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A few weeks ago we reported on some ATF enforcement activity at the Stag Arms manufacturing facility. Namely the seizure of thousands of undocumented firearms sitting on the factory floor. It seems that Stag has been doing a pretty poor job on the compliance front, failing to properly record firearms that they produced – among other things that ATF inspectors salivate over. Things came to a head today as the former owner of Stag plead guilty in court to a number of regulatory no-nos. As a result, the ATF has offically revoked the manufacturing license for Stag Arms — one of the larger manufacturers of AR-15 rifles in the United States. From the Courant . . .

New Britain-based Stag Firearms LLC pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating federal firearms laws and as part of a plea agreement company president and owner Mark Malkowski agreed to sell the company and have no further ownership or management role in a gun manufacturer.

The company, with Malkowski serving as its representative, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hartford to a single felony count of possession of a machine gun not registered to the company.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is also revoking Stag’s federal license to manufacture firearms.

If there’s one thing that I know it’s not to piss off the ATF. As long as you play by the rules they will generally leave you alone. The moment you step over the line you become a huge target. In this case, Stag failed to do some basic record keeping in their manufacturing processes. As a result, the ATF came down on their heads like a ton of bricks, laying charges against the head of the company for the failure and closing their doors.

84 Responses to BREAKING: ATF Revokes Stag Arms’ Manufacturing License

  1. So after he sells the company will they be able to resume with a restored license? Company isnt worth much if they can’t make product.

    • I’d assume not under the current license. But the new owner just hast to purchase the assets and trademarks, etc. and form a new corporation. Call it Stag Arms LLC instead of Stag Firearms LLC, then apply for it’s own manufacturing license. Any association with the former company shouldn’t be a consideration.

    • They will set up a puppet owner, then sell the company to that person for $5 or whatever, retain the old owner as a consultant, being paid the same amount as he was before, then resubmit for a new license.

      • I doubt that will work. Malkowski wants to avoid his own personal felony. Not worth the risk. He got a hell of a deal this time. There won’t be another.

      • That is about what happened to Red Jacket after having Will Hayden brought back in after loosing their FFL and getting the deal for the TV show. Note that Hayden was allowed to be working in the gun industry but never to be able to get his FFL license back per the ATF deal. Malkowski is never allowed to work in the industry again per the plea deal terms. Also it is a bad idea to let someone back in if there was any wrong doing going on in the first place. Will Hayden did a number of deals on the side on behalf of Red Jacket but personally pocketed the money because everyone though that he was the owner (which was really Joe Meaux).

        • Stag arms guy is now a convicted felon = no guns.
          Will Hayden is a convicted child molester = no guns.

          Yes…… Bad ideas all around from a business perspective.

        • You’re obviously not familiar with the goings on BEFORE he was convicted of molesting his daughters.

          When the show started filming, they had already lost their license, due to losing a bunch of machine guns.

          So they had one of their employees take over the FFL, and continued doing business.

        • Actually Hayden lost his FFL because they lost some guns in their bound book (he claimed the receivers were cut up/blemished for projects, or they could have been out the back door, who knows). The “lost machine guns” of which you speak were shipping issues and were not prosecuted by the ATF.

  2. Good job, getting the big headlines, BATFE.

    Maybe, one of these days, you’ll utilize your time, effort, and taxpayer funding to go after real criminals, committing actual crimes that have real victims and actual injury.

    • Assuming that this misconduct was actually committed and Stag was not framed by the ATF, it’s imperative that this sort of thing be shut down. If you’re allowed to get away with unrecorded firearms in your factory then there’s nothing preventing you from, say, slipping a few out the back to supply the Mexican drug cartels, and as we know that’s the ATF’s job and they don’t tolerate competition.

      • There is nothing preventing this from happening in the first place as long as you do it when the ATF isn’t there for an inspection.

        • Well I’m guessing the ATF doesn’t call ahead. Anyway, if the cartels wanted ARs that bad they could order up a bunch of 80% lowers and set up shop themselves. But 3rd world AKs are cheaper.

      • The cartels already get a lot of their guns free from the US and Mexican governments. Not to worry, everything government does is legal because the government makes, interprets and enforces the law.

    • 1) They were leaving tubs of finished, unserialized lowers laying around with no accounting for weeks/months/who knows how long (and losing them)
      2) They had in their possession a bunch of machineguns they had recorded had been transferred to the Philippines (hmm…)
      3) They had in their possession a bunch of machineguns they had recorded were with LEO customers (hm, hmm…)

      #1 is understandable, if monumentally retarded for a business in an area as sensitive as guns (and only very stupid everywhere else). The other stuff is just shady business, which the plea deal has probably kept out of the open. Were they keeping ‘sold’ guns around for personal toys? Were they peddling them on the sly to sleazy characters like organized crime, narcos, terrorists, the State Department (remember the 100 illegal silencers the Navy purchased off the books a year back? Or whatever the hell Hill was doing out of Benghazi?), or the ATF (this time faster and more furious)?

      • Given that firearms registration in general, and the NFA in particular, are inherently unconstitutional infringements of the right to keep and bear arms, I really couldn’t care less.

        They’re not real crimes.

        Go after people who commit murder, armed robbery, and the like using those firearms. Those are real crimes.

      • Certain firearms companies get contracts to make a certain number of sterile silencers, guns for the US gov’t. Even Russia and other countries do this. The steriles are kept track of and even have paperwork for them. The sterile firearms are then used by the military/gov’t for covert ops or are sold to other allied countries for use in their covert ops.

        HK a German company does this all the time with their underwater pistol hence why close to 20 countries have it in their arsenal but there are no markings on the gun to incriminate the country who used it.

        Also the Supreme Court ruled that the fed or states can impose regulations on firearms.

        • The Supreme Court has also ruled that black people are not people soooooo is it possible they might be wrong? At least morally?

  3. The same stag arms that won’t sell a civilian a short barreled upper for an ar15 without proof of a tax stamp registered sbr lower? Funny how a company that sells firearms to the general public thinks the same general public is smart enough to own said firearm but too stupid to understand their own local laws. Pretty sure that’s what the academic types call irony, or maybe karma…or ironic karma, idk, but fuck them for not selling me a short barrel upper for my pistol lower.

  4. There’s a time and place for challenging federal regulations. The factory floor, where people’s livelihoods depend on that license, is neither. These sound like gross violations and sloppiness that probably permeate the company even beyond the regulatory issues. I’m surprised nobody was held personally criminally responsible.

    • That’s along the lines of what I was thinking. I personally think the NFA is unconstitutional crap, and although I have too much to lose to violate it personally I would not think badly of anyone who did as an individual. When you are running a for profit business with stakeholders that depend on you, you have to comply unless the law is just heinously repugnant (like using Jews as slave labor in WWII Germany).

    • Jonathan,

      Where is the evidence that Stag was supplying firearms to violent criminals? There isn’t any. The only “evidence” is that Stag didn’t fill out enough papers to satisfy government.

      The problem here is that people think it is okay for government to demand a bunch of papers from us … much less feel empowered to shut down businesses, ruin lives, imprison people, and impose fines of tens of thousands to millions of dollars for failing to fill out papers.

      • “Where is the evidence that Stag was supplying firearms to violent criminals?”

        I don’t know, friend. What I do know, and what you should know by now, too, is that I don’t defend points that I didn’t make.

        Whomever alleged Stag was supplying violent criminals, I suggest you go ask them for them for the proof.

        Now, if that was just your typical self-serving, unilateral precondition setting (as in, no transfer to violent criminals, only a paperwork snafu, then no “real” crime committed), then I’ll call you on that. You don’t make the rules. You don’t frame the debate. You don’t define the relevant parameters. Sorry…..

        Regardless the law, its reasonableness, or your opinion of it, one fact remains, and it is irrefutable: Stag chose to conduct business in this industry, in this country, governed by these laws and regulatory structure. It’s their responsibility to abide by those laws, work to change them, and/or accept the consequences for flouting them.

  5. So is this back-door gun control? Or can other gun companies pick up the slack(a rhetorical ?). Or just ineptitude and poor managment-ala Freedom arms…OR an evil gubmint cabal.

  6. Question, I have a great stag arms AR and have a warranty on the barrel so if it ever wears out too much I get a free barrel, does this mean I’m SOL on that?

    • If the COMPANY gets purchased, they’ll be purchasing all of the liabilities with it (including warranty liabilities).

      If they just purchase the facility and re-open under a different trademark/name, then you’re S.O.L.

      But let’s be honest, anybody who can afford to actually shoot out a barrel won’t give a shit about dropping $100 for a new barrel. It’s gonna cost you $5000-$10,000 in ammo to wear out a barrel, and $100 to replace it.

      If you could afford to shoot out a barrel, you wouldn’t care much about losing warranty on a $100 barrel. 😉

  7. In an environment where everybody and his mother is producing ARs, why would anyone buy Stag?

    The brand is nice, I guess, but not nice enough to be worth big bucks.

    The equipment may be useful, but tearing it out of Stag’s existing facility might not be cost-effective. Of course, the acquiring company could buy the plant and equipment and have a turnkey operation, but who wants to manufacture guns in an anti-gun state?

    Patents? Probably not. Buying Stag’s market share? It won’t be there in six months.

    This is not going to be an easy sell to anyone except people who are currently involved with Stag and who are not tainted by this mess.

    • Stag might have a bit of a niche staked out with their left handed models, which the vast majority of AR manufacturers either don’t have any or just one token model. Stag has just about everything in a left hand model. I’m not left handed, but I considered their model 7 at one point since it seemed like the most affordable 6.8 out there that was suitable for hunting.

    • I ordered a Stag AR 10 days before Newtown. Why Stag, because they are one of the few though I don’t know of any others who manufactured left hand/left eject rifles. I love it and they honored the quoted price even with all the stuff that went on. I’m sorry this has happened and I hope someone can work it out so the employees don’t lose their jobs. They make/made a nice AR.

  8. ITT: ATF out to get gun makers.

    In reality, other gun makers seem to be able to sail through no problem so it seems that Stag just effed up on their basic responsibilities a firearms manufacturer.

  9. I used to work for Remington and let me tell you that the ATF’s regulations were more challenging to comply with than one might think. “Keeping track of guns” sounds like an easy process, but in manufacturing it’s very difficult. When does it become a gun? What about those test guns without serial numbers? What if it’s broken and kept for records? Constantly in R&D work we would be taking receivers of the line and testing different processes on them, then keeping them for reference. ATF regulations made it impossible for us to do our jobs. Can’t take guns off the floor, can’t leave guns anywhere but a locked “cage”, can’t even move guns from one cage to another without an absurd amount of paperwork. At the end of the day, the factory is run by people. Even with the most perfect disposal system that ensures that all broken/tested/used guns are destroyed, the guy that presses the button can do something slightly wrong, and the receiver will be destroyed with the number still in the system. Boom, we have a missing gun.

  10. The biggest flaw I see in Federal law enforcement, not just ATF, is the assumption that any mistake or glitch made by a citizen is an attempt at a felony level crime. If Stag arms wasn’t suspected or proven of making guns for the illegal market then the .gov law enforcement should have worked with them to rectify the problem before going all felony on them.

    The .gov is supposed to be there for the benefit of the citizen. Not just an enforcemnt tool.

    • The biggest flaw in Federal law enforcement is that it exists at all. The FedGov was only given police powers in 3 areas, counterfeiting, piracy, and treason.

        • If you think it should be done differently, you’re free to advocate for amendments. You don’t change the law of the land by simply ignoring it, or you end up with lawlessness — a tyrannical, criminal government.

        • Oh look, it’s austin. Special little fella that is such a statist anybody that don’t agree with him gets called a statist.

      • Where did you get this idea from? The Marshals Service is the first Federal LE organization. It was charged with enforcing Federal Court orders, transferring prisoners, and act as chief law enforcement authority in US territories. The Marshals were established in 1789.

    • Crimes against bureaucracy, man…fill out a form wrong or fail to file a document the right way? Well, you’ve offended the Bureaucracy and that’s the greatest crime a citizen can commit.

    • ‘…the assumption that any mistake or glitch made by a citizen is an attempt at a felony level crime.’

      What makes you think that you need criminal intent to be guilty of a felony in this country?

    • Not true. Remember all those guys who knowingly defrauded investors with “mortgage backed securities” and derivatives? It should have been pretty easy to prove criminal intent (because email is a thing) but no one went after them in any meaningful way. How about people in the country illegally? There are executive orders protecting them. If you have the right connections, the law won’t be applied to you. That’s the real problem. We are witnessing the breakdown of the rule of law. It’s only if the political class doesn’t like you (for example, if you make guns) that the law will be applied rigorously.

  11. Lol I have zero experience in firearms manufacturing but generally in business these are just symptoms edemic of a business with broader problems. When money gets tight often people are asked to do more than they actually can. Bean counters are generally expensive. Regulations typically are a bean counters wet dream. When the sledding gets tough many businesses end cutting high cost workers first (bean counters/regulatory compliance type folks).

    No inside knowledge here but you have a company playing in a field of firearms that are essentially a commodity. it wouldnt be surprising to see some underlying financial strain. In other words if it can cripple a company like colt it sure as hell can be damn tough on a company like stag.

  12. The ATF went after them because they found a receiver without a serial number in the factory, how this violates law IDK, considering it was still in the manufacturer’s possession. I’m sure Danny boy wanted the vice squeezed a little tighter too…
    Also, Stag manufactures for other AR companies as well, who put their roll marks on the receivers. As far as I know they are the only manufacturer who make every single part in house.

    • I don’t think it was “a” machine gun receiver without a serial number. I’m pretty sure it was hundreds due to the person who does the books being out of town during the manufacturing process. All info must be submitted/recorded prior to manufacturing a machine gun (or any gun), not after.

      If this was sloppy record keeping ATF would have just pulled his FFL. The felony charge for possessing an unregistered machine gun has me thinking there is more to this in the indictment.

      http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-stag-arms-guilty-plea-federal-court-1223-20151222-story.html

      • I know what states are capable of when it comes to going after someone. States and the Fed Gov have unlimited resources and are more than willing to use the process as punishment.

        Just hope you’re never on the receiving end of a prosecutor with an agenda, because he will make your life a living hell. That prosecutor will not care how many rights are violated in the process, because he will never receive any sort of disciplinary action for said violations.

        Knowing what I know about prosecutors and ATF, I am unwilling to give them the benefit of a doubt about anything.

        These are the kinds of people that if they told you the sky is blue, you best go outside and check for yourself.

        If it turns out this case against Stag Arms is legitimate, it’s pretty much a one of when it comes to ATF.

  13. Who’s the guy in the picture … the one with his left index finger on the bang switch? Must not have paid much attention during his firearm training classes.
    [W3]

    • I was looking for this comment. I deeply hope that this yahoo is not affiliated with BATFE (Ban All The Fun Everything).

      • That’s the owner of Stag. Maybe gives you a snapshot of what his business practices were like. Guy runs a gun factory and doesn’t abide by the cardinal rule of gun safety.

  14. OK= The U.S. Government selling firearms to Mexican drug lords, which are then used to kill U.S. Government workers.

    NOT OK= Having non-serialized lowers in a firearm manufacturing facility.

    Just so we’re clear.

    Anyone thinking that the BATFE was doing a “good job” is insane.

  15. Are you kidding me, I just ordered a bunch of parts to complete my left handed 6.8 rifle (barrel, upper, bcg). It just went to the shipping department yesterday.

  16. Thread got better the more it went on. I think DJ and Randl were spot on. In a situation like this one, its hard to know the real “story.” Stag will be like a lot of firearms companies, that produce a product that simply has been offered to the community in more that enough flavors already. There products have never excited me as a consumer, and there books have probably been red for a while (particularly with inventory just lying around). The way companies function on such a shady level these days, it wouldn’t surprise me if they have associates at the ATF, and simply called in there walk away from the industry/employees card.

  17. I just bought a Stag lefty upper on black friday. I hope they survive this. They’re really the only game in town for lefties & I think they private label a lot more guns than people are thinking.

  18. Anyone else notice the finger on the trigger? Was that rifle SAFETY CHECKED? NO MAGAZINE DOES NOT MEAN CLEAR CHAMBER!!! And they say us responsible gun owners are to blame!!! Maybe he has not heard of the 4 GUN SAFETY RULES!!!!

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