by Dave Workman
It appears the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating an anti-gun Boston Globe columnist and the head of a Massachusetts gun control group for their self-confessed “straw purchase” of a handgun in 2005 that they boasted about during a live talk show segment July 10 on WRKO 860 AM.
John Rosenthal, head of Stop Handgun Violence in Massachusetts and until recently, president of the American Shooting and Hunting Association Foundation, and Globe columnist Steve Bailey revealed stunning details of the gun purchase during a broadcast with WRKO’s Tom Finneran and Todd Feinburg. Gun rights organizations and activists called for an immediate investigation. The Second Amendment Foundation called for an ATF probe and asked Globe Editor Martin Baron to fire the columnist, Steve Bailey. Gun Owners Action League honcho Jim Wallace, who first complained about the WRKO slot, was certain a crime had been committed.
While the Globe may not dismiss Bailey, it appears the ATF moved swiftly, contacting one of the men involved in the purchase at his New Hampshire workplace, and subsequently confiscating the gun, according to Bailey’s July 20 follow-up column.
Rosenthal and Bailey both said they enlisted the help of a New Hampshire resident identified as Walter Belair for the alleged purchase.
In his column, a very miffed Bailey wrote that the same day SAF called for an investigation “two ATF agents and a Manchester, NH, cop visited Belair at his work…”
“They had a search warrant and a tape of the radio interview,” Bailey wrote. “They wanted to know about the gun, Rosenthal, and me. Belair told them the gun was at home; they went there later in the day, and confiscated it. They did give him a receipt.”
Bailey, who wrote about the incident in the Nov. 30, 2005 issue of the newspaper, brusquely told Gun Week that he would “let the column speak for itself.” In that column, headlined “Live Free and Die,” Bailey described a visit to a gun show in West Lebanon, NH, but did not mention Rosenthal. That column left out other critical details, including Bailey’s on-air admission that he gave Belair the money to buy the gun, after a dealer refused to sell a handgun to either Bailey or Rosenthal because they are Massachusetts residents. Bailey later expensed the gun purchase to The Globe.
Rosenthal told Gun Week that “I brought Steve Bailey up to a gun show so he could see what it was like. He brought a friend, an Army Ranger back from Afghanistan.” He also insisted that he didn’t take possession of the gun afterward, and that to his knowledge, the revolver stayed in New Hampshire with the actual buyer.
Bailey and Rosenthal had different accounts of the transaction, but it is clear from the radio audio they considered it the kind of third-party transaction that constitutes a straw sale.
Wallace told Gun Week that he is “not astounded by anything Rosenthal does and gets away with. Nobody ever calls him on it. He’s a wealthy developer and he can get away with whatever he wants to get away with.”