A rule communicated in a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in a November, 2009 newsletter to Federal Firearms Licensees could mean that sheriff’s gun auctions as currently being conducted in many locales are not following the law, an FFL who assists in such auctions has informed Gun Rights Examiner.
The gun dealer, who has requested anonymity out of prudent concerns and not wanting to step on the toes of those with regulatory oversight authority over his business, was contacted by ATF after conducting background checks and filling out the ATF Form 4473 “Firearms Transaction Record” for numerous guns auctioned off by his county sheriff.
“I was told I couldn’t do this, and invited to review the newsletter,” he informed this column, including the “pertinent part” of the rule:
Does your event qualify as a Gun Show?
A Gun Show or other qualifying event is defined in 27 CFR 478.100(b) as a ‘gun show or an event is a function sponsored by any national, State, or local organization, devoted to the collection competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms, or an organization or association that sponsors functions devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms in the community.’
If you can answer ‘yes’ to both of the following questions, your event does qualify as a gun show.
Is this event a function sponsored by any national, State, or local organization?
Is that organization devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms, or (as well) is it an organization or association that sponsors functions devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms in the community?
That second question poses a problem.
“This presents a serious issue,’ the FFL observed. “Based on this ruling, no FFL may process auctioned firearms for any police agency in the state unless the firearms are transferred to the FFL by the police agency.
“The FFL must then in turn take them all back to his ‘licensed premises’ to conduct the background checks, fill out the form 4473s, and then allow the purchaser to take possession,” he explained. “Obviously, this quickly becomes a logistics nightmare.
Police agencies, he added, may not do this as they are not FFLs.
“A rather brief amendment to 27 CFR 478.100(b), stating that police evidence auctions are a qualifying event, would remove this impediment for all concerned who are only trying to do the right thing, and go a long way toward ensuring that only those who are qualified are able to buy a firearm at an evidence auction,” the FFL added.
Alternatively, it would seem nothing should stop a sheriff from conducting an auction at a qualifying gun show within his jurisdiction, if the promoter sees an advantage to allowing such events to take place there.
Either solution raises questions pertaining to gun rights, particularly over what “crime” justified the seizure of guns in the first place. Assuming the cases the guns were seized in have been closed, lawful owners have had their property returned and dangerous people who victimized others have been put away, this seems a much better alternative than the mindless destruction policy some agencies follow, and will help ensure such guns make their way back into the hands of "We the People" -- where they belong.
And it certainly beats police-sponsored “buybacks.”
The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. B. Todd Jones may be ATF's new director, but the path he's heading the bureau down is decidedly the same old one Holder an Obama want him to stay on. Click here to read "New Director, Same Old Direction".
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