Gun shop owner loses bid to get permit back

May 16, 2007|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

A Harford County gun shop owner lost a bid yesterday to win back his firearms dealer's license after a U.S. District Court judge ruled federal agents acted appropriately in pulling the gun-selling permit over recordkeeping violations.

Charles D. Scheuerman, owner of Bel Air Gun & Pawn in Fallston, was cited in May 2005 for 817 violations of federal gun law, court papers show. After an administrative hearing process, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked his license in June last year.

Scheuerman appealed that decision to federal court in Maryland, but U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. sided with the government and upheld the revocation.

For more than a decade, the judge found, Scheuerman failed to heed the warnings of federal agents who discovered poor recordkeeping in violation of federal gun statutes.

"Scheuerman's admitted knowledge of his legal obligations as a licensed dealer under the [Gun Control Act] since 1992, and the numerous undisputed violations in 2005, despite prior citations and explanations of his responsibilities in 1992 and 1999, demonstrate a plain indifference to those obligations from which the Court infers willful conduct," Quarles wrote.

Federal prosecutors in Maryland who handled Scheuerman's court action praised the judge's decisions, saying it would aid law enforcement efforts to track firearms purchases in the state, especially when those guns fall into the hands of criminals.

"If gun dealers do not keep accurate records as required by law, [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] cannot determine whether a gun was purchased by a criminal," said Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for Maryland, whose office handled the civil case. "It is hard for ATF to do its job and trace guns recovered in crimes back to their purchasers when gun shops have unaccounted for firearms and incomplete records."

An employee for Bel Air Gun & Pawn on Belair Road referred all questions to Scheuerman's attorney yesterday. The lawyer, Richard E. Gardiner, expressed disappointment at the ruling, saying that Scheuerman's errors did not constitute a "willful violation" as defined under federal law.

As an example, Gardiner said, a number of the violations were the result of placing an entry on the wrong line on the forms. No decision has been made on an appeal.

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