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Shady gun trafficking

The recent arrests of several people in Front Royal in connection with illegal gun sales provided a small glimpse into the shady world of firearms trafficking and highlighted the continuing governmental impotence regarding the problem.

Don Simonpietri, the longtime owner of Simonpietri’s Pawn Shop, is charged with illegally selling an AR-15 assault rifle and a 9 mm handgun. He was selling guns even though his federal license to do so had been revoked.

In what is known as the “firesale loophole,” dealers who lose their licenses, usually after chronic violations, can transfer their inventory to their private collections and sell them without background checks or recordkeeping.

Where Simonpietri got into trouble, according to authorities, was in selling the guns to confidential informants who had told him they were convicted felons. Authorities have seized more than 1,400 guns from Simonpietri.

The bust was similar to stings earlier this year in which undercover investigators were able to purchase firearms at gun shows in Nevada, Ohio and Tennessee even though they said up front that they wouldn’t be able to pass background checks. In Virginia, the notorious “gun show loophole,” which allows private sales at gun shows without background checks, contributes to the “Iron Pipeline” of firearms to such places as New York. Virginia has consistently been a top source for guns used in crimes in that state, with as many as 1,000 traced to a single gun shop in Hampton. One of those guns was used to kill a New York City police officer.

The response of Virginia legislators has been to push bills such as one requiring localities that conduct gun “buybacks” to market those weapons to dealers rather than destroying them, putting yet more potentially cop-killing weapons on the street.

Some day, perhaps, our legislators will wake up and instead do something about the out-of-control trafficking in deadly weapons.