Boston Herald drops Uncle Henry’s over gun sales links

Posted July 26, 2009, at 10:22 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The publisher of Uncle Henry’s Swap or Sell it Guide says he’ll look for another Boston-area distributor now that the Boston Herald, under pressure from anti-gun activists, has said it will stop distributing the booklet.

The Boston Globe reported that community activists charged that gun sales arranged through Uncle Henry’s classified ads were contributing to violence in the city.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley lauded the decision.

“Uncle Henry’s has been explicitly linked to black market firearms entering Boston and being used to commit crimes on our streets and neighborhoods,” Conley wrote in an e-mail.

In one case, Boston police traced a .45-caliber Glock they obtained during a 2003 arrest to a Maine resident, the last person known to have bought the gun.

The Maine man told police he had sold the gun through Uncle Henry’s about a month earlier to a man he knew as Michael Smith.

Boston police said Smith was actually Michael Fowler of Lynn, who was convicted in 2006 of selling about 20 guns in Boston that he had bought illegally in Maine and New Hampshire.

Court records said eight of nine guns police recovered from Fowler had been listed for sale in Uncle Henry’s.

Conley was not the only one expressing pleasure at the Herald’s decision to stop distributing Uncle Henry’s.

“That’s just wonderful news,” said Cathie Whittenburg, director of the New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

Herald spokeswoman Gwen Gage said, “There’s concern that firearms for sale in the book end up on the streets of Boston, and we didn’t want any part of that.”

Uncle Henry’s publisher, Kevin Webb, said he would look into other distribution methods for Boston and that the guide’s Web site would continue to list firearms.

“We are not in the business of trying to enforce the law,” he said. “I think it’s time in this world that people start taking responsibility for their actions. People kill people; guns don’t kill people.”

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