Well, isn’t THIS Interesting?

Seems Muhammed and Malvo originally planned to use a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle, rather than the Bushmaster for their shooting-spree.

Prosecutor: Sniper Plot Hatched Here

SEATTLE — Beltway snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo set up a sniper nest in a Tacoma field more than a month before they began their killing spree, Virginia prosecutors have concluded.

Prosecutors said the pair were preparing or training to kill randomly with a rifle set up on a bipod when they were interrupted by a truck that cut through the field early on Aug. 17, 2002. They abandoned the weapon and fled into the bushes.

“I think it’s fair to say that we believe they were set up to shoot someone. We can’t say who or why,” said James Willett, deputy prosecuting attorney in Prince William County, Va. “Based on their subsequent actions, the random shootings of 10 people, it is a reasonable assumption that they were preparing and training there for what eventually happened here.”

The Seattle Times reported Friday that investigators have traced the Remington Model 700, a rifle commonly used by police sharpshooters, found in the field to a Tacoma man, Earl Lee Dancy Jr., who has admitted he illegally purchased it for Muhammad and then reported it stolen at Muhammad’s request after it was found.

A straw-purchase! Wait ’till you hear where he bought it.

Dancy is under investigation by federal agents for making that purchase. Muhammad, 43, could not legally possess a gun because he was the subject of a domestic-violence protective order. Dancy and Muhammad were friends and Muhammad and Malvo had stayed with him off and on.

Dancy also was the owner of a .45-caliber handgun used to kill Keenya Cook in Tacoma in February 2002. Malvo, 18, has told police and psychiatrists that Muhammad sent him to commit that killing as a test.

A federal law-enforcement source told The Times that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle is contemplating charging Dancy with making false statements on a federal firearms form. The crime is a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Yet they claim that the Brady Background Check has “stopped” 200k, 300k, 700k or more “prohibited persons” from buying guns. And how many prosecutions have there been for “making a false statement” on the 4473 form?

Don’t you think they’d at least run down the known violent felons they reject?

Dancy, contacted at his home in Tacoma, told the newspaper he was under a “gag order” and could not talk about the case.

Um, “gag orders” come from the bench. I’d understand it if he said “my lawyer told me not to say anything to the press,” but a “gag order”? That’s interesting.

In his testimony during Muhammad’s trial in Virginia last November, Dancy said Muhammad came to him in November 2001, said he needed a rifle and gave him $800 in cash. Dancy bought the gun at Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma.

Yep! It’s obviously the fault of that evil gun dealer!

Over the next several months, Dancy testified, he, Muhammad and Malvo went several times to an outdoor Tacoma shooting range to fire it.

“Did the defendant ever make any remarks to you about Mr. Malvo at the shooting range?” Prosecutor Paul Ebert asked.

“Yeah,” Dancy replied. “He showed me a target and we looked at the grouping and he said, ‘That’s a sniper,”‘ obviously impressed with Malvo’s skill.

When found in the Tacoma field, the gun was loaded with a .308-caliber bullet in the chamber and equipped with a telescopic sight and bipod, used to steady the weapon for more accurate shooting.

Yup, not the lowly .223 varmint round, but the .308 Winchester, a real deer cartridge. People were horrified by what the .223 did, but with the .308 I doubt there would have been a single survivor. Especially if Malvo had used soft-point hunting ammo.

Had they used this rifle, would we now be hearing cries to ban “sniper guns”?

The discovery of the rifle may partially answer one question for investigators, according to the Virginia prosecutors: why Malvo shoplifted a Bushmaster assault rifle, the weapon used in the Beltway shootings, from Bull’s Eye. According to Bull’s Eye employees, the Bushmaster was first noticed missing sometime in August or September 2002 — probably after the Remington was abandoned in the field.

The two guns are significantly different from each other.

No! REALLY?

The Remington, the weapon found in the field, is a 44-inch-long rifle that can be fired only after the shooter manually operates its bolt action, which ejects a spent casing and reloads the next round for firing. Its magazine carries five bullets. It can shoot accurately at distances of 500 yards or more.

The Bushmaster is roughly 35 inches long and fires a .223-caliber bullet. It is an assault-style weapon that can fire as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger and can be fed with a 30-round magazine. (They had to get that in.) While accurate at up to 250 yards or so, it is not commonly considered a sniper rifle.

The rapidity of fire is immaterial here. Malvo fired one shot at each person during each attack.

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