A convicted felon on parole for a gun-related crime faces up to 10 years behind bars for trafficking 80 firearms across state lines.
Robert L. Williams, Jr., 36, used a network of straw purchasers to buy the guns — mostly pistols — at shows and licensed shops in Ohio before re-selling the weapons on Buffalo’s black market over the last seven months.
The U.S. Attorneys Office said two of the firearms turned up at violent crime scenes in the city. A search of Williams’s apartment last month uncovered a 12-gauge shotgun, ammo, magazines and receipts from licensed dealers in Ohio, according to a police affidavit.
Williams, a three-time convicted felon for gun and drug charges, remains in custody pending a parole hearing scheduled for June 18.
New York’s struggle with out-of-state gun-trafficking is well documented. A 2016 report from the state Attorney General’s office indicates law enforcement agencies recovered 52,915 guns from 2010 to 2015. Nearly 75 percent of the traceable guns — more than 34,000 — came from states with less restrictive laws, according to the report.
The phenomenon of gun trafficking through six states along the I-95 corridor — Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida — into New York has earned the interstate a new nickname, the “Iron Pipeline.”
“These states lack gun laws fundamental to preventing illegal diversion,” notes the report. “For instance, all but one of these states have no requirements for background checks for private sales or at gun shows (Pennsylvania, and only for handguns). And all but one do not require a permit prior to a handgun purchase (North Carolina).”
The report also notes many crime guns are traced back to Ohio, though it doesn’t lie along the “Iron Pipeline.”