HEY U., DROP GUNS
By BRAD HAMILTON
NYPost, February 5, 2006 -- The feds have a new target in their battle to block illegal guns from coming to New York: college kids in Georgia.
They say unthinking students in the Peach State — along with college kids in other states with lax gun laws — are the first step in supplying most black-market weapons to the city.
Students with clean records buy the guns legally, then sell them to traffickers for as little as $20 profit per firearm, investigators say.
Georgia alone supplied 10 percent of the guns used in crimes in New York in the first half of 2005, according to federal data.
But one woman is doing something about it.
Federal firearms agent Vanessa McLemore has launched a program to educate college students across the state about how the gun they sell to a friend or crooked dealer can kill a cop in the Big Apple.
McLemore, the head of Atlanta's field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, first cautioned students at Grambling against the practice — called "straw purchasing" — in 1998.
She's expanding the effort, training 11 field supervisors to visit every campus across Georgia with a scared-straight message.
"It will help reduce violent crime," said McLemore of her program.
McLemore, 47, warns underclassmen about dealers who might randomly approach them with offers of quick cash or drugs.
"Students don't realize the dangers that are involved or the implications," she said. "The gun they buy for someone else could be used to kill someone's 2-year-old or someone's mother. They tend to listen when they realize that they, too, can be prosecuted."
One straw purchaser, Kevin Winborn, of College Park, Ga., was sentenced to a year in prison last year after he and two pals bought 22 guns from a shop — three of which wound up in New York.
One of the biggest sales occurred at DeVry in Decatur, where five students were caught selling about 100 handguns that ended up in New Jersey in 1998.
The flow of student-supplied guns is "a huge issue," said former NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir. "That's the way most of the illegal guns come into the city."
U.S. Attorney Dave Nahmias of Atlanta said: "The straw purchasers are generally law-abiding citizens who think they're going to make a couple hundred bucks or just help out a friend."
Some people like seven grain bread . . . I like 55 grain lead.