Detroit councilman wants ATF to investigate gun shop that sold weapon used to kill officer

The good news for Detroit City Council member Scott Benson is that the ATF is almost certainly already looking at the gun store that sold an AR-style pistol that was later used by a 19-year old in an ambush attack on Detroit police officer Loren Counts. The bad news for the councilman is that, at least for now, there doesn’t appear to be any reason to think that the gun store did anything improper during the transaction.

The gun in question wasn’t purchased by 19-year old Ehmani Thomas, who was shot and killed by police after he ambushed Counts earlier this month, and the individual who did purchase the firearm is already facing charges of engaging in a straw purchase, with police alleging that 26-year old Sheldon Thomas intended to sell the gun to the teenager since he was unable to purchase it himself.

Thomas allegedly sought to arm Davis, who should not have been been allowed to buy a weapon because of his criminal history, [Magistrate Judge Jonathan] Grey said.  He pointed to the audio of Thomas telling agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that Davis was “not to be f—– with,” as well as the allegation that Thomas knew Davis had been briefly jailed in an unrelated incident a year prior.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Lanning argued that Thomas has made multiple efforts to supply Davis with a gun in the past, pointing out an instance from February that was unsuccessful. She also brought up an alleged incident in which Davis stole one of Thomas’ guns.

While Thomas purportedly warned Davis via text not to do anything stupid with the gun, that wasn’t enough, Grey said. During the transaction, Thomas allegedly told Davis: “Don’t do anything f——- stupid because my name is on (the gun),” according to the prosecutor’s criminal complaint.

“Your judgment has proven to be terrible in relation to the government’s allegations,” Grey said to Thomas.

Given the fact that Thomas is facing charges, I have no doubt that the police investigation has also looked at the actions of the gun shop that sold the pistol, and that includes the ATF. There’s no reason for this resolution, except for Benson’s desire to place blame on the shop and its employees. At the moment there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that anyone at the store did anything wrong. Instead, it looks like the councilman is simply trying to grandstand for more gun control laws.

Benson requested that the council’s policy staff draft a resolution urging the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to look into the sales history at Action Impact Firearms and Training Center in the wake of the July 6 shooting death of Detroit officer Loren Courts.

The resolution, if approved, would ask ATF’s Detroit office to review the gun shop’s “federal firearms license for potential revocation, as a direct result of this sale.”

“In addition, Council implores the ATF to review all of the gun sales at Action Impact Firearms and Training Center for additional gun crimes, to determine how many illegal transactions can be traced back to this dealer,” the resolution from the council’s Legislative Policy Division reads.

The full council on Tuesday is expected to vote on whether to send the draft to a subcommittee for review. The gun-related measure is the latest from Benson who also has been urging state lawmakers to repeal laws that preempt cities and municipalities from regulating firearms within their jurisdictions.

“We have to have some level of control and the ability to regulate weapons sales within our own communities,” Benson told BridgeDetroit, “or you’ll see what happened (to Officer Courts).”

The councilman noted he’s also called for federal lawmakers to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban, which was signed into law in 1994 before expiring in 2004.

The murder of Officer Counts is a terrible tragedy, but it’s utterly disgusting for Benson to try to use it to push for additional gun control legislation, particularly when he’s offering up vague “solutions” about imposing municipal ordinances that are more restrictive than state law. Sadly, this is straight out of the gun control lobby’s playbook. Exploiting tragedy is par for the course for anti-gun politicians, and Benson won’t be the last to do so. Whether or not his colleagues on the Detroit City Council are just as eager to turn the murder of Officer Loren Counts into an opportunity to preen for the cameras and offer up meaningless soundbite solutions remains to be seen, but I’m not holding my breath that they’ll do the right thing and reject Benson’s politically motivated resolution.