Tom Harris, owner of Sporting Arms Company, which is based in his home in Lewisville, Texas, works with a customer during a firearm purchase. (Photo Courtesy Tom Harris)
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By Lee Williams 

Tom Harris has been selling guns out of his Lewisville, Texas home for 30 years. He is so respected and beloved by his customers that one gave him a kidney – literally – which saved his life. 

Dialysis wasn’t working well for Harris, owner of Sporting Arms Company, which he operates from a dedicated space in his home. He had only months to live until a 39-year-old retired Marine offered to help. 

“I heard you might need a kidney. I’ll get tested,” Harris recalls the man saying in 2019. “I told him that he and his wife should pray about it first. He said, ‘We already have.’ He was a perfect match — a 7 out of 7. Now, even if I lose my business, it has allowed me to live.” 

In what has become standard operating procedure since Joe Biden took office, the ATF is trying to intimidate Harris and other home-based gun dealers into surrendering his federal firearm license. If he refuses to comply — and he most likely will — Harris will face what ATF calls “adverse actions.” 

ATF dug up procedural errors from as far back as 2007 to make their current “case” against Harris, but the ATF had already told Harris he was cleared of these 16-year-old clerical errors, as well as newer ones. He has letters attesting to this. Unfortunately, none of that matters to the ATF inspectors who recently began persecuting the 61-year-old disabled father of five only to satisfy their supervisors’ newfound zeal for more FFL revocations. 

“They threw the kitchen sink at me after they cleared me because their bosses weren’t happy with it,” Harris told the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project last week. “They are trying to intimidate me into surrendering my FFL.” 

Home-based gun dealer Tom Harris and some of the inventory of his Lewisville, Texas shop. (Photo courtesy Tom Harris.)

History

Harris has an industrial engineering degree and a master’s in management. He worked as a senior director of North American operations for a large tech company while selling guns on the side, often putting in 100-hour weeks. He employed several off-duty local law enforcement officers to help with sales. 

“I started selling guns right when the Bill Clinton administration started,” he said. “I’ve always appreciated guns from an engineering viewpoint.”

Business was slow until he received a bit of divine intervention. “A pastor prayed over my business, and it took off,” Harris said. 

He describes his gun shop as “general purpose.” Since he has been in business so long, he can buy direct from companies like Colt and Smith & Wesson. He’s a master Kimber dealer. Harris estimates that around 40% of his transfers are “wholesale” to newer dealers. 

“Most are gun show guys,” he said. “I did a few gun shows in the early 2000s but got tired and quit.” 

Today, he’s one of the largest home-based gun dealers in north Texas. He has more than 10,000 customers across the country and has sold more than 184,000 firearms. His 30-plus Google reviews are extremely positive. 

Harris has never had any serious discrepancies during previous ATF audits, other than for his penmanship. Harris now qualifies as legally blind, but when his wife quit her job and began helping with the paperwork full-time, that problem was quickly solved. 

Unlike some home-based dealers, guns sales are not a hobby for Harris. They’re his sole source of income. “My 84-year-old mother is now living with us, and three of the five kids are still ‘on the till’ in college,” he said. 

The Troubles  

After an audit last year, two ATF special agents asked some pointed questions about multiple firearms Harris sold to an individual. “They put the squeeze on me, but I answered all their questions and gave them whatever they wanted,” he said. 

One of the ATF officials — Special Agent Aaron Loving — told Harris’ attorney he was cleared of any wrongdoing. Harris’ attorney documented this conversation in a letter. 

“Agent Loving has informed me that you are no longer the target of any criminal investigation, and there will not be any criminal prosecutions forthcoming,” the letter states. 

And then the ATF changed its mind. 

A few months later Special Agent Loving re-contacted Harris’ attorney, stating “We need Tom to give up his license voluntarily. The bosses up the chain want him to turn in his license or face adverse actions,” Harris recalls his attorney saying. “We thought this was all over,” Harris said. 

Last month, Special Agent Loving and his partner personally served a Notice of Revocation to Harris. 

Allegations

Harris’ Notice of Revocation contains two violations: 

1. “On 10 occasions, Licensee willfully aided and abetted a non-licensee in dealing firearms without a license as required by the GCA…” 

2. “On 46 occasions, Licensee willfully made a false statement or representation with respect to information required by the GCA …”

Harris has since learned that the individual to whom he sold the firearms is now under investigation by the ATF. 

“This individual was a customer of several FFLs,” Harris said. “The ATF had cleared me of any wrongdoing. They alleged I aided and abetted on 10 forms, but at the time the individual was actively being approved for his FFL. All of this was originally approved by the ATF, who said on multiple occasions I followed all the regs.” 

ATF Response 

Krissy Y. Carlson, ATF’s Director of Industry Operations (DIO) for its Dallas Field Office, signed Harris’ Notice of Revocation. She did not respond to calls or emails seeking her comments for this story. ATF Special Agent Aaron Loving said, “I can’t – I’m not gonna speak on any active investigations.” 

Agent Loving was specifically asked if he told Harris’ attorney that he was no longer the subject of any criminal investigation. “I cannot speak to any active investigation,” Loving said, again. 

Instead, Loving offered the name and number of Sara Abel, the public information officer for ATF’s Dallas Field Office, but the number he gave doesn’t work. 

Takeaways 

Like other home-based FFLs, Harris was told nothing would happen if he just surrendered his FFL voluntarily. Like other home-based FFLs, ATF wanted more than just compliance and his license. 

“They were taking pictures left and right, which I knew was inappropriate,” Harris said. “They used a scanning app on their phones to photograph 4473s. At the end of one session an inspector demanded a copy of my entire electronic database.” Harris handed it over. 

He says intends to fight. 

“On a Monday last January, the ATF called and demanded that I get rid of all my guns by Friday and surrender my license,” Harris said. “They said they’d be here that Friday to sign the paperwork. I knew it wasn’t ATF’s administrative procedure. I knew it was abnormal. I told them I declined to voluntarily surrender my license.”

Said Harris: “I will not be intimidated into surrendering my license.” 

One of Harris’ longtime customers has created a GiveSendGo account to help him raise funds for his legal defense. 

 

The Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project wouldn’t be possible without you. Click here to make a tax deductible donation to support pro-gun stories like this.

This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

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50 COMMENTS

    • A version of the ‘ole “The insurance papers got too close to the stove”, eh?

      • The History of Gun Control shows its behind again thanks to everyone who voted directly or indirectly for Jim Crow Gun Control democRat joe…Are your papers in order?

  1. “We need Tom to give up his license voluntarily. The bosses up the chain want him to turn in his license or face adverse actions,”

    Since they are public employees, the names of those ‘higher up the food chain’ should be easy to find. Perhaps if folks knew those names, the public can communicate to them personally at the grocery store where they shop how displeased they are good people are being harassed that way… 🙁

    • If by “communicate to them” you mean beat them to death in grocery store aisle with a large hard salami then I fully support your statement

      • No, speak to them in measured tones telling them what they are doing is wrong.

        Treat them the same way Maxine Waters said to treat Trump cabinet officials while they are out dining. Remember the videos of them haranguing people just trying to eat a meal?

  2. POLICE STATE, we know it, they know it! Yet none of our “representatives” seem able or willing to stop it!

  3. Red and white and blue.
    What’s with the white and black flag with a blue stripe that I see some places. Is it the new flag of America or the flag of some insurgent group of terrorists?

    • Prndll…Not to worry you can hide FFLs in your home like the brave Germans who hid Jews from the nazis.

      As Churchill said…“This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

      • I agree with you in sentiment. But You can’t hide that license. Otherwise it wouldn’t serve any purpose.

  4. “Like other home-based FFLs, Harris was told nothing would happen if he just surrendered his FFL voluntarily.”

    And that’s what they are trying to do, get the licenses voluntary surrendered because the ATF knows they will not win a court fight with their ‘contrived’ criminal charges and their unlawful searches under the guise of ‘inspection’. Think about it, if he had really committed a crime they would have already arrested him and not be going “this crime will suddenly go away if you just surrender your license”. Instead, they show up under the guise of ‘inspection’ to get around a warrant because they do not have probable cause, and ‘contrive’ criminal charges based upon simple clerical errors like they did to that other guy.

    • ” ‘I told them I declined to voluntarily surrender my license.’ … Said Harris: ‘I will not be intimidated into surrendering my license.’ ”

      Good for you. Do not surrender to this harassment of tyranny and its thugs and bullies.

  5. 1. “On 10 occasions, Licensee willfully aided and abetted a non-licensee in dealing firearms without a license as required by the GCA…”

    2. “On 46 occasions, Licensee willfully made a false statement or representation with respect to information required by the GCA …”

    F the ATF, but that aside, this article is crap. Explain the two sentences above, and don’t say “that’s all the newspaper that I copied this from said.” The ellipses above don’t give the reader confidence. The ATF proof on the USB drives is never shown here or in the original article. Can’t you do any journalism other than copy and paste?

    • If it follows with other FFLs, point 2 are probably mistakes on 4473s, like misspellings, abbreviations, or someone who misread “Country” for “County.” Those used to be called unintentional human error, but ATF’s new SPARTAN software now calls them intentional violations.

      • Exactly. All of our records were deemed to be in violation because the 4473’s on file did not include the 4 pages of instructions along with each form. on our audit this morning. I have been searching for this rule and have been unable to locate it. It was never an issue in the previous 30 odd years of audits we’ve had.

  6. Upon the ATFs return, I would love to see Tom say ‘OK, here’s my license’ and reach into a filling cabinet, and extract and present a fully extended middle finger instead. That video would go viral.

  7. I appears the AFT(Bidumbspeak) targets the most vulnerable FFL holders. Scum of the earth behavior🙄

    • notice there is a background of religious beliefs for these FFL’s the ATF is harassing with these warantless searches under guise of inspection and contrived charges. The other one was a preacher, this one had a preacher pray over his business and goes to church. These are not the only ones. religious persecution?

      • Churches build congregations of like minded thinking people. History proves churches are no good when dictorship is on the horizon.
        I’ve not been in a church since the Angel’s was looking at me for tripping on acid, but I’m going to join one. BTW that church of choice had a yard sale,picked up a few AP 30-06 rounds and a couple boxes of .380.
        Had as collection of Winchester commereatives and some scoped rifles but he knew what they was worth. He said the .380’s were his wives but she got a 9mm.
        This is what our government fears, unity of we the people. What it loves to use is racism, as long as the Zebras are kicking each other the lion never gets hurt. They are professionals at what they do.

      • It is known F-Troop do have some OV-10 Bronco counter-insurgency aircraft. I wonder if they are trying to update them to A-10s.

        • The Warthogs are being mothballed. Maybe the Troop is hoping for some military-surplus swag.

  8. I wonder how these ATF shenanigans of late are sitting with the stamp collector crowd.
    Kinda like seeing a cloud of dust forming over the horizon no doubt.

  9. “At the end of one session an inspector demanded a copy of my entire electronic database.” Harris handed it over. He says intends to fight.”

    Better late than never?

  10. Death by a thousand cuts. The Commies are using the same tactics that they are using on Trump. Clinton started this drive of trying to nickel-and-dime small FFL dealers back in the early ’90’s to make them give up their guns. The small, independent gun dealer is the last vestige of an America that once was. Same thing for other small retailers, Big Government has a harder time controlling them. As seen with the COVID scam, Big Government can control the big corporations easier than they can the millions of small, independent entrepreneurs. Digital currency will also be a way for Big Government to control what the public purchases (i.e.: guns). If we don’t stop this Commie takeover soon, America will end up in another Civil War.

    • It’s time for the states to enact Title 18 USC 242 and arrest on sight any federal employee deemed in violation of it. Remanding them to jail with no bond until such time as the case can be brought before the state supreme court. Then lose the paperwork.

  11. Has anyone every challenged the Jackbooted ones making entry into a private home (a firearms retailer) without a warrant?

    • By maintaining an FFL, you have granted the ATF to inspect the licensed property at the address provided on the license. If it also happens to be your home address, you have voluntarily consented to the inspection of the entire property at that address

  12. neiowa: The possession of the FFL is by their law, consent to an “examination” of the premises, inventory, and records.
    Copying _all_ of the 4473s is a violation of a law attempting to restrain the attempt by the ATF to create a single, searchable, registry of guns and gun owners, which is contrary to law.

  13. we just had an audit today. Texas. home based FFL Everything was a “”violation”. we have had our license for just shy of 40 years and we have never had a violation or issue during an audit. They have been friendly record checks with zero drama.

    Today’s was hostile out of the gate and at the end of it when asked they were going to revoke our license, we were told “I don’t have the authority to do that now, but…” and she pulled out the voluntary surrender of license form that was all filled out and just needed our signatures to complete it.

    We declined to sign it.

    We’re now waiting to be contacted with a complete list of all the “violations” we incurred.

    As of now, I have been unable to locate any of these supposed rule changes on the ATF’s website and will be interested to see if the violations include the relevant US Code or ATF directive numbers associated with them.

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