Stolen firearms often end up in wrong hands - abc27 WHTM

Stolen firearms often end up in wrong hands

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Long before the tragedy in Connecticut sparked discussions about gun control, a different issue was of concern to officials in central Pennsylvania: that of stolen weapons getting in the wrong hands.

Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed said often those who are banned from possessing firearms due to prior criminal convictions or restraining orders can still get their hands on them.

According to court paperwork, Clarence Shaffer held a HACC college student at gunpoint before abducting her and assaulting her. Shaffer had been convicted of a similar crime in the late 90's and is banned from possessing firearms. It is something Freed said happens all too often.

"It happens everywhere and people who are determined, who are barred from possessing firearms and are determined to get their hands on one usually can do it," he said.

Freed said guns frequently are stolen in burglaries then sold and traded, and can end up in the hands of convicted criminals.

"Illegal firearms are out there and they are currency. Often people, especially drug addicts, will get their hands on those, trade them for drugs, and put them on the stream of commerce," he said.

Many times, these stolen weapons become murder weapons. That was the case in 2002 when officials say Robert Coles shot and killed 38-year-old John Badgett.

It was also the case last month, according to Freed, who said the gun used in the murder of a Silver Spring Township gas station clerk is also believed to have been stolen in a burglary.

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