Lines Are Drawn

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guns in virginia, solorzano, evening news 052007
CBS
If Robert Moates knows one thing, it's guns. He's been selling them in his Virginia gun shop for nearly 50 years.

"I like to collect them, I like the artistry," said Moates.

But Moates believes he is in a legal showdown with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to save his store and protect his Constitutional rights, reports CBS News correspondent Bianca Solorzano.

"I believe that our ancestors fought for our freedom and be able to guns for their protection," said Moates.

Moates is just one of seven Virginia gun dealers New York City is suing for allegedly selling illegal guns.

New York says last year police confiscated more than 6,000 illegal guns, 86 percent of them from out of state. More than 130 were traced back to the seven Virginia dealers.

New York set up a sting operation to trap gun dealers and video taped some allegedly making improper sales to undercover agents.

Robert Moates shop was the focus of one sting operation last year.

"Hmmm. Possibly," said Moates recently when asked if he is being unfairly targeted.

Virginia's Attorney General Robert McDonnell agrees and had the Virginia legislature pass a law targeting New York-style raids, reports Solorzano.

"We simply could not permit any city, or any other state, to send unauthorized undercover, vigilante, private investigators into the common wealth of Virginia," said McDonnell.

In a letter obtained by CBS News, McDonnell warns mayor Bloomberg, "That such non law enforcement activities will be punishable as a felony in Virginia."

John Feinblatt, who helps coordinate New York's undercover program, believes the attorney general is simply playing politics.

(SOT — John Feinblatt/Bloomberg Justice Coordinator)

"People should stop protecting turf," said Feinblatt. "People should stop protecting the gun industry."

But gun dealers who are targeted in Bloomberg's raids say this has nothing to do with preventing future crimes, and everything to do with Bloomberg's future political aspirations.

But today Bloomberg announced he is not running for president, making this geographical battle more about a clash of cultures, adds Solorzano.

"This is a middle America type people," said Moates. "They hunt, they fish."

A southern lifestyle where guns are a part of life, versus a billionaire Northeast mayor who wants to keep illegal weapons off his streets.