legend firearms
Courtesy Legend Firearms
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by Lee Williams

Ira Levin could not be happier. He can continue to operate his gun shop, Legend Firearms, which is located in Monroe, New Jersey. Levin has owned and operated the small gun shop since 2009, which is no small feat given the Garden State’s blatant antipathy toward guns and gun dealers.

Levin has sold more than 21,000 firearms and has been inspected dozens of times by both New Jersey State Police and ATF. They have never found a deficiency, at least not until Joe Biden declared war on gun dealers.

During an inspection in October 2022, an ATF Industry Operations Investigator, or IOI, found several deficiencies. A few customers wrote “USA” on the 4473 because they mistakenly thought the form asked for their country rather than their county. Levin’s staff did not catch the errors.

In addition, one of Levin’s part-time employees transferred firearms to three customers more than 30 days after they had signed the 4473. The ATF inspector said Levin’s employee should have had the customers fill out new 4473s before they took possession of the guns, because the form expires after 30 days. To be clear, all the customers passed background checks. None were prohibited persons.

Levin believed ATF would issue a warning or maybe a small fine for the clerical errors, until he received a letter stating that the ATF intended to revoke his federal firearm license. The revocation letter was signed by John Curtis, an industry operations director at ATF’s New York City Field Office.

Levin immediately tried to contest the revocation during a preliminary video call with Curtis and other ATF officials, which he hoped could save his license. They told him he could appeal their decision at an administrative hearing. Levin asked who would preside over the hearing and was told it would be Curtis.

“Curtis signed the revocation letter and now he is going to run the hearing. How is that right?” Levin told the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project last year. “Shouldn’t the person making the decision be objective?”

Levin was adamant that his revocation was part of a national trend orchestrated by the White House. Joe Biden first announced his zero-tolerance policy in June 2021. Part of his scheme included five criteria, which he claimed defined a rogue dealer: transferring a firearm to a prohibited person, failing to run a required background check, falsifying records, failing to respond to an ATF tracing request or refusing to allow ATF to conduct an inspection.

To be clear, Levin violated none of these rules. However, the ATF is routinely revoking licenses for even the most minor of errors — errors not on Biden’s five-point list.

The hearing 

When Levin got on the Zoom call for his administrative hearing, he expected the worst, but he presented an intelligent and forceful defense to Curtis and the other ATF staffers on the call. 

“Everyone who ever inspected me was in that room,” Levin said Thursday. “I asked Curtis if it ever occurred to him to ask them about me. They know me. He didn’t know me. I told him it wasn’t a rhetorical question – that he should ask them if I’m the type of guy whose license should be revoked.” 

Levin told the agents his revocation was obviously a directive from the White House, which Curtis denied. 

“Revocations have increased 500 percent because the president wants to get rid of ‘rogue’ FFLs. That’s why he’s weaponizing you against us,” Levin recalled saying during the hearing. “Your regulations say it was a ‘willful disregard of the law,’ but I’ve conducted thousands of transfers and you’ve found fault with three.” 

Levin, a decorated Air Force veteran, told Curtis and the other ATF agents that he swore an oath to protect and defend this country. 

“That’s still an oath I take seriously,” he told the agents. “If you took the same oath and take it seriously and now do this, you’re a different kind of person than I am.” 

Weeks went by with no word from ATF. Levin was on a cruise with his wife when he got a call from his daughter, Bailey, who he hoped would someday take over his gun shop.

“She asked me if I wanted her to open the letter. I told her no, because I didn’t want to ruin the cruise. She said she’d open it, but only tell me what it said if it was good news,” Levin recalled. “She opened it and started screaming. She said, ‘They’re not taking your license. You won!’”

The letter included much legalese, but one line was very clear: “The ATF has determined there is no cause to revoke your license at this time.” 

Levin estimates that revocation process cost him $4,000 in legal fees, as well as a massive amount of worry and angst. Some of his customers donated money to make sure he could mount an adequate defense. 

Several weeks after he was exonerated, Levin heard that John Curtis – the industry operations director at ATF’s New York City Field Office who had signed his revocation paperwork and had overseen the administrative hearing – had been transferred to an ATF office in Cleveland, Ohio.

Said Levin: “I fully expected them to revoke my license even though I know what kind of business I run. I know I’m not a criminal. Luckily, I documented everything. At the end of the day, I know it’s rare to win.” 

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  1. Expect more of that crap from those Fascists… 🙁

  2. If you voted for biden in 2020 or did not go vote in 2020 for DJT you lent a helping hand to the, “Facism. “

    • Good for the Gunshop owner! Just got back from Cabelas. Does anyone use Winchester rifled hollowpoint deer slugs for home defense(& not against Bambi)??? Just a question to the learned TTAG gang…

      • If I lived in a town I would not use slugs from a shotgun for defense. Way too much punch and power. Shoot right through a tweaker and hit grandma 4 houses down.

        If I lived in an area with big carnivores I would not hesitate to use slugs as a self defense round.

        • Soft lead slug = extreme projectile deformation. Sharply reduces pass-thru, and is a true stopper.

          Hard lead, you are right, lookout Granny. Only way to know for sure is test them, afaik. Testing often yields surprising results, IME.

      • I can tell you from hunting experience that slugs like that make big, deep holes in whitetails. Having done & seen that, I don’t load them for home defense. Disclosure, the slugs & sabot rounds I have are higher velocity for flatter trajectory. Lighter loads with less penetration may be ok. Search for slug gel test videos. If you do load them, be aware of the over penetration hazard. I second jwm’s advice.

        • My son bought a rifled barrel for his Mossberg 500. Came with sights . We loaded it with sabot all copper slugs. Can’t remember the brand. First 4 shots at 75 yards were a cloverleaf. Hadn’t even touched those sights. I was amazed. Pricey ammo but worth every penny.

        • Watched a video short last night, one of those fancy pillows stopped common pistol rounds and what looked like a 12 ga. foster slug. So just buy more pillows.

        • Vinny
          So I should buy a big roll of duct tape and lots of pillows and wrap grannie up so she is safe if the first posters shoot an intruder?

          What if a possum is doing the shooting? They tend to shoot upwards. Should I start the wrap at her ankles?

      • Don’t really care for a shotgun for self-defense, but I recently bought one in deference to my neighbors. I thought they might like it better than a HK-91. The magazine is loaded with Federal 00 tactical w/flight control wads. The side saddle shell carrier has six Breneke rifled slugs. There’s only so much bullshit I’ll put up with.

        • I don’t like a shotgun for defense either but using my rifle may get me in “trouble” in ILL annoy. Nothing better than an AR!

        • “Flight control wads”

          We launched spitwads in school. Yeah, in “study hall”. Do they even have that anymore? But you had to use a drinking straw for flight control…and lots of saliva. So they finally figured out how to add rifling to drinking straws?

          As long as I learn something new every day, I’ll never grow old!

  3. Kudos, standing ovation for Ira Levin!!!

    If he wasn’t in NJ, I’d go purchase a gun from him.

  4. Hhhhhmmmm.

    ATF retaliated against their own IOI; FFL (Levin) prevailed, momentarily. Government doesn’t usually discipline their own, and not find a way to inflict payback on the people who prevailed against it.

    It’s a big, big government; respect its powers.

    • ummm. they appear to discipline their own but usually they ask the screw up employee (if he is one of the chosen ones) if they want a raise and promotion in another location so you don’t have a clue. This saves on paperwork and wasted energy on real discipline.

      • At worst they’ll transfer the person, but keep the same pay grade. The location of the transfer indicates the level of the stuff up.

      • “…a raise and promotion in another location…”

        A sudden relocation after embarrassing the agency is, itself, a tag that will haunt a fed for a long time (unless politically connected). the higher the grade level, the more likely to be moved up, and better. The mid-ranks aren’t treated so well.

        Managed to get between a govt agency, and a military department, once. There was an inter-agency squabble, where the military were claiming to have been harmed by the federal agency. All that was necessary, was a promise to the military that the screw up wouldn’t happen, and a note of apology for the disruption.

        The federal agency refused to admit an error, nor would the agency issue an apology for the dispute. The feds declared that if they admitted error, they would “lose face”. As far as I know, neither agency found out that I wrote/delivered an unsanctioned apology, not the federal agency. Things returned to normal, after.

        • “…refused to admit an error…”

          Man, I sure hope that folks like this never populate our gov’t!

          Oh, wait a minute…

          Appears that we need a Department of Fiefdoms to keep this sorted. The Chief of Staff needs his own full-blown agency. And so goes bureaucracy…

    • Dave,

      Wouldn’t f**k Senile Joe with somebody else’s dick. Malig-Nancy and Schmucky Chucky can do the job. Hell, Beta O’Rourke or Pete Bootygig would probably pay money for the opportunity.

  5. There’s a reason that the BATFE is considered the most loathsome of all federal agencies. Even the employees rate their agency in the basement on the annual DOJ internal survey, it’s a “Leadership” situation or a lack there of.

    • the agency is heavily dependent on funding…therefore loathe to offend their puppet masters…they tend to go whichever way the political winds blow…and could care less about an individual…quite obvious they’ve been told to target dealers….

  6. So he won….but at what cost? Can he afford to fight this fight over and over and over? Because the criminals running BATFEces don’t have to worry about costs…they can steal as
    many tax dollars as they like in their quest to abuse us. And they are NOT through with this
    man…mark my words. He made them look bad and they WILL crucify him for doing so.

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