Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gun Flow into Canada

The Winnipeg Free Press reports on the iron pipeline flowing for the U.S. into Canada.

A young Winnipeg man attending a North Dakota college to play football has admitted to fuelling street crime in his home city by helping smuggle nearly two-dozen high-powered guns across the Canadian border in exchange for cash and drugs, according to court documents.

Thomas Scher, 20, was sentenced in an American courtroom Monday to 366 days jail, in addition to three years of supervised probation, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. Scher has been living south of the border while attending Minot State University. He struck a plea bargain with federal prosecutors to quickly deal with his case in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Scher and a college buddy named Curtis Rolle, a North Dakota resident also attending Minot State were recruited by Gokhan Ozturk, 24, a Winnipeg resident.

Rolle would purchase the guns and then smuggle them across the Canadian border with Scher. This was done on at least eight separate occasions and involved at least 22 semi-automatic handguns of various makes and models. They would meet Ozturk in Winnipeg and be paid with either $1,000 cash per weapon or ecstasy tablets.

Scher and Rolle admit they sold approximately 1,800 doses of the illegal drugs to people in North Dakota and pocketed the profits.

Rolle bought the guns from three main outlets — the Scheel’s and Sportsman’s stores in Minot and a local pawnbroker. Rolle made false statements on his firearms transaction forms.

At least one of the guns has been directly linked to a crime. A Jimenez Arms 9-mm semi-automatic pistol was purchased by Rolle from the Dak Pawnbroker in Minot and later smuggled into Canada.

After hearing so much about the gun flow into Mexico, it's fascinating to read that the same thing is happening on the Canadian border. Even more fascinating is that North Dakota is involved, a state which has been mentioned on this blog as exemplifying the pro-gun ideal of lots of guns and little crime.

What's your opinion about this? What percentage of Canadian crime guns comes from America? Do you think it must be something on the order of 90%?

What does "false statements on his firearms transaction forms," mean? What kind or forms are those that can be so easily fooled?

What about the price paid for the guns? I remember one commenter pointed out that gun flow like this is impossible because criminals can get guns for $50 or $100. His point was that proper guns bought from dealers started out too expensive to be of any use to the criminals. I guess that's another pro-gun excuse which this story puts to rest.

What's your opinion?


  1. mikeb,

    I don't remember anyone saying gun flow like this is impossible. Retail price gun flow is not the primary source of guns going over the borders. It doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Canada doesn't have a major flow of criminal population yet (i.e. Central American gangs) so there isn't the flow of arms from Central America yet. Mexico on the other hand does (which is where the comments were made), and I am fairly certain you could go to an arms bazaar in Venzuela or Nicaragua and pick up some fully automatic AK-47's for less than $200. You cannot get those in the US at any gun show or gun shop. There may be 100 or so legal (i.e. registered with ATF under NFA) full auto AK-47 in the US, but I have never seen a single one for sale and if they were they would easily fetch $10,000 or more.

    What does it mean he lied on the forms? Well, he could have used someone else's identity (if he was under 21 he couldn't legally purchase a handgun). He could have lied about his age and the NICS system didn't pick it up. He could have not put down his SS number (which is recommended but not required) and spelled his name differently, in which case the NICS records might not have picked up on him being the same person.

    My guess he lied about his age or used a different person's identity. In which case, he committed a crime. Apparently it was just as easy to smuggle drugs back across the border to sell in the US. Also a crime. So to stem the problem you want to restrict someone's ability to purchase guns in Alabama? Makes perfect sense to me.

    Something else fishy about this. $1000 per "high powered handgun". And the example they give is a Jimenez Arms 9mm. If that is the "street" price in Winnipeg, I can understand why someone would be tempted to get into the smuggling business. The Jimenez Arms 9mm retails for something under $200. OK, I know that criminals aren't the smartest people on the block, but a 500% markup?!! Someone is getting played here.

    Why is it that guns are always "high powered"? A 9mm isn't "high powered". Heck, you could make a strong arguement that .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .50 AE aren't high powered either, only medium powered.

    What this sounds like is some local criminals in Winnipeg that didn't have any connections to the black market and were too stupid to figure out how to get them. So they pay an exorbitant amount for their guns (which since they aren't making an honest living anyways, doesn't matter) and they predictably get caught. What part of this flow was not illegal? If they weren't even willing to be honest with the NICS forms, what makes you think that they would actually follow another law.

    You complain that we keep saying you want to ban all guns, when you haven't said that. You're correct, you haven't said that (that I have read). However, since your focus is solely on gun crime (as opposed to crime in general), the only solution to eliminate it is to eliminate all guns. Doesn't mean the crime rate will go down (as can be shown from Australia, England, and Jamaica - all island countries who should be able to control the flow of guns into their countries). But you will feel better knowing that people are stabbed more often than shot. Whenever we have asked for evidence that your solutions will decrease crime, you state you are at a loss? Because you don't seem to understand that criminals don't obey laws. Therefore, adding more laws will not deter them.

  2. My opinion is basically the same as with Mexico. I don't live there so I could care less what happens there.

    They are the ones with the draconian gun laws and not securing their borders. If a criminal commits a crime in a foreign country, that is no reason to change anything here.

    Besides, it sounds like justice was done and everything turned out like it should. Am I wrong?

  3. "What does "false statements on his firearms transaction forms," mean? What kind or forms are those that can be so easily fooled?"

    The BATFE form 4473 is the nationa standard for doing the NICS check, available here...

    While I could make some wild guesses about which info he falsified, I prefer to focus on "question A" which I KNOW FOR A FACT that he lied on.

    His admitted intent was to traffic the weapon in exchange for money and/or drugs. This means that he falsified Question A as he was not the actual buyer of the gun.

    I also noticed that he was charged for the drugs but not the firearms trafficing. Way to enforce the gun laws, huh?

    "at least 22 semi-automatic handguns"

    Hmmm, at a potential 10 year sentence for EACH individual gun, he could have faced 220 years in prison for the weapons charges alone. But he serves ZERO time for the weapons charges through a plea bargain and served only one year and 1 day for the drugs.

    An interesting point however...

    Isn't a 366 day sentence a bit odd?

    Refer to question C on Form 4473.

    If one is convicted of a misdemeanor crime which results in a sentence of more than 1 year, you are now a prohibited purchaser and will fail all future NICS background checks.

    I'll leave the questions requiring conjecture to others.

  4. Those "false statements," would they have been on "The BATFE form 4473?" What about at the pawn shops where several of the guns were bought?

    If one can get away with "false statements" on that form, what the hell good is it? Shouldn't the most superficial background check uncover "false statements?"

  5. mikeb,

    Yes, you fill out the same form at the pawn shop. Any pawn shop that legally sells firearms also has to have an FFL (it is an 02 FFL as opposed to an 01 FFL for dealers). So yes, he would have lied on those forms.

    You would hope that a background check will catch something like I mentioned before like lying about your birthdate, but how is it going to catch something like using someone else's identity? All of the information is correct, just for a different person.

    Also, how is a background check suppose to verify whether you are the actual buyer (i.e. not trafficing), or a drug user (if you never have been treated or convicted), or even an illegal alien (since our government doesn't want to do anything about that). If you fill out the form honestly and answer yes to any of those questions, I can't imagine any dealer actually calling in for an NICS check. He would just say "Sorry son, you can't purchase. Now please get out of my shop or I will call the cops." So people who aren't suppose to have firearms lie on the form (a felony).

    The whole NICS background check is really just security theater. It makes some people feel good like they are protected, but is easily bypassed by criminals. The Brady campaign likes to trump up how many guns have not been sold to criminals because of the NICS check (I think the number is somewhere around 1.5 million now out of 105 million checks done), which means someone failed the NICS check. However, what they don't tell you is that failing an NICS check doesn't mean your going to get charged with anything (even though you've lied on a federal form and tried to acquire a firearm which you're not allowed to do). In fact the number of people charged with a crime from failing a NICS check is very very low - less than 100. So we have another example of gun laws not being enforced.

    mikeb, everytime I read a new one of your posts I get the feeling that you know very little about guns and probably have never even shot one. You certainly aren't up to date on the current laws and you can't see when people like Sugarmann or the Brady's are lieing. Then you assume that those of us who do know the laws (because we don't want to go to jail and lose our rights for not following them) must be mistaken. The 4473 form is a perfect example. It has been around for 15 years now, every purchase from a 01 or 02 FFL has one filled out. It's available on the BATFE website. Why didn't you spend the 2 minutes to go look it up and see?

  6. "If one can get away with 'false statements' on that form, what the hell good is it? Shouldn't the most superficial background check uncover 'false statements?'"

    Depends on the statement that was false. If it is your age or birthplace, then yes (unless you are Obama of course). But what if it was a question about your intent to sell them or illegal drug use? How could a database know that?

    Those questions only exist so that you can be charged with a crime later, which is probably the case here. No way some of those questions can be verified during the check if you lied.

  7. "Those "false statements," would they have been on "The BATFE form 4473?" What about at the pawn shops where several of the guns were bought?"

    Uh, I just showed you that the question is on 4473.

    I realize your knowledge of firearms and firearms law is very very, not large; but this is basic stuff. You really should attempt to educate yourself if you wish to continue blogging on the subject.

    I realize you just do it because it's the only topic which generates traffic to your site, but your credibility tanks when ignorance this expansive is openly displayed.

    The same Form 4473 is filled out wherever you buy a gun from a dealer(yes, pawn shops are included). Same form regardless of location, it's Federal law.

    There is no way possible that any data base, short of the fictional one shown in the movie "Minority Report", could catch someone lieing about their intent to traffic the weapon.

    It's a feel good question that accomplishes diddly squat.