Tammy Mutasa, NBC 5 Garland Reporter
Jackie Don Burke faces 5 years in prison, a huge fine and had to give up his 45 guns after he was convicted of dealing guns without a license in Garland. Now he's speaking out for the first time, saying his conviction is unfair.
A Rowlett man convicted of dealing guns without a license in Garland says his recent conviction is unfair.
A federal jury on Feb. 8 convicted Jackie Don Burke, 66, of selling guns out of his former screen-printing business.
"By definition, I am now a felon, and that hurts very much," said Burke, who goes by his initials, J.D. "I've been a law-abiding citizen for all my life."
Burke said he did not aim to take his lifelong passion for guns to the wrong side of the law.
"I'm disappointed more than anything else," he said. "I was very shocked when the verdict came in -- disappointed, yes; angry, no."
Burke was found guilty of engaging in the business of firearms without a license after nearly a week of trial and deliberation.
The U. S. Attorney's Office said that Burkes' own records show he sold at least 135 guns during a 14-month period. At one point, he sold a pistol to an undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, prosecutors said.
But Burke insists that he was selling guns from his personal collection, which is legal.
He had to surrender 45 guns after his conviction.
"Well, that wasn't so many to me -- I love guns," he said. "The only reason I had 45 there at the time is that I couldn't afford to buy 60 or 80 or 100 at a time."
Burke told the jury he was "too old to go to jail" but now says that's not what he meant and that he respects the law.
"Basically when I said, 'I'm too old to go to jail,' it means that I'm going to do right," he said. "I don't want to go to jail in any purposes."
Burke said he is worried about his personal safety now that he will lose all of his guns. He said he survived a knife attack during an attempted robbery of his former gun shop in 1982.
"I had a gun on at the time," he said. "If I hadn't have, he would have definitely killed me."
Burke faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He will remain free on bond pending his sentencing, which is set for May 24 before U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on the case because it is still pending.