The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the case of a Wisconsin gun shop that continues to operate despite having its licence revoked illustrates how Congress has hobbled the ATF’s enforcement of gun laws. Shawano Gun and Loan, which opened in 1998, had its license revoked in 2007 after repeated ATF warnings about missing records and other violations. Yet three years later, the case is tied up in federal court, where an appeal could go on for years. And the store continues to sell guns – thousands of them each year – with the ATF’s blessing.
The case shows how laws enacted by Congress hobble the ATF and protect dealers who repeatedly break the law. The ATF doesn’t crack down on dealers because there are so many loopholes in the law protecting them, agency veterans say. The case involving the Shawano store is notable because of what experts call blatant evidence of “straw buying,” where people with clean records purchase guns for felons and others who are forbidden from buying and owning them. Straw buying is a crime, both for the buyer and for the clerk who knowingly makes the sale. It is a federal felony but remains a misdemeanor in Wisconsin after the Legislature failed to pass a law making it a felony this year.