Connecticut Murder Proof That Criminals Don't Care About Background Checks

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Connecticut’s U.S. Senators are some of the biggest backers for universal background checks in Congress. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal are both sponsors of a background check bill in the Senate, and the pair have repeatedly claimed that Connecticut’s own universal background check law should be a model for the rest of the country to follow.

Back in March Chris Murphy declared that UCB’s are “simple, easy, and they save lives,” while Blumenthal praised his home state’s background check laws and urged Congress to follow suit.

Connecticut has already seen background checks save lives in our state, but guns don’t respect state borders. A powerful political movement has been mobilized – reflecting more than 90 percent of Americans who support expanding federal background checks. Congress has the moral imperative to enact sensible reforms like universal background checks to prevent more tragedies. We have no time to waste. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Biden Administration to swiftly pass such commonsense gun violence prevention measures.

Neither Murphy or Blumenthal have ever explained how universal background checks actually prevent criminals from obtaining firearms, probably because they can’t. The simple truth is that criminals are going to ignore whatever gun control laws are on the books, and that includes laws mandating background checks on all gun transfers.

A gun trade gone wrong may have sparked the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Makhi Buckly Monday afternoon in a backyard tucked away on the edge of Hartford’s Southwest neighborhood, new court records suggest.

 

Three teens were arrested hours after the shooting at the home of 18-year-old Jaquan Graham — next door to where Buckly was killed — who admitted to a friend that afternoon that a man he’d met “was moving iffy” so he shot him, according to a series of Hartford police records released publicly Thursday.

 

Neither Graham nor 19-year-olds Omari Barrett or Tyrese Duckworth have been charged with murder, but each are being held on weapon and evidence tampering charges in connection with the investigation and the police records reveal for the first time how the incident may have unfolded Monday afternoon.

According to authorities, Buckly, who’s the grandson of a longtime anti-violence activist in Hartford, arranged to meet 18-year-old Jaquan Graham to trade guns, but shortly after he arrived at Graham’s home, the swap went south.

One minute later, two gunshots rang out and Buckly stumbled out of the backyard before collapsing, clutching his stomach, in the driveway of the Amherst Street house as his friend rushed to his aid, the records show. Police and paramedics swarmed the neighborhood and Buckly was rushed to Hartford Hospital but succumbed to his wounds.

 

A police search quickly revealed that Graham, who previously was charged as a juvenile in connection with the death of North End grandmother Yvonne Smith in October 2019, was living under house arrest in the Exeter Street home with the backyard directly abutting the property where Buckly was found shot, records show. A check of his house arrest GPS bracelet showed he was at home at the time of the shooting.

 

As the scene cleared, detectives in unmarked cars stayed put to keep watch over Graham’s house and about two hours after the shooting spotted a car with two teens inside back into the driveway, records show. Graham met the teens in the car a few minutes later and police converged, taking [Omari] Barrett and [Tyrese] Duckworth into custody while Graham fled into his home. Officers ultimately ordered Graham out of the house at gunpoint and arrested all three without further incident.

Detectives later learned Graham had planned to trade guns with a man that afternoon and enlisted the help of Barrett and Duckworth to move the weapons throughout the day, according to police records. One silver gun was stashed at Barrett’s home, where police later recovered a Smith & Wesson pistol, and one black Glock stayed at Graham’s home ahead of the would-be trade, records show.

Don’t expect either of Connecticut’s senators to acknowledge that these teens paid absolutely no attention to the universal background check requirements in Connecticut or the state law that requires all handgun owners possess a valid gun license. Heck, Connecticut even has a permit to purchase law on the books, which means local law enforcement is supposed to sign off before a person buys a handgun.

If Murphy or Blumenthal do mention Buckly’s murder, it will only be to double down on their failed strategy of putting more restrictions on legal gun owners while excusing the perpetrators of violent crimes. A federal universal background check law would be no more effective at stopping criminals from swapping or selling guns than the law already in place in Connecticut, and these senators know it… even if they won’t admit it.