Let’s say I know a guy who owns fully-automatic weapons.
And I do.
And let’s say I stop by his house and tell him that I’m thinking about starting an armed militia and want to practice and can he loan me his fully-automatic, federally registered, U.S. government tax stamped machine gun to use for the weekend.
My buddy says, “Here you go, you little American patriot, you.”
With my finger itching with all the urgency of a Klansman waiting to touch a match to a cross, off I go, headed to the strippings to open fire.
Sound legal to you?
Not on your life, said a federal agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with whom I spoke this morning.
From what I understand, you cannot take possession of a federally regulated machine gun unless you are the person to whom a federally-regulated machine gun is registered.
News reports say that Gilberton police Chief Mark Kessler bought an undetermined number of machine guns with his own money and donated them to the Gilberton Police Department – where he is the only officer. Borough council approved the deal, press reports say.
If that’s true, I have to wonder if the tiny town has the expensive liability insurance policy a reasonable person would expect them to have.
Good question, huh?
Is Kessler still the registered owner of the guns?
Another good question.
But since borough officials last night suspended the chief for the unauthorized use of the guns – making crazy videos off-duty – it is fair to conclude that he does not own the guns. How can they suspend him for using his own firearms to make an off-duty home movie in which he stars in “Say Hello To My Little Friend” the way Al Pacino stars in Scarface?
If Kessler doesn’t own the machine guns, used them without the owner’s permission and got suspended for doing so, I have to wonder if his actions are allowable by law.
Remember what the ATF agent told me.
That’s why real cops – federal or otherwise – must investigate Kessler’s actions. We can only hope that good cops who understand the meaning of protect and serve are already looking for answers to the questions I am posing in this column.
Come to think of it, police, real police, also should be investigating the circumstances of Kessler’s alleged donation of the guns to the borough. Does all the proper paper work exist to confirm the transaction?
If not, why not? We’re talking machine guns here. Federal law regulates these dangerously powerful weapons for a reason.
But Gilberton seems to be a raw no-man’s land, a rogue land with a toxic skull and crossbones local government that already operates like a militia, an inferno of ignorance where inciting violence is excused as well as applauded in some flaming circles of hell.
Yet some good people in Gilberton, a tribe of about 800 people, live in fear of a maniac cop who told me that the government – federal, state or local - has no right to regulate any firearm.
The Second Amendment is all he needs, said the maniac cop during a telephone interview with me last week. And that includes the right to carry a concealed weapon, he said. I recently learned that police and retired officers are authorized by federal law to carry concealed weapons anywhere in the nation. Still, they must qualify each year with their weapons to meet the relatively low standard to bear hidden arms.
Has Kessler qualified?
Police must check into that detail as well.
I’m still worried that somebody might die in Gilberto before this is all sorted out.
Some of Kessler’s supporters who showed up at last night’s meeting are poor, powerless and perturbed. They are ripe for the picking by Klan and skinhead recruiters. Now they have Kessler, who is clearly enjoying the biggest moment of his isolated life as Schuylkill County mountain men swarm to his side, “protecting” him from the press with openly carried tactical shotguns and semi-automatic rifles.
We’re in hair-trigger territory here, a sad, lost place where nobody is safe, a night cave where the maniac cop is king.