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Sometimes you just can’t catch a break. No matter what you think, the rock and roll lifestyle’s not an easy one. Have you seen Keith Richards? Traveling all the time. Never knowing what city you’re in. Halfheartedly fending off groupies. It all takes a toll. You need to relax and blow off some steam sometimes. Then someone offers to take you out for some shooty fun. A bunch of them are cops and former cops. They take you to a private, cops-only range. No problem, right? Well, there’s one problem…

The problem is you’re a felon. And no matter where you go, someone always has a camera. After Motley Crue and Poison played a date in Charlotte, NC, headliners Tommy Lee and Bret Michaels were guests at the Rowan County Police Officers Lodge range where much shooting and fun took place. And pictures too.

And Tommy Lee’s a convicted felon. Which means he’s not supposed to even hold a gun. The local cops could probably be forgiven for not knowing his record. All they did was invite a celebrity who was in town for an afternoon of boomenshutzen.

Except…nothing stays private anymore. Not when you’re as famous as Tommy Lee. Not in the age of Facebook and Twitter. TV station WSOC heard about the range trip, got a hold of some of the pics and asked local cops about it. Oops.

Now someone has to determine if something untoward happened. Tempest in a teapot? Sure. Would WSOC criticize the cops for investigating themselves. With glee.

So, finding himself on the horns of a dilemma, Rowan County Sherriff Kevin Auten wanted to keep things arms length, on the up-and-up, above board and without even a hint of impropriety.

Considering all his options, he decided the only thing to do is to call in the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Because when you think rectitude, propriety and investigative transparency, you think the ATF. Don’t you?

So officers from the Spencer Police Department, Salisbury Police Department and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office are about to get the full federal colonoscopy. WSOC will have a lot of fun following the proceedings and crowing that they’re the ones who brought this threat to national security to light. But there might be a bright side to all of this. With ATF agents busy looking into these modern-day Dillingers, maybe they’ll have less time to send guns to Mexico and Honduras.



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  1. Why didn’t they ask the State Police or the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation? That would have gotten it done at the lowest level possible and not involved the Feds. Farming the investigation out is reasonable but not going to the ATF.

  2. A quick review of North Carolina law would indicate that there is no State law prohibiting the transfer of a weapon to a felon, merely a restriction upon possession by a felon. Federal law is another matter. Perhaps that is why the Sheriff chose to bypass the State Police or the NCBI.

  3. Hey, most PDs would have run an “investigation” that found that nothing was wrong. I’m not going to criticize the Sheriff for not doing a coverup. The fact that the ATF is dysfunctional isn’t his fault.

  4. … and I suppose Tommy Lee was unaware that he is a convicted felon, or that as a convicted felon he’s barred from handling/posessing firearms… It just slipped his mind…

  5. Tommy Lee made a bad career choice by going into rock and roll. If he was a Mexican narco-trafficer, ATF would give him as many guns as he wants.

  6. The range I go to makes you fill out a form that asks if you have a record, and if you do you can’t shoot there. Now people can lie, but if they get caught they’re really screwed.

  7. They just sent the guy Los Angeles cops tried to frame for the Dodger’s game mayhem to jail for having a gun in his laundry room; Tommy “The Felon” Lee had pictures with the gun in his hands….THAT WOMAN BEATING FELON IS GOING TO PRISON!

  8. The local cops might take some heat for this SNAFU, but Mssrs. Michael and Lee have a pretty good legal defense: entrapment. When a team of friendly, uniformed police invite you to their range and literally put the guns in your hand, it’s unjust for the law to punish you for doing what the police literally begged you to do.


    Ok, just kidding…

  9. First, I think the law itself needs to be changed… nonviolent felons are of little concern to me. That being said, Mr Lee commited a violent felony; it’s not right that perhaps thousands of non-violent felons can’t even have a firearm in their home for protection but some here think it’s ok to excuse a felon because he’s letting off a little steam with a group of “only ones”


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