Has press bias against gun shows burst forth in coverage appearing in several Puget Sound-area newspapers regarding the source of the murder weapon used by cop-killer Joshua Blake in February against State Trooper Tony Radulescu?
To many gun owners, it certainly looks that way, and they appear to have several points in their favor, not the least of which is a small curiosity about Blake’s whereabouts at the time this gun transaction allegedly occurred.
Full disclosure: This writer sits on the board of directors of the Washington Arms Collectors, whose gun show in Monroe figures prominently in the story, but probably not in the slaying, though it appears some effort was made to make it look that way.
Item #1: According to the Kitsap Sun, whose story was picked up by the Associated Press, and subsequently printed in the Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle Times and Seattle P-I.com, “Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) traced the .40-caliber Smith & Wesson to its last documented sale, at a Monroe gun show in 2009…
“From there, it changed hands at least twice without documentation, the ATF determined. The second time, a man who bought the gun in Monroe told agents he’s 99 percent sure he later sold the weapon to Joshua Blake at a Port Angeles gun show,” the story added, “But citing an account from one of Blake’s acquaintances, the ATF’s report also notes it could have been Blake’s father who bought the gun, and that Blake might have inherited it when his father died about a year before the shooting. It’s also possible Blake and his father attended the Port Angeles gun show together.”
So, what we really have here is an apparent legal transfer of a firearm at the Monroe gun show, after which the pistol “changed hands at least twice without documentation” and that Blake may not have been the buyer, but inherited the gun when father died “about a year before the shooting.”
It is also important to note that the man who bought the pistol in Monroe sold it at a Port Angeles gun show. That show is not conducted by the Washington Arms Collectors, and it is not clear whether Blake’s father could legally purchase a handgun. If he could, then the Port Angeles purchase would have been a legal transaction as well, if the father was the gun buyer.
But wait, there is more. According to the Feb. 23, 2012 edition of the Seattle P-I.com, Blake did 2 ½ years in prison for fourth-degree assault. Pay attention to the dates mentioned:
“Department of Corrections officials said Blake had previously served a 2½-year prison sentence for fourth-degree assault, malicious mischief, drugs and violation of a protection order, and was released in March 2010. He was then placed on community supervision, which ended in August 2011.”
On the same day, KING 5 News reported, “Blake, 28, was sentenced in January 2007 to two-and-a-half years for 4th degree assault, malicious mischief, drug possession and violation of a protection order. He was released in March of 2010.”
And there is this from the Kitsap Sun: “One seller told police he remembered selling a gun to Blake at a Port Angeles show in late 2009 or early 2010, but the investigation also suggests that Blake’s father purchased the gun believed to have been used, then left it to his 28-year-old son when he died around early 2011.”
Translation: If these reports are accurate, Blake could not possibly have purchased a handgun in Monroe, Port Angeles or anywhere else in 2009 because at the time, he would have been behind bars. He was out in March 2010, according to the news reports, and he was under Department of Corrections supervision until August 2011. One could say March 2010 is “early” in the year, and that DOC supervision was not very good.
Item #2: In the original story published by the Sun, there is an important detail omitted from every other published account. The Sun’s report noted, “ATF agents traced the Smith and Wesson gun through the bureau’s National Tracing Center in West Virginia. They found the last receipt of sale for the gun was to a Duvall, Wash. man, from a Washington Arms Collectors gun show in June 2009. But the Duvall man who bought it from a Snohomish County dealer told ATF he didn’t like it and, at a later gun show in Monroe — with the help of the original dealer — he found a buyer who gave him $300 for it.
“The Snohomish dealer put ATF agents in touch with the second buyer, who said he was “99 percent sure” that he later sold the Smith and Wesson pistol to Blake at a Port Angeles gun show, ATF reports said.”
So, what we really have here are two legal transactions related to the Monroe show, and good follow-up by a Snohomish County dealer who cooperated with the ATF trace investigation. This cooperation led to the unidentified second buyer, who believes he sold the gun to Blake at the Port Angeles gun show.
There is something else about this trace that belies something gun prohibitionists have been arguing for the past few years about access to ATF trace data. This data is available to law enforcement for legitimate criminal investigations. What the anti-gun lobby – most notably represented by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Brady Campaign – wants is access to trace data for use in politically-motivated harassment lawsuits against the firearms industry.
Now would be a good time to ask why three newspapers picked up on the story and dropped the “important” detail, and didn’t do some homework on Blake’s whereabouts at the likely time of the Port Angeles transaction. The report has ignited interesting reader reaction in every publication where it appears. Gun control proponents believe this case is proof that all gun transactions require a background check.
What do you think?
Does the story unfairly link the Monroe gun show to Joshua Blake’s crime?
Does this coverage suggest reporters didn’t do their homework about Blake’s imprisonment at the time of the transaction?
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