Virginia Governor, Attorney General call for changes in gun laws after bust in New York City

Posted at 2:41 PM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 17:46:56-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Two of Virginia's top leaders are calling for changes after 22 people from Virginia were arrested in a massive gun bust in New York City.

"Gun runners love VA's lax gun laws," Gov. Terry McAuliffe wrote on Twitter.

"It's a black mark on Virginia and does not reflect well on us. It makes other places unsafe," said Attorney General Mark Herring.

The 627-count indictment lays out the case against 24 people, accusing them of legally buying guns in Virginia and then trafficking them to New York. Investigators believe the criminal organization operated out of Richmond, and included another arm with people in Hampton and Newport News.

"There is absolutely no doubt that these defendants knew what they were doing," said Eric Gonzalez, the Brooklyn District Attorney. "It was illegal and they were taking advantage of weak gun laws because you can hear them openly mocking gun laws on our wiretaps."

The indictment says "straw purchasers" were members of the conspiracy allowed to buy guns legally in Virginia for other members. Those members of the conspiracy later resold the guns in New York.

Prosecutors even played reporters part of the wiretaps during an announcement of the indictment. "If I had ten bands to spend at the store, they will let me spend ten bands in the store," prosecutors said Antwan Walker told someone. Walker is from Highland Springs, VA. "In Virginia, our laws is [sic] so little, you know what I mean, I can give guns away," he said.

A report from the New York Attorney Generalsaid 15% of likely-trafficked crime guns come from Virginia.

Robert Marcus, the owner of Bob's Gun Shop in Norfolk, said gun dealers take gun trafficking seriously. "We're as interested in it as anyone to make sure guns don't get in the wrong hands, but there are limitations on what we can do," Marcus said. "We can always say no if we figure out what's going on."