With the senseless, tragic shooting deaths of twenty children at an elementary school in Connecticut, the debate over gun violence and restriction has once again been renewed. Advocates of gun control want strict measures to be enacted against certain types of weapons, and some go as far as wanting to ban gun ownership for the general public.
Gun advocates are at the other end of the spectrum, stating it is Americans Second Amendment right to bear arms, and also remark that taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens will do nothing to deter criminals from obtaining guns.
The question then arises; just how do criminals obtain legal firearms?
An article in USAToday gave an example of one answer to that question by tracing the history of one assault rifle that was used in the shooting death of a teenager in New York back to its legal owner.
The AR-15 is a much sought after assault rifle by legal citizens and criminals alike. The sale of these rifles was once banned by the government, and if anti-gunners have their way, may soon be banned by legislation once again.
One AR-15 that was used by a gang member in June 2007, when he unleashed a barrage of bullets into a house party, happened to strike and kill Carmella, a 15-year-old girl who had slipped out of the house to attend the party. Just how did this legally purchased assault weapon end up in the hands of a gang member?
According to the article in USAToday, in 2005, James Thompson, Jr., an avid hunter and target shooter, purchased this particular AR-15 from a Batavia, NY store for $1,300, to add to his gun collection. Unfortunately, not only was Thompson an avid hunter and target shooter, but he was also a cocaine addict and a drunk, as well.
By 2007, he was buying and using cocaine and crack daily, and was not only short on funds, but was behind on his child support, as well. Thompson made a deal with a drug dealer, Jerrick Densen, to trade the assault rifle for $100 and an eight-ball, which is a one-eighth ounce package of cocaine.
Several months after this illegal trade, Thompson’s rifle was used to shoot up the party in Rochester where Carmella was struck in the chest and killed.
Three gang members were arrested in the shooting death of Carmella, though authorities are not sure which member actually pulled the trigger.
Thompson who is now clean, was devastated to learn that the rifle he purchased legally had been used to shoot and kill an innocent teenager. Thompson pleaded guilty to a weapons-related crime, and spent a year in prison for his role in the crime. Thompson stated, “I must live with this thought of an innocent little girl with a chance for a good life gunned down without a chance… because I gave a street thug a gun.”
Original story can be found here.