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Old March 9, 2014, 03:12 PM   #1
cjwils
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Join Date: November 28, 2010
Location: Washington state
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How are guns handled if repair shop with FFL goes bankrupt?

Does anyone know what would happen to guns held by a gun repair shop that goes though legal bankruptcy proceedings? The shop that I have in mind is not in bankruptcy now, and hopefully will never go there. But the shop has stopped responding to inquiries, and I am seeing rumors on the internet that worry me about a possible future bankruptcy. Some of those internet rumors warn that if the shop goes into bankruptcy, the owners of guns being held there will be out of luck without ironclad proof of ownership. And that is the problem – this shop deals mostly with antiques. Many antiques, including mine, no longer have a definitive paper trail proving ownership. The shop should have a clear record of who they received each gun from, but the rumor mongers say that such a record does not prove ownership and will not help the owners get their guns back if bankruptcy is declared. The shop has had my antique for well over a year with no word received from them in that time. My bank records do show that they cashed my deposit check, which included payment for return shipping, and that is just about all I have at this time. Because I knew that they had received the gun, so I did not keep the shipping receipt.
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Old March 9, 2014, 03:40 PM   #2
NoSecondBest
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I can't answer for every specific occurrence but I can tell you what happened to me. I purchased an original Coonan auto and had to send it back a couple of times. The second time it went back I didn't get it back for about a year while they went through closure. I called the BATF and reported it and asked if I could report it stolen since it was legally my gun and paid for. The answer was no. They said they'd be getting involved and I figured with the government involved I'd never see it again. I eventually got it back after they went through bankruptcy (or a messy divorce....she was in control when this all happened). It's still your property. All you need to be able to prove is that you either sent it there or dropped it off. You should always get a receipt when you leave a gun at a shop.
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Old March 9, 2014, 03:44 PM   #3
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjwils
Does anyone know what would happen to guns held by a gun repair shop that goes though legal bankruptcy proceedings?...
In general they will be handled just like any other property belonging to someone else but in the custody of the petitioner in bankruptcy. That basically means that you will need to file a claim with the bankruptcy court and establish to the satisfaction of the court that it's your property. Whether or not the evidence that you might have will be sufficient to do so I couldn't say.

One thing you could do now is send the shop a letter asking for the immediate return of the gun (and refund of your deposit, if the work hasn't been done). Describe the gun, what was to be done, when it was sent, what was paid, and when the check was negotiated. Send two copies of the letter -- one certified mail (return receipt requested) and one priority mail with delivery confirmation.
If you don't get the gun back, that might help support your claim.

These sorts of situations help demonstrate how keeping good records can wind up being helpful in ways one might not have anticipated.
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Old March 10, 2014, 08:34 AM   #4
Rifleman1776
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As Frank suggested, go get it.
Don't wait.
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Old March 10, 2014, 07:29 PM   #5
cjwils
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The shop is clear across the country from where I am. They are not replying to emails, and they don't publish a phone number. Maybe a certified letter should be my next step.
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Old March 10, 2014, 07:44 PM   #6
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjwils
...Maybe a certified letter should be my next step.
Whenever sending a certified letter also send a copy first class mail and/or priority mail with delivery confirmation; and document doing so.

Sometime someone folks trying to avoid others will duck or refuse certified letters. Back-up copies (with documentation that you sent them) will help convince a judge that your letter was received even if the guy refuses the certified letter.
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"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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Old March 10, 2014, 08:03 PM   #7
jmr40
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Probably 20-25 years ago I left a shotgun at a small repair shop. Didn't have any previous experience with the owner. After about a month with no contact I drove over to find the shop closed. No sign, nothing, just an empty building.

I went to the police dept. asking for advice. Not to file a report, at least not yet, just asking if anyone might know what had happened to the guy. The officer at the desk went in back, repeated my story and another officer came out and advised me that the gunsmith had left his wife and moved out of state. He told me where his wife worked as a waitress in the next town, same county.

I drove there and met his wife just as she was getting off work. Followed her to her home and got my repaired gun. She had no idea what had been done or what the cost would be, told me to just take it, no charge. I gave her $30 and left.

I'll be honest, I was a bit uncomfortable, but it all worked out.
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