Even though the accused men would come into gun stores to pay cash for five modified M-16 rifles at a time, the dealers who didn't report the activity did nothing wrong under U.S. gun laws, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.
"Technically, they don't have to do anything unless they suspect something is wrong," Franceska Perot, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Houston division, told the newspaper. "Unless they knew where the guns were going, it is not a crime on the part of the dealer."
"(Gun dealers) are not police officers, not law enforcement, and it is certainly not their job to engage in law enforcement activities," added Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "A dealer doesn't have a crystal ball, doesn't have a Ouija board or know they have malice in their hearts."
Most gun dealers are law-abiding, the ATF says, noting it is especially tough to prove a dealer knowingly engaged in a criminal plot.
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