Is Nobody Else Concerned That Someone Had 80-Plus Assault Weapons in a Storage Unit in Murphy?

Yesterday, when it came out that the guy who said he had been injured by a hit-and-run driver during a midnight jog had actually been attempting to blow up a natural gas main (the shrapnel was a dead giveaway), people went bat shit. My Twitter feed exploded (figuratively) when the news came out and continued into the evening as the FBI raided a nearby home.

I get that. Not every day that a bomb-toting person tinkers with public infrastructure in a quiet-ish suburb like Plano. But the same wasn't true with the story that was squeezed in on page three of the Metro section -- "Cache of military-grade weapons stolen" -- in this morning's DMN. Says the story, burglars broke into Mark Brown's storage unit at Store More Self Storage in Murphy and stole 85-or-so assault weapons valued at more than $100,000. Which seemed to yield a collective shrug.

Poking around, I saw that I'd missed a blog post and probably a Tweet about it, and I would have seen it on WFAA had I watched the news, but still. Am I the only one who finds it disconcerting that a) several dozen assault weapons were being kept in a storage unit in Murphy and b) that they are now missing?

I called Tom Crowley, the Dallas spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives, which is leading the investigation into the stolen guns.

"Not to make anybody mad, I always go with military-style weapons as opposed to assault weapons," Crowley said. As he points out, any type of weapon is a good choice for an assault.

And what exactly does that mean? AK-47-type mostly, with some high-caliber handguns mixed in. They are the type of gun commonly smuggled into Mexico and used to indiscriminately slaughter innocents and non-innocents alike in the drug war there, though Crowley said there is no evidence that's where these are headed.

Numbers-wise, the theft of 85 or 90 assault military-grade weapons is high. Crowley can name one comparable incident in which thieves nabbed a large stash of weapons as Cabela's, a sporting goods store, prepared to open in Fort Worth.

But, "there's nothing illegal or unusual" about an individual keeping a few dozen or few hundred firearms to trade or, you know, for a hobby. That's what Brown was doing. "They were collectible weapons from militaries around the world. It's the same type of weapon you'd use in a war," he told the News.

No really way to track them either, since neither the federal government nor the state of Texas has gun registration, Crowley said. "In the state of Texas, so long as you're not a prohibited person, like a convicted felon, you can have as many guns as you want." That's true for handguns as well as assault military-grade weapons.

Being a native Texan, I suppose was aware of the fact on some level, but I never followed that thread far enough to realize that people are keeping several dozen assault weapons in random storage units or that this was a common enough phenomenon that no one really blinks an eye.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson