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Wake Authorities Bust Gun Sellers Not 'Shooting Straight'

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RALEIGH — Gun control laws are aimed at keeping firearms out of the wrong hands, but despite recent crackdowns and events like themassacre at Columbine High School, some individuals selling guns still are not playing by the rules.

A sting operation outside two recent gun shows at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds netted nine illegal gun sales including six this past weekend.

All the handguns could have easily been used to commit crimes in your neighborhood.

Investigators say a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and a semi-automatic with a laser sight were all sold illegally this weekend outside a gun show in Raleigh. There were also five other semi-automatics sold.

"We basically have the weapon of choice that you confront in the street today," said Lt. W.L. Rowe.

Undercover officers from Wake County caught people selling the handguns without first asking for a gun permit.

"This is what we're trying to prevent, these weapons entering the hands of people that can use it in ways to harm the public and carry out criminal activity," explained Rowe.

Gun dealers say illegal gun sales by individuals give many of the honest people in their industry a bad name.

"It's nice to see that they are enforcing the laws that are already set up. There's not really a need for more laws, just an enforcement of what's already in place," said Christian Stull, gun store manager.

Wake County officers admit, though, to have an impact on illegal gun sales, there will have to be dozens, if not hundreds, more stings like the one they just carried out.

"We have just begun, but this will be a continuing effort by theWake County Sheriff's Office," said Rowe.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office says that handgun sales between individuals require showing a permit. Sales of rifles or shotguns do not unless it is an automatic weapon.

More than 40,000 concealed handgun permits have been issued in North Carolina since December of 1995. The effect on crime, good or bad, is still up for debate.

Back in 1996, the first full-year handgun permits were available, there were more firearm murders than last year. The number of firearms used in rapes also dropped, but only slightly.

However, robberies and aggravated assaults with guns have risen since the handgun crackdown.