First Victim of Obama’s Executive Orders?

A Wisconsin man is being investigated for dealing without a license. Interestingly, he has a Type 03 C&R FFL.

Records obtained by ATF show the suspect has bought 531 guns from Gander Mountain from 2003 to 2015, spending nearly $170,000 on the guns; 513 of the guns were used. Some 428 of the guns were purchased from 2010 to early 2015, records show.

I’ll admit, that’s quite a volume, but there are plenty of collectors out there who have huge collections and trade up frequently. This guy is 60 years old. He’s got a C&R FFL which means he’s cleared a background check. In all respects he’s probably not a threat to anyone.

The ATF agents found he had 487 transactions for guns and accessories through a website called Gunbroker. The site is an online auction for gun sales. It is unclear from the search warrant if there were background checks performed on the sales made.

Not looking good. All it takes is a few transactions, and if they can show profit:

According to the search warrant, ATF agents found several circumstances where the suspect sold guns through Gunbroker, making a profit from $69 to $380 per gun. Records from Gander Mountain and Gunbroker show the suspect sold four guns in a one-week period in December 2014, earning $673 in profits.

Yeah, he’s probably screwed. There is a fine line between collectors trading a large volume of their collection up for better specimens and someone dealing in firearms without a license. All they have to show is that he was consistently making a profit, and devoting serious time an attention to the endeavor, and that’s pretty much all it’s going to take to get a conviction.

Is public safety really going to be enhanced by this 60 year old man rotting in federal prison for quite possibly the rest of his natural life? He’s looking at up to ten years if convicted. I have my doubts. The big problem I’ve always had with gun laws is there are only felonies, and pretty serious ones. Most ordinarily law-abiding people would be dissuaded by a misdemeanor rap, and people selling guns to criminals aren’t going to be dissuaded by a felony rap, because they probably already have a few.

Remember, when you say “enforce the laws already on the books” this is what that means.

43 Responses to “First Victim of Obama’s Executive Orders?”

  1. Cemetery's Gun Blob says:

    I wonder where he stood with regards to being for or against O’s executive orders? In the surface, he sounds Fuddy.

    • curenado says:

      Ok….so you are one of these Democrat people that thinks because he “sounds” “fuddy”, it doesn’t matter if he is thrown around and imprisoned? Hopeless citizenry queer as belgians.

  2. Bruce says:

    When I was researching getting a C&R license, it was suggested to me that I log any firearm I bought or sold in my log book regardless of it’s C&R status. I’m betting that most of his gunbroker sales also crossed a state line, meaning he shipped to an FFL. I realize this is a witch hunt to so that we are ‘doing something’, but if he kept good records, I’m betting he’ll be fine. Poorer, but fine.

    • Chris from AK says:

      I think a lot depends on the types of guns being traded.

      If he bought a few crates of Mosins, took the pick of the litter, and sold off the rest he might be ok with a good lawyer. Given the volume of guns cited it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case — for awhile you could order those mil-surp rifles really inexpensively by the crate, and the numbers add up quick.

      If he was purchasing non-C&R guns and flipping them for quick profits that’s something that no amount of bound book records will help with.

      Ultimately its up to whether DOJ can convince a jury that he was in this to make money as a livelihood (or really, if DOJ convinces his defense attorney that they can, and thus he should REALLY take the plea bargain deal).

      • aerodawg says:

        I just want to know how in the tee total hell he was making a profit buying from gander mountain. Prices in that place are ridiculous….

      • HSR47 says:

        Another valid question is whether or not he was actually making a profit: From what I’ve read, it sounds like the prosecution against him is basing it’s “profit/loss” figures solely on the comparative hammer prices at auction — “The highest bid in auction X was Y dollars higher than the highest bid in auction Z, ergo profit.”

        Are they counting the fees for service (auction house, shipping, transfer, gunsmith, etc.) that may apply to each firearm?

        Was he buying nonfunctional junk guns and repairing them to a functional state before reselling them? If so, do their profit/loss claims reflect his investment in parts/labor?

        Was he buying multiple examples of the same firearm design when he found them at attractive prices, keeping the better examples, and then selling the rest with better documentation? Often, the seller’s documentation (description, photos, disclosures, etc.) can make a substantial difference in the final sale price of a firearm at auction: Most people want to actually know/see what they’re getting, so poorly documented auctions are much less likely to involve a bidding war.

        In other words, it sounds to me like he may have a good case that it’s just a profitable hobby, and not a business.

        • Kacey says:

          That would be Manufacture of firearms without a license and he would be guilty period. I have a type 7 FFL and I am a gunsmith I know how that part of the system works if i buy a non-functional gun and do repair work, or buy a classic C&R and do restoration work, on a speculation basis I must mark the firearm with my manufacturers serial report manufacture and pay my taxes.

          • HSR47 says:

            Fitting new parts to a firearm, or fixing otherwise minor issues (e.g. fixing timing or cylinder gap issues on a revolver) on a firearm are the very definition of “gunsmithing.”

            The firearm clearly already exists, and presumably already has a serial number and manufacturers name/city/state marked. Swapping parts, and/or repairing damage, is not “manufacturing” it is gunsmithing.

            It’s an important distinction, and it’s why there’s no legal issue with individuals buying stripped frames/receivers and then fitting all the necessary parts to end up with a complete and functional firearm.

  3. Carl from Chicago says:

    Bruce, one does not log non-c&r guns in an 03 ffl book. Moreover, the article stated that he got the 03 in 2014. At any rate, an 03 is not a license to engage in the dealing of firearms. This his 03 ffl status likely has no bearing on his situation.

    • Chris from AK says:

      The 03 really helps when shipping guns using common carrier. It isn’t a legal requirement but some shippers (or even just branch managers, who are ignorant of their company’s policy on the matter and federal law) only want to ship from FFL to FFL. They don’t really care what kind of FFL you hold, nor do they know what the differences are in most cases.

  4. Defens says:

    @Bruce. If his sales via GunBroker were of C&R items, sold to another Cruffler, they didn’t have go through an FFL – that’s the point of the C&R, really. Of course if the sold guns were modern, they’d have to transfer (on interstate sales) through an FFL.

  5. emdfl says:

    Gotta wonder who narced on him. It’s not like the batfeieio isn’t understaffed and overworked just dealing with inspections of Class I licenses. OTOH doing the math shows that he bought 100 guns in seven years and the about 80/year from 2010-2015. Now almost any gun you bought between 2003 and 2014 is going to increase in value(while the dollar was decreasing in value) so the profit thing might be a viable defense.
    Hell, I’ve got two ’95 Winchesters that are worth five times what I paid for them. Am I supposed to sell them for what I paid for them?
    Too bad he didn’t sell them to a Mexican cartel…

    • Chris from AK says:

      I’m willing to bet that Gunbroker, Armslist, and other similar high-volume sites simply got hit with strongly worded requests to turn over information on high-volume users. Sellers could easily be cross-referenced against records of FFLs to find the high volume folks without FFLs, or the site (at least Gunbroker) could be asked to filter out holders of FFLs (I believe Gunbroker keeps copies of FFLs on file). The site could also hand over all previous listings (to capture purchase/sale prices), or they could just be pulled from site archives.

      If a strongly worded request from DOJ was turned down I imagine a warrant could be obtained pretty easily. Or the DOJ could just use other means (credit card logs, etc) to ID high volume purchasers. Data mining coupled with “parallel construction” is a hell of a thing.

  6. Stacy says:

    From the article, it doesn’t sound as if the volume numbers come from buying crates of cheap milsurp rifles. He did this all in the past couple of years, and apparently all from Gander Mountain.

    While I don’t believe public safety will be enhanced by throwing this character in jail, the spirit (if not the letter) of the law is clear–if you are buying and selling guns in volume, you’re supposed to have an FFL, not just a C&R.

    If he really is just a hobbyist who likes to put his hands on an old gun and then sell it along, then that’s the kind of thing prosecutorial discretion is supposed to cover. Of course that assumes the prosecutor is focused on public safety, not on putting people in prison to satisfy his boss’ politics.

  7. Joe says:

    This had to be a long investigation… And must have started long before the EOs were issued.

    Translation: ATF was stalking this guy and compiling the case before it was a crime so that they could make an example out of him. This guy will be paraded across all of the media outlets, and held up as justification for more EOs.

    • Matthew says:

      “before it was a crime” – the offense that this guy is charged with has been a crime for a long, long time.

      • HSR47 says:

        While I’m not an expert on the details of this particular case, it seems to me that there is a reasonable argument to be made against that assertion.

        Namely, the argument that the government can’t prosecute someone for failing to obtain a license that it refuses to issue.

        As it stands, the intent of the 1968 GCA was for people like this individual to go through a simple and inexpensive process (much like the C&R licensing process that currently exists) to get a full FFL; In turn, the Clinton administration moved to make it effectively impossible for hobbyists and small-time dealers to get or maintain FFLs.

        As such, this individual could reasonably argue that the government is prosecuting him for his failure to obtain a license that the government would not have issued to him.

        • Rick says:


        • Kacey says:

          Not hard to get an 01 FFl. Have business plan and show intent to make a profit you must have a physical shop, you need to keep records pay federal licensing and get a business license. I have an 07 out of my home, that is a manufacturers license. So I disagree the government would issue the license if he were willing to have hours and comply with the rules.

          • HSR47 says:

            What about the guy with a full-time job who’s hobby is to buy beat up Saturday night specials and turn screws on them in his spare time?

            Clearly, he’s a hobbyist and not doing it for commercial gain; Depending on accounting, his books could be massaged to show a profit, but only by completely ignoring the value of of his time, and ignoring or undervaluing the cost of the parts he put in. There’s certainly not enough money in it it to justify all the current requirements for premises and site security, and maintaining hours of operation would keep him from his hobby.

            In other words, the BATFE likely wouldn’t issue him a full license (i.e. other than 03) without also effectively cutting him off from his hobby (which was the entire point of getting the license in the first place, and without which the license is entirely pointless).

            The original intent of the GCA of 1968 was for the application/issuance process/requirement of basically all types of FFLs to be roughly in line with what currently applies to 03 FFLs. That was largely the case until the 1990s when the Clinton administration monkeyed with the process.

            Congress clearly intended licenses to be open to all regardless of whether or not the applicant intended to operate a business; I’d be in favor of returning administrative law to conform to that intent, or with abandoning the system in it’s entirety. Clearly though, the system as it currently exists is a massive and unacceptable abridgment of liberty.

    • Jim Jones says:

      Mind you that the EOs did NOT change the law in any way as it concerns “high volume” sellers. The law was the same before. If you buy and sell guns for profit, you should really have a proper FFL.

      • HSR47 says:

        “If you buy and sell guns for profit, you should really have a proper FFL.”

        That may be what the statute says, and it may also have been congress’s intent when they wrote the statute.

        Still, the fact of the matter is that the executive agency tasked with enforcing that statute has implemented a licensing process that makes it very hard for such hobbyists to actually get a real FFL (i.e. anything other than an 03 FFL).

        As the courts have established, the government cannot punish individuals for failing to pay a tax when the same government refused to accept the tax payment in that instance.

        This legal theory is the reason why prosecutions for unlawful possession of post-86 machineguns are prosecuted under 922(o), rather than for failure to register and pay $200.

    • Alpheus says:

      That’s what disturbs me about this. To what degree is this guy being prosecuted because of the changes in the law, via executive order? If the only reason he’s being prosecuted now is due to Obama’s changing the law (or even just changing the focus of the law)–indeed, if the *only* reason why he’s being prosecuted, is because of this change, we’re bordering on ex post facto issues.

      Oddly enough, and frustratingly enough, though, one is far more likely to get into jail for pushing the boundaries of the law, than be released because the Government is for pushing the boundaries of Constitutionally protected rights…

      • Alpheus says:

        In reviewing this comment (after the “edit” time has expired, of course) I realized I need to make a correction: If the *only* reason he *can* be prosecuted, is because of this change, we’re bordering on ex post facto issues.

        And that’s one of the problems with BATFE decrees (some of which seem to be in letter only, so not really available to the public): because they can decree what the laws are, it’s difficult to keep up on what’s legal, and what’s not, to the point that I can imagine people getting caught up in ex post facto laws without even realizing it.

        Of course, it’s not just BATFE, which makes me wonder why so many people put up with Delegation. (I suspect that most people don’t encounter the problems with Delegation very often, and when they do, they think it’s a one-off random governmental injustice, rather than a systemic problem…)

        • Roberta X says:

          The law was not changed, nor was the “focus of the law.” It’s been illegal to be “in the business” of buying and selling guns without a proper FFL for a very long time now, and ATF has had considerable discretion in interpreting the phrase. It’s not as if this was any secret.

  8. Alpheus says:

    The article doesn’t go into detail about what kinds of guns are being bought and sold; if the guy was focusing on buying and selling old rifles, for example, and kept all the new guns for himself for personal use, and wasn’t doing this with pistols (or with old pistols not likely to be used by criminals), then it would probably be easier to claim that he thought he was staying within the bounds of C&R.

    Of course, mens rea is sadly no longer important in Federal (and possibly State) law, which is a grievance in and of itself…

    But more to the point, even if he was “guilty”, if he’s only doing this with rifles, it should be doubly difficult to see how this would prevent guns getting into criminal hands, particularly because criminals generally don’t like to use rifles for their work…not that the laws are supposed to make sense, mind you, but this is something that we would do well to keep in mind…

  9. TS says:

    Where is he getting his margin? Why are people paying more on gunbroker than just going to gander mountain? Is he getting his margin on bulk? Is he waiting for small amounts of appreciation? Timing the market by waiting for Obama to talk about more gun control?

  10. ad-lib says:

    undoubtedly they’re going after him purely to show they’re Doing Something, but i don’t think it looks good for the man. try convincing a jury that doesn’t know much about guns that that’s not “in the business.”

  11. Russ says:

    A C&R license states you are NOT allowed to deal in guns for profit. I have a C&R. If you sell one or two a year, that is reasonable. But, 4 in one week? While making $673? It sounds like he’s dealing in guns even to me. Had he a type 1 or 2 FFL, this wouldn’t even be a story. No, I think he is fully aware of what he did wrong, several times I might add. It sounds like he was trying to cheat the system out of FFL money. A C&R FFL is only $30. A type 1 or 2 FFL so you CAN deal in guns is $200, and not as easy to get. He may also be charged with tax evasion if they check into his tax records. Just my .02¢.

    • HSR47 says:

      The difference between an 03 FFL and an 01 FFL is not just money, but what the government requires.

      To get a “real” FFL, you pretty much have to have premises; Rent, electricity, HVAC, etc. all add up to quite a sum, and quite a bit more than the occasional “$673 week.”

      Also, how was that figure reached? Did it include all applicable costs, such as auction listing, shipping, transfer, equipment (camera/lighting/computer/internet, tools, etc.), gunsmithing, etc.?

      In other words, contrary to Congress’s clear intent in drafting the FFL requirement in the 1968 GCA, the issuance of real FFLs has become bogged down with all kinds of bureaucratic red tape that makes it effectively impossible for anything/anyone to get one without being a full-time commercial entity.

      This prosecution smells strongly of the government trying to punish an individual for failing to pay a tax/acquire a license that the government would have refused to collect/issue.

      • Russ says:

        Don’t you have electricity in your house? HVAC depends on where you live. There are plenty of FFL dealers running a business right out of their homes.

        How they arrived at the monetary figure is irrelevant. The big picture is the amount of guns he sold knowing full well it was more than “a couple” per year. He is buying and selling or “dealing” in guns without the proper license. Period.

        I do agree with your last point. Our government has become so use to creating red tape it is almost impossible to jump through all the hoops. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Ask two people the same question, get two different answers.

        • roger says:

          I had a FFL in 1990. The ATF would not renew it because I did not sell more than 20 firearms. It went from 280,000 people with FFL to the 40,000 there are now.

          • Russ says:

            I didn’t even know there was a minimum. But, think about it. 20 guns in three years. You barely made enough to cover the cost of your FFL. It’s hardly worth the headache. All the baloney you had to go thru to get the license, plus record keeping. Separate taxes from your regular job. Inspections. Nah, I don’t need it. Good luck to you Roger.

            • HSR47 says:

              He made my point for me though:

              Laws should be judged and enforced based on their original intent.

              As I have made reference in my comments elsewhere under this article, the original intent of congress with regard to the FFL system established by the GCA of 1968 was for literally anyone to be able to get an FFL (and thereby engage in the activities that this specific legislation restricted to only FFLs), if they were willing to submit to the licensing process, and the ongoing recordkeeping requirements.

              Conspicuously absent from the intent of Congress was the notion that these licenses should be restricted only to those seeking to run a profitable business.

              That notion only came to be enforced under the administrative edicts of the Clinton administration: A system which had seen steady year over year growth of FFLs (from 146,429 in 1975 to a peak of 248,155 in 1992) suddenly saw a drop in FFLs that continued from 1992 until 2009 (105,398 in 1996, 67,479 in 2000, down to a low of 47,509 in 2009. The data I have seen only goes through 2013, and the figure for that year is 54,026).

              Ultimately, the thing to keep in mind is that Congress’s intent was to restrict certain actions (e.g. shipping concealable firearms via USPS) only to those who submitted to licensing; That way people could continue to engage in those activities if they were willing to submit to the licensing process and the recordkeeping requirements. While the licenses were required for commercial activity, commercial activity was not intended to be a mandatory activity.

              Frankly, many of the “problems” that the left complain about are the direct result of the more restrictive FFL issuance process that has been in place since the 1990s.

              Source: The leftmost data column, labeled “dealer” at the top of page 18:

    • Alpheus says:

      It seems to me that the Government has skewed the meaning of “dealing guns” in an unfavorable way. Why should selling four guns in one week be considered “gun dealing”? To further complicate matters, the very phrase of “gun dealer” conjures up the image of shady people selling guns to terrorists and communists abroad, and to gang-bangers from the trunks of their cars in inner cities.

      It’s this very image that Government relies on in order to convince us that some guy who buys guns, fixes them up, and then sells them at auction to other collectors, using any proceeds to buy more guns and ammo or for vacation money, is an Evil Person who needs to be locked up post-haste!

      • Russ says:

        I suppose, to some. “Gun Dealer” sounds bad because of the “Drug Dealers.” I’ve always called them gun shop or gun range. But, what about “Car Dealers?” Are they bad too? Yeah, I know. Some are. LOL!
        Maybe people shouldn’t have started calling the “Drug Pushers” “Dealers” in the first place. The point is, even if he is buying, repairing and selling guns, a gunsmith must have an FFL. For example, if your friend gives you a gun for a cleaning while he waits for it. No FFL is needed. But, if your friend gives you a gun for repair and you keep it for two or three days while you are waiting for parts. You must have an FFL. I didn’t make the rules, talk to the DOJ about that one. Just like HSR47 and I were discussing before. Too much bureaucratic red tape. Too much non-sense. Just another way for our Government to get their hands on our profits. The Government doesn’t create jobs. People create companies. Successful companies create jobs. Then the Government gets involved, mandating minimum wages and taxes companies to death and destroys jobs. It’s a never ending cycle.

  12. Mopar says:

    People keep asking how he made money aren’t reading the article.
    Apparently at some point Gander Mountain printed a coupon for “$25 off every $100 spent” with no restrictions or expiration dates. So right off the bat he’s getting a 25% discount. He was also recruiting some Gander employees to alert him when used guns came in, and also giving them a kickback for doing it. It seems quite likely that those employees also had an incentive to both offer the seller a lesser amount when they took the gun in, and also to discount the guns when they sold to him as much as they were allowed to get more/larger kickbacks.
    The kickbacks are also probably why they apparently let him use this 25% discount coupon 500 times.

    • Russ says:

      Mopar, apparently you didn’t read what we’re discussing. I don’t know where, or how you deduced all of this malarkey. We know he made money by dealing in guns and accessories. The point of the entire comment section begs to question: Is what he did legal with only a C&R FFL? The answer is a little fuzzy. We know he sold four guns in December 2014. Big deal. But, that may have raise some flags at the ATF. I’m sure they are interested to find out how many of the 527 guns he should still have, does he still have? Or, has he been buying and selling them illegally for the last four and a half years?

      • Kacey says:

        NO NO and NO
        It is not legal he was engaged in the trade of firearms for profit and you must have a “real” FFL for that, no if’s and’s or but’s. I am fairly certain that he was told “…more than 12 guns a year or more than 3 at a time and you are dealing in firearms.” That is the standard answer i get from every inspector or agent I talk to. So since I literally only gunsmith for family and friends, play trainer for neighbors (friends/co-workers) I have a type 07 license.

        • Russ says:

          You’re preaching to the choir. Read my posts above. He hasn’t been arrested…yet. But, he is being investigated. If he sold that many guns in the last 4-5 years, he’s toast.

  13. Jon says:

    This doesn’t make any sense. Gunbroker requires firearms go through an FFL. Most guns are not eligible for a C&R transfer. There is not enough info here to make sense. Did he move all $170,000 in guns through his C&R license? If he didn’t, how is this a crime, unless they can show he used these transactions as his primary source of income? I have a C&R, and they are of limited utility. If he is buying large numbers of C&R firearms, then selling them at a markup on Gunbroker, then he is clearly in violation of the law, and he KNOWS he is in violation of the law, and he deserves to be prosecuted. If he is just an indecisive collector that is something else, but the numbers sound weird. More info needed.

  14. Charlie says:

    A couple, three points. One, he has not yet been charged. The Feds obtained the search warrant for his e-mail records in May of 2015, well before Obama issued his executive orders and cried on TV. Two, he was paying kickbacks to Gander Mt employees to notify him when a gun came in, using a $25 off every $100 coupon to buy the gun, then selling them on Gunbroker. While the article isn’t clear, it insinuates that he was buying these guns and then immediately listing them all on Gunbroker, which if true, is clearly a violation of longstanding law. I truly think anyone who wants a type 01 license should be able to get one, even without a place of commercial business. If my sole intent in getting the license is to be able to amass a large collection without having to pay transfer fees out the wazoo, then I ought to be able to do that so long as I keep good records and follow the rules. I also believe Obama when he says he has failed at taking away our gun rights, and that he will do whatever he can to remedy that before he leaves office. However, as gun owners, we do ourselves a disservice when we reprint articles like this and mislead people as to what is really going on. Like I said earlier, this started a long time ago. I am interested, like someone else posted earlier, in knowing how this came about. Who tipped off the ATF? Did a routine inspection Gander Mt’s ATF logbook show his name too many times? That is the worrisome part, is how absent a registry they figured out he had bought all those guns.


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