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PA Detectives Find Stolen Antique Guns, 13 Years Later
Detectives in Pennsylvania recovered antique guns stolen from museums in the 1960s and 70s after a decades-long search finally unveiled the culprit.
Thomas Gavin, 78, of Pottstown, PA, was arrested after a spree of antique thefts led to the disappearance of 15 antiques.
The arrest was a joint effort between Upper Merion Township Detectives, FBI Art Crimes Detectives, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Gavin nabbed the Revolutionary War-era artifacts from the American Swedish Historical Museum, Hershey Story Museum, Landis Valley Museum, Mercer Museum, Museum of the American Revolution, and York County History Center.
“It took more than 50 years, but now these significant pieces of American history are going back to their home museums where they can be seen and enjoyed by all Americans,” District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said in a news release.
“It’s thanks to the tireless efforts of two Upper Merion Township Police detectives, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, that these firearms have been recovered and are now safe. I am so proud of their work.”
Among the items recovered was a rifle stolen from the Valley Forge Historical Society that originally was made by John Christian Oerter – a master gunsmith.
Gavin attempted to sell it and other pieces to an antique dealer, who notified police.
“Once we identified (Gavin) being tied to the Christian Oerter rifle, we found multiple antique rifles,” Detective Andy Rathfon told The York Dispatch.
Rachel Warner, director of collections for York County History Center, said the museum is overjoyed to have the items back and allow the community to once more experience their history.
“When pieces are stolen from a museum, everybody loses out because that story won’t be told,” Warner said. “As a collections person, that’s our dream — is to see these pieces all come back.”
Gavin earned one day in prison for his crimes after confessing to taking the items. Due to the statute of limitations expiration, Gavin was charged and pleaded guilty to one count of disposal of an object of cultural heritage stolen from a museum.
Alongside his single day in prison, Gavin must also pay $23,485 restitution and a $25,000 fine.
Constitutional Carry Back on Nebraska Senate Floor
Nebraska Senator Tom Brewer reintroduced a proposal to legalize Constitutional Carry within the state.
The bill would allow residents to concealed carry a handgun without undergoing a background check, pay the $100 fee, and attend an eight-to-16-hour class.
Currently, 21 states in the U.S. allow Constitutional Carry.
Brewer, a decorated veteran who served six tours in Afghanistan, pointed to neighboring states who’ve adopted Constitutional Carry, saying that “I don’t see the downside of it.”
KVPI reported that over 85,000 Nebraskans are licensed to concealed carry within the state.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts also supports the measure, pledging to sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.
“Law-abiding Nebraskans who are legally allowed to own a firearm should not have to jump through hoops to exercise their constitutional rights,” Ricketts said in a news release.
Gun Control Backers Disappointed in Biden Administration
Anti-gun advocates say they are disappointed in the Biden Administration’s handling of guns and the withdraw of ATF Director nominee David Chipman.
Gun Control proponents pointed to Biden’s response in the aftermath of a school shooting in Michigan, saying that the President should have done more.
“I think the biggest thing to highlight here is that the president has been a friend to the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement this year, and we’re thankful, but frankly, he hasn’t really been a leader,” Zeenat Yahya, deputy policy director of March for Our Lives, told The Hill.
Though Biden issued Executive Orders earlier this year targeting 80% lowers and pistol braces, advocates say his lack of follow-through in getting these issues handled in the Senate has been discouraging.
“We’re definitely surprised. We were really hopeful, and he made a lot of promises,” Yaha said.
The White House pushed back against these accusations, pointing to the executive orders as proof the President is willing to take on guns.
“A comprehensive strategy is exactly what we have done in 2021, and we will continue to execute on it in the new year,” Stef Feldman, a Senior Adviser to the Domestic Policy Adviser at the White House, said in a statement.
In addition to being displeased with his handling of the EOs, gun control advocates also say they aren’t happy about the president’s withdraw of David Chipman as ATF Director.
“I think it’s really indicative of some of the failures here,” Yahya added. “The fact that there is no ATF director just proves that there is just not enough coordination and lobbying.”
The White House has said it hasn’t given up on the nominee and continues its search.
Meanwhile, gun rights activists cheered the removal of Chipman as nominee given his staunch stance on guns and, in particular, 80% lowers. The NSSF said that though the ATF needs a strong leader at its helm, Chipman was the wrong choice.
“We believe strongly that ATF needs a Senate-confirmed director to lead the brave men and women of ATF,” Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President, and General Counsel, said in a press release. “David Chipman is not that person.”
The NSSF said it hopes the White House will focus its search on a “qualified candidate” who will apply the law without “a political agenda.”
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