Springfield, MA, the gun (theft) capital

These are the recovered Smiths. 80-odd more remain at large. According to the BJS, about 232,400 guns are stolen every year and 80% of them are never recovered.

Springfield, Massachusetts, was once one of the gun-making capitals of the world. The Connecticut River town hosted dozens of gun companies, and a major national arsenal, but most of them have been driven out by Massachusetts’s hostility to their products and the people who use them. Most of the arsenal is now a content-lite community college that struggles to deliver remedial education to quasi-literate students who shuffle to class occasionally, dull-eyed zombies who can’t quite keep a schedule. The sole survivor of the gun industry is Smith & Wesson, and both the mayor and governor have wished it gone.

Today, the majority of residents of the decaying city, descendants of ambitious workers who moved there in the 20th Century to build everything from revolvers to Bee Gee racing aircraft, Rolls Royce cars and Indian motorcycles, are on some kind of government assistance and support the one-party state that keeps their rich benefits (MA even provides cars to welfare layabouts, for the love of God) flowing. Despite getting enough benefits to support a middle-class life with zero effort, most of the welfareniks blow the money on drugs, cigarettes and booze. A considerable number supplement their meth-n-oxy money by burglary, robbery, writing rubber checks, forging prescriptions, and various other modalities of stealing stuff. (The courts’ wrist-taps grow lighter by the year, emboldening the thieves).

What thieves want is portable and of high value — sounds like “guns” to us. The fact that they also are objects of utility in a life of crime probably adds to their appeal to this demographic. So if you own guns — let alone make guns –in this Mad Max environment, you had best take precautions.

Despite that, Smith keeps churning out guns in its Roosevelt Avenue plant, and despite hostility at every layer of Massachusetts’s one-party officialdom, there are still individuals who own guns, to collect, shoot, and even carry (although not in Springfield, where the de facto may-issue law in MA lets the police disarm any threat to the criminal majority). And so the thieves have targets.

First, Smith & Wesson. Defenders of Springfield, if there are any, will note that the victim here, Smith, is in Springfield, but the criminal came up the river (as it were) from Bridgeport, Connecticut. We stipulate that, but note that every fact in our description of Springfield, above, except that the welfare leeches don’t get cars — yet — applies to the other former manufacturing city downriver. But here’s the story from the New Haven Register:

A Bridgeport man is facing more than 200 criminal counts after he allegedly stole a truckload of 111 handguns from a Smith & Weston plant located in Springfield, MA.

The firearms were allegedly transported to Bridgeport by Elliot Perez, a tractor-trailer driver for Pace Motor Lines located in Stratford. The theft from the plant occurred on Nov. 8, according to police.

The investigation seems to have involved the local cops in the two Connecticut towns, and the BATFE, fighting actual criminal diversion of guns rather than participating in it for once.

Some of the firearms allegedly came into the possession of Michael Murphy, of Bridgeport, who was also arrested by police. The guns are believed to have been sold on the street, according to police.

So far, police have retrieved 28 of the 111 handguns. Police are working to recover the rest, said Detective Sergeant David Gugliotti.

So there’s 83 Smith & Wessons still out there in criminal hands of some kind.

Perez has been charged with 111 counts of criminal possession of a firearm, 111 counts of theft of a firearm, one count of illegal sale of a firearm, one count of transfer of a firearm by a person ineligible to possess and five counts of weapon in a motor vehicle. He was held in lieu of $500,000 bond.

“Transfer of a firearm by a person ineligible to possess” is interesting. We first read this as a felon-in-possession, but on reconsideration, it sounds more like a state violation for not having a gun license. Murphy has a different array of charges, which you can see at the link if so inclined.

Now, that’s not the end of Springfield gun crime this week. We have the resourceful burglars who found a 500-lb gun safe no obstacle to stealing the guns inside. They just took the whole safe.

Sgt. John Delaney, aide to Police Commissioner William Fitchet, said the resident returned to his Marmon Street home Thursday to discover the break it and reported it to police.

The guns were locked securely inside the safe, Delaney said, but the safe itself was not anchored in place. When the robbers could not open the safe inside the house, they picked it up and carried it out of the house, he said.

“The safe probably weighed about 500 pounds, fully loaded, with the weapons he had in it,” Delaney said.

Because of the weight involved, police believe at least two people were involved, Delaney said.

The safe was later found, broken open and stripped of any weapons or ammunition, he said.

Detectives are investigating the safe to see who took it, but a bigger concern is the 15 guns that are missing, he said. They included various rifles and semi-automatic handguns, he said.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ latest report [pdf[, using data from up to 2010, half a billion dollars’ in property is lost each year in burglaries in which guns (and other things) are stolen, and at least $26 million in guns are stolen in crimes that take only guns and no other objects.

Those numbers are alarming even if you don’t live in Springfield.