Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Iron Pipeline

Gun Used to Kill Two NYPD Officers Bought in Georgia:

The silver Taurus semiautomatic handgun used to kill two police officers in New York City began its journey into the hands of the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a felon with a history of mental illness, at a pawnshop here bristling with guns for sale.

It was at Arrowhead Pawn Shop, a sprawling store tucked into a shopping center along a busy commercial corridor in this city of 4,700 people just south of Atlanta, that the gun was last purchased in a legally traceable transaction, according to a police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.

Although Arrowhead is nearly 900 miles away, New York police officials are familiar with the store, where on Tuesday a yellow, black and red sign in a neon-rimmed window promoted a $279.99 “super buy” for a 9-millimeter pistol. Another window featured a three-word advertisement, just above a notice of a Christmas sale, in bold, yellow letters: “We Buy Guns.”
Yee haw. And they do way more than that down there at Arrowhead.
As recently as 2010, Arrowhead was the leading out-of-state source of guns recovered in crimes by the New York Police Department, according to an article in The Daily News. Georgia is also part of the “Iron Pipeline,” a chain of Southern states with looser gun laws that is responsible for sending a steady stream of firearms into New York and other Northern cities, where there are many more restrictions on who can purchase a gun.

Information in the federal database on which gun dealers turn up most frequently in these traces is closely protected, as a result of legislation passed in 2003. But The Washington Post obtained four years’ worth of trace data in 2010 and found Arrowhead was the fifth-largest source of crime traces in the country.

Speaking about Arrowhead, a former federal law enforcement official who carried out gun investigations in the South said: “They were like a Crazy Eddie of gun dealers. They had a lot of volume and they did a lot of business.”
The fact that Georgia and its sordid network of pawn brokers, gun dealers, and firearm sycophants, is a major source of illegally obtained guns in New York is a well-known fact to law enforcement. For more than a decade, illegally obtained guns, like drugs, flow through the backwaters of this state and end up being used in crimes throughout the northeast, where gun restrictions and enforcement are much tougher.

But for all the bravado of the gun culture that permeates from down here, they sure seemed a-scared to answer questions about their role in the brutal slaying of these two NYPD cops.
On Tuesday, employees at Arrowhead, which is nestled between a store selling school uniforms and a Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet, refused to discuss the transaction related to the police shooting.

“We’re not going to answer any questions today,” an employee said. “Please leave.”

Reached by telephone later that day, Arthur Banks, the store’s chief executive, declined to comment.

Unfortunately the slaying of these officers has become political, with police defenders trying to connect it to the Ferguson/Garner protests regarding police brutality. Nothing about this case is remotely connected to the protests. 

Brinsley had multiple felony convictions on his record, a long history of untreated mental illness, and had just killed his girlfriend in Baltimore, before setting out for NYC and killing those police officers.

The real questions here have nothing to do with militarized policing or police brutality. The real questions are, why wasn't this man getting the help he needed psychologically, and why did he end up with an illegally obtained firearm from a strip mall in Jonesboro, Georgia?

The irony is undeniable. Our network of mental health help in this country is broken, but the gun network is intact and stronger than ever. And while those things remain mutually exclusive, expect the carnage to continue.

Happy Holidays.

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