Mississippi City Moves Against ‘Straw’ Gun BuyersBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 11 Nov 2010 02:00pm |
A Mississippi Coast Community takes the offensive against illegal gun sales called 'straw purchases'. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Gulfport is the first community in the nation to pay for the program with their own cash.
A straw purchase is when someone who can legally buy a gun purchases weapons for someone who cannot. Many of these guns quickly fall into criminal hands in Mississippi and around the nation.
Gulfport now participates in a program called 'Don't Lie for the Other Guy' which was started by the gun industry ten years ago.
Ted Noven represents the sporting gun industry and said gun retailers want to make legal sales.
“These are members of your community. You go to church with them, they coach your son's little league team, they serve on the PTA. So believe me when I say no one wants to keep guns out of the hands of criminals more than America's firearms retailers,” Noven said.
While actually numbers of illegal gun sales are hard to measure he claims anecdotal evidence proves it cuts down on straw buyers.
Gun Shops are not the only legal retailers for firearms, gun shows are big business in Mississippi. Organizer John Cochran is bringing a gun show to Jackson this weekend where expects more then 2-thousand people file through.
“My good name is on the line with this show, ok? I also hire real policemen. Any time my security at my show is going to be a policeman or a deputy sheriff. And I will make sure that my folks are behaving ethically,” Cochran said.
Mississippi law does not require a background check for sales at gun shows.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns said that is one reason Mississippi is ranked first in the nation for illegal gun exports per capita.
Another factor is high traffic interstate corridors like I-55 and I-10 that facilities running drugs and guns.
ATF agent Austin Banks said family ties and friendship play a role in trafficking.
“Trading a lot of times narcotics for firearms. And those firearms end up immediately in the hands of gang members,” Banks said.
Chicago is a major destination for these weapons, earlier this year a Chicago police officer was killed by a gun illegal purchased in Mississippi.
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