1 July 2019 – A Wisconsin gun manufacturer and retailer pleaded guilty to illegally smuggling automatic weapons to Australia for years, putting paid to the NRA myth that gun manufacturers are ‘responsible’ people.
Andy Lloyd Huebschmann of New Holstein pleaded guilty to sending an Australian dealer pistols, rifles and rifle parts to convert semi-automatic guns into fully automatic weapons.
Semi-automatic and automatic weapons are banned in Australia. Thureon showed no respect for federal or international law. The NRA may perpetually say: ‘If guns were outlawed, only outlaws would have guns,’ but in this case outlaws were smuggling guns to outlaws. The question is – how connected to the NRA is Thureon? In the absence of any NRA statement condemning the smuggling, it is time for Congress to ask questions.
Sophie Carson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote: “Huebschmann … met Paul Munro of Australia at a Las Vegas gun trade show about seven years ago and Munro persuaded him to ship him Thureon guns under the radar… Munro has been sentenced to 10 years in Australian prison for his role in the scheme… Officials at his sentencing hearing said dozens of Thureon-imported guns, including some fully automatic weapons, remained on Australian streets.
“In one shipment Munro paid $1,000 for each rifle kit and $2,000 for a pack of pistol slides and frames. Australian news outlets report he, in turn, sold the rifles for $15,000 each and the pistols for $5,000 a piece.”
In a Youtube video, a Thureon representative brags one of their weapons will ‘give you a minimum of five rounds if you so much as touch the trigger’. Hardly the behaviour of a responsible manufacturer/retailer. Such a claim seems more like a call to mass shooters than to someone who wants to defend their home or to hunt.
Thureon attended at least one NRA convention in 2014, while the smuggling operation was likely to have been running. Despite its multi-million dollar resources, the NRA failed to spot it was giving exhibition space to a long-term smuggler. Was it an an NRA event the two parties guilty of smuggling met? Perhaps the NRA doesn’t want to know? According to several articles including a piece in Finances Online, support from gun manufacturers earns the NRA tens of millions per year.
The NRA demonstrated it had no proper due diligence and scrutiny when it happily associated with Russian spies and took Russian funds. It is not known – yet – whether Thureon donated to the NRA, but it attended NRA conventions and gave away costly guns as prizes. Could the NRA, doing some basic checks, have determined there were issues? Do they scrutinize members and donors at all? Since it seems they are not going to upset their funding sources, however dubious those sources may be, it is time for Congress to step in and fully investigate – and at the same time finally end the pretense the NRA is in any way a charity deserving tax breaks.
Please contact your senator and/or representative through the U.S. Capitol Hotline at (202) 224-3121 or find their email addresses by visiting www.senate.gov, and give them the following message, personalized to your liking:
I am absolutely outraged to find a gun manufacturer, Thureon, was able to smuggle guns, automatic weapons, and kits for automatics for years to Australia, a country seeking to avoid gun massacres. How did this go undetected for so long?
The smugglers attended at least one NRA convention, and I believe the public needs to know whether Thureon were NRA donors. If the NRA is about responsible gun ownership and sales, and if they rely on law to justify their existence and have tax-free status, then surely they have a duty to try to check that all their affiliates and donors are compliant with laws both national and international.
Since they have failed consistently in this basic duty, not least over the Russian donation and spy scandal, I am calling on you to act.
This serious case highlights the need for external scrutiny of the NRA’s funding, and a re-examination of its tax-exempt status. I want questions asked in Congress and a committee organised to investigate all the ramifications this story carries: Was Thureon an NRA donor, and what links exist between the two organisations? Does the NRA carry out any due diligence on its donors, and if so, should it not be more robust given this story?
Considering the amount of money it is taking from manufacturers like Thureon, is the NRA deserving of tax-exempt status – or is it simply a lobbying business funded by coordinated, for-profit businesses to further their aims while hiding behind a ‘charitable’ and ‘educational’ veneer?
I know NRA-funded congresspeople will fight to avoid the NRA facing scrutiny – but it’s time the NRA is finally called out, publicly scrutinized, and for its tax-free days to end.
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