I-Team: Former Gun Dealer Supports Background Checks - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Former Gun Dealer Supports Background Checks

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Bruce Daly in his shop. Bruce Daly in his shop.
Bruce Daly says he supports universal background checks. Bruce Daly says he supports universal background checks.
Surveillance video captured of Bruce Daly. Surveillance video captured of Bruce Daly.

LAS VEGAS -- An effort to require universal background checks for all guns sales failed in the Senate last month by six votes.

Opponents of the bill insist it will not keep guns from criminals or the mentally ill.

But the I-Team recently met a man with a different perspective on the issue, born from his own prosecution.

Bruce Daly sold the gun that was used to kill a security officer and wound a U.S. marshal at the federal courthouse downtown. The transaction took place at a gun show and without a background check.

More: Guns of Nevada Special Reports

While logically Daly knows he didn't pull the trigger, the slaying changed his heart and his mind.

In a dusty workshop on the outskirts of Phoenix, where his grandchildren's Tonka trucks mingle with the tools of a master craftsman, Daly shapes the fragments of his future one piece at a time.

I-Team: "It's kind of ironic that you're making pistol grips."

Daly: (laughs) It is. If I wasn't able to do this, I'd be in real trouble.

After nearly 20 years in the business of supplying cowboy action shooters from hard-to-find double-barrel shotguns to costumes and accessories to outfit the target-shooting sport, Daly himself can no longer legally own a gun, a consequence of his conviction for dealing in firearms without a license.

"I told them I've got nothing to hide," Daly said. "I've done nothing wrong. I'm not your criminal. Well, that didn't prove out to be quite true."

Frustrated by increasing regulation, in 2006 Daly let his federal firearms license lapse and began selling his significant cache of weapons -- some 6,000 guns -- as a private collector.

Under federal law, sales between private parties don't require a background check.

The move captured the attention of a 2009 undercover investigation by the city of New York to expose the so-called gun show loophole.

But it was the 2010 shooting at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas that put Daly in the government's sites.

"It was hard," he said. "It was hard to imagine that, but it happened."

An ex-con with a violent criminal record used a shotgun Daly sold at an Arizona gun show to kill a security officer and wound a federal marshal.

"That hurt," he said. "Like I say, I would've never guessed that."

A subsequent investigation of Daly by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms identified 30 crimes nationwide, Daly says, that were committed with guns he sold.

I-Team: "Would background checks have made a difference?"

Daly: "I don't know. I'm sure it probably would've. I didn't sell to them directly no matter what, but somewhere along the way, there was one of two sales and if those were required background checks, I gotta think it would've made a difference. If nothing more, maybe it wouldn't have been 30. Maybe it would've been 10."

Some six months after the courthouse shooting… the ATF raided Daly's home, seizing more than 1,000 firearms.

Ultimately, the case against him had nothing to do with the 30 criminal incidents linked to his gun sales.

Instead, Daly admitted to violating federal firearms laws twice, branding him a convicted felon.

"It's hard, because I know who I am," he said. "If I was a crook, maybe it wouldn't be so hard."

With a financial loss of upwards of $1 million in forfeited weapons, equipment and legal fees, retirement for the 62-year-old is no longer an option.

So Daly spends his days crafting accessories for other gun enthusiasts while counting the days until the end of his probation.

"It's a little tougher, a little harder," he said. "I made a mistake and I'm paying for it. I accept that and move on."

Daly believes if he'd kept his federal firearms license he would not have been prosecuted.

No way of course to know. The I-Team reached out to the ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office for comment, but both declined.

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