This story is simply unbelievable. Last year I posted on the crimes and problems that resulted from Badger Guns in West Milwaukee. There was one simple remedy for the problem. Shut the business down that had caused the wounding of police officers, and numerous other killings and crimes. Instead of closing Badger Guns for all the rational reasons that most of my readers can understand given the history involved, there was a series of smooth moves by the owners that allows gun crimes and deaths to continue. After reading this news story I know you will agree that there are some loop-holes in the laws and regulations that need tightening. How many more wounded police officers will be needed before society says to Badger Guns ‘enough is enough’?
Federal investigators recommended revoking the license of Badger Outdoors gun shop after a 2006 inspection – a rare move that could have closed the West Milwaukee business, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation has found.
But there was no revocation and the store remains open, operating as Badger Guns. Federal records show the license recommended for revocation was voluntarily relinquished, the players inside the operation took on new roles and a new license was issued, creating what one federal official called a “clean slate” for the store.
Badger Guns came under intense scrutiny in the past year after two Milwaukee officers were shot with a gun purchased there. Over the past two years, six Milwaukee officers in all were wounded by people using guns purchased from Badger Guns or Badger Outdoors.
Badger Outdoors and later Badger Guns have sold the bulk of crime guns recovered by police in Milwaukee for at least the past decade, according to records obtained by the Journal Sentinel.
And federal court records since 2004 for eastern Wisconsin show three-quarters of straw buyer criminal cases – where someone with a clean record buys a gun for a felon – involved purchases from Badger Guns or Badger Outdoors.
Following the 2006 inspection, after which revocation was recommended, several changes were made, according to federal documents and officials.
• Milton “Mick” Beatovic, 63, vice president and co-owner of Badger Outdoors, told officials during the November 2006 inspection that he was retiring. He gave up the license the following year. A corporation controlled by Beatovic still owns the building and is the landlord, receiving rent payments from the business.
• Walter Allan, 56, the president and other owner of Badger Outdoors, became an employee at Badger Guns.
• Adam Allan, a longtime Badger Outdoors employee and son of Walter Allan, took out a new license. Federal documents show the 28-year-old had little knowledge of the store’s management prior to the changeover. The store name became Badger Guns, but little else changed at the operation on S. 43rd St. Badger Guns pays rent to Beatovic’s corporation.
The moves not only halted the revocation process but also erased violations found by federal regulators over 17 years at Badger Outdoors – which had been the top seller of crime guns not just in Milwaukee but the nation in 2005 with 537 such guns, according to records from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act.
The rankings revealed that a tiny percentage of gun dealers sell a majority of crime guns. Congress then sharply restricted release of the information behind the rankings. Congress also forbade ATF from revealing what violations it finds at gun stores. (See related story, 1A.)
In the case of Badger Outdoors, all the violations found by ATF over the years were blacked out in 400 pages of documents released to the newspaper.
But in an interview, a top ATF official said inspectors found “inventory discrepancies” during the November 2006 inspection and added that his agency doesn’t recommend revocation for minor violations.
ATF inspectors treat problems in a gun store’s inventory records seriously because those records are their tool for tracking guns, according to experts and a federal judge, who recently upheld the revocation of a Washington state gun dealer.
“This is a serious problem because those weapons are not accounted for,” wrote U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez of that gun store’s inventory record problems.
In the instance of Badger Outdoors, Beatovic said his decision to give up the license, sell the business and retire to Arizona had nothing to do with the problems found in the November 2006 inspection, which he called “paperwork stuff.” He said he knew nothing about the recommended revocation.