Left Justified: Selling guns to kids

Where are the kids getting their guns?

That’s not a question people are asking here in the Forest City. With the recent spat of murders in this town, most folks are asking for more police protection, support for Ceasefire, more arrests, and even more death penalties even if they’re meted out to children. But no one seems to care where the kids are getting their firepower. Who’s selling our children high-powered handguns?

Unlike drugs and other illegal substances, guns are traceable. They all have numbers on them, as well as the name of the manufacturer. Name brands can be tracked back to the factory that made them, the distributor that distributed them, and the dealer or wholesaler who sold them. Of course, the gun nuts do not want you looking at where the guns come from. You might find out who is selling our kids their guns.

They say that most of the guns are stolen. Who says so? Most of the guns in criminal hands are purchased. And there are big bucks in the arms trade!

Most of the craziest gun nuts are gun dealers. They make a pretty penny selling their wares, and they hate it when people ask them to keep track of who their more vicious customers are. That makes business sense: if you are dealing in weapons, and those weapons kill people, you would not want to implicate yourself in the murders.

But the more murders, especially by guns, the more your product is in demand. Fear drives sales. Neighbors of the murdered victim may start visiting your gun store and buying your guns. And those who commit murder might at least need more ammunition, if not some newer, more powerful tools. Bingo: more profits for you!

So the gun dealers may want more murder. Or at least they might not mind the killings as much as you or I. If they did, they’d be coming up with lots of ideas how they could keep their products out of the hands of criminals, crazies, and kids.

Now we could ask someone to investigate. Maybe a CSI unit that traces guns. Like the ATF. They could trace guns via the make, model, and serial number, back to whoever sold the things in the first place. In fact, we could keep track of all guns picked up by police, and find out those lousy gun dealers who are selling the most guns to the most criminals.

One local gun shop in Rockford, according to ATF reports, sold the most guns to local scofflaws than anyone else. The dealer was finally put out of business after selling guns to “straw buyers.” That’s where someone buys a bunch of guns, then resells them to convicted criminals, mentally ill, and other customers normally not allowed to play with guns.

Gun dealers are supposed to report all multiple gun sales to the government, but our hero refused to do so (he was a hero to the gun toters). One of those weapons he’d sold was allegedly used by a 15-year-old girl to kill herself. He finally closed, claiming government harassment.

So is anyone checking up on where these kids are presently getting their guns? Who’s the worst gun dealer in the county right now. Does anyone care? And why?

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the May 25-31, 2005, issue

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