Judge dismisses gun shop owner's suit contesting ATF revocation of license

January 04, 2001|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms by a Fells Point gun shop owner who complained that authorities unfairly revoked his license to sell firearms.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz said ATF investigators had sufficient evidence to pull the firearms license for Baltimore Gunsmith, the South Broadway shop targeted by police as one of the most prolific sources of guns used in Baltimore crimes.

Owner Larry DiMartino had charged in a federal lawsuit last year that ATF officials violated his due process rights by acting as "investigator, charging party, prosecutor and deciding entity" in pulling his firearms license.

Federal authorities said they had turned up numerous firearms violations during undercover investigations at the shop and were justified in their decision to revoke DiMartino's license.

The ATF's investigation of Baltimore Gunsmith focused on "straw purchases," in which people illegally buy guns for other people who would be prohibited customers - for instance, if they are convicted felons or live out of state.

In his lawsuit, DiMartino argued that the government had tricked the shop into illegal gun sales during several undercover stings. Motz rejected that argument, pointing to government evidence that suggested DiMartino knew some guns he was selling were going to prohibited buyers.

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