Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Straw Buyers

Whenever one buys a handgun through a dealer, which is the vast majority of purchases, one of the questions on the REQUIRED FORM is "Are you purchasing this weapon for (on belhalf of) another person?"

The question is aimed at Straw Buyers--those who have a clean record, and the cash, required to purchase a weapon, but who may be then transferring it to an individual who does NOT have a clean record, and is unable to purchase weapons from dealers.

The last time this issue arose, I visited Badger and asked a few questions. The answers were exactly the same as they are today.

Beatovic said his store on S. 43rd St. isn't part of the problem. He said he often testifies in court cases, opens his records to detectives and frequently calls police to arrest people trying to buy guns illegally.

"We are not the bad guys, damn it. I don't care what those numbers say," he said.

Badger could change its inventory mix and sell weapons whose list prices exceed, say, $500.00, such as H&K, Springfield Armory, Beretta, S&W, Glock...but that sort of policy flies in the face of realities; for openers, those list prices generally apply only to new-in-box pistols. What about used guns? They would be giving away that marketplace to other retailers, and bear in mind that gun shops are a lot like car dealerships--the real profits are in the used-items sales (and parts and accessories, such as bullets, targets, etc.)

Badger could also refuse to sell guns to certain "types" of people, and lose a hell of a large lawsuit for discriminatory practice. Not a good idea. Beyond that, what about the folks who ARE law-abiding types and who simply want self-protection?

Ester Hodges comes to mind.

A retired construction worker, she was quick to call police when trouble erupted on her 4300 block of W. Garfield St., making repeated efforts to have one particular house declared a nuisance.

When the police hosted a community action meeting last month, she was in attendance, vocal as ever.

...Hodges got her gun, which she kept for protection. Shortly afterward, a fight broke out. By the time it was over, Hodges had been shot in the stomach.

On Sunday, Hodges was in the intensive care unit of Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa while police investigated.

What shall Badger tell Ester (and the hundreds of others like her)? "Tough cookies?" "Run away?" "Lay back and enjoy it?" "Renew your Health Insurance?"

Badger sells legitimately, but some of their customers are liars. Maybe Tom Barrett, with his Congressional experience, can help Badger in discerning who's lying.

But I doubt it.

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