Iowa Police Chief arrested after selling black market military machine guns

Originally published at: Iowa Police Chief arrested after selling black market military machine guns | Boing Boing


I’m not enjoying the gritty reboot of the Andy Griffith show.


Why wouldn’t the officers he used to supervise want to face perps armed with military grade machine guns?

Keeps you sharp!


Iron sharpens iron and such, right?


Did the Adair PD really need all those heavy weapons?

Hell, yes. Remember that only a good guy with a helicopter-mounted Gatling mini-gun can stop a bad guy with a helicopter-mounted Gatling mini-gun that he just bought from the chief of police for pennies on the dollar. It’s a jungle out there.


I’m still confused as to what the whole scheme was, especially since he is in trouble for lying to the ATF, not for selling anything.

I think it is because he was co-mingling store/private/department weapons? Buying them via the department to sell to his store or use personally? Or from his store to the department? Or lying as to what the purpose was, using the department as an excuse?

It says he bought some of the department weapons with his own money - but why do that if he had a SOT? This guy probably could have done what he wanted legally, though maybe it was more expensive/took more time and that is why he did what he did. It sounds like this guy was a complete idiot about it and used his position in the police to try to game the system and got caught.

FYI on my understanding of the legalities - skip if you don’t care:

To those that don’t know, the NFA registry for machine guns closed in 1986. So any legal full auto gun has to be older than that and because of the law of supply and demand, these have made them very expensive (never mind there are people who don’t even shoot guns who buy them for investments.)

There are two work arounds if you really want to get into machine guns, but they are expensive and take a lot of paper work.

The first to become a Class 2 SOT. This is someone who can MAKE NFA items legally, and register them. These can be suppressors, short barreled rifles, and machines guns. The first two can be sold to anyone who goes through the process, the last one can only be sold to certain entities and Class 3 SOT license dealers. Though there are people who get Class 2 SOTs just to personally fuck around with machine guns and don’t end up selling things.

Like I said above, you or I would need to buy a machine gun registered from pre-1986, but the police are a “more special” kind of animal. They are largely exempt from restrictions of the NFA, though they still have to register and file paperwork for transfers. So a Class 2 SOT can create a machine gun, and sell it either directly to a police department, OR a store that has a Class 3 SOT. These stores can have an inventory of “sample” weapons to sell to potential buyers. This is how some gun stores and ranges can have some exotic weapons because they are “sale samples”. These samples are maybe a tenth of the price of a pre-1986 item.

Assuming his store had the right paper work, he could buy these weapons, and even sell it to the department (though why the department would need any for a town of 800 is anyone’s guess). If he as reselling weapons, they would have to go to other Class 3 SOTs, not private individuals (unless he was getting pre-1986 items.)

As I understand it, a Class 3 SOT could have this stock on hand for other potential buyers - not just one specific department, so I am not sure why he wasn’t doing things above the board. :confused:


while it might have been legal to sell them, they have to provide a justification - however thin - to acquire them. he said they were used for training. since they weren’t, his supply could have dried up if he was found out.

likely, seeing how cops are rarely held accountable for crimes, he wagered getting caught selling was the better bet vs losing access to the weapons

my question is: i thought obama ended the program, or scaled it back. did ■■■■■ reinstate it?


As I understood it, the specifically issue was using the Police Department as a “cover” of sorts to obtain the machine guns in the first place — probably because it was easier than having to go through the paperwork and certifications that you mentioned. So even if he paid out of pocket for one of the M60s, for example, he still filled out the paper through the Law Enforcement Supply Office in his capacity as a Police Chief, and told ATF, “I am buying these machine guns for my police department.”

Thinking of it like that, he may have actually made more problems for himself by paying out of pocket. If he had used Department funds, then sold off the machine guns through the department and back to himself (because they were being “retired” or “taken out of circulation” or whatever), that may have been arguably legitimate. But paying out of pocket upfront could be taken as an indication that he had always intended to take the guns for his own personal use. That’s how I interpretted it, anyway.


At least these military grade hand-me-downs aren’t ending up unused and gathering dust in some police armoury.


That M134, just wow, what a death machine. There is no situation where any law enforcement would need that. If a situation called for it, guaranteed that the agency is in over its head.


Not really; the way I understand it (from a perspective of someone who had a class 03 FFL for curios and relics) is that the person or entity receiving the firearms would need to have all the paperwork for possessing an NFA firearm. Using the police department to ‘launder’ the firearms out from military use into private use without all the paperwork in order will still earn you a stay in Club Fed.

Same here; Your understanding on how NFA firearms can legally be possessed is more or less accurate from what I remember of reading the rules a decade back. (I had a hankering back them to see what it would take to purchase an actual Thompson, and after reading what all I’d have to do on top of the C&R I already processed at the time along with the money requirements, went ‘nope’.)

Police are able to buy brand new full auto firearms and bypass the NFA and GCA; there are exemptions in both laws for that express purpose; selling those to a private dealer? The waters get a little muddy there, and if it’s one thing I know for certain, dealing with the Jackbooted Thugs one wants to be completely transparent about the entire process.

If you need that kind of firepower, you should have called in the national guard at that point. (Forgotten Weapons has an awesome video about that weapon and it’s worth a watch if you are into it and have 22 odd minutes to spare.)




They would not have needed it (and they did not need it, in fact, and were able to save probably hundreds of lives, despite some of them losing theirs) had the Executive branch done it’s job and called in the national guard immediately.

The capitol police opening fire on the insurrectionist would have made things worse, which I’m guessing they understood and did all they could to avoid.


Huh, it’s almost as if American police forces really need some significant oversight because they can get away with being really corrupt…

Also, regardless of the size of their force, I’m struggling to see a need for cops to own machineguns at all. Or most military equipment. Small police forces demonstrably end up misusing what they’re given, but even if they don’t, the mindset created by owning this stuff is counterproductive - not so much a “military mindset” but more “invading force unbound by law.”


Yep, unlike during wartime, cops have a duty to avoid collateral damage.


Except he still also had a Class 2/3 SOT FFL. So, he would still have had the paperwork in order, because he’d be transferring them to an entity that’s allowed to have them (until the FFL is given up).

This is Iowa, so … gritty reboot of Bloom County?



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