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Posted: 1/2/2003 8:26:34 PM EDT
[url=http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/09/national/09GUNS.html]NY Times[/url]
December 9, 2002

The gun store that supplied the rifle used in the Washington-area sniper attacks was allowed to stay in business despite four investigations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that found dozens of guns missing and serious violations of federal laws requiring dealers to keep records of weapons they buy and sell, according to court records.

The information, contained in an affidavit made public by federal prosecutors in Seattle on Friday, depicts the store's owner, Brian Borgelt, as so sloppy about record keeping and the way weapons were handled in his shop that guns were routinely stolen or misplaced, with no way to trace what happened to them.

Two employees of the store, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Wash., said they noticed that a .223 caliber Bushmaster XM-15 rifle was missing from a display case in August or early September, the affidavit said. But Mr. Borgelt did not report the loss, as required by federal law, officials said.

The gun later turned up in the car in which the two men charged in the October shootings, John Muhammad and Lee Malvo, were arrested. The employees also reported they had seen Mr. Malvo in the shop before the gun disappeared.

Despite a wealth of detail, the affidavit does not resolve how Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo obtained the $1,600 rifle. "We still do not know whether it was stolen," a firearms bureau official said, "or whether someone in the shop sold it under the counter without requiring a background check, or it was just a case of bad record keeping."

Neither Mr. Muhammad nor Mr. Malvo could have bought the rifle legally. Mr. Muhammad is under a domestic violence restraining order, and Mr. Malvo, 17, was disqualified as a minor and an illegal immigrant.

A law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the United States attorney's office in Seattle would now subpoena employees of Bull's Eye to testify before a grand jury to try to determine how the rifle left the store.

The affidavit also reported that Mr. Borgelt did not file personal income tax returns from 1995 through 2001. Nor, it said, did he file a partnership tax return for Bull's Eye or a store that preceded it, from 1994 to the present.

But from 1999 to 2002, $1,551,024 in cash was deposited into Bull's Eye's account in branches of Key Bank around the nation, the affidavit said, and Mr. Borgelt was able to buy a house and a building for the gun shop valued at $750,000 in total.
Link Posted: 1/2/2003 8:27:43 PM EDT

Mr. Borgelt did not return phone calls to his store yesterday.

The affidavit said several current or former employees of Bull's Eye had told investigators that paperwork at the store was in "disarray." One of these employees, Susan Haft, a former bookkeeper, said she had told Mr. Borgelt about missing paperwork, "but he never did anything about it, and didn't seem to care."

Another former employee, Chris Olive, said that when Bull's Eye displayed guns at local gun shows "inevitably a handgun or two would be stolen from the tables."

Firearms bureau inspectors had uncovered record-keeping violations in audits at Bull's Eye and its predecessor store in 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2001, the affidavit said, including 160 missing guns that Mr. Borgelt could not account for in the 2000 audit.

As a result, the bureau issued Mr. Borgelt a warning letter, saying that future record keeping violations "will be viewed as willful in nature," a finding that would allow the firearms agency to bring criminal charges against him or begin proceedings to revoke his license.

The inspectors found that Mr. Borgelt was not correctly filing background check forms that must be filled out when a customer buys a gun and are used by the bureau to trace guns used in crimes. Many of the forms were stuffed behind the cash register, and some were missing essential information.

The bureau's slowness in taking action against Mr. Borgelt over the years underscores loopholes in the nation's gun laws and the weakness of the firearms agency, A.T.F. officials themselves acknowledge.

"We are something of a toothless tiger, especially when it comes to dealing with a dealer," said a ranking bureau official. Referring to the National Rifle Association, the official said, "That's the way Congress and the N.R.A. have wanted it."

The bureau's powers were limited by a 1986 law, the Gun Owners' Protection Act, passed with N.R.A. support, that reduced record-keeping violations to a misdemeanor from a felony. As a result, federal prosecutors often show little interest in going after rogue gun dealers.

Moreover, the bureau is not permitted to suspend or fine a problem dealer. Instead, it must initiate a complex regulatory process to revoke the dealer's license, which can take years.

"The truth is," said Martha Tebbenkamp, a spokeswoman for the bureau in Seattle, "even if a dealer is indicted, he can still keep his license until he is convicted, and then he can stay in business until all his appeals are exhausted."

Mr. Borgelt has offered a $2,000 reward for information about how the gun left his store.
Link Posted: 1/3/2003 12:11:16 AM EDT
Mr. Borgelt and I have several mutual friends, and they explained to me that at least the tax thing is not true. I don't think this is all true.
Link Posted: 1/3/2003 1:04:11 AM EDT
why would a post-ban shorty cost $1600?

... the $1,600 rifle...
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Link Posted: 1/3/2003 1:07:39 AM EDT
why would a post-ban shorty cost $1600?

... the $1,600 rifle...
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View Quote

It was probably one of those "high powered" bushmasters that can shoot a .223 at 7 miles a second... I just love it when the media reports the facts...
Link Posted: 1/3/2003 2:50:54 AM EDT
Decked out with accessories, all at MSRP, things can look pretty expensive.
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