July 14, 2008 http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=31280 Guns within reach of criminals Police say burglaries, fake buyers provide weapons on the street by Richard A. Webster When Deputy Chief James Scott started with the New Orleans Police Department 36 years ago, the criminal weapon of choice was the Saturday Night Special, a cheap, low-quality handgun that packed little punch and wasn’t capable of doing much damage. Three decades later, Scott admits to being terrified at some of the weapons police discover on the streets of New Orleans such as the “street sweeper,” a modified shotgun capable of shooting up to 12 rounds of shells. “The only purpose for a gun like that is to kill people,” Scott said. “It’s not for hunting or target practice — it’s just a killing machine. That’s a pretty terrifying weapon. We also see a lot of AK-47s. Since the hurricane, we’ve confiscated 6,000.” But where do criminals get such high-powered weaponry? Contrary to popular belief, they do not purchase them through sinister back channels on the black market from shadowy arms dealers. The majority of guns the NOPD confiscates were at one point purchased legally, eventually finding their way into the hands of drug dealers through two simple methods — burglary and straw purchases, where the criminal gets someone with a clean record to buy the weapon. Most of the guns the NOPD confiscates are stolen from a legal gun owner’s home or vehicle. The sad thing, Scott said, is that this can be avoided. It is legal to transport a gun in a car but it is the owner’s responsibility to never leave the firearm unattended in the vehicle, Scott said. “People will leave guns in unlocked cars and it angers us because it gives someone access to a weapon that can be used on a citizen or law enforcement officer. It’s a matter of people being too lazy to pick their gun up and bring it into their house. They just think no one is going to break into their car because they can’t see the gun. “But the next thing you know, their gun is missing and it’s out on the street where it can change hands five times and that’s a scary thing. “How would you feel if your gun was used in a murder just because you decided to leave it in your car?” Straw purchases are often made through a family member or girlfriend who can make a legal purchase through a gun shop. “A convicted felon can just pay a friend $50 to buy him the gun,” Scott said. “I’d say that accounts for about 30 percent of the guns we recover off the street.” Law enforcement officials say the reality is that anyone can get their hands on a firearm if they really want one. In Louisiana, the average child can obtain a gun within three hours, typically by taking one from a family member or a friend, said Special Agent Austin Banks with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives New Orleans Field Division. “Everybody knows somebody who has a legitimate gun. That’s just the way it is in Louisiana,” Banks said. “People buy guns for protection and then they hide them in the closet or stick them underneath the mattress and generally they forget about them. But the children don’t. They’re seekers and if they really want to, they’ll find that weapon.” Of the 8,338 firearms the ATF confiscated in Louisiana in 2007, 2,181 or 26 percent came from New Orleans. Baton Rouge had the second highest total at 1,316 (16 percent), followed by Jefferson Parish at 1,128 (13.5 percent). The most popular gun among New Orleans criminals is the .40 caliber Glock that sells for an average of $450 and the AK-74 that can be purchased after-market at a gun show for as little as $100, Scott said. But money is rarely an object to drug dealers when heavy firepower is the issue. “A drug dealer makes $450 in half a day’s work so they don’t blink an eye buying the high-end guns,” Scott said. “It’s glamorous for them to have the expensive weapon like the Glock compared to standing out there with a five-shot revolver.” The average gun will circulate on the streets for more than five years before it turns up in a crime and is confiscated, Banks said. And the damage it can do in that period is incalculable. So gun owners need to do everything they can to properly secure their weapons, he said. “Guns in the criminal world are a high commodity,” Banks said. “They’re a necessity to the evil deeds that they do and they’ll do whatever it takes to get one.” --- Where are these gun shows with $100 74's? I'd also like to see some proof behind the 6k seized ak's statement. I do agree however people need to be more responsible about where they keep their shit.