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Cop guilty of illegal gun dealing sold murder weapon

Posted at 6:51 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 18:51:39-04

(CNN) – Guns sold illegally by a former Washington, DC, police officer have turned up in crimes, including murder and the suicide of a former U.S. Marine.

The illegal sales were all made possible by the so-called "gun show loophole," which allows private sales to take place without background checks.

The officer was sentenced to a year in federal prison Wednesday, but the loophole that allowed his illegal gun sales remains wide open.

He sold them out of his car, in parking lots near his home in Chesterfield, VA, and to just about anyone who would answer his online gun posts and show up with cash.

Richard Wince, 51, now an ex-DC police officer, admitted to selling up to two dozen guns for profit.

Federal prosecutors said Wince was an unlicensed gun dealer, selling pistols, rifles and even an AK-47 to buyers responding to his online ads.

His ads ran on armslist.com and the Virginia Gun Trader website. Wince told federal agents that on one site he had 1,300 postings.

There is no record that anyone who bought a gun from Wince went through a background check.

There is evidence his guns ended up in the hands of a convicted felon – convicted felons are banned from owning guns.

One of the sold guns was used in a murder.

Wince’s case highlights how easy it is to advertise guns online and sell to people prohibited from buying them.

"Well, listen, people that know they can't buy firearms and want a firearm anyways, generally don't get to a gun store and try to buy them," said Thomas Chittum, ATF special agent in charge of the Washington, DC, office.

Private gun sales require zero paperwork. But according to the law, anyone who makes a "profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms" is supposed to be a federally registered firearms dealer.

Wince pretended his gun selling was just a hobby, according to court records.

He didn’t ask if his buyers were felons, drug dealers, mentally unstable or somehow banned from possessing firearms. He just asked for cash.

Peter Newsham, the police chief for Washington, DC, said his former officer certainly knew the law and chose to break it.

"Oh, it's a disgrace. It's embarrassing for us to have a member of this agency out there illegally selling firearms," Newsham said. "At the end of the day, people are dying because of this."

Along with one of his guns being traced to a murder and a convicted felon, prosecutors said Wince sold an AK-47 to a mentally troubled former U.S. Marine Reservist, who was prohibited from owning a weapon, and used the gun Wince sold him to commit suicide.

Though some states require additional steps to sell private guns, the federal law is so vague it actually benefits both seller and buyer to know as little as possible about each other, Chittum said.

"There's no record-keeping requirement at all on an unlicensed person," Chittum said.

Despite his crimes, prosecutors recommended Wince be sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison.

Wince’s attorney argued for a more lenient sentence of probation and home confinement, citing his service in the Navy and in law enforcement.

The prosecutor said any credit Wince was entitled to for his service was erased by his conduct.

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