As street values rise, gun thieves get bolder
Most of us know the gun debate as a war of words – a battle of sound bites between this side and that.
The real front lines are on the streets, where good guns try to hold back the bad ones, and no one takes the time to hold rallies, give speeches or argue about the Second Amendment.
There, the struggle is as intense as ever.
“In so many murders and robberies, the weapon of choice is a gun,” said Norfolk Police Chief Bruce P. Marquis. “Millions are being manufactured every year, and we know a lot of them end up in criminals’ hands. We put a higher priority on taking guns off the streets than we do drugs.”
But clamping down on firearms can have an unintended effect.
“You create a market when you tighten things up,” Garfield Headlam said.
He should know. Headlam is serving a 10-year prison sentence for operating a gun-running ring out of Norfolk in the late 1990s. His customers lived in Washington, D.C., where handguns have been outlawed for more than 30 years. Saturday night specials were Headlam’s bread and butter.
“You could make a 300 percent profit on those,” he said. “Buy ’em from the gun shop for $89 to $150. Cheap quality. That’s what they wanted up there.”
Money like that has made gun runners bold. Fourteen Virginia gun shops were burglarized last year, including six in Hampton Roads. In two of the cases, thieves sawed a hole in the roof and used ropes to drop inside. In another, armed men forced a clerk to the floor and walked out with 75 handguns.