Gun dealer Brian Borgelt of Tacoma’s Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply says he doesn’t know how his store ended up arming the Beltway sniper suspects with a deadly accurate $1,600 military-style carbine.
But a Seattle Times investigation says law-enforcement sources explain what happened: “Not only did sniper suspect John Muhammad hone his marksmanship at Bull’s Eye’s firing range, but alleged accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo has told investigators he shoplifted the 35-inch-long carbine from the supposedly secure store.”
The store’s owner had no sales record. Nor could he produce records for scores of other missing guns. Bull’s Eye’s negligent operation and the government’s timid enforcement of errant gun dealers contributed to the tragedy, according to recently released documents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and interviews with current and former agency employees.
Studies show about 1 percent of gun stores sell the weapons traced to 57 percent of gun crimes, the newspaper said. As a result, these few gun dealers have a vastly disproportionate impact on public safety.
An analysis of records obtained by The Seattle Times through a freedom-of-information lawsuit against the ATF shows that between 1997 and 2001, guns sold by Bull’s Eye were involved in 52 crimes, including homicides, kidnappings and assaults – a rate the ATF considers alarming. “What you have in front of you is a case study in what is wrong with this system,” said Jerry Nunziato, a former director of the ATF’s National Tracing Center who reviewed Bull’s Eye’s 283-page file.