Wednesday, August 30, 2023

U.S. District Judge Criticizes ATF's 'Excessive Use of License Revocations'


Reggie Wilson, who operates Wilson Gun Works & Design in Sapphire, North Carolina, specializes in crafting high-quality hunting and competition rifles. While gunsmithing is Wilson's side gig, his primary occupation is as a machinist in the nearby town of Fletcher. Wilson's custom-built rifles have garnered numerous awards and praise from his clientele over the years.

Legal trouble began for Wilson during a March 2022 audit by ATF Inspector Shawn Cook, who accused Wilson Gun Works of several infringements of the Gun Control Act (GCA). According to allegations, Wilson had given two handguns to his stepdaughter, a Florida resident, without conducting the required background check. Additionally, Wilson was accused of not reporting the sale of multiple handguns to an unlicensed individual.

Following these allegations, the ATF initiated proceedings to revoke Wilson's Federal Firearm License on March 17, 2022. After a hearing held in July 2022, it was disclosed that Wilson had indeed transported firearms to his stepdaughter in Florida and had filled out the requisite ATF Form 4473 there. Because this action did not take place at his licensed North Carolina premises, Wilson was also in violation of specific federal laws and regulations.

In September 2022, the ATF finalized the revocation of Wilson's Federal Firearm License, declaring he had intentionally breached the GCA. Wilson appealed this decision in a federal court on November 16, 2022. U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., despite siding with the ATF, raised concerns over the agency's approach.

Although he found no other option but to support the ATF's decision legally, Judge Cogburn commented on the severity of the agency's actions, suggesting they seemed excessive given the context. He noted that Wilson's one-time sale to his stepdaughter did not appear to endanger public safety or obstruct the ATF's mission to reduce violent crime. 

“Finally, the Court notes that Mr. Wilson, who sold firearms as a side business, sold the guns to his own stepdaughter. Nothing in the record indicates that Mr. Wilson’s conduct of selling two guns on one occasion to his own stepdaughter affected public safety or hampered the ATF’s ability to reduce violent crime, which is of course one of the purposes of the GCA. Of course, the ATF has been delegated the authority to revoke the license of a licensee who has willfully violated any provision of the GCA, even if the revocation seems a heavy-handed punishment in response to the violation at issue. Still, this sort of heavy-handed exercise of revocations, as opposed to warnings or suspensions, foments antipathy for government agencies,” Judge Cogburn wrote.

Wilson was not aware of the appeal's outcome or the judge's remarks when contacted. His license revocation stands as yet another instance in a growing trend of gun dealers facing crackdowns under the Biden administration's policies. 

To assist with his legal costs, a crowdfunding account has been set up on GiveSendGo for Wilson.

Gun Coyote | Gun Deals

Get Our Deals Newsletter

No comments:

Post a Comment