Sarco+NJ= no suprise


April 25, 2008, 07:53 AM
Gun supplier in Long Hill risks losing license over security lapse allegations
Sarco fighting state police inspection findings
By Peggy Wright • Daily Record • April 1, 2008

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LONG HILL -- Sarco Inc., one of the nation's largest wholesale and retail suppliers of firearms and parts, is in danger of losing its state license to sell weapons because of alleged lax security measures.

Sarco's state license to operate was supposed to expire on Monday, but a Superior Court judge in Morristown last week extended the license until this Friday, when he said he would hear arguments on whether Sarco owner Charles Steen should have it renewed for another three years.

State police last inspected Sarco's warehouse on Union Street in the Stirling section of Long Hill in October and denied a license renewal. Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto reviewed the denial and agreed with the state police.

Steen and his attorney, Evan Nappen, who is nationally known as a legal expert on firearms law, were in court on Friday and were told to return this Friday for the appeal hearing.

Missing firearms
Steen's renewal application and a state police report on the business are considered confidential. But the judge in court said he was concerned about the operation and referred generally to guns missing from Sarco and "showing up in places they shouldn't."

On Monday, Nappen said he was not yet fully apprised of the reasons for the license denial. But he said it appears to relate to the theft several years ago of about 50 firearms from Sarco.

A former employee, later apprehended in Arizona, admitted to the theft of some of the guns, authorities said.

"I don't see any culpability on Mr. Steen's part," Nappen said. "He was the victim of a theft. He did everything he was supposed to do to safeguard the inventory. He was following state police security procedures."

A state police spokesman said he could not comment on the pending application because of confidentiality laws.

Sarco, with an inventory of about 40,000 firearms, specializes in selling collectible and historic firearms and replacement parts and accessories. The inventory includes weapons used by the military in World Wars I and II, and Sarco has supplied the U.S. government with firearms used to train troops, Nappen said.

Sarco is awaiting a shipment of Israeli bolt action rifles, he said.

Ban on ordering
As a condition of operating under the old license, at least until Friday, the judge said Steen could receive shipments of goods already ordered but could not place any new orders for firearms right now.

Morris County Executive Assistant Prosecutor Robert Lane was at Friday's hearing, but said it is likely that an attorney for the state Division of Criminal Justice will take over the case.

Nappen said a closure of Sarco's could have a profound impact on Long Hill because it is a longtime ratable -- in business for more than 40 years -- and employs 50 people.

"Unfortunately the impact is not just to Sarco but to the community," Nappen said.

Long Hill Mayor George Vitureira said he was not aware of Sarco's predicament with its license, but said the business has not posed problems for the township to his knowledge.

Peggy Wright can be reached at (973) 267-1142 or

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El Tejon
April 25, 2008, 08:00 AM
Steen stayed in New Jersey since the handwriting was on the wall there in 1968. He assumed the risk.

April 25, 2008, 08:45 AM
Did you notice this beat down is being run by the NJ State Police and not the ATF Looks like ATF had no problem so State Police saw a opening and moved in.:banghead:

Aguila Blanca
April 25, 2008, 08:53 AM
Let's see -- inventory 40,000 firearms. Missing ... 50 firearms (several years ago). Thats an error rate of 1 in 800. I wonder if the NJ state police evidence room has as good a record, or if this is yet another example of a government agency demanding from "civilians" a level of perfection they themselves cannot achieve?

April 26, 2008, 10:28 PM
It is beyond me why gun business stay in states that clearly do not want them there. Why not move to a gun friendly state and provide the jobs where they are appreciated.

April 26, 2008, 10:34 PM
NJ FFLs have pretty much existed in whipped puppy mode for 40 years. There's only about 800 left in the whole state. Contrast: my county alone has about 800 FFLs.

Hostility to guns, their owners, and their dealers is fully institutionalized in NJ.

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