2 local gun dealers named in federal lawsuit

By  | 

A federal lawsuit filed in New York aims to crack down on illegal gun sales.

It names 15 dealers across the country in five different states.

Two of those dealers are right here: the A-1 jewelry and Pawn in Augusta and AAA Pawnbrokers in Hephzibah.

When News 12 stopped by the A-1 Jewelry and Pawn shop, the owner didn't seem concerned at all about the accusations.

In fact, he says he didn't even know about the case until the media calls started flooding in Monday, May 15.

"I'm not New York's problems. They've got a lot...but I'm not one," says Earl Driggers, the owner of the A-1 Jewelry and Pawn. His shop is one of 15 gun shops the city of New York is accusing of selling guns illegally to undercover investigators.

The other?

AAA Pawnbrokers, owned by Earl's son, Greg Driggers.

"These dealers are the worst of the worst, either intentionally or negligently selling handguns that violates federal law," said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A news release from Bloomberg's office says A-1 sold an illegal gun to an undercover agent on March 30.

In so-called "straw purchases", the buyer completes the paperwork and passes the background check, then hands the weapon over to someone who's not allowed to buy it...like a convicted felon.

Guns can be bought cheap in states like Georgia...and in New York, where gun purchasing laws are more strict, the buyer can turn around and re-sell them at huge profits.

"I would never, ever, ever," Earl says. "I don't know who Mayor Bloomberg thinks he is, but he's barking up the wrong tree."

In Georgia, a gun buyer has to be 18 years old and pass a background check. But Earl says he also holds a much higher ethical standard.

"We won't sell it to any Joe blow," he says.

As for the accusations of selling to an undercover agent...?

"The guy that makes the deal pays for the deal and takes the gun away," Earl says.

He says if anything, he's partnered with the good guys.

"I'm as close as the skin is on my hide to the ATF," says Earl. "They work very closely with me."

According to Bloomberg's office, all 15 dealers named in the suit sold a gun to a team of undercover investigators who wore hidden cameras during the undercover operation.

In each case, the mayor says there were red flags that should have stopped the sale.