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ATF Raids New Mexico Gun Store for Illegal Sales

Shooter’s Den employees were allegedly building firearms without a license, including unregistered NFA weapons

Earlier this week, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided Shooter’s Den, a gun store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on suspicion that its employees were manufacturing firearms without a license — including an unregistered machine gun, short-barreled rifles, and “any other weapons” (AOWs) in violation of the National Firearms Act (NFA) — and trafficking in firearms.

Since 1934, the NFA has imposed stiff registration requirements on fully automatic machine guns because they allow shooters to fire a barrage of bullets in mere seconds. The NFA also regulates short-barreled firearms and AOWs because of their easy concealability.

According to a search warrant filed earlier this month, during a November 2022 compliance inspection, an ATF investigator found that Shooter’s Den had acquired at least 72 AR-15 lower receivers and built 61 of them into complete weapons, despite not having a Type 7 Federal Firearms License (FFL) to manufacture firearms. At the time, the store manager admitted that he had been building AR-15s without a license for several years.

In March 2023, ATF agents held a warning conference with Shooter’s Den, citing the dealer for several violations, including 23 instances of failing to report multiple handgun sales, three instances of failing to report multiple rifle sales, and 81 instances of failing to obtain complete firearm transaction forms as required by federal law. Reporting multiple firearms sales can help the ATF stop gun trafficking, and incomplete transaction forms hinder the ATF’s ability to trace crime guns. At the March meeting, ATF personnel also reminded Shooter’s Den personnel that they needed a Type 7 FFL to manufacture firearms.

According to the search warrant, in April 2023, ATF agents entered Shooter’s Den and confiscated a custom-built AR-15 equipped with a forced-reset trigger and a barrel shorter than 16 inches, as required by law. The firearm, which the store manager called his “personal gun,” was determined to be an unregistered machine gun and short-barreled rifle.

Then, in May and July of this year, Shooter’s Den allegedly sold an undercover ATF agent two AR-15 pistols that were determined to be unregistered AOWs. During the May transaction, the store manager included an arm brace with one of the AR-15 pistols.

When the undercover ATF agent returned in August to purchase yet another AR-15 pistol, the store manager allegedly attached a stock to the weapon, creating an unregistered short-barreled rifle. According to the warrant, the store manager stated, “If you are going to break one fucking rule, you might as well break all the fucking rules, right?”

The search warrant called for taking all of the business’ firearms, parts, and ammunition as well as transaction records and any other evidence of violations.

As of this writing, Shooter’s Den is still listed as a dealer of products manufactured by Henry Repeating Arms and Smith & Wesson, though the store appears to be closed for business. It is unclear if those manufacturers will cease doing future business with Shooter’s Den as a result of these new facts. No federal charges have been filed to date.

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