ATF Says It Can’t Check Hidden Gun Store Ownership


A Wisconsin congresswoman is demanding federal watchdogs get tougher on gun stores that sell a high number of guns used in crimes, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She cites a dealer in West Milwaukee that has sold firearms used to shoot six police officers in Milwaukee in under two years. Rep. Gwen Moore asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to explain why a recommendation to revoke the license of Badger Outdoors in West Milwaukee was never pursued, as the Journal Sentinel has reported.

ATF told Moore it “diligently reviewed” the findings of the Journal Sentinel article, but said its hands are partially tied by Congress when it comes to examining hidden gun store ownership. Federal law allows ATF to investigate the person applying for a gun license, but not the people who may be secretly behind the operation. That is different from other licenses, such as alcohol wholesalers, where the same agency can delve deeply into secret owners by combing business records. At Badger Outdoors, the newspaper reported federal records show the license recommended for revocation was relinquished voluntarily, the players inside the operation took on new roles and a new license was issued to the son of a previous owner, creating what an ATF official called a “clean slate.” The store remains open, operating as Badger Guns. ATF has just 590 investigators to inspect 116,613 gun license holders nationwide. There are 10 people to inspect 2,726 license holders in Wisconsin. ATF inspects about one in 10 license holders a year.

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