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Man sentenced after arsenal found in Bellevue storage locker

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Skykomish, Aug 15, 2009.

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  1. Skykomish

    Skykomish Member

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    This is an update to this thread.....

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=421900

    A former Kirkland man was sentenced Friday to four years in prison after federal agents found a huge weapons cache in storage lockers in Bellevue and Spokane.

    By Ian Ith

    Seattle Times staff reporter

    To everyone who knew him, Ronald Struve was not the kind of man who would one day be arrested by federal agents and, at age 67, be sent off to prison for four years on weapons charges.

    He was the jovial bachelor uncle, the eccentric, introverted pack rat who loved his pet birds and fed the wild critters that came to his back porch. For four decades, he went to work every day as a court stenographer, and he even shared a Kirkland rental house with a King County sheriff's deputy for a while.

    But during the decades of the Cold War, Struve also believed it was only a matter of time before the Soviets or the Red Chinese came storming onto U.S. soil. So, quietly, Struve collected an arsenal and stuck it away in rented storage lockers in Bellevue and Spokane: grenade launchers, dozens of grenades and machine guns, plastic explosives, silencers, blasting caps and detonator cord.

    The Cold War ended, of course, and Struve quit worrying so much. But he just couldn't bear to part with his collection.

    Then one day he failed to pay the bill on the Bellevue locker. Someone bought the contents at auction. Struve's secret was out.

    On Friday, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman sentenced Struve to 48 months in prison, three years of probation and mental-health counseling, saying, "The bottom line is, people simply should not have these things and that's why we have laws against them. Your collections have put other people at risk for decades."

    Struve pleaded guilty in March to one count of possessing plastic explosives and four counts of possessing unregistered firearms. In return, the government dropped more than 100 other counts against him.

    When agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched the Bellevue locker in November 2008, one veteran agent said, "In all my years, I've never seen this sort of firepower in one place."

    They tallied two grenade launchers, 54 grenades, six big blocks of C4 plastic explosive, 37 machine guns from the Vietnam War era, among other weapons. One of the grenades had been "dud-fired," meaning the pin had been pulled and it potentially still could go off with a mere jiggle. Many of the items turned out to be stolen from the military long ago.

    The agents also found more weapons in a locker Struve rented in Spokane. When they arrested Struve at his Spokane home, they said he told them he might use the weapons "some day," against "the enemy."

    Prosecutors on Friday asked for a 63-month sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods said in court papers that Struve's arsenal "to say the least, was capable of inflicting deadly force on a devastating scale."

    "The scope of the arsenal in this case was simply breathtaking," Woods said. "Quite simply, this was one of the largest arsenals for one person in this region's history."

    But Struve said he never meant to hurt anyone.

    In a letter to the judge, Struve said he started collecting weapons on the black market in the 1960s as the Vietnam War raged. "As a young man, I became an anti-communist and that influenced my thoughts and beliefs," he wrote. "I thought there was a strong possibility we (the U.S.) would be attacked by the Russians/Red Chinese."

    But as the years went by, Struve wrote, he had been "modifying and tempering my beliefs and thoughts about world events and politics in general."

    Even so, he was devoted to his collection and figured it might be worth something, he wrote. He tried to keep the weapons safe, he said. And he emphasized that he never fired any of them.

    "I am not a violent person and have never knowingly hurt another person," he wrote.

    His family and friends eagerly backed that up.

    His former roommate, retired sheriff's Capt. James O'Brien, recounted that when the two shared a house in Kirkland many years ago, the raccoons and squirrels made a nightly pilgrimage to their backdoor for Struve's handouts.

    "Ron has always been a quiet, friendly and caring person, close to his family in California," O'Brien wrote. "Ron is a good person who had made some bad choices."

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009665618_struve15m.html
     
  2. Impureclient

    Impureclient Member

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    Thank God somebody came in and took this menace away. :banghead:

    Putting him prison will fix what? If he's such a threat then why not give him consecutive life sentences?
    I can't understand why if somebody is considered such a domestic threat that any sane person would
    think a few years in jail will somehow rehabilitate them.
     
  3. THE DARK KNIGHT

    THE DARK KNIGHT Member

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    *In before two dozen people chime in with how a guy possessing illegal machine guns and explosives did nothing wrong.*
     
  4. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Member

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    Easily my favorite line. Who was at risk? And if it was such a great risk for so many decades then surely someone must have gotten hurt.

    After all, if it didn't hurt anyone for 50 years it couldn't possibly have been a risk, right?
     
  5. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Member

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    Authority always wins

    What a maroon. Apparently Mr. Struve felt he was a well regulated one man militia who was totally obsessed with preparing for an enemy who would take his precious "Freedoms" away. :rolleyes:

    Can you believe that some people actually believe those words... "the Right of the People to Keep and Bear arms Shall Not be Infringed"? :banghead:

    (reminder to self... pay mini storage bill...) ;)
     
  6. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    The Seattle Times really knows how to get to the crux of the matter. :rolleyes:
     
  7. KenWP

    KenWP member

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    It's too bad he didn't think to build himself a shed out back and store them at home. Would have beat years of paying for a storage locker.
     
  8. jakemccoy

    jakemccoy Member

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    That's kind of a big deal if that's true.
     
  9. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Member

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    Were they always illegal?
     
  10. malamuteman1

    malamuteman1 Member

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    (reminder to self... pay mini storage bill...) now thats funny
     
  11. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Apparently the judge was more worried about the potential threat rather then the owner's intent. Lacking any evidence of criminal intent, and no prior record, four years in the slammer is a bit too much.

    But then, weapons are evil... :banghead:
     
  12. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    Couldn't agree more. The punishment outweighs the crime.
     
  13. EricTheBarbarian

    EricTheBarbarian Member

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    I doubt there was a legal way for him to have parted with his collection even if he wanted to.

    The Russians may not be the only ones to worry about, I heard they are remaking Red Dawn sometime soon and it now has the Chinese.
     
  14. 3pairs12

    3pairs12 Member

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    Kind of a darned if you do darned if you don't. Poor old man.
     
  15. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    A prime example of how stupid laws don't do anything but manufacture criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens.
     
  16. 61chalk

    61chalk Member

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    Will he did break the law, an he knew it...he's lucky he only got 4 years, on the good side, him buying an storing all those machine guns, grenades....from the blackmarket, that had been stolen, he kept them from being used in crimes, even though having them was a crime. I just can't get over the fact that he forgot about them so much that he
    didn't pay the rental...probably why the judge ordered him for mental-health counseling, anyone having that much an forgeting about it has got to have mental problems!
     
  17. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Member

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    I just coulda SWORE I had some grenades around here somewhere....
     
  18. 61chalk

    61chalk Member

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    ^^^ Always wished grenades were legal, always wanted to chuck one down a groundhog hole...just to see.
     
  19. JWF III

    JWF III Member

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    My thoughts exactly. No one has been injured or killed in the last fifty years. So it's very probable to say that no one would be injured or killed in the next fifty years.

    Yes he did break the law. But he had no ill intent. And four years, at the age of 67 (with no priors), seven years probation would have been better than the 4 & 3 they gave him.

    Wyman
     
  20. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    Uhh... anybody got a match, I need to see how much gas is in my tank. :D
     
  21. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    Would you extend that logic to nuclear arms?
     
  22. Noxx

    Noxx Member

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    I think his sentence is way out of line. In my mind, this is a probation deal.

    However in answer to your question plenty of people were at risk. six pounds of C4 can make a pretty large firecracker, and storing it in a public setting (rented locker) is irresponsible and negligent, exposing other customers of the business, and the business itself to a threat that shouldn't be present.

    That's how I have to look at this, from more of a moral standpoint, and not the typical black and white "He broke the law!" "The law sucks!" argument. For me, the bottom line is when rent a storage area, you sign a contract stating that you're not going to keep explosives and volatile / illegal materials there. Mr. Struve did so regardless simply because he placed his personal interests ahead of the potential threat (both physical and legal) he was creating for others.

    That's just selfish and rude, imho. I don't really care if you want to squirrel away all that stuff (although obviously the BATFE does) but do it at your own damn house. I don't want to get blown to St. Peters doormat while helping my brother-in-law retrieve a twenty year old bookcase from his storage area.
     
  23. Gaffer

    Gaffer Member

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    I believe it is legal to own machine guns but you have to pay a hefty fee to Uncle Sam. It called a Class III license, I believe.
     
  24. SHOOT1SAM

    SHOOT1SAM Member

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    Noxx:
    I agree with Noxx for the most part on this. Although it's my understanding that C-4 is not the easiest stuff to detonate, there was definitely some risk there. Not to mention that if someone broke in to the storage locker, all of those guns would be on the street, in criminal's hands.

    Well, if he started renting that storage locker back in the 1960's, I'll bet that back then, the contract didn't state any such thing about explosives, volatile, or illegal materials.

    But, as 61chalk stated:
    Yep, makes you wonder.

    Sam
     
  25. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I think that anyone who packs that much C-4 into a closed space along with poorly stored grenades certainly deserves some punishment.
     
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