Austin Police say more convicted felons are getting their hands on guns by either pay or persuading others to buy them.
The department recently participated in a nationwide study about gun violence.
The study done by the group police executive research forum, pulled data from six cities; including Austin, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Diego and Toronto.
The study looked at crimes involving firearms for the week of April 4 -10, 2011. Austin had 20 robberies, 11 aggravated assaults, one shooting, where someone was wounded and seven unlawful possession cases. In total there were 53 victims, and 32 known suspects.
The study also looked at the cost of those gun crimes. The City of Austin, it says, spent more than $1.6 million.
So in many of these cases the criminals have already been in trouble with guns before. It’s difficult for police to stop it.
In 2007, surveillance cameras at an Austin sporting goods store were rolling when police say a felon put his girlfriend up to buying him a gun.
Police identified the man on the video as Moises Hernandez. One year prior, he was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to seven years probation. By law he cannot purchase a gun.
On the video he can bee seen pointing out a pistol, opening up an envelope and giving the female cash. She can be seen filling out paperwork and the two leave.
Police recovered that gun a month later while executing a search warrant at Hernandez’s house. The purchase is called a straw purchase. It’s when someone buys a gun and then gives it to a felon.
Commander Donald Baker is seeing it more often and more often women are doing the buying.
“Some do it for love because its family members, some do it for cash, others are threatened into it,” said Baker.
The guns are showing up at a number of crime scenes.
“Homicides, robberies, a lot of our gang members are carrying the guns,” said Baker.
Officers were not able to get charges against the woman in the video. Baker says it’s difficult for officers to prove the buyers knew the recipients couldn’t own guns. Baker also says it’s hard to get lengthy sentences against the felons.
“That’s the frustration that our detectives see is they’re working cases where there’s already previous convictions for felon in possession of a firearm they get in they get probation, do a little jail time and they’re right back out again. It’s almost a revolving door,” said Baker.
Earlier this week, Chief Art Acevedo told FOX 7 the solution to the problem may have to come from the state legislature.
“The second amendment, I’m all for it. But we should not have loop holes in our law that allows people to buy guns and turn it around and give it to felons, so they can go out and it winds up being involved in a drive by shooting or a homicide. Then, we don’t register guns here. We have no idea where those guns end up,” said Chief Acevedo.
If a person buys a gun from a licensed dealer, they must fill out a government form saying that the gun is for them. If a person is caught lying on that form they could be charged with a federal crime with a sentence of up to 10 years in jail.
Of course criminals aren’t going to follow the law. They’re going to continue to do whatever they want regardless of what laws are on the books. More laws are not the answer.