ATF Stings on Private Gun Sellers

Discussion in 'In the News' started by gunsmoker, Oct 6, 2006.

  1. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Saw in local newspaper yesterday, 10/5/2006: Five Arrested in Georgia Flea Market Gun Sting: Gainesville: A federal grand jury has indicted five men for selling guns without licenses at a flea market.... BATFE Special Agent Marc Jackson said... 17 month investigation... undercover agents bought guns sold illegally, and at least one agent told a seller that he was not a Georgia resident.... some of the unlicensed dealers also sold weapons to convicted felons and illegal immigrants.... the men arrested were: Thomas Hallman, 77, Jack Prough, 62, Albert Stephens, 72, Charles Murphy, 63, Gerald Barnes, 65. .... one of the illegal guns was a .22 magnum derringer... a small weapon, easily concealed, and belonging to a special class of firearms, like machineguns and silencers, that needs to be registered with ATF, Agent Jackson said....
     
  2. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Three Comments

    Three comments:
    1-- I don't have a link. My local newspaper did not even credit any source for this story-- no reporter's name or national wire service, etc.

    2-- I am in favor of law enforcement enforcing our laws, especially laws that have been on the books for over 30 years, were passed by Congress with overwhelming public support, and which still enjoy widespread support among the general public today-- even among gun owners.

    3-- The possibility that these men might not have known they were breaking federal laws bothers me. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but it should be a mitigating factor. Federal gun control laws are long, complicated, and some of them cannot even be found in the U.S. Code, as passed by Congress. Some federal criminal laws are created by bureaucrats-- heads of federal agencies--- and only published in obscure places like The Federal Register. This is wrong, and I hope the feds spend more money publicizing the law, and summarizing it in plain English, so that ordinary Americans will be exposed to it, can easily find it, and easily understand it --what is permitted and what is not. (And of course any ambiguity should be resolved in favor of liberty and the Defendant. Criminal statutes should be narrowly interpreted.)
     

  3. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

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    Yeah, I was thinking that myself. To my knowledge there is no real definition as to what level of buying and selling turn a gun enthusiast that likes to buy and sell for his own collection (does not require a FFL) as opposed to making money for a business (does require a FFL).

    Also, since when did you need to register a derringer?
     
  4. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    Maybe it wasn't really a derringer, but a novelty gun like a belt buckle, making it an AOW.
     
  5. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Belt Buckle?

    You mean somebody makes a belt buckle that IS itself a gun? The belt buckle shoots? I didn't know this. Such a weapon should be considered an Any Other Weapon (AOW) since it is a disguised gun that can be fired without revealing the gun as such.

    On the other hand, if we're talking about a belt buckle HOLSTER that allows OPEN CARRY of a North American Arms mini-revolver, this should not be an AOW for two reasons. The gun is not disguised at all. It is attached to the buckle, which is hardly any different from clipping it to one's belt. Secondly, the gun cannot be used (cocked, or fired) until it is removed from the buckle and held in one's hands.

    Now I have heard that North American Arms made a "WALLET HOLSTER" for some of their mini-revolvers that mostly concealed the gun in this wallet, the kind of leather men's wallet that you'd expect any guy to tote around, and the gun could be cocked and fired from inside the wallet, so that nobody would know you were handling a gun instead of handling a wallet until the thing actually went "bang." I can see why this is an AOW, too.

    Still, I doubt that you would find such distinctions in the law on AOW's by reading the U.S. Code. And wouldn't most people assume that if you take two perfectly legal products and combine them together, you get a legal product?

    I mean, isn't it counter-intuitive that somebody who can legally own a pistol, and can legally own a rifle, can't install an 12" barrel on their AR-15 and thus make a short carbine? Not even if that person already owns a perfectly legal AR-15 pistol with a 9" barrel and no shoulder stock at all?
     
  6. wwomack

    wwomack New Member

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    Re: Three Comments

    I agree it is wrong that our laws are so complicated and hard to understand. I disagree that our government should spend money to try to educate people. If the problem is too many laws, the solution is less laws.

    Of course, most likely these men knew they were doing something a little shady but I doubt they thought they were commiting felonies.
     
  7. Macktee

    Macktee New Member

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    Here is a link to the news article

    http://www.ajc.com/services/content/met ... 7&cxcat=13

    I like the comment one attorney made about one resident of GA selling a gun to another is legal. Private sales don't need background checks but it might appear these guys were making a few too many sales to be considered "private" in the eyes of the BATF...
     
  8. viper32cm

    viper32cm New Member

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    Re: Belt Buckle?

    IIRC, you can get in some hot water if you have an short AR upper for a pistol and an AR rifle lower.
     
  9. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    viper32cm, what would make it a AR "rifle" receiver? I don't think the receiver can define whether it is a handgun or a rifle, can it?
     
  10. viper32cm

    viper32cm New Member

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    For the purposes of an SBR they might. I seem to remember reading somewhere that if you have the parts necessary to make such a gun easily then you were considered to be in constructive possession.

    It's been a long time since I read this so maybe I screwed up a detail or two.
     
  11. jrm

    jrm Sledgehammer

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    NFA weapons aren't my expertise, but I think you might be thinking of machine gun parts. I believe it is true that the parts necessary to make your semi auto full auto constitute a machine gun.

    On the other hand, I don't think there is such a thing as a "rifle receiver" vs. a "handgun receiver." A rifle is designed to be fired from the shoulder and a handgun is not. The receiver would not necessarily drive the weapon in either direction.

    Any one else know more about this?
     
  12. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

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    Something similar was in the now sunset Assault Weapons ban. It did not matter if the parts were actually on the gun or not. Possesion of parts that fit the gun were enough.
     
  13. viper32cm

    viper32cm New Member

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    I agree under the law that there is no distinction. What I was saying was for illustrative purposes only. I think the term I'm missing is constructive intent. If you have a short upper for a pistol and a lower with a butt-stock on it I think the ATF can charge you with constructive intent to produce an SBR (if you didn't have tax stamp for it). Same thing applies to 922(r) compliance.
     
  14. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Constructive possession

    Well, constructive possession cases can be difficult to prove. The government has to convince a jury of what your state of mind was--what you intended to do with that short upper receiver. I would think that if you have a reasonable explanation for possessing a 12" upper, and your intended use for it is not illegal, and if all the evidence suggests that your AR-15 lower receiver has never been mated with anything other than a full-length (16+ inch barrel) upper, and a 16+ upper is what the authorities find on it the day they seize it...

    ... I'm not saying the feds couldn't arrest you and charge you with an NFA violation. I'm saying that they'd be grasping for straws if they did, and they'd be foolish to take that kind of a case to a jury. I seriously doubt that the U.S. Attorney's Office would allow such a weak case to go to trial, but they might try to negotiate some kind of plea bargain.

    None of this is legal advice. Go hire a real defense attorney with federal trial experience for that. I'm just saying that what BATF thinks is the law, and what they say is a violation, may not be the law, and they may not be able to convince a judge and a jury to go along with their interpretation.
     
  15. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

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    Also note that the ATF has a history of seizing weapons and not bothering to charge you with anything. So if you want your stuff back you have to take the ATF to court.