We've talked a few times about Badger Guns, in West Milwaukee, WI, and the campaign to demonize the store, and even force it out of business (despite no compelling evidence of illegal behavior on the part of the owner). This campaign has been waged by the mayor and police chief of Milwaukee, with a big assist from local papers like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It's that paper that recently ran a long story about the transfer of ownership, in early 2007, from former owner Mick Beatovic, to current owner Adam Allan (with Allan obtaining a Federal Firearms License for that address, and Beatovic giving up his).
At the time of the change in ownership, Allan was an employee of the store, and his father, Walter Allan, was co-owner and president of the company. The store was also under a cloud of BATFE suspicion (harassment?), making it a good time for Beatovic to retire, although he claims to have had no idea that the BATFE had designs on shutting the store down.
Beatovic still owns the building, and is therefore the landlord for Badger Guns. The thrust of the article is that there is something sinister and wrong here--that Beatovic is still connected in some way to the gun commerce business, despite a pending effort on the BATFE's part to revoke his license, and that he, through Badger, is "still" involved in shady dealings (remember--no one has proved that he ever did anything to justify license revocation).
[Deputy assistant director for field operations at BATFE headquarters Jim] Zammillo said a federal law, which pertains only to gun dealers, doesn't allow ATF to look behind the person applying when considering granting a new license.If the idea behind all this licensing and red tape is the reduction of "gun violence," why the hell does it matter if there's a "secret owner" profiting from the business? If the current owner of record (and current license holder) is complying with all relevant laws (and there's no compelling evidence that Allan is not), then the level of "gun violence" is unaffected by who is profiting behind the scenes. The fact that liquor licenses are handled differently is not an indictment of the FFL system (to which the real objection is the requirement for "licensing" in the first place), but of the liquor licensing system (which, again, shouldn't exist in the first place).
"You could have the same players involved and it is a new corporation because the statute doesn't get to the principals behind the corporate name. It only looks at the corporation, and the corporation is the applicant," Zammillo said.
That is different than licensing for other businesses, including liquor wholesalers, where inspectors investigate all the people behind the business and deny a license if one of those people is barred or is likely to break the law, he said.
"It gave you access to the character and the record of the people behind the corporate name," Zammillo said of alcohol business regulation, which is now handled by the Treasury Department. "This (gun dealer) statute, the way it is worded, does not give us that authority."
Using its limited authority, ATF investigated whether Beatovic and Walter Allan were "secret owners," Zammillo said. Investigators couldn't prove it, he said.
The "best" part was a line by former West Milwaukee Police Chief Eugene Oldenberg, in which he actually brought up the "straw purchase" theme:
As a local police chief, he had no say in the sale of a gun store. Told about the violations at Badger Outdoors and the license change, Oldenburg said it raises more questions.Between Two Rivers has more.
"So this looks like the straw sale of a gun store," he said.