Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Flow of Guns

Here's how it happens, among other ways, of course.

Cass County prosecutors have charged a Kansas City man with stealing 30 guns, including six assault rifles, in the burglary of a Harrisonville gun shop.

Donald L. Bennett, 21, was arrested Friday after a brief standoff at a house in Greenwood in Cass County.

Prosecutors alleged that Bennett was one of three suspects seen on video surveillance who broke into Gunslinger Firearms on Jan. 12. A total of 24 semi-automatic handguns and six semi-automatic AR-15 rifles were taken in the burglary.

One handgun and one rifle were recovered from an apartment on Monroe, but the rest of the stolen firearms were believed to have already been sold, according to court documents.

What's to be done about this? Is this the price we pay to maintain our 2nd Amendment Rights? Do we just shrug and write this off as the cost of doing business?

What kind of security are gun stores supposed to have anyway? In this case three young delinquents drove up to the place, broke in, filled their car up with weapons and took off. It seems too easy. Then, of course, they sold most of the stuff before getting caught.

I say, just like the gun-loving father whose 15-year-old son stole his guns, the gun store owner in this case should be responsible. In the case of the 15-year-old, no harm was done with the stolen weapons. I'm afraid the final results in Kansas City won't be so innocuous.

What's your opinion? Is the gun store owner responsible for the improper security which allowed this to happen? Could this be one of those common-sense gun laws we keep calling for? What if the sanctions for allowing your guns to be stolen were so severe that all licensed gun sellers had to invest in proper safes? Wouldn't that make sense?

Please let us know what you think.


  1. Which security measures were "improper"

    I see no mention of the violation of the federal law requiring all 01FFLs to posses proper safes and security measures for their shops.

    As a matter of fact I see no mention how exactly this man managed to steal these guns.

    here's a diagram for you Mike:

    Note the cart goes BEHIND the horse.

    If I use the lock picks I own (legally BTW) to spring the lock on your front door and kidnap your son, should you be charged with parental neglect because I managed to use uncommon skills to defeat your common security means.

    Maybe you should be charged for not replacing your standard house locks with Double key axial split-pin tumbler-type locks that I don't have the ability to pick with my basic tools.

    Now of course this could be fraud or an inside job, in which case charges, jail sentences and deep fines should be carried out....or this could be a Wiley thief who had some uncommon skill and/or knowledge to defeat the very impressive, but no less fallible security systems.

    I reserve judgment.

  2. Mike,

    So let me get this straight and apply it to another legal product that has been in the news lately.

    The people for installing ATM machines should be fined for failing to secure their product sufficiently?

    How about watching some of the videos at this link:

    I particularly like the one where the crooks, broke the law by stealing a BULLDOZER to use in their attempt to steal an ATM

    Then tell me how the people failed to secure their ATMs properly. If the criminals -- note the people breaking the law-- are willing to go to such lengths to steal the ATMs, won't they go to the same lengths to steal guns?

    On to the next point, shouldn't you worry about something that is more common then stolen firearms?

    There are approximately 1,100,000 cars stolen every year according to Lo/Jack. How many of those are used as transport in crimes, how many are used in attacks, how many are used to run people off the road?

    Are the owners of the cars going to be fined also for failing to secure their cars properly? You can't tell me that car accidents and collisions don't kill and injury more people then firearms.

    How far does it go Mike? If I leave my shovel outside or in my unlocked shed, Am I responsible if someone steals it and uses it to kill?

    Also, wouldn't this just encourage people NOT to report stolen guns?

    I have firearms that are not registered, Texas doesn't require it.

    If you tell me that I'll be subject to extreme penalties, I would be less likely to tell the cops I have the firearms.

    If the cops ask, I'll produce a receipt from "John Smith" who bought my firearms....then what do they do?

  3. i was about to say, "yes, let's hold car owners responsible for what the people who stole and/or jacked their car did with it afterwards", but bob beat me to the point.

    if you want to claim any gun owner is negligent for not securing their property sufficiently, then logically you must define exactly what you would consider sufficient security for gun owners to use.

    that principle is, in fact, already encoded in law; people (and companies) who stockpile explosives must secure them to the satisfaction of the BATF. granted, what they're looking at there is mostly storing the stuff away from people so nobody innocent dies if it goes off, but the principle is the same. "good enough" explosives storage is something defined explicitly; you can't just say, "if anything bad should ever happen, that wasn't good enough".

  4. In many states, if a car is stolen because the owner left it with the keys in the ignition, the owner can be held civilly liable for any damage done by the car thief. So if the thief smashes into another car or hits a pedestrian, the owner of the car who made stealing the car so easy can be sued so the innocent 3rd party isn't left without any source of compensation.

    I don't see why this legal theory couldn't be applied to a gun shop with lax security that results in a theft of a gun which then does actual harm to an innocent 3rd party.

    I'm not advocating that this particular theory of civil liability is good; I'm just reporting. Please don't shoot the messenger.

  5. S,

    We wouldn't shoot the messenger but just trying to point out the incongruity of the requirements.

    I follow the law in securing my firearms but if someone steals them, how could I show that I followed the law?

    What requirements are needed to fulfill the "safe storage" requirements? Would those requirements be an unfair burden on the poor?

    I can tell you the legal costs of owning and carrying a firearm aren't inconsiderable.

    In Texas to carry concealed, the costs are $140 fee (can be reduced if proof under the poverty level), Class requirement between $50 to $200 dollars, fingerprints about $10, application fee- think it was $20, processing of the class and testing requirements $5.

    Plus the considerable investment in time. Finger prints can be only done between 8 and 5 during the weekdays. Class has to be 10 to 12 hours long.

    How much of a burden is fair to put on people to exercise a right that shouldn't be infringed to begin with?

  6. Mike,

    Here is another consideration, some of the reasonable restrictions only apply to the law abiding, but not the convicted felons.

    Here is a great example 5th amendment protection for felons, but not the law abiding

    In Haynes, a Miles Edward Haynes appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of an unregistered short-barreled shotgun. [1] His argument was ingenious: since he was a convicted felon at the time he was arrested on the shotgun charge, he could not legally possess a firearm.

    Haynes further argued that for a convicted felon to register a gun, especially a short-barreled shotgun, was effectively an announcement to the government that he was breaking the law. If he did register it, as 26 U.S.C. sec.5841 required, he was incriminating himself; but if he did not register it, the government would punish him for possessing an unregistered firearm — a violation of 26 U.S.C. sec.5851. Consequently, his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination (”No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”) was being violated — he would be punished if he registered it, and punished if he did not register it. While the Court acknowledged that there were circumstances where a person might register such a weapon without having violated the prohibition on illegal possession or transfer, both the prosecution and the Court acknowledged such circumstances were “uncommon.” [2] The Court concluded:

    * We hold that a proper claim of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination provides a full defense to prosecutions either for failure to register a firearm under sec.5841 or for possession of an unregistered firearm under sec.5851. [3]

    So the Courts have found 5th amendment rights for felons, but have a hard time interpreting "shall not be infringed", amazing.

    So how many of the reasonable restrictions gun banners would like only apply to the law abiding?

  7. S, see my witty diagram. Cart goes BEHIND the horse. Unless you've read a different report than I, there was nothing reported on the method of the break-in or any negligence from the shop owner.

    If he had done somthing stupid like failed to secure all guns (IIRC federal laws require all handguns to be secured in a vault...the shop I go to has two vault doors that are the front and back entrances to the shop to comply...others have a small bank vault on premicise and all guns come out of the display case every evening...I'm not sure the law for long-guns)

    Just to give a little view of Mike's bias that I'm reacting to, the linked story where the 15 year old stole his father's handgun involved a child who somehow stole the key, or gleaned the combination to his father's gun vault. The vault was locked as according to the law...but no security is above defeat. Furthermore when the father learned of his son's acts, rather than covering up the crime (which is not unknown for parrents to do)the father contated the police who quickly recovered the stolen gun.

    I agree with you that if laws were broken (failure to properly secure firearms in an unattended shop) charges should, and likely will be filed, and the shop's license will be revoked with much haste, and the keeper will likely spend some time in prison.

    The same would go for if I had left my car idling in my driveway and somebody stole it and ran somebody down. I'd be liable for that.

    But would you say the case would be the same if instead my pocket was picked to secure the keys, or the vehicle was hotwired to gain access?

    We know precious few facts on this case, so I reserve judgement.

    I don't reserve judgement on how Mike hopes this case plays out, as he has already pronounced a judgement of negligence to a case where none existed.

  8. Thanks to Sarah for the comment about the second-hand culpability, or whatever you call it. I find it interesting that we even needed her expert comment on something that should require only simple common sense, but that's the nature of these comment threads.

    I'd like to point out that it was a bit more than my bias that led me to speculate that the gun store owner might have been at fault. The arrested man was 21 years old, one of the others was a juvenile, I don't know about the third. Do you guys think they were master safe crackers? Do you think they did one of those "Ocean's 11" kind of breakins? I don't. I figure they were your typical young delinquents who too easily broke into the shop and too easily stole guns. It should have been prevented.

  9. Mike,

    Again, your bias is showing.

    Blaming the gun shop owner and assuming the young men aren't experienced at burglary.

    I didn't see any mention of a criminal history, but at 21 it is entirely possible that the criminal is an old hand at breaking in.

    You also ignore completely the question of what are "sensible" measures that gun owners should take.

    I mentioned the story of a bulldozer being stolen to rip off an ATM. Was the store owner negligent because (s)he didn't prepare for that?

    I figure they were your typical young delinquents who too easily broke into the shop and too easily stole guns

    You figure but you don't know, so of course the gun owner is at fault. Biased.

    You don't blame the culture that teaches 21 year olds and younger how to break into stores. Do you think he learned it by reading books? That the gun shop was his first break in?

    Gun shops are licensed by the Federal government, there are requirements, pointed out by Weer'd, they have to meet to get their licenses.

    Come on Mike, engage in some discussion here about commonsense.

    We've asked some great questions that you've completely ignored.

  10. I can't speak for modern safes, but at age 14 my good friend could open ANY master lock inside of 5 mins just if he could feel the first notch in the combination wheel.

    If the safe had an electronic keypad there are means of bypassing it that are far to easy for me ever to allow one in my house. Also application of talcum powder can show finger print oils and eliminate numbers not in the code sequence, lowering possible number combinations from thousands to hundreds....or less.

    Finally if keys are the trick all one must do is steal a key, and that by far is the weakest link of all, as you can't simply lock a key in a safe with you.

    As I said before, Mike, I won't put the cart before the horse, the shop keeper could be dirty (The law of averages makes it impossible for some of the thousands of 01 FFLs in the nation to NOT be dirty) but if that's so the BATFE will figure it out quick enough and he'll be a world of shit, and I'll be the first the applaud their efforts.

    But again, the facts are very few, unless you've read something I haven't.

    I do think your faith in conventional security measures is a bit naive.

    I'll just let you know, one day while board I took a set of lock picks I had (they retail for like $30 online, and many states don't have laws against shipping them) I taught myself how to spring locks.

    I popped a few locks in my house...showed a few friends, then tucked them in a drawer. Not exactly sure where they are now. But with a tad more practice I'm pretty sure I could get into just about anybody's house with minimal effort.

    Of course such an act would be a crime (here in Mass using lock picks for a crime carries an additional charge) But it DOES show that in many instances determination is all that's needed to gain access to a forbidden zone.

    a VERY good reason to keep a .45 in the nightstand, don't you think?

  11. Mike,

    A great article from Irons in the Fire blog site, which if you aren't reading you might want to add.

    A World without Guns

  12. Mike,

    Another great post, this time from Brigid at Home on the Range

    Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    Simple question, if I have a right to property and what I do with it, then how far can the government go in regulating that property?

    How far should the government go in regulating my property to make it harder for a criminal activity to occur?

  13. So if the store owner was the perpetrator, does that make the burglars the victims? I mean, if the store owner wasn't so lax, they would not have been able to commit the crime as easily so they wouldn't have been caught? Bad gun store owner. Bad.

  14. More Grist:

    "His points are practical rather than legal ones. (1) The only supply-side gun control that would have a chance of affecting crime is a ban and confiscation, all this toying around with assault weapons and similar issues is mere symbolism that affects nothing. (2) Anyone who thinks a ban and confiscation would work is delusional."

  15. Maybe the kids were armed when they broke into the store, that would make everybody involved a gun owner.

    Or maybe the store owner exaggerated the loss for the insurance. People do that sometimes, don't they.

    There are many possible scenarios. And yes, my bias is showing, but I think backed up by common sense. These were young kids, not international jewel thieves, and perhaps the laws requiring proper securing of the merchandise aren't strict enough in that part of the country. Could that be part of it?

  16. "and perhaps the laws requiring proper securing of the merchandise aren't strict enough in that part of the country. Could that be part of it?"

    Don't use the word "Logic" then pull BS out of your rear, Mike.

    See above and the use of "Federal" in conjunction with "Law".

    Gun shops are MANDATED on the levels of security they need. ALL OF THEM. The only difference from state to state is strict to more-strict.

    I don't feel the need to repeat myself, but I'll tell you that being a thief, jewel or otherwise, is not as difficult as hollywood makes it out to be. And vaults like in Ocean's Eleven don't actually exist in the real world.

    You say "Logic" then you speak ignorance. You say "Logic" then your speak fantasy.

    Do you see why your logic doesn't hold much water?

  17. "perhaps the laws requiring proper securing of the merchandise aren't strict enough in that part of the country. Could that be part of it?"

    Maybe the laws against theft are not strong enough in that part of the country. Could that be part of it?

    So the victim, who is obviously an otherwise law abiding citizen, should be charged with a crime because he was the victim of a robbery?

    How about for a minute, we say you are right and a law is passed that says you have to guard your guns absolutely from criminals or you become a criminal yourself. Tweedle dee and tweedle dumb break in to the gunshop. Gunshop owner has no choice but defend his inanimate objects at all costs or he becomes a felon. So, to guard mere possessions, gunshop owner kills tweedle dee and tweedle dumb. The world is then a better place. Much better than them being arrested later.

  18. Mike,

    Why does it seem you are defending the know the ones who planned a robbery, committed a robbery, possessed stolen property....and attacking the store owner?

    I posted the story about the bulldozer to show that criminals, you know the ones breaking the law, will do whatever it takes to break the law.

    Here is the point that should be obvious: It doesn't matter how secure or not the property is, it is a crime to take it if it doesn't belong to you.

    Whether an item is left out on my front porch, hidden in my backyard, or locked in a secure shed, it is still a theft for someone to take my property.

    Same with firearms, be they left on the counter, locked inside the store or secured in a vault; it is still a crime to steal them. Why aren't you condemning those that steal as much as the owner that may or may not have secured them to your satisfaction?

    In the end Mike, I think you forget that only 10% of all violent crime is committed with firearms. Why focus on the tool used only 1 in 10 times instead of the crimes committed every time?

  19. Yeah, I guess I do look to excuse the criminals, but really I'm only trying to understand what happened. It seems weird to me, regardless of how easy it is to break in and get through gun vaults, as Weer'd pointed out. (slight sarcasm)

    I don't want to blame the victim, far from it. That's what the feminists are always going on about when the crime is rape. I wouldn't want to do that, but again I'm just trying to understand what happened.

    When three kids steal a bunch of guns, I think it's worth asking if the gun owner was lax. Why are you all so defensive about that? If there is a lax gun owner who makes it easy for this kind of thing to happen, doesn't he hurt all of you responsible guys? It's like the road rage guy who pulls a gun at the red light; he makes you all look bad. I think we need to ask about it. How in the hell can three young guys accomplish something like this?

    What are those federal requirements by the way? What do gun shop owners have to have by law as far as safes and vaults go?

  20. "I wouldn't want to do that, but again I'm just trying to understand what happened."

    So am I, but you crossed the line when you started jumping to conclutions. Again the story tells only of the robber and what was stolen. NOTHING is told about the shop or the method of theft.

    I don't understand what happened because the data is incompleat.

    As far as the laws go, you can look it up as well as I, and if I feel inclined I'll do some googleing.

    But I'd say: [ "01 FFL", "security requirements" ] would get you more than enugh info....maybe the adition of a ", law" to the search would further narrow a wide result down.

    But to be an FFL (federal firearms license) you fit under some very strict laws, and they are federal law so state-to-state variation is very small.

  21. Mike,

    When three kids steal a bunch of guns, I think it's worth asking if the gun owner was lax. Why are you all so defensive about that?

    I'm with Weer'd. I get defensive when you jump to conclusions and blame the victim.

    Does it really matter if the owner was lax or not? If the Criminals hadn't broken the law, the firearms wouldn't have been stolen, right?

    Got a question for you, speaking of excusing the victims.

    I went to the hospital today to visit my brother. He's recovering from a Hernia repair op, nothing big but on the front door of the Hospital was a sign that said this:



    Now, if I had been arrested for not obeying the law by leaving my firearm in my car (where it was in greater risk of being stolen for your "flow of guns"); Would you be looking to excuse my actions?

    Or slamming me like you won't do for the thugs that broke into a store and took the goods that provide food, clothing, and shelter from the store owner?

  22. Bob, You are mistaken to think that I'm against gun owners. I'm not. I'm against the proliferation and the excessive availability of guns which unavoidably increases the "flow."

    An example is that I'd have no problem with you ignoring that sign at the hospital, or at the post office, or at a school. I'd think, if you accidentally got caught, someone charging you with a felony for that would be way out of line. To me this is common sense.

    All my ideas are to find a way to reduce the flow. Your not leaving your gun in the glove compartment of an unsupervised parked car, is consistent with my ideas, even though it may technically be criminal.

  23. So, Mike will you do a post endorsing laws that allow people lawfully carrying a firearm to continue lawfully carrying?

    Like the repeal of laws that give legal teeth to private signage?

    The removal of gun-free zones in public places like post offices an school campuses?

    Supporting a federal reciprocity for conceal handgun permits?

    All of these would lessen the number of guns being left unsecured in cars (where the removal of said gun can also easily be observed by criminal elements).

    And taking a DEEP leap of faith onto your "flow" bandwagon, these laws would DRASTICALLY reduces "Flow" to criminal elements.

    I await your endorsement of these laws.

  24. Mike,

    Do criminals have a right to keep and bear arms?