BUT DON’T CRIMINALS ALWAYS STEAL THEIR GUNS?
John Allen Muhammed bought the rifle that was found in his truck, and which has been ballistically linked to the DC-area sniper shootings, new, from a gun store, in his own name. Had we been collecting test-fire shell casings, we might have had his name and driver’s license photo (available for law enforcement purposes from most state motor vehicle registries) ten days ago. That might have saved some lives.
A reader asserts that no shell casings were recovered from any of the sniper crime scenes, which if true would make hash of the assertion above. Can anyone confirm or refute this?
[UPDATE SQUARED]: Another reader, who is in a position to know, reports that a cartridge casing was left behind at one of the crime scenes. I have asked for a citable source on this.
Another reader points out that Muhammed couldn’t have purchased the gun legally, since he was the subject of a domestic-violence restraining order. Two possibilities spring to mind: either he bought the gun before the order issued (in which case the purchase would have been legal though his subsequent possession of the weapon wasn’t; apparently he was arrested on federal firearms charges), or the restraining order didn’t show up on the background check: unlike criminal histories, restraining orders in most places aren’t kept in readily accessible electronic form.
If anyone knows, please share.
[SECOND UPDATE SQUARED]:
The gun was bought after the restraining order was issued, according to Friday’s New York Times. This must have been a case in which the restraining order didn’t show up on the background check.
SECOND UPDATE CUBED
Now it turns out that the gun store has no paperwork on a sale to Muhammed. An under-the-counter sale, perhaps? More here.