West Virginia state Sen. Jeffrey Kessler says he would throw NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's investigators in jail, if they continue trying to 'sting' WV firearms retailers.
During the past few years, Bloomberg has spent considerable time, effort and (presumably) NY City funds sending 'agents' to Southern states attempting to entice firearm dealers to bend, break or mutilate Federal Firearm Laws by selling guns to 'buyers' who are not legally permitted to purchase firearms from a Federally licensed Firearms Dealer.
One of the more common tactics is for two agents to enter a gun store, and one agent who is presumably a legal purchaser buys a gun for the benefit of the other agent ... who is, in turn, NOT a legal purchaser. This is called "Straw Purchasing".
If the dealer completes the sale, the NYC agents notify local ATF agents with the sole intent of identifying the FFL dealer as one who has violated federal laws.
Other 'stings' may be even more subtle.
Bloomberg claims that most illegal firearms confiscated in NYC (a city with firearms laws so stringent that it is almost impossible for a law-abiding citizen to buy a gun) have been tracked to dealers in Southern States.
Bloomberg has gone to war with these states with his sting operations.
The FFL Dealers in these states have taken exception to the efforts of this out-of-state municipal politician deliberately establishing questionable situations to which they must respond .. and with good reason.
In Smyrna, Georgia (home of GLOCK, USA), for example, one dealer has reacted strongly in a response to Blomberg's predations on his business, asserting "Blomberg Went Too Far". A 2007 NY Times article stated "Jay Wallace, who owns Adventure Outdoors, one of the major gun distributors in the area and a defendant in one of the city’s lawsuits, is countersuing Mr. Bloomberg, alleging fraud, slander and libel. A well-known resident who has operated the business here for 31 years, Mr. Wallace has drummed up support with an online fund-raising campaign, a summertime rally that drew hundreds, and celebrity representation by a lawyer who is a former congressman, Bob Barr."
John Feinblatt, the (New York City) criminal justice coordinator, accused Wallace of having "... had a long history of suspect sales, that it had been cited by a gun safety group and in past federal prosecutions and that it was under scrutiny by the A.T.F."
The dispute has its roots in what has become a prominent theme in Mr. Bloomberg’s second term: stemming the flow of illegal firearms into New York, mostly from other states.
In a sting operation, the city sent teams of private investigators, usually a man and a woman, to five states. Posing as gun buyers, they went to stores whose guns had been linked to more than 500 crimes in New York City from 1994 to 2001.
Bloomberg administration officials said the investigators caught 27 dealerships allowing so-called straw purchases, in which one person submits to the required federal background check for a gun that is clearly to be used by someone else.
The Bloomberg administration sued those dealerships, seeking monetary damages and the power to oversee future transactions through the special master. Of those sued, 15 have agreed to the city’s terms, while the remaining 12 are fighting in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. They include stores owned by Mr. Wallace and a South Carolina dealer who has also countersued Mr. Bloomberg. Yet another South Carolina dealer has filed a countersuit, said Eric Proshansky, of the New York City Law Department.
Mr. Wallace’s lawyers defended their clients’ record, saying that A.T.F. officials he had worked with were planning to provide depositions attesting that he had had no trouble with the agency.
For now, as Mr. Wallace’s case winds through the courts, people who know him are expressing shock and dismay at Mr. Bloomberg’s actions.
“He’s on a witch hunt,” said Tom Wisdom, a Honda dealer and a customer at Adventure Outdoors. “He’s trying to make political hay. If he wants to straighten out something, straighten out his home problems. They’ve got some of the most restrictive laws in the United States, and they’re not working.”
Now, WV State Senator has responded publically to the charges and counter-charges between states: Senator Kessler ...
... wants to ban the type of undercover stings that Bloomberg has used to showcase illegal gun sales in other states - and throw the mayor's investigators in jail if necessary.
"It's for us to handle within our own borders," said state Sen. Jeffrey Kessler, who is running for governor in 2012. "We jealously guard our gun rights, and we're vocal advocates for the Second Amendment."
Bloomberg has defended the stings as necessary to keep out-of-state guns from ending up on New York streets and in the hands of criminals.
He has put the videos on YouTube and mailed copies to Congress. A spokesman refused to say whether more are in progress.
Kessler's bill would ban those stings, making a felon out of anyone who "persuades, encourages or entices" a gun dealer to make an illegal sale.