The story of Sanford Abrams and his Maryland gun store, which regulators call “a serial violator” that has “endangered the public,” illustrates the difficulty of shutting down dealers found to have persistently flouted gun laws, says the Washington Post. Federal officials say a proposal in Congress, strongly backed by the National Rifle Association, would cripple their ability to revoke gun licenses. The bill would make it more difficult to close down gun shops without evidence of criminal intent. Even if the bill is defeated, Abrams plans to use a provision in existing law to sell 700 guns left over from his shop’s inventory at a soon-to-be-opened store called Just Guns next door to his current store on property owned by his family.
The decade-long battle between Abrams and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has centered on laws that require dealers to keep detailed records on their inventory and customers who buy firearms so law enforcement officials can trace guns found in criminal investigations to their original purchasers and prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals. The pending bill “would make it virtually impossible to enforce the nation’s gun laws,” said Joseph J. Vince Jr., former chief of ATF’s firearms division. Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), who introduced it, said, “I am not anti-ATF, but I am anti-heavy-handed law enforcement. I don’t see that this is going to emasculate, or even weaken, in any way, the ATF.”