Why a man serving 28 years to life at the Attica Correctional Facility believes a few simple laws could significantly affect criminal behavior
By John Lennon, The Atlantic, August 21, 2013
[....] My first gun was a chrome .25 caliber automatic with a pink, pearl handle. It was beautiful. But it was a killing machine, and at 14 years old I had the same hole in my heart that President Obama, in a Chicago speech, stated other child killers had. I had no business with that gun. Yet making guns accessible to troubled souls is business as usual in America.
Here’s how the game works. Criminals manipulate people with clean records -- cash-strapped students, vulnerable women, drug addicts -- to buy guns for them in states with minimal oversight, like Virginia. The criminal transports the guns to New York, then resells them or trades them for drugs that he’ll take back to Virginia to sell. This was the hustle when I was out in the ‘90s. I’m sure some form of it still continues [....]
[....] Aggressive prosecutions are punishment measures that, frankly, do not deter criminals from acquiring, possessing, or killing with guns. Conversely, intensifying background checks will change the game and spook those who buy guns for criminals. This will deter so-called straw purchases.
Government should also create a system that tracks gun-purchasing patterns [....]
[....] it’s bizarre that the bazaars selling guns aren’t regulated. Websites like Armslist.com provide a buffet of leads for charismatic criminals to buy guns from private sellers. These sites are like perpetual gun shows, which are truly the ultimate forums to make connections for criminals who blend in well -- like me. Bottom line, criminals create an indirect demand for gun manufacturers and merchandisers. For most criminals, purchasing a gun isn’t a one-shot deal. [.....]
Engulfed in an orgy of violence, my last month of freedom was chaos. Home invasions, robberies, murder -- at the center of it all were guns: They would be disposed of, tossed after shoot-outs, then bought again. Easily. And I always bought new guns, so the notion that criminals just use stolen guns, acquired from a neighborhood burglar, is absurd [....]