Attorney speaks on gun show loophole explained as cause for ATF raid on home of Bryan Malinowski

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The questions surrounding why the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives chose to raid the home of the Clinton National Airport’s Executive Director are starting to be answered.

Bryan Malinowski died from injuries in a Tuesday shootout with ATF that resulted in one federal agent being injured. An affidavit unsealed by federal authorities hours after Malinowski’s death Thursday alleges he unlawfully sold guns without a license.

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Attorney and gun laws expert Jeff Wankum of Wankum Law Firm in North Little Rock said attorneys are familiar with private gun sales and what federal agents identified as part of the gun show loophole

“There’s a lot of debate about what they call the ‘gun show loophole,’” Wankum stated.

He said the loophole essentially boils down to the blurry line when a private gun seller becomes a business. There isn’t a set line for how many guns someone can sell a year in Arkansas. The question ATF looks at is why someone is selling the guns.

If someone is buying and selling repeatedly predominantly to earn a profit, the ATF does not consider that a private seller anymore. They consider that a violation because it is effectively dealing in firearms without a license along with unlawfully acquiring them are the alleged violations that resulted in the search warrant for Malinowski’s home.

A federal firearms license allows a person to sell guns commercially, but anyone can sell a gun privately. While FFL holders must perform background checks and keep a thorough record of all transactions, private sellers do not.

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However, the legal documents claim Malinowski bought as many as 24 guns at once saying they were for him and he would then allegedly resell the guns in some cases as little as 24 hours.

“With what he was dealing with there was a volume that went along with the speed that his stuff was being sold, and that is obviously what piqued the interest of the ATF,” Wankum said.

ATF stated the only question Malinowski asked undercover agents was whether they were 21 when selling handguns. Wankum explained that, legally, that was all Malinowski had to do.

“It would be like if my dog ​​had puppies and I was selling the puppies to you. I don’t have to do a background check to see if you are a person who has abused animals in the past. “A lot of people look at I’m just selling something that I own to another person,” Wankum explained.

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Only FFL holders have to ensure the guns they sell do not immediately go into the hands of those who have lost their right to own a firearm.

The affidavit claims as of February 2024, six of the more than 150 Malinowski guns purchased and often resold at gun shows within the past few years were eventually seized during criminal investigations.

It is another reason some lawmakers want even privately sold guns registered with a mandatory background check, but many other lawmakers argue strongly against that much government oversight.

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Wankum recommended if someone wants to be careful selling a gun, go to someone with an FFL who can do a peace of mind background check for a small fee before selling.

“You want to make sure you know that you weren’t the last one seen touching the hot potato. It’s a hot potato at that point, and that’s part of the discussion of the registry,” Wankum said.

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