A Nashville gun shop last week suffered a legal blow that could lead to the loss of its license to sell firearms.
A U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Tennessee last Friday ruled in favor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, which argued that Gun City had “willfully” violated the Gun Control Act.
The ruling upholds the bureau’s decision to revoke Gun City’s license, but the Murfreesboro Road gun shop has 60 days after the ruling to appeal. The license would be revoked if Gun City doesn’t appeal and win. Gun City’s attorney said that decision hasn’t yet been made.
According to court filings, a 1999 inspection at Gun City and another one in 2003 turned up violations. The ATF warned Cindy Arp, president of Gun City, in April 2004 that any further violations could be considered “willful” and lead to her license being revoked.
Arp did not immediately respond for comment.
What eventually led to the revoked license was an ATF compliance inspection between January and May of 2008 that turned up “numerous violations” such as failing to record “acquisition and disposition” records of 1,067 firearms, failing to report multiple sales to individuals, failing to properly document background check information, and failing to properly complete Firearms Transaction Record forms.
Those transaction forms are important in keeping firearms out of the hands of those who cannot legally possess them, said Eric Kehn, spokesman for the ATF’s Nashville field division in Brentwood.
But Richard Gardiner, the lead attorney for Gun City, said those numerous violations are the result of “far more detailed” inspections by the ATF following its move under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 from the U.S. Department of Treasury to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“They got 10 times as many inspectors as they had before, and the number of licensees has also been going down,” Gardiner said. “So the consequence was that there was a tremendous number of inspectors. … There are 600 inspectors in the United States, and they’ve got to keep them all busy.”
Even though the records may still be used for their intended purposes, the bureau has progressed to the point where “the perfection of the records is an end in itself,” Gardiner said.
“Everybody makes mistakes. If you look hard enough at anybody’s records you’re going to find mistakes.”
Kehn said the bureau approaches each case on a case-by-case basis.