As a professional racism chaser and super blogger, it’s always nice to run into stories like the following. You know, the type of story that couldn’t come at a better time as it relates to our current political discourse? Given our current gun control debate, and all the talk of keeping firearms out of the hands of the wrong people. Nothing makes the case for gun control advocates like the very little reported story out of Cleveland, Ohio. As luck would have it, a 47-year-old White Supremacist once convicted of manslaughter for the shooting death of a Latino male was arrested on illegal gun possession charges, while being investigated on suspicion of a separate crime.
This from NBC:
Federal agents are trying to determine how a suspected Ohio white supremacist with a felony conviction for manslaughter acquired a cache of 18 assault weapons and other firearms, along with high-capacity magazines and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition, according to federal law enforcement officials and court documents reviewed by NBC News.
The storehouse of weapons was discovered late last month when FBI agents arrested Richard Schmidt, 47, the owner of a Bowling Green sporting goods store called Spindletop Sports Zone, on charges of marketing counterfeit goods — such as football jerseys with NFL logos — from China.
Although initially portrayed as a probe into the thriving international market for counterfeit clothing, the case took a surprising turn this week when the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland unsealed search warrants and an indictment also charging Schmidt with illegal possession of firearms.
According to the documents, FBI agents who searched Schmidt’s sporting goods store and four trailers behind it, found a stash of weapons that included AR-15 assault rifles, Ruger and Sig Sauer semi-automatic pistols, bulletproof body armor and high-capacity magazines as well as ammunition.
The agents also discovered evidence of Schmidt’s ties to the neo-Nazi movement, documents show. Among the evidence seized, according to search warrants, was a video of a national convention of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement; bumper stickers of the National Alliance party, another neo-Nazi group; a “Jewish 500” list — a supposed roster of Jewish-owned businesses — and paraphernalia from the “Waffen SS,” Adolph Hitler’s Nazi military force in Germany from the early 1930s through World War II, according to the search warrants.
A federal law enforcement official, who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity, said that FBI counterterrorism agents involved in the case had picked up evidence that Schmidt may have been planning attacks against Jewish and civil rights groups in the Detroit area. “This is an active investigation,” said another federal law enforcement official when asked if Schmidt was believed to have been working with any others in the neo-Nazi movement.
Now it has yet to be determined just how this gentleman was able to acquire these weapons. For all we know they could’ve been purchased online, at a gun show, or maybe even on the black market. That said, isn’t it good to know that a universal background check being in place would have eliminated at least two of the aforementioned possible ways of making a purchase? It’s still scary to think of what this gentleman may have been able to accomplish with his assembled arsenal. That said, one can only wonder if there are others like him out there.
In the indictment unsealed this week, Schmidt was charged with three counts of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and body armor and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Schmidt’s lawyer, federal public defender Andy Hart, did not respond to a request for comment.
The law enforcement officials said the case appears to illustrate some of the gaps in current background checks for gun purchasers that President Barack Obama has proposed closing as part of his package of executive actions and legislative proposals released this week aimed at curbing gun violence. Schmidt was charged with murder and felonious assault in 1989 after killing a Hispanic man and shooting two others with a semi-automatic pistol during a traffic dispute. He later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison. Federal officials were not immediately able to provide information on when he was released from prison.
Oh well, it’s good to know that this guy was taken off the streets. Lord forbid if another deranged individual gets the idea to open fire on a religious temple filled with worshiping people of color; or attempt to set a neighborhood on fire and murder a few first responders; or even worse, open fire on children and teachers at a random school. But, I guess the second amendment is sacrosanct, right?