Federal agents were looking to see how Richard Schmidt was importing counterfeit jerseys when they found 18 guns, 45 bullets and a list of black and Jewish leaders.
Schmidt plead guilty to federal gun charges and the counterfeit racket last month, and will be sentenced in October. But many connected to the crime are still scratching their heads over how an ex-felon with ties to white supremacist groups was able to get his hands on so many guns.
“I can’t tell you how he got all those guns and ammunition,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach told the Plain Dealer. “It’s not that I won’t tell you; it’s that I can’t. This is somebody who should never have had one gun, one bullet. But he had an entire arsenal.”
Schmidt is technically banned from possessing a gun for the rest of his life. In 1989, he pulled a gun on three men during a traffic argument, killing one man and wounding the other two. He was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and served 12 years in prison.
So how did he get all those guns?
Schmidt might have been able to stockpile firearms so easily thanks to decades of hard work by the the gun lobby. Combating calls for stricter background checks on private gun sales, the National Rifle Association insisted the bill would create a national registry of gun owners which would be used to confiscate weapons and enact tyranny. This fearmongering has also hobbled federal law enforcement agents, who are forbidden from keeping any records of gun purchases. That means individuals like Schmidt can potentially avoid background checks when they purchase firearms, or they can obtain guns through a straw purchaser that law enforcement cannot track because any records revealing the purchaser’s activities would have been destroyed.