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New federal straw purchasing charges show limits of local gun regulations

Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019

* Illinois and Chicago can pass all the gun laws they want, but as long as our neighboring states have lax regulations and as long as Illinois criminals are looking to buy guns however they can, we’re gonna get some cross-border leakage

Two men are facing federal charges for allegedly conspiring to straw purchase over a dozen handguns in Wisconsin and resell them in Chicago.

Kirk Valentine, of Wisconsin, allegedly bought 19 handguns from retail stores, pawn shops and gun shows and illegally gave them to Chicago resident Francisco Rocha, who resold them in the city, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern Illinois District.

Both are charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, prosecutors said. Rocha, who goes by “Mookie” and “Ese,” is also charged with unlawful dealing and importing firearms, according to the federal indictment.

Rocha, 28, allegedly recruited 23-year-old Valentine, who paid premium over-the-list prices for the handguns in the first six months of 2018 throughout Wisconsin, prosecutors said. Rocha allegedly told him which guns to buy.

I’m not saying that Illinois should loosen or strengthen its current gun laws. I’m just saying there are some limitations on what the state can do.

* Related…

* Lightfoot and Cruz Are Both Right: Chicago’s gun laws don’t stop mass shootings. In a country with 390 million firearms, no city’s could.

* After Twitter spat with Sen. Ted Cruz over gun violence, Mayor Lori Lightfoot invites the Texas Republican to visit Chicago’s South and West sides

* Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s clever offer to Sen. Ted Cruz: Come to Chicago to discuss gun control

* Ted Cruz and others should stop using Chicago as a punching bag

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Roman - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 9:58 am:

    If gun violence is really keeping federal law enforcement figures “up at night” (as the outgoing head of the Chicago FBI office said,) they would be working a lot more cases like this. Taking 19 guns off the street and throwing a couple mopes in the federal pen might not draw a dozen TV cameras to a press conference, but it will actually save lives.

  2. - Steve - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    Which Illinois politicians can explain the mystery of why the places the guns come from generally have a lower homicide rate than Chicago ?

  3. - Jocko - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:02 am:

    ==Kirk Valentine, of Wisconsin, allegedly bought 19 handguns from retail stores==

    Yet again illustrating why we need a national firearm registry.

  4. - Roman - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:09 am:


    Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Indianapolis all have violent crime and murder rates similar to Chicago.

  5. - JSS - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:13 am:

    ===explain the mystery===

    Systematic racism, poverty, police oppression, no political capital, gun dealer greed, corruption, lack of social services, lack of education, lack of employment opportunities, corporate greed, discriminatory banking practices…

    not really a mystery. Only mystery is why commentators like you just don’t plainly state your bigotry.

  6. - Steve - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    - JSS -

    Why does Houston, the city closet to Chicago in population, have a lower homicide rate than Chicago?

  7. - ItsMillerTime - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:16 am:


    Well you see Steve, Chicago has a much larger population then any of these places that have lax gun laws. More people tends to mean it’s likely more of something happening, it’s called common sense. Also pretty bold of you to say that places like Gary Indians are somehow benefiting from it’s state lose gun laws.

    Try to keep up

  8. - Steve - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    - ItsMillerTime -

    Houston has tougher gun laws? According to your logic Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth should be a leader in murders given how easy it is to get a gun there. When did Houston ever have more murders than Chicago? What year was that?

  9. - supplied_demand - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    Chicago is a city and Indiana is a state, not really an apples-to-apples comparison. When we compare states, Indiana has a higher gun death rate than Illinois. Can you explain that?

  10. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:21 am:

    America is awash in guns. It’s very clear that massive gun proliferation is a problem, as is the minority who hasn’t wanted to pass any federal gun reform, though a majority of us want it.

    Certain people keep hate hustling Chicago for their own political benefit but ignore all the other gun violence that happens in their own states, such as mass shootings in Texas done by white men. They also ignore gun deaths in general, which per capita happen most in states with fewer gun regulations. But scaring angry rural whites with Chicago and POC is very beneficial politically for the GOP.

  11. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:23 am:

    Glad they caught them. There are millions of guns here in Illinois. These 19 are remarkable not as guns but because they were going to people who would use them to harm others.

    Going after guns will only yield minor victories. We need to get the people who use guns to threaten others.

  12. - njt - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:25 am:

    ===Why does Houston, the city closet to Chicago in population, have a lower homicide rate than Chicago?===

    Well, Houston has the exact same violent crime rate, so maybe to problem is more complex than your drive by commenting implies?

  13. - Mason born - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:35 am:


    No offense intended but I’m not sure we can blame Wisconsin for this. Provided the 1st guy had a foid he could have bought the original 19 here. You could add a state charge for not checking for a buyer’s foid w ISP but other than that he could’ve done the same thing here.

  14. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:44 am:

    ===Provided the 1st guy had a foid===

    No FOID required in Wisconsin.

  15. - phenom_Anon - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    Chicago and Metro East are both short trips to other states, so there’s only so much you can do at the state level.

    Most of the gun control solutions proposed start with the initial legal buyer, but the vast majority of crimes are committed with a gun someone doesn’t legally own. In the past I didn’t like the idea of gun registries, but I’m not sure how else you actually go after the source of crime guns.

  16. - Roman - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:45 am:


    Interesting how you changed arguments in midstream — going from “the places the guns come from” i.e. Wisconsin, Indiana to Texas.

    Below is a list of cities with the highest violent crime rates. (BTW, Chicago is not in the top 10, but St. Louis, Milwaukee and Indianapolis are.) You’ll see some of the cities are in states with strict gun ownership laws, some are in state with few gun restrictions. In other words, there are lots of complicated reasons that explain crime rates.

  17. - Mason born - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:57 am:

    ===No FOID required in Wisconsin===

    I’m aware of that Rich, the guy passed, according to the article, at least 5-6 NCIS checks at 5-6 locations. (I’m not sure whether he bought one at Ace or they just met there) He could’ve got a FOID with little more than the 10 buck fee.

    I’m all for prosecuting Straw buyers but I doubt the Food is much of any impediment to them.

  18. - Mason born - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    Foid not food darn it.

  19. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 11:33 am:

    There are 19,492 municipal governments in the United States and I have a feeling Steve is prepared to do the “What about (fill in the blank)” argument until he exhausts the list because it diverts attention away discussing the actual problems here, but it does make me wonder why Steve is jumping to defend the straw purchase industry.

  20. - PrairieDog - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 11:39 am:

    Is it not unlawful, under Illinois law, to transfer guns to a person without a FOID card? Why is it so difficult to prosecute and get convictions against those who do? We constantly hear calls for various stricter gun laws, but it seems that state authorities have trouble enforcing the ones on the books now. What’s the likelihood of more strict laws, at either state of federal levels being more successfully enforced?

  21. - phenom_Anon - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 1:13 pm:

    =Why is it so difficult to prosecute and get convictions against those who do?=

    How do they know when a private sale takes place? The answer is that they don’t, unless the seller follows the process and calls the ISP number to verify the buyer’s FOID.

    Law enforcement doesn’t know a gun was sold illegally until its recovered from a crime or from a criminal. If the gun was sold by someone out of state however, there’s a good chance no law was broken in that state, and so there’s nothing to prosecute.

  22. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    @Rich M
    ===Provided the 1st guy had a foid===

    ===No FOID required in Wisconsin.===

    So we are clear, residents of Wisconsin do not have to have a FOID. Residents of Illinois do. Residents of Illinois are required to have a FOID to PURCHASE a gun in Wisconsin. The stores in Wisconsin are required to check.

  23. - Shall not be infringed - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    >>>> Residents of Illinois are required to have a FOID to PURCHASE a gun in Wisconsin.

    Federal law prohibits the purchase of a handgun outside of your state of residence.

    As an unintended consequence of the IL Gun Dealer Licensing Act and similar nonsense across the nation, this will change. The situation will be ripe for a federal lawsuit similar to Ezell v Chicago.

  24. - revvedup - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    Actually, it is NOT illegal to purchase a handgun outside your State of residence, so long as it is shipped to a Federally-licensed dealer in your State to complete the required background checks. Many small gun shops in Illinois do this for a fee, since they often can’t beat online pricing.

  25. - Shall not be infringed - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 2:42 pm:

    >>>>Actually, it is NOT illegal to purchase a handgun outside your State of residence, so long as it is shipped to a Federally-licensed dealer in your State to complete the required background checks.

    Semantics. The transfer does not occur until your local FFL transfers it to you. If you are an IL resident, you just can’t go to WI and come home with a handgun.

  26. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    ” Illinois and Chicago can pass all the gun laws they want, but as long as our neighboring states have lax regulations”

    No big story here, we live in a republic and the 50 states pass laws that reflect the will of the voters. Many rules/regulations change as you pass the state line. Ride your motorcycle to a Cards game? sounds fun, but make sure to put on a helmet at the last rest stop or you may get a ticket. Glad that in this case the bad guys were caught and hopefully they will be found guilty.

  27. - RNUG - Tuesday, Sep 10, 19 @ 6:38 pm:

    == … why we need a national firearm registry ==

    Law abiding citizens won’t register their guns. Illinois is an example of that, the FOID (registering the owner) was the compromise between nothing and registering firearms by serial number.

    Even if you pass a law, you won’t be able to track a lot of the firearms. I’m a perfect example of that.

    If I’m ever arrested and my house searched, the newspaper would describe my collection (stored away in a gun safe) as an arsenal. All were legally acquired under both Federal and Illinois law. I’ve only actually bought 2 over the course of 45 years, and you will only find a ISP record for one of them (and that record is now old enough it should have been purged under State law).

    Unless you are prepared to go door to door and forcibly search every house (without probable cause and in violation of the US Constitution I might add), you will never be able to create a half-way complete National Registry. That is just a pipe dream of the gun control groups.

  28. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 8:14 am:

    Here is a very interesting report on guns. Among the findings: 95% of guns used in crimes are not the original owners. Several large suburban guns shops have very high rates of the guns they sold legally used illegally by one year. Which means straw purchasers are regulars.

  29. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:17 am:

    “95% of guns used in crimes are not the original owners”

    Focus on long prison sentences for those in who commit felonies while in possession of an illegal firearm. Cook county prosecutors have at their disposal the charge of Armed violence, an enhanced class X charge for individuals who commit a felony while armed. Unfortunately it is rarely used by the current States Attorney.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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