WASHINGTON - September 6 - A new report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reveals how Philadelphia- area gun dealer Lou's Jewelry and Loan sold guns used in crime for over two decades, and repeatedly sold guns to gun traffickers and their straw purchasers, yet its gun business was not shut down by federal law enforcement authorities until this summer, when the ATF announced that it had found that Lou's had committed "numerous and egregious violations of the Gun Control Act."
Two bills, H.R. 5005 and 5092, which the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on tomorrow, Sept. 7, would protect rogue dealers and make it even more difficult for ATF to shut them down.
Drawing on exclusive interviews obtained by the Brady Center with a former gun trafficker who, by his own account and according to court records, purchased numerous guns from Lou's, a former employee of Lou's, and law enforcement officials, "Lethal Lou's" chronicles how for years the shop sold guns to gun traffickers and straw purchasers, including Saad Abdul Salaam, who supplied a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Though current laws greatly restrict ATF's ability to shut down scofflaw dealers, Congress is now considering passing NRA- backed legislation that would make it even more difficult for ATF to revoke the licenses of dealers like Lou's, and would shield their sales of crime guns from disclosure to the public and local law enforcement.
Lou's Loan of Upper Darby, Pa., lost its federal license to sell guns on July 31. The shop's long history of misconduct provides powerful evidence of the weakness in current federal law regulating gun dealers, allowing cities like Philadelphia to be victimized by illegal guns for decades.
The gun lobby, and those in Congress who cater to it, are pushing legislation, H.R. 5092, as part of the "American Values Agenda" announced by House Republican leaders, which would gut ATF's already limited powers to take away the licenses of rogue gun dealers. Another bill before Congress, H.R. 5005, would bar the public -- and even local law enforcement -- from learning the truth about which dealers are supplying guns used in crime. Tomorrow, Sept. 7, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on whether to send these bills to the House floor.
"It is outrageous that Congress would coddle gun dealers like Lou's," said Elizabeth S. Haile, staff attorney at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence's Legal Action Project, which serves as co-counsel for the family of 14-year-old Anthony Oliver in a lawsuit alleging that Lou's negligently sold the gun used to kill him. "If the NRA's bill were the law today, Lou's would be open for business for years to come. Congress should crack down on rogue gun sellers instead of caving in to the NRA."
"Lethal Lou's" is the latest in a series of Brady Center reports exposing the record of reckless gun dealers who have profited from the supply of firearms to criminals. A report issued in June, "Death Valley," profiled Baltimore gun dealer Valley Guns, owned by NRA Board Member Sanford Abrams, that had committed over 900 violations of federal law. All of the reports can be accessed at www.bradycenter.org/gunindustrywatch Gun Industry Watch is a comprehensive research effort of the Brady Center to monitor the gun industry and expose industry practices that endanger innocent lives.