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Here is my 'theory' on this:

Couple with friend finds the obviously heavier case and opened it to discover the M16s.

Couple probably has no gun experience and maybe the friend does and he might have said 'I'll take these off your hands and can sell them for a lot of money and we share what I get"

Couple gets cold feet, disagrees with this and comes up with the reported story and notifies authorities.
 
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Let me guess... more fuel for the fire under the anti-gunners cornholes... "Mistakes like these are yet another reason we must ban these (types of) weapons from public ownership!"

Jim Carrey Reaction GIF
 
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As I read this and the comments all I could think too was how the hell did someone, somewhere along the line not notice one was a hell of a lot heavier? Sure sounds like somewhere along the line someone was stealing these things and somehow "lost track" of the one. Should keep some paper pushers busy for a LONG time tracking the #'s and figuring out how the hell those went "missing" for all that time. Also first thing comes to my mind is was this the first time? Doubt it. How many crates like this slipped out of some Gov warehouse and into some cartel's hands? The crate would be worth a lot of cash to someone who "diverted" those guns for money.
 
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Here is my 'theory' on this:

Couple with friend finds the obviously heavier case and opened it to discover the M16s.

Couple probably has no gun experience and maybe the friend does and he might have said 'I'll take these off your hands and can sell them for a lot of money and we share what I get"

Couple gets cold feet, disagrees with this and comes up with the reported story and notifies authorities.
Now that sounds VERY possible. That they may have at first been tempted to say wow we hit it big. Then got cold feet as you said. If they did they got real smart to stop the idea of cashing in. Man if they had tried to sell those you know chances are REAL good they would have gotten caught and then the Gov would have thrown the book at them out of embarrassment.
 
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the fear the article tries to instill in the reader, is amusing.. these are just rifles...not suit case nukes.. Geez...
Suspect they may have been asked to do that. Where there is one of these, chances are there is more. At least they suspect there may be more. What the gov would be scared of is the next time someone would not admit they got them and sell them. If one of those ended up at some high profile crime? Then they were not able to cover up that it came from some Military storehouse and they had no idea it was even gone. Lawyers would fight each other over it and the embarrassment factor would be huge. A LOT of people if they opened that thing and found those, would sell them. Then good chance they end up at some crime and the fun would begin looking for who was going to take the "blame".
 
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They were, according to another article but was a warrant really necessary considering the couple had already notified authorities?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) executed a search warrant in a Richmond-area storage facility on Monday afternoon. However, that only came after the couple voluntarily notified authorities of their highly-unusual find.
Any excuse to get into full battle rattle and maybe shoot a dog or two.
 
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They were, according to another article but was a warrant really necessary considering the couple had already notified authorities?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) executed a search warrant in a Richmond-area storage facility on Monday afternoon. However, that only came after the couple voluntarily notified authorities of their highly-unusual find.
I thought that at first too, but after re-reading it, I don't think the warrant was for the couple.

Edit: Nope, on the video they said the warrant was for the couple's storage unit. That seems a bit excessive. I bet they don't get the containers back soon, if at all. Meanwhile you and I will pay more to store them for a few years than the couple would have made selling them.
 

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