Gun trafficking ring exploits Virginia's gun laws; 217 weapons seized after bust

- Virginia's governor and attorney general are calling for stricter gun laws following a gun trafficking ring bust that seized 217 weapons and landed 24 people in jail.

Twenty-two of the suspects are from Virginia, one is from Washington D.C. and the other is from New York.

"There's no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store," said Antwan Walker, one of the suspects on a police wiretap. "I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. I can do that Monday through Friday. ... They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away."

The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office in New York said an 8-month undercover investigation uncovered the ring was allegedly buying guns in Virginia and illegally transporting and reselling them in New York City.

“Well, it is shocking that Virginia's gun laws, and shameful really, that Virginia’s gun laws are so weak and so lax that gun traffickers are boasting on police tape about how easy it is to get guns in Virginia,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

Herring and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the commonwealth needs universal background checks and other revisions to gun laws. Both have asked for a law to be reinstated limiting handgun purchases to one per month in Virginia.

But at NOVA Firearms in McLean, the gun store said collectors who want to purchase war-era guns will be punished for the actions of criminals.

“You can buy one right now, but what if it is one every two months?” said Tom Jenkins of NOVA Firearms. “What if he puts a tax on it like, I believe, in the state of Connecticut? … What is next? It is what we used to call the slippery slope.”

Among the items seized in this trafficking ring were Glocks, tommy guns, AR- and AK-style weapons along with extended ammunition magazines and 50-round drums.

On a national level, some have called for bans on assault weapons. But Jenkins, a former police officer, said he does not feel that is necessary and the guns are used for many purposes.

“You can use them for hunting,” he said. “It can be used for self-defense. It can also be used in a lot of competitions that are coming up called 3-Gun.”

Herring made strong statements about the fact that it is unlikely the Republican-controlled General Assembly will approve new gun restrictions.

“It’s time legislators be held accountable for it because right now they are too beholding to the gun lobby and they are not taking the safety of their constituents seriously enough,” said Herring.

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