Ex-cop, Richard Wince, sentenced to federal prison for illegal gun dealing
In a May 2, 2018 federal court hearing, Richard Wince received 1 year in federal prison for illegal gun dealing. The former Chesterfield County Sheriff’s deputy and Washington D.C. police officer sold up to 24 guns over a 2-year span. One of the guns Wince illegally sold was used in a robbery; another facilitated a suicide. Additionally, Wince supplied guns to felons who were prohibited from purchasing them.
Wince sold gun used in former marine reservist’s suicide
Isiah Janes attempted to buy a shotgun from Dick’s Sporting Goods, but was turned down when a background check revealed his ineligibility to make the purchase. Janes, a former Marine Reservist, was prohibited from buying a firearm due to a previous commitment to a San Diego psychiatric facility. Wince sold Janes an AK-47 without performing a background check. Janes used the gun to kill himself shortly after acquiring it from Wince.
Gun sales legal loophole
The ATF warned Wince regarding his gun dealing in October 2015. One of Wince’s firearms turning up in the hands of a felon prompted the 2015 ATF visit. Wince told ATF agents he occasionally sold guns as a hobby, online. If that were the case, Wince would not have been required to run background checks on purchasers. This rule creates a grey area around firearm sales crimes.
How Wince got busted
Suspicious of Wince’s activities, investigators looked more deeply into his gun dealing. Reportedly, investigators found more than 200 posts from a profile using the name “rwince,” listing the same phone number Wince previously gave investigating agents. Investigators coordinated an undercover recorded buy, during which an agent purchased a gun from Wince. The undercover purchase took place in a gun store parking lot outside of Richmond. Reportedly, Wince never asked for the undercover agent’s identification.
Wince’s day in court
Wince described his behavior to Judge M. Hannah Lauck as “reckless”. Through tears, Wince made a statement before his sentencing in Richmond, Virginia federal court, “I just want to take a moment to apologize to everyone in the courtroom. I understand I made a mistake, and mistakes have consequences.“ While Judge Lauck acknowledged the former officer’s remorse, she also reminded him that he continued to sell the guns after the ATF put him on notice. Judge Lauck described the number of weapons involved, and the circumstances under which some were recovered, as “extremely troubling.”
Richard Wince received 1-year sentence
Judge Lauck informed the defendant that if she could sentence him to look into the eyes of the family of suicide victim, Isaiah Janes, that’s what she would do. Instead, Richard Wince received 1 year in federal prison for his illegal gun sales. Wince must now figure out how to best survive the prison environment as an ex-cop.
Where the law falls short
In the recent climate of violence and school shootings, Americans seem divided about the best solution. Both the defense and prosecution in Wince’s case expressed frustration around the federal statute governing unlicensed gun dealing. The statute provides no specific number of weapons sold over a period of time that requires someone to obtain a license. A licensed firearms dealer must perform background checks on perspective buyers. Private sellers qualify for exemption from the requirement. Wince’s defense attorney called the law “unconstitutionally vague.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter S. Duffey expressed a desire for the statute to specify a number of firearms requiring someone to become a licensed gun dealer. While the statute lacks clarity, getting an illegal firearms dealer off the streets benefits us all.
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