Richard Schmidt, a white supremacist living in Ohio, was found last December with 18 guns, 40,000 rounds of ammunition, and a list of prominent black and Jewish leaders in the Detroit area. When federal agents busted into his apartment, they were amazed by what they came across— they thought they were cracking down on his knock-off sports jersey racket.
Adding to the surprise of the federal investigators was that there was no legal way Schmidt should have been able to purchase any of the guns — he had served time for voluntary manslaughter for shooting a man in 1989. As part of his conviction, he had lost the legal right to buy weapons.
“I can’t tell you how he got all those guns and ammunition,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach told the Plain Dealer. “It’s not that I won’t tell you; it’s that I can’t. This is somebody who should never have had one gun, one bullet. But he had an entire arsenal.”
Schmidt most likely bought his weapons from second-hand firearm dealers, whose sales, by law, cannot be traced. While a possible massacre was avoided through some lucky policing, the loopholes that Schmidt used to arm himself, a convicted killer, still exist. As Think Progress points out, "straw purchasers" can simply sell the gun they just bought legally to someone who should never have a gun — and the federal government is not allowed to keep track of just how many guns these "straw purchasers" are buying.