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ATF and Clerical Errors

Another reported case of the ATF going after technical violations instead of real crime:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE) wants to shut down San Leandro’s Trader Sports. The business, owned by Tony Cucchiara, is one of the largest gun dealerships in Northern California.

The decision to revoke the dealer’s license to sell weapons as of June 1 comes after an ATFE audit that found Cucchiara unable to document the whereabouts of almost 2,000 guns.

The ATFE believes that a proper tracking system for firearm sales is integral in preventing guns landing in the hands of criminals. Documentation of gun sales is also used to trace weapons found at crime scenes.

In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the government said that Trader Sports willfully violated the law even after repeated reminders of what was required of them to operate legally.

Then, later, we get:

Cucchiara’s lawyer, Sacramento-based Malcolm Segal, has countered that missing guns can me attributed to clerical error and the ATFE has been hyper-technical in its audit of his client — going so far as to audit records that date as far in the past as 1967.

6 Responses to “ATF and Clerical Errors”

  1. Heartless Libertarian Says:

    2,000 guns sounds like a big number, but 2,000 over almost 40 years? They describe the store as “one of the biggest in Northern California.” San Leandro is in the SF Bay Area, so if they’re described as big, they probably move some very serious volume. And 40 years worth…

    You’re looking a, on average, one messed up record every week or so. Be interesting to see if the number of ‘unaccounted for’ guns increases as the records get older. Stuff gets lost after a couple of decades. It just happens.

  2. markm Says:

    Just what I was thinking – the numerator is meaningless without the denominator.

  3. Captain Holly Says:

    Reading the article, it looks as if this was a bureaucratic hit job — DiFi herself called them “illegal gun traffickers”. It’s not surprising that some local ATF bigwig would take the bait in order to curry favor with CA’s senior senator.

  4. joated Says:

    Just how long is a dealer supposed to keep his records anyway? 40 years seems like an awfully long time. And why are they keeping these records so long anyway?

  5. wrangler5 Says:

    It’s my understanding that the ATF takes the position (without any statutory authority to do so) that if you ever completed an item on a form correctly, then EACH and EVERY subsequent failure to complete it correctly is a “willful” violation. Because you know how to do it correctly, you see, but didn’t. There is no such thing as a “mistake”, “oversight” or “error” in this regime.

    I’m not aware of any other area of the law where this sort of approach is applied.

    That said, the article doesn’t suggest that the store just made one paperwork error a week, but that they “lost” a gun a week. I don’t care how big an operation you have, a gun a week disappearing sounds to me like a BIG deal. OTOH, it may just be that the guns are still all somewhere on premises, they just aren’t accounted for properly in the logbooks. That, of course, is a much smaller deal, but naturally the ATF would be unable to make the distinction.

    More facts would be nice.

  6. Heartless Libertarian Says:

    No, if they don’t have the gun, and the 4473 is MIA, then the gun is “lost,” even if it was sold 35 years ago. If the bound book and the 4473 don’t agree, the gun is, again, “lost.”