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Red's loses its gun license

Red's loses its gun license

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Red's loses its gun license
Ryan Horsley and his mother, Terry, stand in front of their gun shop, Red's Trading Post, in downtown Twin Falls. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has revoked the shop's license to sell guns.

TWIN FALLS - Red's Trading Post, one of Idaho's oldest gun shops, can trade no longer.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has revoked the business's license to buy, trade or obtain guns after an ATF audit found Red's employees sold guns improperly numerous times between 1999 and 2004.

Red's manager, Ryan Horsley, admits when the business sold guns it sometimes left blank required parts of a gun purchase form, omitted a background check on a special order, failed to log multiple handgun sales to the same customer in five working days, did not keep track of guns returned to manufacturers, threw away denied applications dealers are required to keep for 20 years and failed to post a gun safety sign and pamphlets.

The ATF revoked Red's license March 5, shutting down 90 percent of the income that has sustained the store through three generations of Horsleys.

"They are taking very minor things and blowing them out of proportion," said Terry Horsley, the shop's owner and Ryan's mother.

The shop, at 215 Shoshone St. South, can sell the 1,000 guns remaining in its inventory, and can continue selling gun accessories and ammunition.

But accessories account for only 10 percent of its revenue.

"I'm just sitting here going, 'What am I going to do?,'" Ryan Horsley said.

The five-year audit found violations over a period in which 10,000 guns were sold, Horsley said.

"Mistakes happen. Stuff happens," Horsley said. "I think it's unreal expecting to have 100 percent non errors."

The bad news, which comes on the heels of record profits, could now close the store, Terry Horsley said.

Red's has paid $20,000 in legal fees protesting the ATF's decision. On Feb. 23, Red's legal team filed a petition in federal court in Boise.

The judicial review will consider, among other things, whether Red's "willfully" violated the law.

"'Not willful' is one of their petitions," said Deborah Ferguson, assistant U.S. attorney, representing the ATF's industry operations. "'Willful has been defined by case law. I would expect the court to look at that legal authority."

Case law defines "willful," an essential component of the allegations, as "they knew of the regulations and did not abide by them," Ferguson said.

Ryan Horsley said Red's was found responsible of several violations in an earlier audit.

But he said the infractions are petty and do not justify a revoked license.

"There's no missing guns," he said. "There are errors but everyone has errors."

Walt Sinclair, a Boise co-counsel for Red's, said the errors were clerical, not intentional.

He said it's not the first time the ATF has revoked the license of a Twin Falls gun dealership.

"Blue Lakes Sporting Goods lost its license," Sinclair said. "They had been there forever. It was a family business. It was a real success story, but this type of petty, technical noncompliance caused them to end up going out of business."

The ATF has 60 days from Feb. 23 to respond Red's petition.

The ATF Seattle Field Office spokeswoman declined to comment on Red's case until after judicial review.

"If the individuals reapply, the facts from the revocation would be considered for any future licenses," said spokeswoman Julianne Marshall. "Industry Operations will consider their application. However, they have an interest for public safety. This license was revoked for a reason."

A judge may still overturn ATF's decision.

Cassidy Friedman covers crime and courts for the Times-News. He can be reached at (208)735-3241 or by e-mail at cfriedman@magicvalley.com.

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