The following consists of excerpts from an article that appeared in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch (July 28, 1994) on page B1 under the headline "Pulaski man, dealer charged; arms seized; Group said to plan armory raid, other actions." The byline is John Hoke and the dateline is Roanoke. (The Richmond Times-Dispatch accepts letters to the editor by fax at 804-775-8068.)
Federal agents yesterday accused a Pulaski gun-rights advocate of forming a paramilitary group with plans to raid a National Guard armory, blow up airports, and kill police officers.
James Roy Mullins, 40, was charged with violating federal firearms laws. Agents said they seized 13 guns from Mullins, including an AR-15 assault rifle that had been illegally converted to shoot 750 rounds per minute.
Also arrested for firearms violations was Paul David Peterson, 25, a federally licensed gun dealer in Blacksburg. Five guns were seized from Peterson, including an Uzi and a Russian-made SKS fixed with a bayonet, agents said.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents said Mullins is the founder of the Blue Ridge Hunt Club, and Peterson is a member.
"Mullins is organizing a group of confederates, to be armed and trained in paramilitary fashion, in preparation for armed conflict with government authorities should firearms legislation become too restrictive," ATF Special Agent T.S. Fairburn said in an affidavit for a search warrant.
At the club's first meeting, the affidavit said, Mullins told club members they should disguise their identities to obtain firearms, as he had been doing, to circumvent the federal gun control act.
Mullins told WDBJ-TV in a hallway outside a federal courtroom in Roanoke that he had an idea about a year ago to set up an organization to work against gun control legislation within the political structure. Mullins denied any wrongdoing and said his actions were "above board, nothing shady."
William Darrell Stump II of Dublin, a member of the Blue Ridge Hunt Club, said the arrest of Mullins is part of a continuing effort by the ATF to disarm American citizens.
"James Mullins hasn't hurt anybody. He hasn't killed anybody," Stump said. "But the ATF killed a lot of women and children down in Waco."
Stump was referring to last year's assault and siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, that ended with four ATF agents and 72 cult members dead.
Stump said the group's meetings were about tactics to forestall gun control legislation, not overthrow the government.
"It's a political organization trying to fight gun control laws," he said. "More gun owners are being more politically active. The [ATF] wants to nip this in the bud by taking out the leadership."
In the affidavit, filed in U.S. District Court, Fairburn said Mullins planned to break into the National Guard Armory in Pulaski to outfit his group with military firearms.
ATF agent-in-charge James G. Silvey said Mullins had been a member of the Guard unit at the armory.
"They were planning to arm themselves and head for the hills," said Silvey.
Agents said the meetings began May 1, and were attended by as many as 15 people.
Mullins boasted to a group member that he had caches of contraband firearms hidden in Pulaski, Fairburn said in the affidavit.
The agent said Mullins maintained inventory lists and organizational guidelines on a computer in his home, and gave a backup disc to a member in case anything happened to him. The affidavit said the disc contained Mullins' plan of action.
"Our purpose is to carry out a gorilla [sic] warfare action. ... We want to do things that will incite the public into an uprising against the local, state, and federal authorities," it said. "Hit and run tactics will be the method of fighting. ... We will destroy targets such as telephone relay centers, bridges, fuel storage lines, airports, etc. ... human targets will be engaged ... when it is beneficial to the cause to eliminate particular individuals who oppose us (Troops, police, political figures, snitches, etc.)" Fairburn, testifying at Peterson's bond hearing, said the gun dealer had once offered advice on how to shoot police officers.
"The best place to shoot a cop with a [bullet-proof] vest is either in the head or in the crotch, because that would put him down," Peterson said, according to Fairburn.
The charges filed against Mullins and Peterson do not involve the allegations of plans for insurrection, but involve relatively routine firearms violations.
Mullins, a bearded man who was wearing a blue mechanic's uniform with his nickname, "Moon," above the breast pocket, is charged with the possession and sale of unregistered silencers and a short-barreled rifle, and facilitating the unlawful purchase of a firearm. He could be sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined $750,000.
Peterson is charged with the sale of a firearm to a felon and falsifying state and federal firearms transactions. He could be sentenced to 35 years in prison and fined $1 million.
Silvey said when Mullins was arrested on his way to work yesterday morning, a .45-caliber handgun wasfound in the car.
"He'd made previous statements that it was intended to shoot an ATF agent. I asked him about that and he said that was true," Silvey said.
"He was a little slow on the draw so early in the morning."
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