The prosecutor, however, pressed for prison time. Wince-as-a-cop-sur-voyage, he argued.
But there was one issue on which both sides could agree: Wince was about to be
It's "unconstitutionally vague," the defense attorney said.
"I'm not a big fan of the statute," the prosecutor conceded.
Both men were referring to the Firearms Owners' Protection Act, a decades-old federal statute originally proposed by the National Rifle Association that dictates who is a license to sell guns, and who is not.
The The problem of unlicensed gun dealing in America, a CNN investigation found.
Unlicensed dealers are a go to source of firearms for criminals and others across the country. [1
Last year a gun sold by an unlicensed dealer was used in the slaying of an off-duty police commander in Chicago. Sheriff's deputy and the wounding of two California Highway Patrol officers.
"The crime they are committing is a White-collar crime, "Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said of unlicensed dealers, in a recent interview.
attention in the national debate on guns. Even successful prosecutions sometimes result in wrist-slap punishments because of defendants have no previous criminal record, CNN found.
A common refrain from Second Amendment advocates does not require any new gun control laws; it just needs to enforce the ones already on the books. But the Firearms Owners' Protection Act is widely viewed as being a tool, according to current and former ATF agents and prosecutors interviewed by CNN.
"It's a huge problem," Jill said Snyder, a recently retired supervisory agent with ATF.
The impact of unlicensed gun dealing would be greatly reduced CNN.
Engaged in the business
Under federal law, licensed dealers are required to conduct checks on prospective buyers domestic abusers or people who are mentally unstable.
They are also required to maintain records in a crime
But an ordinary citizen who decides to sell a weapon or weapons, does not fit the definition of a dealer, faces no such requirements under federal law.
The statute says "engaged in the business" requires selling a license. "Engaged in the business" means devoting "time, attention and labor to dealing with firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms."
The law states
The law places no difference between a person engaged in the occasional gun sales or collectors or hobbyists who makes "occasional sales."
Assistant US attorney Peter S. Duffey, who has successfully prosecuted Wince, has been criticized as being the last-year ex-officer's sentencing hearing.
"I do not understand why they could not set a number," Duffey told U.S. District Court Judge Ms. Hannah Lauck.
The law that sought to establish guns that was enacted in 1986 after complaints by the gun lobby that the National Gun Control Act, passed two decades earlier assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Attorney Gene. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., What Overly Broad.
Firearms advocates accused the ATF
Jennifer Baker, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, defended the current law, which it is clear to prosecute people for dealing guns without a license.
The fact that some are unlikensed sellers do get prosecuted Baker said.
"There's no such thing as unlicensed gun dealers," Baker said.
Thomas Chittum, a veteran ATF supervisor who is so attorney, said that's much easier said than done.
He said the vague wording in the statute and the requirement that defendants willfully violates the law make cases difficult enough.
"In my opinion, they have the most challenging prosecution that ATF has," he said .
Because unlikensed dealers typically do not file their sales, it is impossible to quantify how many guns pass through their hands each year. Whatever the number is, he said, "it's not small."
The ATF routinely warns suspected unlicensed dealers that they may be breaking the law.
CNN filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Bureau in June seeking, among
Hidden in plain sight
The ATF has not provided any of these statistics hidden in plain sight, peddling weapons on the internet, at gun shows, parking lots, from the trunks of their cars.
They are in some cases the most unlikely of suspects: Police Officers. Federal agents. A fire department captain.
In some cases, suspects have made clear that they were aware of the black-market gun sales associated with them, but chose to ignore them.  "The [ATF] is really watching us," a suspect in Wisconsin told a purported gun buyer he did not realize what was undercover agent, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. "I'm nervous as shit."
"As far as you know, you did not buy it from me," the suspect added.
In Maryland last year, a suspected dealer is undercover agent of an illegal machine gun without a serial number, according to federal court records.
"You can not get more into this than you can for cracking six-year-olds," he said of the automatic rifle, which he later sold for $ 750 cash.
Often, when they are suspicious they are confronted by ATF they deny they are dealers. Rather, they claim to be a collector or hobbyist.
That's what Wince, the former Washington, DC police officer, told ATF agents. He was pleaded guilty and sentenced to a year in prison.
It's the argument retired mechanic Paul D. Boltz tried to make a search warrant on his home in Ohio. He did so, despite the fact that he had sold 1,800 guns "which generated over $ 694,000 in gross income."
"The defendant was involved in selling a large quantity of weapons, over time, without any background check whatsoever, "the prosecutor wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "Ultimately, this activity presents a significant risk to the public."
Boltz, then 65, pleaded guilty in 2017 to deal with firearms without a license, a felony, and surrendered 136 guns to authorities. He received no prison time. Instead, he was sentenced to five years of trial and fined $ 40,000. Attempts to reach Boltz through his attorney were unsuccessful.
There is no indication in Boltz's court file that they were later linked to crimes. But, often, authorities say, when unlicensed dealers are selling a high volume of weapons, they are only a matter of time.