Existing law works to catch OH-NJ gun trafficker

by Chad D. Baus

Gun control advocates constantly claim that illegal gun trafficking is occurring because current laws are inadequate. They say very little, however, when a case occurs that proves existing laws can be used with great effect.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, a New Jersey man is to be sentenced to prison this week for his role in a gun-trafficking scheme that stretched from Columbus to the East Coast.

From the article:

Terrance Laboo, 40, of Woodlynne, admitted in a Camden, N.J., federal courtroom that he was the eastern endpoint in the trafficking case.

Prosecutors said that three Columbus men bought guns from legitimate shops in central Ohio and sold them to a middleman who sold them to Laboo.

"There's money to be made selling guns to people who otherwise can't get guns," said David Coulson, a senior special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Chicago. "There's a market out there."

The Columbus men — William E. Johnson II, Joseph L. Berry and Antonio R. Berry — await sentencing in U.S. District Court in Columbus.

Johnson, 25, of 698 Wedgewood Dr. on the West Side, and Joseph Berry, 25, of 4124 Dundee Ave. on the East Side, pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally purchase firearms and to making false statements during a firearms purchase.

Antonio Berry, 22, of 4092 Larry Place on the East Side, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, which carries a maximum five-year prison term. The false-statement charge has a maximum 10-year prison term.

Each of the men bought guns from sources that included gun stores, pawnshops and individuals, court records show. They claimed on required federal forms that they were buying the guns for themselves.

From October 2009 to June 2010, they sold the guns to Joshua "Trent" Jackson, 33, of Willingboro, N.J., according to records.

A criminal complaint against Jackson says he bought about 280 guns from Ohio sellers, transported them in a rental car or Greyhound bus and sold them in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. He's facing federal charges in New Jersey for selling guns without a federal firearms license.

Coulson also provided a quote to the Dispatch that shows why gun control laws are never going to stop criminal intent, no matter how many are passed:

"Firearms trafficking is common among drug dealers and gangs, in part because anyone who has been convicted of a felony can't legally own a gun, "so they resort to secondary means," he said. "It's always going on, and we take it very seriously."

Strangely, the article then devolves into a discussion over the "exploitation" of supposedly "inadequate" Ohio gun laws. But this isn't an example of the exploitation of Ohio gun laws - it's an example of someone breaking Ohio gun laws. And as Agent Coulson points out, illegal or not, people with criminal intent are going to "resort to secondary means."

Much, I'm sure, to the chagrin of gun control advocates, this case proves that the system is working as designed. Guy buys guns under false pretense, guy sells guns illegally, guy goes to jail.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, and BFA PAC Vice Chairman.

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