August 30, 2023
by Lee Williams
Reggie Wilson, owner of Wilson Gun Works & Design in Sapphire, North Carolina, makes benchrest-quality precision hunting and competition rifles, which are guaranteed to shoot half-inch groups at 100 yards. His motto is “We build one rifle at a time.”
Wilson is a machinist by trade in nearby Fletcher. Building high-end rifles is his side business. Over the years, his bolt-guns have taken impressive trophies and game, and his customers rewarded him with accolades and devotion.
According to court documents, during an inspection in March 2022, ATF Inspector Shawn Cook “cited Wilson Gun Works with multiple violations of the Gun Control Act (GCA).”
The ATF alleged that Wilson transferred two handguns on December 30, 2021 to his stepdaughter, a Florida resident, without conducting a background check. The agency also claimed Wilson did not report he had sold “multiple pistols to an unlicensed person.”
On March 17, 2022, ATF issued a notice to revoke Wilson’s Federal Firearm License, stating that they believed Wilson had violated the GCA. Wilson requested a hearing, which was held on July 26, 2022. During the hearing, court documents show that Wilson admitted that he “personally transported the firearms to (his stepdaughter) in Florida and completed the ATF Form 4473 there. Because the transfer did not occur in North Carolina at the licensed premises, Wilson Gun Works also violated 18 U.S.C. § 923(g)(1)(A) and 27 C.F.R. § 478.100(a). (Id.).”
Based on the violations, ATF revoked Wilson’s FFL on September 27, 2022, concluding that Wilson had “willfully violated the GCA.” On November 16, 2022, Wilson appealed to federal court, seeking “judicial review of the ATF’s decision.”
The case, WILSON GUN WORKS AND, DESIGN, LLC, Petitioner, v. STEVE ALBRO, Director of Industry Operations Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Department of Justice, Respondent, was assigned to United States District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., an Obama appointee, who is best known for striking down North Carolina’s gay marriage ban in 2014.
In his order, Judge Cogburn had no choice but to rule in favor of the ATF, stating: “Here, the Court finds that no genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Petitioner violated the GCA. Thus, under Section 923(f)(3), the ATF was authorized to revoke Petitioner’s license.”
However, it is what the judge said after announcing his decision that should serve as a strong warning to the ATF.
“Finally, the Court notes that Mr. Wilson, who sold firearms as a side business, sold the guns to his own stepdaughter. Nothing in the record indicates that Mr. Wilson’s conduct of selling two guns on one occasion to his own stepdaughter affected public safety or hampered the ATF’s ability to reduce violent crime, which is of course one of the purposes of the GCA. Of course, the ATF has been delegated the authority to revoke the license of a licensee who has willfully violated any provision of the GCA, even if the revocation seems a heavy-handed punishment in response to the violation at issue. Still, this sort of heavy-handed exercise of revocations, as opposed to warnings or suspensions, foments antipathy for government agencies,” Judge Cogburn wrote.
Contacted Tuesday, Wilson did not yet know he had lost the appeal. He was also unaware of the judge’s comments.
“It doesn’t do me any good,” he said.
ATF’s decision to revoke Wilson’s FFL was affirmed, and he became the latest casualty – one of hundreds – of Joe Biden’s war on gun dealers.