A case of a Phoenix gun dealer whose sales were allegedly tied to Mexican drug cartels fell apart yesterday after a judge decided the state didn't have enough evidence.
The prosecution of George Iknadosian, (at right), of Glendale, had been heavily promoted to the news media by authorities who wanted to show they're doing something about the American weapons being used in the bloody Mexican cartel war. Instead of a good-news story for state Attorney General Terry Goddard, though, the acquittal of Iknadosian has been seen as a blunder.
Because of all the national press, the failure is also bringing negative media attention to the state. That attention seems partly due to the anti-gun attitude of some in the media -- as Thursday's New York Times article exemplifies.
To the Times, the case "underscores how difficult it is in the United States to convict a gun dealer of wrongdoing in connection with the illegal flow of weapons to Mexico." With that phrasing, the Times seems to be suggesting the process be made smoother -- all that nagging about "evidence" ought to be eliminated, right?
The Times also points out that Arizona's gun laws are "lenient." That's a matter of opinion, and the Times doesn't bother to back up that claim with any statistics. Take a look at Wikipedia's list of gun laws: Purchasing a gun in most states is no easier in Arizona than it is in most states. (Arizona's use-of-force laws, on the other hand, are kind of lenient. For instance, did you know you can legally blow away someone you see setting fire to an occupied house?)
We find it amusing that the Arizona Republic didn't feature a quote by Goddard after the acquittal announcement, but the New York Times seemed to have no trouble getting him:
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"We believe it was an error, and we are going to do everything we can in the system to correct that error," the state's attorney general, Terry Goddard, said in an interview Thursday. "It's not over by any means."
When prosecutors lose a case, they always sound like whiny defendants, don't they?
This case came down to a simple fact for Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield: The state never proved that any gun Iknadosian sold ended up in the hands of someone who legally couldn't own a gun. It doesn't cut the legal mustard, apparently, that he could have -- and maybe should have -- known some of his customers were "straw buyers" for criminals.
No doubt, some Arizona gun dealers are tied to the drug cartels responsible for thousands of murders in Mexico. It's a major problem -- but it looks like Goddard's not going down in history as the person who fixed it.