Some might ask if I know this guy who is sort of a neighbor of mine:
A 65-year-old Spokane man has been ordered held in custody on federal charges of illegally possessing automatic weapons and illegally storing explosives in a Bellevue commercial storage shed while agents investigate how he came to possess a huge military-grade arsenal that included grenade launchers, machine guns and plastic explosives.
Ronald Struve, heavyset and bearded, appeared in Seattle before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler on Tuesday after being extradited from Spokane, where he was arrested Jan. 7 during a raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
In four searches in Bellevue and Spokane, agents seized 37 machine guns, 12 silencers, two grenade launchers, more than 60 high-explosive grenades, several pounds of military-grade C-4 plastic explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
One box contained 54 M406 high-explosive grenade rounds — 40-millimeter shells that can be launched from a shoulder-fired weapon to distances of 300 yards or more, according to military specification.
Its explosion creates a “kill radius” of up to 16 feet from the point of impact and injuries dozens of yards beyond that.
Agents also found several other anti-personnel grenades, including a Korean War-era “Chicom” stick grenade.
In another box, agents found six blocks of C-4 plastic explosives.
Agents counted 32 apparent machine guns, including M-14s, M-16s, and several “Sten guns,” a mass-produced submachine gun known for its high rate of fire — upward of 500 rounds per minute.
They also found nine silencers and the parts for several others, as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition and various other military hardware.
“All of the military explosive items seized are considered contraband and cannot be possessed by anyone other than the military,” Wallace wrote in a search warrant. “The majority of the items seized appeared to be stolen military explosive materials.”
Spokane isn’t that far away from my home in Moscow and I think I could literally throw a rock from the front door of my office in Redmond and have it land in Bellevue. But this guy has never appeared on my radar of “people of the gun” in the circles I run in.
He shouldn’t have been storing the stuff in an ordinary storage unit or be in possession of stolen property. That’s just wrong and he should “pay the price” for that. But other than that he’s being charged with a victimless crime. Had he purchased those items on the open market (as they should be) and had he stored them in a proper manner all would have been fine.
So, for the most part, all this effort and money being spent on investigation and prosecution is because the government has repressive laws on the books. Sort of like laws against sex toys.
Except sex toys aren’t constitutionally protected like “arms” are. [Updated with the following sentence.] Except while protected in general by the constitution, sex toys aren’t a specifically enumerated constitution right like “arms” are.