I was slogging through some of the saved bookmarks on my desktop this morning. I stumbled on an old article about a human factors guru named Earl Weiner. Since my last post on TTAG discussing guns, human factors and an Airbus A320 went over so well I figured I’d write a little bit about how Weiner’s Laws and this machinegun transfer have a lot in common . . .
If you haven’t already figured it out, the situation isn’t good. In fact, I’m giving myself 10-1 odds that the fellow actually takes gets his gun at this point. What’s that, FC? Buy a transferable machine gun and never be able to take it home? Here’s how it all went wrong….
What started off as a “transfer this for me via ATF form 4” conversation has devolved and delaminated into what can now only be described as a full scale Louisiana-sized deep sea salvage operation. A blend of Marcus Lemonis’ The Profit and an episode of COPS: Baton Rouge.
When I was asked to handle the transfer, I stopped by The Incompetent Gun Store that had started the process and was told that forms were filed to send the gun over to my business due to their lack of expertise. I asked him several times if he needed any assistance. He said no.
The previous owner has abandoned his business and left a new person holding the bag. After talking with the new owner about a month after he had filed the forms, I went over there to check on the status. I found him vaping in his office as he told me that the ATF rejected the Form 3 and that he was working on getting the problem resolved.
I knew the gun wouldn’t be happy as I called him to tell him that I’ve got no gun and no paperwork. The gun buyer and I chatted and decided to pay The Incompetent Gun Store a visit where we find out that they have lived up to their moniker.
We discovered these following salient points:
The previous owner didn’t pay any of his vendors. They’re suing the store for $193,000. The old owner is gone so the new owner is on the hook for the cash, something the old owner didn’t tell the new owner. The new owner never mentioned any of this to the gun buyer or me when this whole adventure started.
Worse, The Incompetent Gun Store never filed forms for the machine gun. They didn’t know how.
The SOT they said they had that would make a Form 3 transfer possible – had never been renewed. They said they were renewing their SOT, but when pressed they admitted they didn’t have the necessary $500.
I asked to see the original forms that were prepared for the owner on a Form 4 and the Form 3 that the gun arrived with. They couldn’t find either.
In other words, they don’t know where the document that keeps them out of jail for possessing the machine gun in question is. Shocking.
What happened next was a conversation I never thought I would have with a gun buyer.
Gun Buyer: Here’s the plan. I’ll hit him then you’re gonna grab the gun and run out the front door.
FC: I am not about to make your problem my problem. If you do that, it’s unregistered possession and the ATF goes from being on your side to putting you in federal prison.
GB: But possession is 9/10ths of the law!
FC: You do that, and I will hire my friend’s band to play “I fought the Law” at your arraignment.
We left there angry and hungry and when I got home, I searched all legal proceedings against the current and former principals of The Incompetent Gun Store. The new owner wasn’t kidding. Vendors wanted their money. Divorces pending, finance companies all over them demanding cash. The situation was worse than I thought and was led to believe.
However, there was one bright spot. I was told that in light of all the bitching that I’d been doing, they had somehow straightened out their SOT and could file forms again. I didn’t believe them so there was only one thing left to do; call the ATF and impersonate the owner and check on the store’s SOT status. The result:
So the ATF won’t let us do any paperwork because The Incompetent Gun Store has no SOT. And no valid FFL. When he moved, he didn’t update his address with ATF. Which means we can’t do anything. There’s two major problems here that exist.
A: If he dissolves the corporation, which he has said he was planning on doing but then changed his mind. He told me this after I specifically told him not to do that. The machinegun would have no current registrant and be declared contraband and destroyed.
B: Should the creditors get the gun, there’s no way to get it back without litigation. And even then it would not guarantee success.
Facing those two options, I called a customer of mine that deals in business litigation. He told me a few salient points for free. The rest would cost me.
Due to NFA laws being what they are, I’d very likely spend a few hours getting the litigation lead up to speed on the intricacies of the transfer, litigation would bill $325/hour with a 10 hour minimum for a finished product of 10-15k and even if successful, no amount of litigation can compel the present registrant to do anything about the property that they’re holding.
So, faced with these options – I looked back at Weiner’s laws, and I find the ones below most relevant to this situation.
18. Exotic devices create exotic problem.
20. Complacency? Don’t worry about it.
22. There is no simple solution out there waiting to be discovered, so don’t waste your time searching for it.
I am not optimistic about this situation because I have doubts about their business operations continuing and it’s only a matter of time before the SO comes by with a court order to seize any remaining firearms to satisfy the creditors. I leave the readers of TTAG with the following advice:
1. Make sure your dealer knows what they are doing. Rule 18 wasn’t joking around. Anything with a tax stamp is an exotic device. With it comes exotic problems.
2. Don’t be complacent with the paperwork. The dealer that did these forms screwed it up and didn’t get remediation to ATF in the 30 day window last year. Now they’re having even more problems.
3. Make sure your dealer is not some kind of pathological liar – this dealer has been giving me malarkey about ATF and his SOT for months now and my research has indicated that 100% of it is organic fertilizer.
There is no way to get around the NFA. If you want to change it, change the world. I realize that many people were hoping and praying for HPA which everyone viewed as a simple solution that was just waiting to be discovered and passed by congress. I had my doubts then and I have my doubts now. Gun laws typically follow one direction, on the books and not off.
From this point there is not much to do other than wait for a certain someone to get their act together and we’ll find out how it goes but I am not optimistic about a favorable outcome. Let this be a lesson to all those who are looking for transferable machine guns to make sure their dealer has their act together.
[This follow up to a previous post Firearms Concierge: Machine Gun Madness]