This is just a frustrating story which raises all sorts of disturbing questions for people who are actually serious about dealing with gun violence rather than politicizing it or scrapping the Second Amendment. Over at Guns.com they have the details of a court case in Georgia where the defendant was not someone wielding a weapon, but instead knowingly purchased one for a felon. The results are a prime example of how the system goes astray.
The woman who illegally purchased a gun for her boyfriend, who in turn used the gun to fatally shoot Omaha police officer Kerrie Orozco earlier this year has been sentenced to one year of probation, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Jalita Johnson, 26, bought the Glock semi-automatic handgun, along with a 50-round drum magazine and ammunition from a Jonesboro, Georgia, pawnshop in April. Johnson lied on the corresponding paperwork at the time of the purchase, answering “yes” when asked if she was the actual buyer of the gun and not purchasing the gun for another individual. Prosecutors, however, ascertain that Johnson’s boyfriend, Marcus Wheeler – a 26-year-old convicted felon and known gang member prohibited from making the purchase himself – gave her the money for the gun and told her exactly what to buy.
Johnson’s boyfriend was a convicted felon who was prohibited from owning a firearm. She knew this when she purchased the gun he requested. Not long after he wound up in a shootout with police who were trying to arrest him on another shooting charge and that’s when he killed Officer Orozco. (To make matters worse she was just about to go on maternity leave to be with her premature baby who had just been released from the hospital.)
For her part in the deal, Johnson has received 180 days “house arrest” plus a year of probation and 40 hours of community service. If you don’t mind my saying… that’s nuts. The woman may as well have killed the cop herself. And the fact is, straw purchases (or the “gray market”) account for more than a third of the illegal guns used in crimes. If the nation is serious about cutting down to some degree on weapons in the hands of criminals rather than making it harder for the law abiding to purchase them, this is one place where we could start. The sentences need to be stiff and the courts have to actually employ them so that people know what’s coming. If every Jalita Johnson out there winds up doing a decade or more in the slammer rather than receiving a slap on the wrist and the word gets out on the street you’ll see fewer straw purchases taking place. No, it won’t stop the flow of guns to criminals entirely, but you can at least cut down on it. (And isn’t that the rationale of liberals when each new gun grabbing measure is proposed? If we can only save one life…)
We need to have responsible gun owners on board with stiffening up the penalties for straw purchases and calling out courts where these joke sentences are being handed down. Somehow I don’t expect that the President will be onboard with it because it doesn’t do anything to ban weapons for responsible owners, but he should be.