BATFE Considering Facebook Group Admin as a Gun Dealer?  Nah.

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What Makes You A Gun Dealer?

You may have seen the latest panic/hate/confusion rounding the interwebs this past weekend regarding a supposed cease and desist letter being sent to a supposed admin of a gun trading group on Facebook (supposed because it is dang hard to verify either of these based on the loose details).

From a legal standpoint (which I will gloss over in a bit) this is quite an interesting conundrum if it is actually true—which in my opinion is pretty strongly suspect (let’s keep away from the political pandering on this issue).

In terms of legitimacy of this letter, there is definitely some question (and a pretty good discussion at ar15.com—and a number of other forums for that matter):

  • Date on the letter the January 8th (Friday)—pretty fast turn around for an agency to do
  • Guy’s name, address and date of birth are exposed (poor move in any case)
  • The Executive Order is not published yet
  • Misspellings (e.g. “HAND DEILVERED”)
  • The letter doesn’t mention anything about the Facebook group (one of the posters on ar15.com indicates that this may be related to some personal sales not related to the Facebook group)

The whole idea that “this is a thing” brings up an interesting point regarding how these online groups are viewed. They are not conducting “internet purchases” and are not really dealers, though they may be facilitating people to buy and sell from one another and is clearly something misunderstood in the mainstream media. I don’t think the BATFE currently has enough agents to concern themselves with this level of scrutiny (and wouldn’t even with double the field agents they have now). Just dealing with auditing the books the actual FFL holders is a massive undertaking from my understanding. Legally would BATFE have any ground to stand on by going after an Admin of a group? I would think not, but any lawyers in the group please chime in.

Ultimately I think this is a good internet trolling event, but not something to be concerned with. Readers? Thoughts?

Thanks to Andrew for sending in the tip!



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


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  • Nick

    its certainly worded like an ATF letter, citing us code (I haven’t looked up whether the one cited is correct), though the typo does raise questions.

    Perhaps if we saw the entire thing. It’d be nice to know who sent it. I’d imagine a letter like this (if legit) would have address and contact info for the FFLC at the bottom, as well as the name of the agent responsible for sending it out.

  • Rick5555

    Not sure of the details pertaining to this issue. But, it’s quite apparent, the Obama Administration is planning on doing as much damage as they can. In the short time he has remaining as President. Hopefully, the Congress (especially the House), does something to stop Obama with his over reaching. This is getting way out of control. And Paul Ryan seems to be a yes man for Obama. Obama should’ve been brought up on impeachment charges a long time ago. The gun community is really going to have to pull together. I’m a member of the NRA. However, tomorrow I’m going to join Gun Owners of America (GOA), as well as group based in TN (my home State).

    • Hensley Beuron Garlington

      Indeed. The bastard only has a year left. People think the past 7 were bad! We better all get ready. He has nothing to lose now.

    • hydepark

      Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis.

  • kyphe

    The letter clearly defines what they class as a dealer, which is compliant with this definition.

    “According to 18 USCS § 921(11) firearms dealer means “(A) any person
    engaged in the business of selling firearms at wholesale or retail, (B)
    any person engaged in the business of repairing firearms or of making or
    fitting special barrels, stocks, or trigger mechanisms to firearms, or
    (C) any person who is a pawnbroker.”

    So if this is actually to do with his non business related Facebook activity then they do not have a case against him and it is a miss filling on their part or it is a fake!

  • TexTopCat

    My take is that the intent and substance of the Obama EO on redefining what a gun dealer is mostly to “scare” individuals that do not sell often. Certainly, there is no way to force the courts to get involved until someone is actually charged with a crime and harmed. So, at this point it is only talk and vague talk at that. I do not except to see anyone actually charged so it will never be tested.

  • Dan

    Delivered is spelt wrong.

    • Christopher Edward Penta

      rong*

  • troy

    Friend of mine here in Norfolk got served with a warning letter for selling firearms on vaguntrader 2 days before the Obama town hall thing so I don’t know. Can BATF make spelling mistakes? Yes considering the number of mistakes I have seen in my life from other agencies. Might be a troll but who knows.

    • Anon. E Maus

      How many guns is he selling? Because I know the ATF makes the distinction on just how many guns you are trying to sell.

      If you inherit a collection and decide to just sell it off, I don’t think the ATF cares too much, but if you regularly complete 80% lowers and sell them on Gunbroker I think the ATF will tell you to stop and go get an FFL.

      I heard of a guy who had bought like 50 AR-15 lowers and was selling them (at a marked up price) on Gunbroker, and the ATF came knocking on his door to ask him a bunch of questions.

      • troy

        He’s a gun nut impulse buyer. Sees something he has too have then sells it to pay off the credit card bill a couple months later. He buys and sells a gun probably every 1.5-2 months I guess.

  • That is a big no-no for both ATF and most department policies.

  • Doc Rader

    Yeah. I’d agree if this is a legit C&D, it has nothing to do with being an Admin of a Facebook group and more about doing something shady.

  • The date is hardly conclusive proof, as they likely printed it right before they headed out the door, setting the date to that day (or perhaps the document automatically changes that date every time it is opened).

    • Bill

      I’ve never seen the DOJ seal so small on any of their letterhead or stationary. If it’s for-real, you’re likely right and it’s a computer generated form with the seal pasted in as a GIF.

      • They might have ran out of the pre-printed letter head. Or they simply don’t use it out of convenience.

        Remember Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

        These agents probably aren’t computer guys, and likely just make do with what they can do rather than bother a computer expert.

        Or it could just be an elaborate fake by someone craving attention.

        • Christopher Edward Penta

          Yes. Hanlons Razor probably chalks this up to trolling/hoaxing, I.E. stupidity.

  • Joshua

    If that’s the case that is a big no no, and is basically acting as a dealer.

  • BattleshipGrey

    What if the recipient of the letter was trolled? Not likely, but it’s a possibility.

  • MrEllis

    Trolling.

  • Mister Thomas

    “He’s probably…” … oh really. So that’s what is going on here?

  • Hensley Beuron Garlington

    This is EXACTLY why we pro-gunners have been SCREAMING about these executive orders. You have to take things to their logical conclusions and quit saying its just background checks and some more restrictions, “we will never infringe your rights.” Just another step closer to firearms being more trouble than they are worth obtaining and keeping. They don’t have to ban anything. It will just become that.

  • Oldtrader3

    I was afraid that pRes. DFN’s Executive Order was going to come to this? I was right and it only took three days!

  • Kivaari

    That’s what Obama wants. In Washington state the I-594 law requiring a background check on every sale has been on the books for 1 year. It appears that no police or sheriff’s department has investigated and charged a single person under this law. Many sheriff’s have been vocal about how stupid the law is. It is good to heart sheriff’s rejecting this bad law. It needs to be repealed.

  • neckbone

    same kevin gentry had a fire at his house on wedgewood last fall too google shows

  • Recon Investments

    Jeff, you giving your son a gun is “gifting” it. Nothing illegal about that. You could go a step further and put it in a trust for him. But this is What I believe the executive order is out to focus on. Facebook has tons of these groups. I wouldn’t per se its the admins fault, because he/they are not directly profiting. But they facilitatethe transactions between people without 4473’s being called in. Why go to a pawn/gun shop, for quick cash when you can get almost full value in a classified? Why bother GETTING a FFL license, and going through the hassle of learning the laws, and how to properly navigate the madness that is the BATF?

    • Cymond

      So every gun forum and local ad bulletin is a FFL? Maybe that’s what they’re trying, but it doesn’t mean the legal definition.