  11. Spreadfire Arms

    Spreadfire Arms Member

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    beerslurpy wrote:

    you can defend yourself with legally registered Title II and standard Title I firearms. i'm still not clear about how having two firearms with obliterated serial numbers and two non-NFA registered short barreled shotguns has anything to do with "legitimate and lawful" use of a firearm. self defense by itself is not legal justification to have an illegally configured shotgun or a firearm with obliterated serial numbers.

    there is also an allegation he doctored a yellow sheet or two. those are additional federal offenses.
     
  12. Control Group

    Control Group Member

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    Without commenting on whether or not this guy should be in prison, the following two quotes really struck me as interesting:

    Er...wouldn't that be the very definition of legitimate reason to have them? I want to have at least as effective a weapon as the criminal trying to kill me has. Sounds like the US Attorney is coming dangerously close to just admitting they want me to be defenseless.
     
  13. GunGoBoom

    GunGoBoom member

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    Really? I thought that was only handguns...anyone correct the reporter on this yet?
     
  14. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    Who do you root for when two people you can't stand are fighting?

    Am I on the side of the government lawyer who can't imagine a use for a shotgun with a short barrel?

    Or am I on the side of the FFL and former cop who claims he has to have short-barreled shotguns because handguns and shotguns with 18-inch barrels don't work for self defense?

    Bah. I'm going to work.
    :banghead:
     
  15. joab

    joab Member

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    If he had registered it he would not have been able to sell it to many of his questionable clientale (if you believe Matthew748 and I have no reason not to) Untraceable guns bring a premium in some circles
     
  16. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    Good bust IMO.
     
  17. Zrex

    Zrex Member

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    So what I hear you guys saying is that you think the NFA and GCA are good laws? If both were repealed, would anything this guy did be illegal?


    I suppose the Assault Weapon Ban was a good law while it was still in effect too, yes?
     
  18. Correia

    Correia Moderator Emeritus

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    Sadly, Zrex, guys like this don't flaunt the law on any sort of Constititional or moral principle. They break the law to make money off of the criminal element, and in so doing not only damage themselves, but they tarnish all gun dealers, and by extension, our entire culture. You, me, and everybody else comes out looking worse in the eyes of the fence sitting/voting public because of morons like this.

    I think I remember Matthew posting about this place sometime ago.
     
  19. Matthew748

    Matthew748 Member

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    It seems to me my friend brought it up in a "worst gun shop" type thread and I chimed in with a few details. Regardless, I am glad to see this place go. If anyone is interested, I can post the original Southtown acticle dated May 28, 2004. I saved the HTML page when the story originally broke.
     
  20. Zrex

    Zrex Member

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    But then you get down to trying to legislate, or at least moralize an action based on intent. This is the same sort of mindset that brought us hate crime laws. If you kill a guy, thats a crime, but if you killed him because he was white (black/gay/whatever) then thats a special kind of extra super duper murder, and it is all based on the intent of the criminal? Who cares why someone murdered someone else - murder is murder. Who cares why someone broke a law that is unconstitutional and unjust? What role does motivation play in this? Would it make him any less "guilty" of the crime if he did it for some noble purpose?

    Where is the victim? If he sells a gun to a guy who he knows will use it to kill someone else, then charge him as an accessory. There is a victim in that crime. Who is the victim in having a shotgun 4 inches too short? At most, it is a simple tax issue, right? Have you never owed $400 in taxes before? Should they come arrest you and throw you in jail?

    If we still had a constitution, it should protect minority groups (such as the much hated and oft slandered Gun Owners) from the tyranny of the majority. Since we no longer have a working constitution, it would seem that all bets are off.
     
  21. thorn726

    thorn726 Member

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    i say FORGET the shortys. yeah, they should be legal.
    wahtever. you all are letting yerselves get sidetracked with nonsense that in a plea deal- guess what charges get thrown out-

    look at the rest of the stuff going on here- why are their guns with no numbers in a gun shop???
    EXTREMELY illegal, with no legit reasoning.

    already caught for other violations- i am amazed this guy was still in biz.

    this guy is nothing but bad press for everyone who owns guns.

    having already been nailed for sellnig to a minor, and having guns with no #'s=

    many people are gonna think ILLEGAL ARMS DEALER. and he probably is.
    worse, consdiering he had a legit biz, 9 times out of 10 the guy willnig to take these risks= hard drug addict or major gambling problem
     
  22. 1 old 0311

    1 old 0311 member

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    You MUST keep your guns legal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Kevin
     
  23. Zrex

    Zrex Member

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    He sold a gun to someone who is old enough to join the Army, go to Iraq and die for our country. Ask any 20 year old who has fought for our country if he thinks he should have a right to keep a handgun for his own personal defense. Or perhaps you would like to go up to that marine who lost both his legs when his convoy blew up and tell him he is a minor and has no right to a handgun to protect himself.

    Serial numbers haven't always been a requirement on firearms. As a matter of fact, if you build your own receiver for your own personal use, there is no federal law requiring you to put a serial number on it.

    But, notice, you guys keep coming back to the whole "NFA and GCA are good laws" argument.
     
  24. KriegHund

    KriegHund Member

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    I thought it was 18 for longarms, 21 for pistols, so it still woulda been illegal, but...

    Unless they have wierd gun laws there?
     
  25. joab

    joab Member

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    I don't think the consensus is that the laws are good, just that they are the law.
    If you choose to violate them then take the punishment without whining.
    If you don't like the law work toward change.
    If you can't work within the system then break the law to be a test case.
    Just don't cry and make idiotic statements that makes us all look stupid
     
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