ATF shutting down gunshops in Fresno, CA?


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hammer4nc
August 12, 2006, 08:50 AM
Anyone notice an uptick in ATF harassment lately, esp. an increase in FFL revocation stories around the country? This article references 7 gunstore shutdowns in Fresno; can any local members confirm, and give some background?

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ATF shuts Merced gun shop

Longtime owner, a former law enforcement officer, says his livelihood is gone

The federal government is closing Roy Stone's gun store in downtown Merced because of clerical errors in the business' records.

By Leslie Albrecht
LALBRECHT@MERCEDSUN-STAR.COM
Last Updated: August 12, 2006, 12:36:55 AM PDT

The federal government is closing Roy Stone's gun store because he broke the law. His crime: sloppy bookkeeping. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is revoking Stone's license to sell guns after an audit revealed clerical errors on paperwork that customers fill out when they buy a gun.

"(Revoking the license) was due to repeated violations of the Gun Control Act that were found during the inspection process," said ATF spokeswoman Nina Delgadillo. "The violations relate to record-keeping obligations."

But Stone said the mistakes were a handful of minor errors like writing the wrong date next to a customer's signature, or forgetting to check off one of the 36 boxes on the three-page form that all gun buyers complete.

Delgadillo said ATF takes those types of errors seriously.

"Our purpose is to detect and prevent the diversion of guns from legal to illegal commerce," said Delgadillo. "Our responsibility is to enforce the law that Congress sets forth and that's what we do."

Stone said his errors were strictly clerical, the kind of human errors that are inevitable at any business.

"I made mistakes but I didn't commit any crimes," said Stone. "I didn't cause any firearms to wind up in the hands of people that shouldn't have them."

Stone isn't the only local gun dealer in trouble for paperwork mistakes. He said seven gun dealers in Fresno have been shut down recently.

Gary Mitchell, owner of Gunrunner Gun Shop on Yosemite Park Way, said the ATF has threatened to revoke his license too because of faulty records.

"We're just businessmen," said Mitchell. "We don't want bad guys to get guns. We're trying to work with law enforcement -- both state and federal -- and they're fighting against us."

The ATF crackdown carries extra sting for Stone, because he spent his career working in law enforcement, retiring as a California Highway Patrol officer in 1993.

When he was a police detective in Modesto, he worked side by side with ATF agents, sometimes drinking coffee with them in his office.

Now that same agency is shutting his business down, and while he didn't expect any special treatment because of his background in law enforcement, he said it doesn't feel good to have the "good guys" against him.

Stone opened Stone's Gun Shop on Main Street in 1988 and ran the business for 13 years with no interference from the federal government.

In 2002 he submitted to his first audit. Then agents started visiting him about once a year to inspect his inventory and logs.

His current problems started when thieves broke into his store and stole some guns in early 2005. The robbery prompted another audit, where agents said they discovered the same violations they had found in 2003.

At a March 2006 hearing at the ATF office in Fresno, Stone told the ATF that a store employee made most of the clerical errors. The employee monitored the paperwork and maintained logs in exchange for an extra two hours of pay, said Stone. But somewhere along the way, Stone stopped double checking his employee's work.

"He became complacent and didn't do his work and it cost me my livelihood," said Stone.

In June, a letter informed Stone of the ATF's decision: his license was being revoked, effective Friday.

He said he consulted two attorneys about his case, but one told him it would cost at least $15,000 to defend and the other told him he was better off getting out of the gun business because the ATF would never stop hounding him.

Stone spent Thursday afternoon at his store, a homey shop where pictures of John Wayne look down from the walls and a coffee pot sits in the corner.

He made one last phone call to a Bay Area ATF office to plead his case and ask for an extension, but the request was denied.

Stone found a buyer to take over his store, but he wanted the extension so he could run his business long enough to pay his rent and bills.

Now he's forbidden from making any transactions involving firearms, and he must turn over all his records to the ATF.

"I tried to do everything right," said Stone. "I just made some blunders looking at forms and not catching mistakes."

Stone, 66, said forced retirement could leave him with more time to pursue his interest in firearm sports.

"It's my passion," said Stone. "I hope I can do more of it now."

Link:http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12579706p-13288171c.html
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Comment: Sounds very similar to the recent gunstore shutdown in Baltimore. In light of the forced departure of the ATF director recently, and the prospect of a presidential administration change in '08, have some ATF offices decided to play rough, anticipating a shakeup? Has an internal memo been circulating among federal LE? The scripted, non-responsive answers given by ATF in this story have a very familiar ring to them.:uhoh:

I sense storm clouds on the horizon.

Your opinions are invited.

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Optical Serenity
August 12, 2006, 09:25 AM
First of all, it's not "harassment" when you violate the law. An old friend of mine who was a agent for the BATFE was telling me about how they give a dozen or so warnings over years of time until an FFL gets revoked..I don't want to hear the BS about "they're fighting us."

Guess what, like any business, such as those I've ran, you have to be EXACT in paperwork. Now mind you, if I didn't put the exact date on my books for a web site I made, that isn't halfway as serious as selling guns and being sloppy.

Going to run a business? Do proper paperwork. Regardless of the business.

And simply because the BATFE or any other arm of the government doesn't strictly enforce law, does not mean they can't start. Thank goodness that a part of government is actually doing their job!

Sloppy FFL transactions lead to all of us in the hobby looking bad. Good job to the Agents.

hammer4nc
August 12, 2006, 09:34 AM
Thanks optical, when do you start revoking people's drivers licenses for doing 46 in a 45 mph zone? After all, you must obey the law, right?

This is the definition of harassment. Cracking down on folks when it really does nothing productive to your LE mission. (Unless reducing gunstores, in this case, is your covert mission?) Ever hear the phrase, "the punishment fits the crime"?

You're invited to make your case, that the punishment fits the crime in this instance, if that's what you're saying. I'd actually love to hear it.

Newguy1
August 12, 2006, 09:54 AM
I have bought lots of guns from Roy Stone. He is a great guy and a former LEO.

striker3
August 12, 2006, 02:34 PM
Optical,

How many police reports or citations contain errors? I have seen a few personally. The LEOs who make those reports are not fired unless their mistake can be attributed to gross negligence.

Simple clerical errors, which on a Form 4473 can be as simple as abbreveating a state name is marked against an FFL. That is how anal retentive they can be. I would love to see the ATF records audited. I bet that they could never pass their own standards.

Malum Prohibitum
August 12, 2006, 02:58 PM
Putting Y or N for yes or no. Putting a middle initial instead of spelling out the name . . .



:rolleyes:



www.georgiapacking.org

Don Gwinn
August 12, 2006, 05:57 PM
You've got to be kidding me. BATFE is justified in shutting someone down over clerical errors because clerical errors are unacceptable?

Does that principle apply to BATFE? The organization with a supervisor caught on video telling a roomful of agents that:
1. They all know the NFA database is incomplete and riddled with errors, but
2. They are always to testify in court that the NFA database is 100% complete and error-free?

No, I don't think they get that pass from me.

Monkeyleg
August 12, 2006, 06:16 PM
One of the shops on my site is in Fresno. It's a well-respected store.

It's a partnership, but the ATF pulled the license of one of the partners because of very minor paperwork errors. For example, putting tick marks on a line if the information is the same as the line above it.

There were no prior warnings.

Fortunately, the other partner had an FFL, and they were able to change the name of the store and stay in business.

striker3
August 12, 2006, 06:20 PM
Here is a congressional report detailing the clerical errors of the BATF

http://www.nfaoa.org/documents/CRSmemoNFRTR0001.pdf

MountainPeak
August 12, 2006, 10:35 PM
BATFE has made their lousy reputation, the old fashion way. THEY'VE EARNED IT!!! Their gun show harrassment b.s. is just one of the latest. By the way, one of the most fun things about gun shows, is guessing "who's the ATF"?!!

Chris Rhines
August 12, 2006, 10:42 PM
Expecting perfection in unnecessaraly complicated paperwork is an impossible standard. Revoking licenses for single violations of same is institutiuonalized harassment. But we all already knew that.

- Chris

dmckean44
August 12, 2006, 10:47 PM
I would say a good rate out paperwork mistakes would be a mistake in 1 form out of ever five. That's what is typical of people IRS paperwork.

bluecowdawg
August 13, 2006, 01:01 AM
Our government is nothing but a big bully with too much power. They dont follow their own rules.:fire:

Creeping Incrementalism
August 13, 2006, 01:13 AM
First of all, it's not "harassment" when you violate the law. An old friend of mine who was a agent for the BATFE was telling me about how they give a dozen or so warnings over years of time until an FFL gets revoked..I don't want to hear the BS about "they're fighting us."

This is not your old friend's BATF(E).

Buck Nekkid
August 13, 2006, 02:02 AM
These guys are jerks with guns and the power to destroy your life. Check out www.jfpo.org

I was so glad to hear that their head got pressured into resigning because he was building a BATFE Taj Majal in DC.

hammer4nc
August 14, 2006, 10:30 AM
Feds revoking licenses of two Merced gun stores

By BEN van der MEER
BEE STAFF WRITER
Last Updated: August 14, 2006, 04:53:46 AM PDT

Two Merced gun store owners are losing their licenses to sell firearms after the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms determined there were problems with paperwork required for gun sales.

One store, Gunrunners, will remain open under a new name and ownership. The other, Stone's Gun Shop, closed last week.

Nina Delgadillo, a spokeswoman for the ATF's San Francisco office, said both stores had repeated paperwork violations that led to the loss of the owners' licenses.

Gunrunners owner Gerry Mitchell said the problem was over paperwork customers fill out when they buy guns.

On two visits, he said, ATF officials determined that customers filled out paperwork incorrectly. Examples included a customer who filled in the wrong county where he lived, or a customer who filled in the country he lived in rather than a county.

Roy Stone, owner of Stone's Gun Shop, said poor record-keeping by a former employee was responsible for similar problems in his store.

Stone said ATF officials pointed out that his name, not his employee's, was on the firearms sales license.

"I'm like anyone; I don't like being accused of doing something immoral when I know I haven't done anything like that," Stone said.

Delgadillo said Thursday that she couldn't comment on the two stores' situations in detail because their license revocations were pending.

Stone's license was revoked Friday, she said, and Mitchell's will be revoked Oct.2. Mitchell said he will sell the store to his wife, who has applied for a federal firearms license.

Audits conducted annually

Delgadillo said the audits are done once a year without notice, though a 2004 Inspector General's report noted that AFT inspects less than 5 percent of licensed dealers each year.

Stone said his store's second audit was in January 2005, and Mitchell said his second audit was more than two years ago.

Both men said they were turned down at an appeal hearing with ATF officials. Mitchell's revocation date was pushed back because of an error in notifying him, he said.

"It's been a real big surprise," said Mitchell, 45. "But it sounds like an inevitable thing."

He said the revocations have more to do with gun control than problems with his business, because it's easier for government officials to go after gun store owners than gun and ammunition manufacturers.

"It has nothing to do with making sure no one gets guns who shouldn't have guns," he said.

Mitchell said an attorney told him he could contest the matter further but that he was unlikely to win.

Stone, 66, said he also will sell his store, though the buyer doesn't have a license yet.

"The ATF seems to have a zero tolerance philosophy now. They don't want the human factor written in," he said.

Stone said he opened his store in 1988, and Mitchell said his store dates to 1985.

Delgadillo would not say whether other owners in the Northern San Joaquin Valley have lost licenses recently.

Mitchell said he's in favor of a proposed federal law that would change how the ATF punishes gun stores for paperwork violations.

The bill, HR 5092, would let ATF apply lesser sanctions such as fines or suspensions to such stores, according to the National Rifle Association's Web site.

The bill is not likely to receive a full vote in Congress until later this year, Mitchell said.

But the owner of a Modesto gun shop said stores found to have faulty paperwork get plenty of chances to fix the problem.

"They're honestly pretty good about it," Ronning Arms owner Ron Ronning said of ATF audits. "It's when you don't fix the problem and give them a headache that you'll have problems. There had to have been a huge problem for the ATF to do it (a license revocation)."

Link: http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12586206p-13294617c.html
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Comment: Well, we're up to two revocations and counting...reading between the lines, I'd expect that number to grow. Add to that, the recent revocation of Dodge City gunshop in Santa Barbara. CA is fertile ground for gun grabbers. The SF ATF Agent-in charge Stephen K. Martin, along with John Torres, SAC of the Los Angeles ATF office, both seem to be reading the same playbook: busting out gun dealers on petty paperwork infractions. Can the case actually be made that this serves any useful purpose?

Some of our frequent ATF apologists are fond of spamming this type of thread with unrelated links from the ATF propaganda website; reminding us of all the dangerous criminals rounded up by the ATF. Fact: vast majority of ATF prosecutions are "felon in possession", a passive paperwork crime thats easy to prove. Arguably, filling prisons with these type offenders is wasting tax dollars. A much more appalling waste, is shutting down long-standing legal businesses because paperwork is filled out incorrectly. Nothing ATF does on their best day can justify this harassment.

HankB
August 14, 2006, 10:43 AM
First of all, it's not "harassment" when you violate the law . . . you have to be EXACT in paperwork. Let's see this standard applied to government bureaucrats . . .

* Meter maid transposes two digits in a vehicle's VIN. Fire her.

* Traffic cop lists "Blue Mazda" when it's really green. He gets the boot.

* Judge cites the wrong sub-paragraph in a ruling. It's curtains for him.

* IRS auditor adds up the columns in a business return incorrectly. Adios, mofo.

* Police SWAT team raids occupied home at 123 45th Street Cove. Warrant is for 123 45th Street Court. Arrest entire raid team, charge them all with home invasion, assault, etc.

RioShooter
August 14, 2006, 07:55 PM
I've purchased five guns during the last year, and each time the seller emphatically instructed me to leave no blank answers and use no abbreviations.

Not too difficult. Even easier, is checking the form to see if the above directions were followed.

I believe that clerical errors should be punished with a small fine, but definitely not a loss of license.

Jim K
August 14, 2006, 08:24 PM
That is an interesting suggestion that BATFE is working to try to impress the next (presumably anti-gun) president. The last time they were told to make things look good to impress a president-elect, the result was Waco. How many people will they kill this time to get their budget increased?

Jim

Geno
August 14, 2006, 08:32 PM
Finally, I am speechless!

:confused:

Doc2005

odysseus
August 14, 2006, 08:39 PM
You've got to be kidding me. BATFE is justified in shutting someone down over clerical errors because clerical errors are unacceptable?

Does that principle apply to BATFE? The organization with a supervisor caught on video telling a roomful of agents that:
1. They all know the NFA database is incomplete and riddled with errors, but
2. They are always to testify in court that the NFA database is 100% complete and error-free?

No, I don't think they get that pass from me.

Amen brother. That's so true on so many levels.

Frog48
August 14, 2006, 09:19 PM
People make mistakes. For example:

I purchased a Ruger P95 the first week of January 2005. When I was filling out the paperwork, beside where I wrote my signiture, I accidentally wrote "2004" instead of "2005". Its a simple, honest mistake. Luckily it was caught and fixed before it caused any problems.

Something like that doesnt justify that a business be shut down.

MudPuppy
August 14, 2006, 11:36 PM
It's all part of reducing ffls. Fewer ffls mean more difficulty in buying a gun.

It's the long term, slow and steady gun control. When we chant Molan Labe, the BATFE chuckle at us like we're fools and shut down a few more ffls. Enforce that barrel ban (its not a gun ban, that would be unconstitutional--but you're not importing any more barrels, ya' gun loving loonies!). Put a new stock on that deer rifle made in canada and you could risk a felony conviction. No more FA tax permits issued. The list goes on.

Remember, we like the Republicans because they (supposedly) strip us of our rights slower than the other guys...

Henry Bowman
August 14, 2006, 11:51 PM
Sadly, my observations are that MudPuppy is exactly correct.

If a numbers researcher (like John Lott, for example) were to collect the data and connect the dots to show a pattern, SAF (and probably GOA and otherts) would want to know about it.

longhorngunman
August 15, 2006, 12:02 AM
After reading how these businessmen are getting railroaded, " Unintended Consequences" makes a lot more sense!

AZRickD
August 15, 2006, 12:08 AM
Where did Optical go?

Rick

Sir Aardvark
August 15, 2006, 01:07 AM
I hate to state the obvious, but...

Now that you know that they (ATF) are out to get you (FFL holders)... dot every "i", and cross every "t".

There is NO reason to have an error on your form 4473. If your name is on the FFL, and your employee fills out the form - then personally check each form to make sure it is complete at the end of each business day. This should be a PRIORITY! - make time for it now instead of making excuses for it later.

There are few occupations as heavily regulated as being a Dealer in Firearms. When I had my FFL in California, I was required to have 7 seperate licenses, permits, letters, and certificates in order to do business. I felt as though the Calif. DOJ (Dept. of Justice) and the ATF were just waiting for me to screw up so they could take away my FFL (No... I'm not paranoid - it's just that I thought that they were out to get me).

Impeccable records are required and expected by the ATF.

And before someone starts to bash me - No... I don't think that what the ATF is reported to have done is fair, but good luck trying to win a fight with them.

UnintendedConsequences
August 15, 2006, 01:13 AM
...would cause Art's grandmother to not only send me to bed without dinner but also dessert as well as make her want to fill my mouth with a bar of homemade lye soap, so I shall not verbalize it. However, I will say that some tongue in cheek comments come to mind from "Unintended Consequences", the novel.

There, that is as nicely as I can put it while also staying on the high road.

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