s11033

I need a lawyer - please read and recommend

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Hey guys,

I joined the Army a few years ago and decided to sell my stock market investments and buy a machine gun with the money before I shipped to Basic. I believed it would be a safe way to protect my savings, since I'd go significant periods without being able to manage my stock portfolio. The gun was sold to me as fully transferrable, and I paid the market rate for a fully transferrable gun of its type.

I finished my contract with the Army recently and went to sell the gun to start a gunsmithing business. I got my FFL, but when I went to sell the gun, the ATF said it's restricted. Although the initial transfer to me had no restriction on it, they found that it was imported in the early 80s, and that it's a pre-86 dealer sample. The guy I bought it from initially offered to help make things right, but has stopped replying to my emails.

I need some recommendations on a good NFA attorney. I have pretty extensive documentation in the form of emails. The seller disclosed in writing that he had purchased it as a dealer sample a long time ago, but that the restriction disappeared when he bought the gun back some years later from the friend he sold it to. He did not disclose this to me when he initially sold it to me.

Anyway, any pointers to a knowledgeable attorney would be highly appreciated.

Thank you,

Steve

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Some dealers have been opportunistic, passing off a premay sample as a Transferable.

Because of the dealers prior documented knowledge of the gun it would be easy for any good lawyer to prove fraud. 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, HHollow said:

Some dealers have been opportunistic, passing off a premay sample as a Transferable.

Because of the dealers prior documented knowledge of the gun it would be easy for any good lawyer to prove fraud. 

 

 

Should this be an NFA lawyer, or can I use anyone?

Thanks,

Steve

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I know off several cases very close to what you are enduring. over the years many forms were returned without either box checked or the red ink restriction and when they hired all the new examiners all the incomplete forms quit getting out. one was a FND and I was waiting behind the buyer with cash in hand if it didn't go right. the only difference was the dealer never claimed knowledge of the restriction. it never went to trial but the buyer did obtain a lawyer . he ended up loosing $14,000. when the gun sold as a sample apprx 6yrs later. with all the LLC's and failed operations, even a win may not see any pay back.  I would suggest a lawyer with NFA experience only. its tough to argue what you don't know. it breaks my heart every time I find out about one of these deals. its almost impossible to get any info from ATF if you are not directly in the registry for that exact weapon, so you did everything possible and acted in good faith. what the seller did was CRIMINAL and if that's the only option to pursue at least some satisfaction might be possible GOOD LUCK!


I only accept postal money orders. contact me DIRECTLY before sending any funds                                           email  myoldiron@outlook.com        

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10 minutes ago, mike todd said:

I know off several cases very close to what you are enduring. over the years many forms were returned without either box checked or the red ink restriction and when they hired all the new examiners all the incomplete forms quit getting out. one was a FND and I was waiting behind the buyer with cash in hand if it didn't go right. the only difference was the dealer never claimed knowledge of the restriction. it never went to trial but the buyer did obtain a lawyer . he ended up loosing $14,000. when the gun sold as a sample apprx 6yrs later. with all the LLC's and failed operations, even a win may not see any pay back.  I would suggest a lawyer with NFA experience only. its tough to argue what you don't know. it breaks my heart every time I find out about one of these deals. its almost impossible to get any info from ATF if you are not directly in the registry for that exact weapon, so you did everything possible and acted in good faith. what the seller did was CRIMINAL and if that's the only option to pursue at least some satisfaction might be possible GOOD LUCK!

Thanks for the reply and for the well wishes. Is it criminal just because it was a fraudulent sale, or is there more to it?

Fingers crossed I'll get some pointers on attorneys I can speak with!

Steve

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STEVE, forgetting the moral side of it which should have been enough to save you, the "criminal" act was fraudulently claiming the firearm was transferable, when he had knowledge it was in fact a restricted sales sample. some you might try in addition, contact the attorney general in the state he resides in and inform them of the fraud committed . make sure to send clear well written statements explaining actual cash values of both variations in hard copy and request a response.no many from large cities will respond, but you might get lucky. I have done so several times with grubs on gunbroker and the like with mixed results using various agencies with local power. once I had a no ship in 7 months from a small town in WYOMING, I contacted the local Sheriff that was excited to help and my goods were "over nighted" the same week.  knock knock can work for both sides at times.

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I only accept postal money orders. contact me DIRECTLY before sending any funds                                           email  myoldiron@outlook.com        

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Don't even imagine anyone is going to be prosecuted for fraud.... that's not happening.  It would be helpful if you described the gun so as to quantify your loss?  Are we talking a pre-may 249 vs. a transferable, or a pre-may Reising?   If your potential loss is 10K or less, hiring an attorney and the rest may be a wash in fees?  If you have the gun consider chalking it up to a lesson learned unless you can come to some settlement with the seller on your own?  An NFA lawyer is not particularly relevant in a civil property dispute.  The fact that it transferred to you and sounds like it was potentially years ago, is not in your favor  either?    Best of luck, but in some cases you just have to suck up a loss occasionally. 

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Posted (edited)

10 hours ago, mike todd said:

STEVE, forgetting the moral side of it which should have been enough to save you, the "criminal" act was fraudulently claiming the firearm was transferable, when he had knowledge it was in fact a restricted sales sample. some you might try in addition, contact the attorney general in the state he resides in and inform them of the fraud committed . make sure to send clear well written statements explaining actual cash values of both variations in hard copy and request a response.no many from large cities will respond, but you might get lucky. I have done so several times with grubs on gunbroker and the like with mixed results using various agencies with local power. once I had a no ship in 7 months from a small town in WYOMING, I contacted the local Sheriff that was excited to help and my goods were "over nighted" the same week.  knock knock can work for both sides at times.

Thanks for the input. I sure would hate to have him contact my attorney general here in MA... She's an activist progressive, and even though the gun is not in the state, and I'm an 07 FFL with SOT, she'd quite happily send a SWAT team to kick my door in on a no-knock warrant. That would probably end very badly for me. If I didn't get shot, I'd probably get charged with unsafe storage or some other bogus charge that get all my guns confiscated. Can't wait to leave this damned place. 3 more years...

9 hours ago, johnsonlmg41 said:

Don't even imagine anyone is going to be prosecuted for fraud.... that's not happening.  It would be helpful if you described the gun so as to quantify your loss?  Are we talking a pre-may 249 vs. a transferable, or a pre-may Reising?   If your potential loss is 10K or less, hiring an attorney and the rest may be a wash in fees?  If you have the gun consider chalking it up to a lesson learned unless you can come to some settlement with the seller on your own?  An NFA lawyer is not particularly relevant in a civil property dispute.  The fact that it transferred to you and sounds like it was potentially years ago, is not in your favor  either?    Best of luck, but in some cases you just have to suck up a loss occasionally. 

It's a USGI M1 Thompson. Not in particularly good shape. I paid $20k in late 2016 and I think it's worth somewhere around $10-11k now. Maybe I'll have my attorney send him a letter. If that doesn't work, I might try writing his AG. I think he's in NC, but I'm not sure.

Thanks for the input guys.

Edited by s11033

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Posted (edited)

I know this is no help but I had a customer that had the same problem. He bought a high end collectable M16. After transferring the gun 7 times (5 of them tax paid) I got a letter ordering me to surrender the gun because it was a post 86 gun. I had to inform them that the gun was already transferred to the customer, please check your records and contact them. My customer worked it out with the seller.

 In any case it is a problem caused by the NFA. They are the ones who are supposed to catch these problems. This is in no uncertain terms a failure of the NFA branch not doing their job.

 

I just re read the original post and I can’t believe I missed the part where it does say the seller admitted to knowing its status as a sample. I removed the text that said it might not have been the sellers fault. Because it seems that it is. 

Edited by JOELCRAMER
Correction

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Bummer I bought a Bren gun at auction that was supposed to be fully transferable and when the e-form was filed the atf requested a law letter. I immediately told the auction house that I could not provide nor would I try. I got lucky as they refunded my money but the auction house had to take the financial hit as they had taken possession of the gun under the impression it was transferrable. Best of luck with your problem.

 

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You know I was thinking about this quite a bit I almost think you could file a law suit against the atf for negligence. I’m not a lawyer but I think that a pretty good argument could be made showing negligence on there end costed you money witch they are liable for. If it wasn’t for the atf allowing the approval you wouldn’t of been defrauded out of your money..... idk just food for thought.

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s11033,

It sounds like you are facing a $10,000 loss because of the "new" found transferability status of your M1 Thompson. Do you need an attorney well versed in the Class 3 world. No. You need an attorney well versed in the courtroom. This attorney will need an expert witness well versed in the legal transfer of machine guns, preferably a current or past dealer. This expert will teach your attorney about the transfer process involving machine guns and the different types of products on the market. Yes, the Class 3 world can be very complicated but the transfer and facts you told about make it an easy process to understand, much like what happens everyday.

What I like most about the information you shared was the seller once owned this same M1 Thompson as a sales sample - and you have that admission in writing from the seller. That is direct knowledge something may be amiss with the transferability of this machine gun when it was sold to you. Your attorney will evaluate that writing and determine the strength. If a deposition is scheduled, that will be a huge topic of discussion along with a court ordered request for the seller to produce copies of all previous transfer forms, including Bound Book entries for this M1 Thompson.   

Given the loss is around $10,000 you will probably retain the services of a newer attorney. That can be a good thing but you want an experienced courtroom advocate. The venue (location) for the cause of action will be decided by your attorney with your input. I don't see enough loss for a Federal Court action. I would guess the action will commence with a letter to the seller from your attorney with a time limit to discuss settlement or a suit will be filed. Many times, that is enough to ultimately settle any dispute. Remember, the seller will have to hire an attorney to defend the suit if they have any chance defeating your claim. That costs real money, not the contingency based fee most likely you and your attorney will enter into. That said, you will probably have to pay filing fees. If me, I would contact the local bar association in your area to find the perfect attorney. Consultations are usually free. The key is to be prepared during the initial discussion. Don't forget, the attorney will also be sizing you up as a necessary witness and victim. If your not matter of fact, on point, and have all documentation you referenced in an easily searchable order, you may not get the attorney you need. And also remember, everything you post on this forum will be discoverable.

Good luck!

Let us know what you decide. 

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Steve,

hope you are able to work out your dilemma. This has been very informative.  I have only had experience with Form 4 transfers. So, how do you tell if a gun on a Form 3 is transferable to a civilian on a Form 4?  Is there some reference or red letter notation regarding the transfer of the gun being restricted in the Approved box at the bottom of the Form 3 ?  Is there some other notation on the Form 3 that the gun is a Dealer Sample or the transfer is restricted somehow ?  Along these lines, is there a way of determining when a foreign machinegun  was imported so as to differentiate it from being transferable on a Form 4 vs a PreMay DS Keeper vs Post 86 DS requiring a Law Letter?

Thanks

M Hawley

 

 

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THIS issue has haunted the field like a black cloud since passage of the 68 gun control act.  however it seldom came up until the new policy of tracing all new form 4's all the way back to the original forms putting them in the registry prior to a new transfer.  sometime around 2006 / 2008 when i heard of the first one. the new policy went into effect while training all the new examiners at the branch. NORMALLY any thing with a restriction had a red stamp stating such at the bottom along with a box checked for "exceptions". PERSONALLY I relied on the DEALER  and if an individual always demanded to see the old forms and relied on "prior transfers". the "NEW TRACE" has also caused quite a few problems in the C+R class. it seems little attention was paid to the new forms unless something was obviously wrong. as a consequence ,many  "DETAILS" got added / omitted on new forms. I changed several to "RECEIVER ONLY" from machine gun myself on any for non original new receivers simply because its the ONLY CONTROLLED PART and never had one kicked back. I bought 50/60 samples from ARMEX alone ,  all were pre may , but few were checked or had the red restrictions stamped at the bottom. several guns in my collection as C+R 's had been transfered any times b-4 me as C+R's but when I recently sold them DENIED and found not to meet the criteria required.  several BREN GUNS and VICKERS GUNS , I sold recently required a model change to match entry paper work rather than what was on my forms.  BOTTOM LINE ? I am not aware of any way to be absolutely positive a weapon is transferable or even a C+R prior to you owning it.  I believe all searches are by serial number and only the registered owner can access them. so TRUST is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THESE DAYS.


I only accept postal money orders. contact me DIRECTLY before sending any funds                                           email  myoldiron@outlook.com        

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3 hours ago, mike todd said:

 BOTTOM LINE ? I am not aware of any way to be absolutely positive a weapon is transferable or even a C+R prior to you owning it.  I believe all searches are by serial number and only the registered owner can access them. so TRUST is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THESE DAYS.

As always, Mike Todd gives excellent advice. 

I strongly encourage all NFA enthusiasts to request FOIA records on all machineguns they own. Even though most of the information is redacted, a copy of the original Form (1,2, whatever) is a good thing to have. It's nice to be able to say, "This machinegun, serial number xxxx, was registered on xx/xx/xxxx by ACME Firearms in Wherever, USA". When selling a machinegun, you should consider sending any FOIA records you have to the purchaser so they can be fully informed, too.

The NFA community is great and we should fully support each other and help others as much as we can.

In Liberty,

KristopherH

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Steve,

 

     First, the situation you are in really stinks.  My wife and I are 01/03s, and you don’t magically have a pre-86 become transferable.  Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the government also failed you because they should have caught it when the transfer was processing.  Be that as it may, here you are, and what to do?

    I talked to my wife about your post.  In addition to loving firearms with me, she’s also an attorney.  We’re going to differ with some of the others and say that you have a breach of contract issue as much as you have an NFA problem.  From the NFA side, I’d be worried about being in possession of a dealer sample when you don’t have a SOT...or if you do now, it’s not registered appropriately to that SOT.  But I think you can avoid a lot of that by the fact that you were 1) defrauded and 2) the ATF goofed and approved it.  Nevertheless, it’s beat to get an NFA attorney and get them to help you work this out.  You don’t want some overzealous agent of an LE agency trying to screw you over.

As far as the fraud/breach of contract, we think you have two options.  First, you can try to rescind the contract by claiming you were fraudulently induced to by the gun or Second, you can sue for breach of contract and sue for the difference between the value of the transferable gun you thought you were getting and the value of the dealer sample you actually have.  An experienced contract law attorney should be able to help you with that.  Depending on where you are, we might even be able to provide a referral.

Hope this works out for you.  I’m active duty Army myself with 3SFG out of Bragg.  Always suck to hear about a brother getting screwed over.  We work hard for the little bit of money we get as soldiers.

-David

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