License to Kill: How the GOP Helped John Allen Muhammad Get a Sniper Rifle
Kendall, Brent, The Washington Monthly
BULL'S EYE SHOOTER SUPPLY IS A warehouse-sized gull store near the waterfront in Tacoma, Wash. Boasting the Puget Sound's largest selection of firearms and ammunition, the store is a mecca for area sportsmen, who come to browse the latest hunting rifles or practice their marksmanship at the store's 12-lane shooting range. An outside Wall of the store bears a hand-painted mural depicting lions, elephants, cheetahs, and water buffaloes. Some of the store's firearms, however, have felled more than big game.
One such gun was a .223-caliber semiautomatic Bushmaster XM15 rifle, which Bull's Eye received from the manufacturer on July 2 of last year. On Sept. 21, a bullet from that gun blew through the back of a liquor store manager in Montgomery, Ala. (she died in the emergency room soon after). Two days later, another bullet burrowed through the head of a beauty store manager in Baton Rouge, La., who died instantly. Between Oct. 2-3, bullets from the gun ripped through the bodies of Six people in Montgomery County, Md., killing all of them. Over the next three weeks, the gun claimed seven more victims--including a bus driver, a female FBI analyst, and a 13-year-old schoolboy--killing four of them. Finally, on Oct. 24, law enforcement authorities found the Bushmaster in the back seat of a blue CheW Caprice occupied by John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo.
Exactly how the gun got into the men's hands remains something of a mystery. Muhammad was banned by federal law from purchasing any gun because of a restraining order obtained by his ex-wife; his ineligibility would have Shown up during the Brady background Check that gun stores are required to run oh potential buyers. Malvo was ineligible because he was a juvenile and an illegal immigrant. Bull's Eye has no record of selling the weapon, much less conducting a background check on Muhammad or Malvo for it. Bull's Eye employees have reported seeing Malvo at the store this summer, and later noticed the Bushmaster was not in its display case. But the store did not file the federally required theft report. When the store's owner, Brian Borgelt, was questioned by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the federal agency charged with enforcing the nation's gun laws, he claimed not to have known the gun was missing until authorities traced it back to his store. Two weeks after the Sniper suspects' arrests, he filed the theft report …
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Publication information: Article title: License to Kill: How the GOP Helped John Allen Muhammad Get a Sniper Rifle. Contributors: Kendall, Brent - Author. Magazine title: The Washington Monthly. Volume: 35. Issue: 1 Publication date: January-February 2003. Page number: 11+. © 2009 Washington Monthly Company. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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