In theory, our laws are supposed to treat every one of us as equal. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you did; you’re supposed to be treated no differently than anyone else accused of a similar crime.
It’s part of what makes this country great.
However, there are times when it feels like it’s a lie. For example, I find it very difficult to imagine getting off with just probation if I were providing AR-15s to Mexican drug traffickers. But then again, I’m not a former DEA agent.
Although federal prosecutors sought jail time, citing memories of Fast and Furious gun-walking scandals, the former Drug Enforcement Agency agent was given probation on weapon charges.
Joseph Gill, 42, was sentenced on Monday to five years probation with the first six months of the term spent in home detention after pleading guilty last October to two counts of illegally dealing firearms. While investigators determined he may have been sold as many as 100 guns in private transactions over the past several years, it was the sale of two AR-15s to members of a drug trafficking organization in 2016 that triggered his arrest.
In a memo to the court penned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Smith prior to sentencing, the prosecutor argued that Gill should receive at least 18 months jail time, followed by three years probation and a $100,000 fine, saying, “He sold weapons when he knew he should not have, and under circumstances which he should not have.”
A former supervisory special agent assigned to the border town of Nogales, Arizona, court documents show that Gill came under scrutiny after he sold “scores” of guns without a federal firearms license. Although at one time he had an ATF Curio and Relics (C&R) license, the type typically maintained by collectors of vintage firearms, he let it lapse. Similarly, he withdrew a further application for an FFL.
Gill apparently purchased two AR-15s online for $632 each and had them shipped to an FFL holder in Arizona. He then turned around and sold them for $1,000 a month later to people prosecutors argued he should have known were up to no good.
And despite prosecutors wanting him to see some jail time, the judge let him off with probation.
Oh, he’s done with buying guns legally, I’m sure, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened to any of us if we’d been in a similar situation. Granted, I think most of us wouldn’t have sold guns to members of the Mexican Cartels, but if we had and were prosecuted, I think we all know that we’d get hammered by the judge.
Personally, I’d expect to see at least a couple of years in federal prison at a minimum. I’d expect the full force of the government to descend upon my head like the fiery hand of God.
Probation wouldn’t be in the cards unless I rolled over on a lot of people, and even then…
This is why so many people find it difficult to trust the legal system. After all, when there seem to be two sets of rules, what can you do?