The term “gun trafficking” gets an awful lot of play in the media these days. Mostly because it sounds really scary to a whole lot of people. The idea that criminals are transporting guns all over the country tends to concern people.
The phrase itself invokes the idea of shady arms dealers moving machine guns and rocket launchers in semis pretending to have dish soap instead of deadly weapons.
Yet a recent case in Philly shows us what “gun trafficking” generally consists of.
A Philadelphia woman has admitted to charges related to the illegal purchase of guns for a gun trafficking organization that operated in Montgomery, Berks, Bucks, Lancaster and Philadelphia counties.
Donaya M. Williams, 23, of the 5500 block of Ridgewood Street, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to felony charges of corrupt organizations, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, making false statements, illegal sale or transfer of firearms, selling firearm to ineligible person, criminal use of a communication facility and conspiracy in connection with a gun trafficking network that allegedly relied heavily on so-called “straw purchase” schemes.
Williams was among 14 people charged in February 2021 for their roles in the multi-county gun trafficking organization.
At the time of the arrests, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele alleged the network illegally obtained and resold a total of 31 firearms using straw purchase schemes in the five-county area, putting “guns in the hands of people that are not allowed by law to buy their own guns.”
Understand that these straw buys are already illegal under federal law.
As for the gun trafficking, this is what most of it looks like. It’s a scary term that really just means putting a gun on the black market in some way, shape, or form.
Truthfully, gun thieves could probably be said to be guilty of doing the exact same thing.
While the term is scary and invokes a particular image thanks to Hollywood, the reality is that those kinds of arms dealers are more common in fiction than they are in real life.
Now, I’m not saying this isn’t criminal. It most definitely is and if you’re going to enforce any measure of gun control, this is the kind of thing that needs to be prosecuted more than others.
Yet we need to understand that Williams here bought these guns by lying on federal forms with the intent of putting these guns in criminal hands. She meant to do just this.
So tell me, what laws would have stopped her?
Permits wouldn’t. She could just as easily have gotten a permit to purchase and still put guns in bad guys’ hands. Universal background checks wouldn’t since she passed the NICS check. So just what would stop this kind of gun trafficking from taking place?
Instead of pushing for new gun control laws, maybe it’s time to address crime at a root level so there’s no market for gun traffickers? I know it’s a crazy idea, but it’s well past time to try crazy. After all, the old standby of gun control doesn’t seem to be working worth a damn.