Feds: A Texas Man Waltzed Through the Gun Show Loophole and Bought Dozens of Mexico-Bound Assault Rifles

Categories: Guns

TheOriginalFortWorthGunShow.jpg
The Original Fort Worth Gun Show
Allegedly one of Luis Romano's favorite stomping grounds
Talk of closing the so-called "gun show loophole," like talk of gun control in general, has died down in recent months. Partly, this is the inevitable ebb of the rage that followed Sandy Hook; partly, it's because it seems futile to talk about something Congress has made clear it has no interest in doing. The loophole, meanwhile, which basically allows anyone who's not a licensed firearm dealer to buy or sell guns without a waiting period or background check, remains as gaping as ever.

It may or may not comfort you to know that the federal government is keeping an eye on these gun shows. They kept a particularly close eye on a man named Luis Pina Romano from Corpus Christi.

According to documents filed Thursday in federal court, Romano has spent the past four years crisscrossing the state of Texas, paying frequent visits to gun shows in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and elsewhere in Texas.

At each stop, his routine was the same: He would seek out the individual sellers, to whom reporting requirements and rules on background checks don't apply, produce a large amount of cash, and buy all the assault weapons he could find. His May 4 trip to the Original Fort Worth Gun Show at the Will Rogers Center was typical. There, he spent $10,000 and came away 16 guns and a decent cache of ammunition.

That was all perfectly fine -- at least it would have been had Romano merely been building his own personal stockpile. What he was actually doing, the feds say, was selling the guns for a $500 profit to a couple of guys, who would then turn around and ship them into Mexico. At least four pistols he bought between 2001 and 2005 have since turned up there.

Had Romano sold the guns directly to people in Mexico, one imagines he'd be facing criminal charges right now. Instead, the government has filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit claiming that he was illegally dealing guns without a license and seeking $24,100. That, according to the suit, is a combination of what he was carrying when was arrested leaving the gun show in Fort Worth on May 5 and what they found in Corpus Christi the next day.

That represents a small fraction of Romano's estimated profits from a decade of dealing guns. Between 2001 and 2009, he bought multiple guns on at least 20 occasions. To his two known customers, he'd sold at least five dozen assault rifles, probably more.

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59 comments
Narbonne1944
Narbonne1944

At some point people who don't know what they are talking about should stop trying to write articles about guns.  The headline is 'assault rifles' but these weren't assault rifles.  Either this guy is lying or he is ignorant.  Most likely just ignorant and should stick to writing about high school football games or something that more that matches his intellectual capacity. 

TexMarine
TexMarine

AG Holder doesn't want any competition; Mexico is his war, hands off!

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

There is no "gun show loophole."  When you say, " anyone who's not a licensed firearm deal [sic]" you are just using seven words where two will do -- "private citizens".

If someone is doing the volume that Romero was doing, then they are already committing a crime -- dealing guns without a dealer's license.  Which Romano was picked up for.  Because it's already illegal.

So really, what you are talking about is the "illegal dealer not being a legal dealer non-loophole."

doclawson
doclawson

Wait!?! Guns are illegal in Mexico, so no one could possibly have a gun there. Right!?!

(1) Call it a "loophole" if you will, but there is no "gunshow loophole". Individuals are allowed to privately sell weapons among themselves. Period. Yes, this means at gunshows, but it also means in my backyard, via craigslist, etc. (2) As mentioned, I don't know what is meant by "assault weapons" but make no mistake these were not automatic weapons, which are essentially illegal, and are what most people think of when they hear that scary term.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Actually, he could not have been purchasing assault weapons.  This would require specific licensing by the BATF of both the seller and purchaser.


Perhaps you meant to say that he was purchasing semi-automatic weapons that look like assault weapons.

Warren Johnson
Warren Johnson

Wasn't making a point. I asked a question, rather 3 questions. Wanna take a shot ( no pun intended) on answering them?

Bobby-Lee Zebubba
Bobby-Lee Zebubba

Hey - good point! Let's just turn every place into a gun show and we'll stop violent crime in its tracks! That is, well, except for the family violence, suicides, accidental shootings, incidents where the criminal wrests the gun away from its owner and uses it on him/her ...).

Bobby-Lee Zebubba
Bobby-Lee Zebubba

Your chances of having a run-in with a thug are about 1:1,000,000 - even less if you're not a dunce and stay away from the places thugs congregate (dive bars, pool halls, strip joints ...).

roo_ster
roo_ster

Eric Holder obviously doesn't like competition.


All this talk of "loopholes" is horse manure.  A firearm is not some magic talisman and its sale ought to be no more remarkable than the sale of a blender or a hammer.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

Throws a whole new light on that flag Texans waved in the face of Mexicans in 1835 at the Battle of Gonzales: "Come and Take It." Apparently Mr.Romano has decided to take us at our word. 

Paddy Martini
Paddy Martini

"Gun show loophole" Oh you mean that thing where adults in Texas are allowed to trade between each other without the involvement of the ATF? The federal government has no mandate to regulate commerce within a state.

Stephani Pena
Stephani Pena

legal gun owners need guns to protect ourselves from the chickens that are otherwise known as thugs

Warren Johnson
Warren Johnson

how many were massacred at the gun show? none?!. How come?

Threeboys
Threeboys

The attorney general has been doing it for years.

There you go, Mavdog.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

you must own a gun to protect yourself from the people that don't want you to have it.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

meanwhile a college basketball player was killed by ONE gun.

jamessavik
jamessavik

Gun running is a crime. Glad he got nailed.

However- it's no body's business but your own what you have in the basement as long as you don't break the law.


Tim Pope
Tim Pope

2nd Amendment.....USE IT!

JFPO
JFPO

"That was all perfectly fine -- at least it would have been had Romano merely been building his own personal stockpile."

That's fucked up.

tbonehjr
tbonehjr

@NarbonWhat ne1   What difference dose it make.  He brought illegal guns.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Technically, anything could be an assault weapon.  A hammer, knife, shovel, automobile, hell, even water can be used as an assault weapon.  Assault weapon is the most idiotic term applied to firearms.  by definition it can be applied to anything, absolutely anything, used to cause physical injury to another person.

John1073
John1073

 Obviously you are a dumb ass.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Paddy Martini No, Paddy. The thing where cartel thugs and their U.S. lackeys buy up lethal weapons by the truckload from cooperative "dealers" and run them across the border for the purpose of wholesale murder. That loophole.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Paddy Martini In the case at hand though, I believe the federal government has a mandate to regulate commerce, especially involving firearms, that crosses international boundaries.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Paddy Martini 

FYI, just because of the sale occurring in one state does not necessarily mean that the interstate commerce clause does not apply.

The most notorious case is Wickard v. Filburn.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn

The various firearms acts do give the BATF the authority to regulate the time and place of firearm sales.

The fact that the BATF agents were monitoring this guy leads me to conclude that they are monitoring people who should be under their jurisdiction  because of the nature of their business.  This guy clearly comes under the requirements for a firearms dealer.

 

John1073
John1073

Because they finally put their safety on instead of accidentally shooting themselves this time.

observist
observist topcommenter

@Esteban Mainzer  Who is it exactly that doesn't want you to have it?  The police?  The government?  Parents of kids killed in school shootings?  Effete liberals?   I know - it's British soldiers isn't it?  You need a gun to protect your farm against the Redcoats!

bamoo
bamoo

@Esteban Mainzer white AND a basketball player? i don't know.

pak152
pak152

@Esteban Mainzer I thought it was a baseball player

mbcez
mbcez

@Steve Black chickens cant even shoot, they don't have fingers, A DuR.....

observist
observist topcommenter

@jamessavik Presumably there's some arbitrary limit on the number of guns you can sell to anyone you want before you're "gun running".   X guns/year is nobody's business, X+1 guns/year is gun running.  

Narbonne1944
Narbonne1944

@tbonehjr    .....wow.....he bought legal guns legally.  He resold them illegally.  Did you not read the article? 

PreciousDemSnowflake
PreciousDemSnowflake

Johnboy---

Your debating style marks you as a giant among men. Must be hard to deal with all the ignoramuses whose sensibilities aren't as refined as yours. Bless your heart!

tcruse
tcruse

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul 

You will see lots of ATF both in uniform and out at DFW area gun shows.  Apparently, they also pose as buyers and hint at not being legal, then arrest you if you sell them a gun.  Also, buying more then 2 guns from the same FFL with in a week, gets you flagged.  People that make a business out of trading guns are not common, but when one is found enforce the existing laws. 

John1073
John1073

All this time, the British soldier that is quartered in my home has been there illegally and I didn't know it. Crap!

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@observist@jamessavik 

Title 18, CH 44 § 923 Licensing.
(a) No person shall engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or importing or manufacturing ammunition, until he has filed an application with and received a license to do so from the Attorney General.... Engaged in the business means
 

§ 921 Definitions 

(21) The term "engaged in the business" means—.....
(C) as applied to a dealer in firearms, as defined in section 921(a)(11)(A), a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms;

- - - - -

Generally, the way the ATF has handled it is that if you are quickly flipping weapons (rarely holding them for more than a few weeks) or if you are deriving your primary income from firearms sales, then you're violating 923. 

brentonadams
brentonadams

@observist  It is arbitrary. I don't think the ATF has a set number. Its all about intent. A gun show is an awful place to use the media's 'gun show loophole',  that other arbitrary definition of two private parties trading a gun. You'll get caught. Like the guy in the story....

John1073
John1073

Why cum you mocks me? Don't tread on me!

John1073
John1073

I'd like to solve the puzzle, Pat.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@tcruse @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

Again, the interstate commerce clause does not apply to this situation.

The main point is that the BATF is not regulating who may own the guns (with certain exceptions), but rather who may buy and sell guns; and, under what circumstances.

A fine line maybe, but a line nontheless.

observist
observist topcommenter

@brentonadams  So if he takes the guns to a range, fires a few rounds with each and decides he doesn't like them, then decides he needs to sell them in order to buy another bunch of guns, he's not gun running, he's just particular about his firearms.

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