Two Georgia Gun Shops Settle New York City Lawsuit

GON Staff | September 1, 2006

Two Georgia gun dealers, accused by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg of illegal firearms sales have settled. The gun dealers, A-1 Jewelry and Pawn of Augusta and AAA Gun & Pawn Brokers of Hephzibah are both owned by Greg Driggers and his father.

In May, Mayor Bloomberg filed civil suits against 15 gun dealers in five states for making illegal firearm sales. The suit claims that firearms sold at these businesses were used in crimes committed in New York City between 1994 and 2001. During a six-week sting earlier this year, undercover private investigators hired by New York City posed as customers and attempted to make “straw purchases” of firearms in 45 businesses while wearing hidden cameras.

In a straw purchase, one investigator would select the firearm and provide the money, but another investigator would fill out the paperwork, posing as the buyer. Under federal law, a gun dealer is prohibited from selling a firearm when he is aware that the gun is not for the person making the purchase. The practice is often used by convicted felons to obtain firearms.

Under terms of the settlement, a “special master” appointed and paid for by New York City, will audit all firearm sales in the two stores. The special master will have the right to conduct unrestricted inspections of firearms inventories. Additional undercover surveillance of gun sales at the stores is also a possibility.

“I don’t think we have done anything wrong,” said store owner Greg Driggers. “I have seen the video where they said we did a straw purchase, and they intentionally deceived one of my clerks. They came in here and represented themselves as husband and wife. The only part of the transaction that was wrong was the “wife” filled out the paperwork, and the man was standing right beside her and handed my clerk the money. Bloomberg hired these people to represent the City of New York, and they broke the law.

“What I would like to know is why the federal government is not reprimanding New York City. What’s keeping them from continuing to break federal law? Where is it going to stop? I would like to see the City of New York brought to justice. They are calling it a simulated sale, but when you lie on a federal document and pay cash, they broke the law.”

Driggers says he had no choice but to settle.

“Bloomberg’s got millions and millions of dollars, and I don’t have the money to fight that. My only recourse was to settle, but I am not happy with the situation, and he is going to continue to take advantage of the little guy.”

In July, former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr filed a $400 million lawsuit against Bloomberg on behalf of the Adventure Outdoors in Marietta, which was named in Bloomberg’s suit.

Barr’s suit filed in Cobb County Superior Court, claims Bloomberg’s tactics were “careless, willful and clearly illegal.”

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