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Karl was a former police officer and gun collector who owned (completely legally!) a number of Class III firearms. He also remains a close friend.
KB was full time admin sergeant for a nearby Texas National Guard armory, and was known quite well by my husband, Seth, to be an ATF snitch. No friend of mine!
What tied us all together way back in those days was our common sport – skydiving. We also did a lot of recreational shooting down at one end of Seagoville airport, where there was a garbage dump with a nice rise of ground behind. It was a good, legal, and safe place to plink at empty beer cans already lying there, well away from any city limits. The airport owner didn’t mind at all, and it was free.
Seth, Bill and I were all in Texas Army National Guard, and Bill and I went away to jump school at same time in 1980. Seth was violently jealous and completely convinced that Bill and I were having an affair. It happened to be untrue, but even if it had been completely true, anyone who has been through military jump school knows quite well that we wouldn’t have had strength for hanky panky while there. But nothing could convince Seth of this.
Along about same time, unknown to any of rest of us, my other friend, Karl, made an unfortunate enemy of an ATF officer. He had one of his Class III weapons at a gun show in Dallas. He was walking toward his car to go home, when ATF agent actually tried to snatch weapon off his shoulder. Karl was a licensed peace officer who took his responsibility to maintain control of his Class III weapons very seriously. Karl put agent on ground, with a pistol to back of his head, until said agent produced satisfactory identification. The humiliated agent was completely unable to find any justification for arresting Karl, as all of Karl’s paperwork was 100% in order, transfer taxes paid, etc., but it was start of a personal vendetta.
I graduated from jump school, wised up soon after and divorced Seth. I think if I had stayed with him any longer, I would not be here to write this article today. Seth was very bitter and very angry, but like most bullies of his type, he preferred back-biting to a straight up fight. He came up with a plan and talked to his friend KB, as Bill frequently went to KB’s armory to shoot at range there.
Soon after, a new guy started shooting at same armory and began to actively court Bill’s friendship. This went on for a number of weeks. Finally, Bill’s new friend admitted that he was shopping for a really good price on an Ingram Mac-10. Bill told him he thought that automatic weapons were a waste of good ammunition, so he didn’t know of any, but he said that if he ever heard of one for sale, he’d pass info on.
Knowing what I know now, I suspect that undercover snot ball involved was losing his mind right about then.
A couple of weeks later, Bill was out at Seagoville for some other reason, and he was doing a little shooting. A car drove up with a guy and his family, including kids. He said he’d heard shooting from road, and stopped in to talk to another gun enthusiast. Would you care to hazard a guess as to what he pulled out of his car?
Yep. An Ingram Mac-10.
He went on to give Bill a huge sob story about how he and his family were moving out of state (right then) and desperately needed money, and he – you guessed it – wanted and needed to sell Ingram rather desperately.
Bill always was a pushover. He bought Ingram for cash, took it back to his office, and called his other friend to tell him gleefully that he’d found his gun for him.
Both buyer and seller showed up to arrest him. Yes, they were both ATF agents.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that’s entrapment, when both sides of transaction are undercover agents. ATF is not concerned with minor details like law, however.
The feds offered to drop all charges if Bill would get them some prosecutable info on Karl. Bill told them – quite honestly – that he couldn’t do it even if he wanted to, as Karl never, never did anything illegal.
Bill was indeed guilty of failure to pay transfer tax – a minor offense. There was never any criminal intent. But a senile federal judge (Sarah T. Hughes, just about two weeks before she fell off bench from a massive stroke) prosecuted Bill to fullest ridiculous extent of law, and he spent next two years in federal penitentiary.
When all was said and done, Bill lost:
1.Two years of his life. 2.His business, as most of his work was for military and government agencies and required a security clearance. 3.His right to vote. 4.His right to ever hold any public office (he is well respected in his community and often asked to run for City Council, etc., but he cannot). 5.His right to ever own another firearm – i.e., his right to self defense.
Why did he lose all of this? Because he dared to treat me civilly and thereby made my crazy ex-husband really angry!
Should he have lost his right to self-defense because my ex was a certifiable nut case? Don’t be absurd!
To make matters even more interesting, my wonderful ex-hubbie “Seth” can purchase any firearm he likes these days. His record is absolutely clean. And that’s scariest thought I’ve had all day.
So should felons keep right to own firearms?
As long as system remains broken this way, I say they should.
Got any rotten tomatoes to throw at me?
At a tiny 5'1", Kathryn A. Graham is a licensed private investigator, pilot, aircraft mechanic and handgun instructor in Texas. Also a prolific author, she has written numerous articles, short stories and a science fiction novel. http://www.kathrynagraham.com/