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If Gun Dealer Skips Town


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#1 Sgt

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 11:00 PM

I'm trying to help out a friend and wondered if you guys may have experience in this matter? My friend has ordered a non-nfa firearm from a local gun dealer and paid substantial money, up-front. Neighboring businesses have told us that the dealer has suddenly emptied his store and is probably out of business. The dealer will not answer his phone. Would this be a matter for only local police or is it a federal crime, since guns are involved? Should there be a fair waiting period for the dealer to contact his customers or should that have already been done, prior to his closing?
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#2 John Jr

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 11:03 PM

Thats a tough one. I hope your friend comes out ok.


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#3 JTinIN

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 02:04 AM

Even on NFA items, the ATF typically does not really get into the issue, from experence of a friend.

Best option is to start a paper trail that will hold up in court. Get the receipts toghether, send the store owner a reg letter (actually three of them spaced a week apart). Call the local police and better bussiness (not going to help, but might have information). If enough money is tied up, then a road trip might be in order.

Key to everthing is get going soon enough that their might be a few dollars left to get .... and document everything.
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#4 full auto 45

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 08:06 AM

John is right. I know from a business stand point, 3 registered leters. That way they have to be signed for. Keep all receipts. Keep copies of all letters you send. Be polite. Not nasty. Maybe he might get his gun or money back.
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#5 Tman

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 10:17 AM

Have your buddy contact the local ATF Industry Operations office. They are the ones that inspect dealers. They will have info on whether the guy is still in business and may have additional contact information. It never hurts to try.
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#6 TSMGguy

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 11:47 AM

Has the ATF paperwork already been submitted, and are things down to the traditional waiting game?
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#7 Ron A

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 12:21 PM

This happen to several of us about 15 years ago.

The person had a shop and advised he was going to an out of state show took guns from people to take to the show and never showed up.

There were a number of people looking for him for over a year. Then someone ran a ad in the shotgun news asking if anyone knew where he was and telling about the scam.

The person was found in days and it was found that he had done this before. The guns were never returned but the person was sent to a federal lockup.
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#8 scubadvr

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 03:04 PM

Along with the prior suggestions I would consider filing a small claims civil action against the dealer as well. All to often after the government (federal and/or state) gets their pound of flesh in a criminal action nothing is said about restitution. If a restitution is ordered it is often over looked. A civil judgment can be entered then at least a victim can levy against any remaining property the defendant has.

Edited by scubadvr, 28 March 2005 - 03:07 PM.

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#9 Sgt

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 06:18 PM

Thanks, guys, for the great advice. The purchase was a non-nfa gun, so there are no transfers to worry about. My friend asked the dealer to find him a particular firearm. The dealer took the money and stalled my friend for several months. Ok, the red flags should have gone up at that point. I understand that other people were also left hanging.
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#10 Sgt

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Posted 29 March 2005 - 11:31 AM

I just got an update. Looks like it may have been a false alarm about the dealer going out of business. Apparently he left town for awhile and didn't tell anyone. That created a panic among several who had sales pending, especially when the rumors were created by neighboring businesses that stock had been leaving the store. The store is open and my friend contacted the dealer just fine and got things straightened out. It does give one pause, to think that this could, and has, happened with dealers handling transfers. Thanks for the advice, though.
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#11 First Sergeant

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Posted 29 March 2005 - 03:21 PM

Sgt

Glad it worked out for your friend. I always breath a sigh of relief when I'm told "the gun is being shipped today" and I have a tracking number. That was the case just the other day with my M1A1 that took 4 1/2 months to get approved. Your story does make one think though !!

Chuck
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