The Associated Press
Private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide has been able to keep 17 AK-47s at its armory under a deal that sidesteps federal laws prohibiting private parties from buying automatic weapons, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The News & Observer of Raleigh found Blackwater purchased 17 Romanian AK-47s and 17 Bushmasters - and then gave ownership of the guns to the Camden County sheriff.
Sheriff Tony Perry said his department has used the AK-47s only in shooting practice at Blackwater and that none of his 19 deputies are qualified to use them. Under the 2005 agreement, the sheriff's office has unlimited access to the rifles.
Blackwater CEO Gary Jackson and company owner Erik Prince told the News & Observer that the Moyock-based company has used the weapons in training for police officers and military members to familiarize them with the gun if they encounter it while making an arrest or on a battlefield.
"As long as I have contracts, I can buy fully automatic weapons," Jackson said.
The 34 weapons are registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record to the Camden County sheriff. Seventeen AK-47s and five Bushmasters are stored and used at Blackwater. The other 12 Bushmasters are assigned to Camden County deputies, Perry said.
Richard Myers, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and former U.S. attorney, said the Blackwater agreement could be an illegal straw purchase in which one person fills out the federal paperwork to get a weapon for someone else.