Dealing with the LAW: February 1998

By Harold Lewis

In our last segment we were getting you ready for your first law enforcement (LE) demonstration. We reviewed the different types of rifles, subguns and shotguns you should have. In addition to these firearms, depending on State regulations, you may want to bring along an integrally suppressed Ruger 77/22 or 10/22 and a Ruger Mark II .22 pistol. These weapons are finding favor with departments all over the country. I prefer the bolt action 77/22 in my demonstration because of the reduced sound level over a semi auto. Both pistols and rifles come in either stainless or blue finish. You may choose a semi auto, bolt action or both if you like. Supressed weapons will give you a sales advantage over other local gun dealers by offering firearms that most departments can’t get from their regular FFL firearm channels. Today there are seemingly hundreds of Suppressor makers all claiming to be the best. Many of them are very good. Many of them are not. The choice is up to you.

Over the past three years I have been replacing my suppresser samples with new guns from Sound Technology of Pelham, Alabama, (205 664 5860). Mark White of Sound Technology is definitely one of the top makers of high quality suppressers today. His workmanship is flawless and his suppressers are very quiet. His trigger and bolt work on The Ruger 10/22 is something that should also be mentioned. He fine-tunes the standard Ruger trigger till it feels like a fine match target trigger. The refinished semi auto bolt and trigger works with every type of ammo I have tried, including “Jam-omatic” Russian steel case low power 22’s. This stuff even jams in bolt and pump action rifles. Mark will also do custom work in any caliber and for any gun you need. I suggest that you explore the manufacturers out there, and choose one whose product line covers your needs.

Additional items that you might want to consider for your demonstration would be; night vision sniper riflescopes and high quality spotting scopes. Both of these items will be discussed at length in future issues of SAR.

Well, you’re ready to go and your bags are packed. Let’s review a few things first. All the guns should be clean and dry of any oil or lubricants. You should have no ammunition loaded in any of the magazines or loaded in any of the firearms. If you are planning a live fire demonstration, keep all of the ammunition in a separate locked box away from your weapons. You should be dressed properly. Do not wear cammo, army boots or T-shirts with inflammatory or political logos such as “Airborne death from above” or “let’s kill them all and let God sort them out”. Most chiefs of police and sheriffs do not find this funny. It’s stupid things like that, which will kill your sale before you even start. Look and act like a professional. You should have a copy of your Federal Firearms License (FFL), as well as a copy of your Special Tax Stamp. That’s the receipt for payment of the Special Occupational Tax also called your Class III license, although it is really not a license at all.

I would also suggest that you set up a small loose-leaf binder and keep your FFL and Class III paperwork in clear 8 1/2 X 11-inch plastic sleeves. The binder and plastic sleeves can be purchased at any stationary store. The plastic sleeves will protect your important documents and it looks much more professional. The last thing you want to do is have to reach into your pocket and drag out a crumpled and torn piece of paper trying to explain to a chief of police that this is your Class III Machine Gun License.

You can also use the binder to hold catalog pages as well as any promotional material that you can get from your wholesalers and manufacturers. Most wholesalers get lots of promotional material from the manufacturers and would be very happy to send you some of it if you ask for it. When you call, specify that you are only interested in LE firearm literature.

You can also call the manufacturer directly. Their customer service departments can send out specialized literature to you, especially when you tell them that you are a Class III firearms dealer and you want to promote their products at LE demonstrations at your own expense. Ruger, Colt, Remington, and H&K all have specific LE catalogs of their products.

A properly designed business card is also very important and can help make your sale easier. It can also kill a sale before you even have a chance to open your mouth and say a single word. Keep the card plain and simple. It should state that you are a federally licensed law enforcement firearms dealer and that you are a Class III licensee. Do not list paintball guns, knives, archery, hunting clothes, boots, taxidermy, Army-Navy surplus or ammunition sales on your business card. If you do sell these items, print up separate cards for that. Do not confuse the issue here. You are here to sell and buy machine guns and specialized weaponry. Your card has to stand out and show that you are unique in the firearms sales area. Do not have a business card printed that will make you look foolish and unprofessional. Leave the paintball stuff for your local toyshop. It has no place in LE sales other than in the training context. If training is in your line, that is alright.

Before you leave to meet with any LE agency, I would strongly suggest that you call the department and confirm your appointment with the individual involved. Law enforcement, being what it is, often has emergency situations that take precedence over unimportant things like gun demonstrations. A phone call to the department can often save you a lot of time and a needless trip. There is nothing worse then driving 40 miles each way and having to drag 80 pounds of equipment up two flights of stairs to find out that you have been waiting for one hour for someone who will not be able to show up. A phone call to the department before you leave will be appreciated and also shows courtesy if the department’s officers have to have The appointment changed.

Well, you’re on your way. You spoke to the lieutenant and he and four other officers are ready to meet with you. Let’s go over in detail what you will need to say and do. First, always remember that traveling with any firearm, especially machine guns, always entails some degree of risk. The possibilities of legal complications and entanglements are always present. The last thing you need is the hassle of trying to explain to some rookie that the only reason you were speeding was that you were late for your appointment to sell machine guns to some police department in the next town. Try to keep a low profile when traveling with weapons. If you drive a car, keep the guns locked in cases and put them in the trunk. If you drive a truck or van, keep them covered with a tarpaulin or other type of cover. Do not drive around with any uncased firearms. If you usually carry a rifle or shotgun in the rear window rack of your vehicle, remove it.

Do not speed. Do not do anything to cause you to be stopped by the police. If you are stopped, all the paperwork in the world will not help you if the officer you are dealing with wants to bust you for carrying machine guns. If you are stopped, do not mention guns unless you are directly asked. If the issue escalates and you feel that it is getting out of hand, show one of your business cards and politely ask that the officer call the department that you have your appointment set up with to confirm your story. Better yet, DON’T get stopped.

When you first arrive at the department, find a place to park that is convenient. Often all the spaces near the main building are reserved for police business. You’re being there for a demonstration does not qualify as police business and you may have to park far away from the main entrance. You will often have to carry all of your equipment a great distance. It is truly amazing how heavy two rifles, two shotguns, and two machine guns can get when you have to carry them for several hundred yards or several city blocks. Just think of it as a good work out. When you get to the department, you will often be entering a lobby or entrance hall greeted by the desk officer of the day. Be polite and explain that you have an appointment. Ask for him or her by name. You will usually not be allowed to go into the department itself until your contact comes to greet you. If the desk officer or other department personnel ask you about the gun cases, just say that you are a law enforcement firearms dealer and that you have an appointment to demonstrate new weapons. Do not discuss which firearms you are carrying. Do not begin a dissertation on the advantages of an original 1918 Browning Bar over an FN FAL. Don’t waste your time. Be polite and be seated. You may have to wait a while until your appointment is contacted and comes to get you. When you meet your contact for the first time, whether it’s the Sheriff, Chief of police, or tactical team department head, put your arm out for a handshake. State your name clearly, smile, and hand him your business card.

If you carry a concealed loaded sidearm for protection while you travel, it is very important to let the department know that you are carrying a loaded gun before you go inside. Many departments do not permit loaded guns within the inner confines of a police agency, especially if the department also contains a jail or prisoner holding area. If it does have a prison area, you will be required to check your loaded sidearm at the door. This is very critical. Do not screw up here. Do not go into a police department with a concealed loaded firearm without letting the department know. Bringing a loaded gun into a jail is a felony. The dire consequence of the mere possibility of your loaded gun getting into the hands of a confined felon is beyond comprehension. Let them know that you have a gun on you. In most cases it will be O.K. In others it will not. Ask first, don’t be sorry later.

Once your initial introductions are over, you will usually be escorted into a meeting room, office or range area depending on the size of the department. As you are introduced to all those present remember to smile, shake hands, and give each one your business card. Place your gun cases on the table and open them up. You should control the discussion regarding your firearms. Do not get into any political discussions. Do not talk about gun control. Remember the reason that you are there. You are there to get the department to give you all their old machine guns. Do not get into any discussions other than about guns. Remember it is up to you to control and direct the discussion. Begin by explaining that as a federally licensed machine gun dealer, you can get the department any type of firearm that they can possibly want. Don’t try to show off what you know about guns. Just answer the questions when asked and let the conversation develop naturally.

I always take out the MP5 first. When you pick the gun up, be sure not to point it at anyone. The bolt should always be open. Even though you know it is unloaded, look down the bore before handing it to anyone. Always hand the gun to the highest ranking officer in the room first.

Before you hand out the gun, put in the empty magazine and leave the bolt locked open. As the firearm is being inspected and passed around, speak clearly and distinctly. Explain the different trigger variations available, caliber options and barrel and stock configurations as well as the weight, length, and firepower capacity of the weapon. This is where all the homework, reading and studying the technical manuals pay off. You have to show them that you are an expert without making it sound as if you’re showing off. When the gun comes back to you, place it back into the case. If during the show and tell, someone closed the bolt, dropped the slide, or racked the gun closed, OPEN it before you put it back in the case.

As you see, I am stressing the extreme safe handling of all the firearms. Even with no ammunition present, we are checking the chamber of every gun. Make this a regular habit. Treat each and every gun as if it was loaded at all times. Also remember, a live fire demonstration offers even more risks. If you do give a live fire demo, be sure that you supply the ammo. A recent incident in a large metropolitan police department gives ample evidence of both of these problems. Knowing where the ammo comes from and what ammo you are using is very important.

A department was trying out new Glock .40 caliber handguns for their transition from older 9 mm semi autos. One of the patrolmen handling a new Glock was practicing at the range. He took a handful of loose ammo out of his range bag and proceeded to load the .40 caliber magazine. After loading the magazine, he placed it into the Glock, dropped the slide, took aim at his target, and proceeded to fire the gun. At first nothing happened. He racked the slide again, took aim, and proceeded to fire: KABOOM. The gun exploded. The new Glock was torn to bits.

The slide and barrel were burst open and the gun frame split halfway through to the front of the trigger guard. Luckily, the officer was unhurt. A full departmental investigation was established. They had to find the cause of this catastrophic destruction of a new firearm. Glock Inc. immediately got involved in the investigation. They did this because of the possible damage to their fine reputation, as well as the consequences of this type of incident happening again. Glock offered the department all the help they could give. After about one year of testing and metallurgic analysis by both Glock and the department, a final conclusion was established as to the cause of this incident. It seems that the officer, upon initially loading the .40 caliber magazine with a handful of loose ammo, had inadvertently placed a live 9mm round as the last round in the magazine. When the officer racked the slide, the 9 mm round was driven up into the .40 caliber chamber and jammed half way up the barrel. When he first pulled the trigger, nothing happened. He racked the slide a second time and put a fresh .40 caliber round into the chamber. When he pulled the trigger this time, the round went off. The bullet met an explosive obstruction while traveling up into the barrel. Even Glocks can not withstand that kind of abuse. Glock was exonerated and the department made a large purchase of new .40 caliber Glocks. The officer involved in the original incident now inspects his ammo and always checks the chamber of his guns. You should do the same.

I usually take out the Sniper rifles next. The bolt should be open. Look down the bore and hand the firearm to the highest-ranking officer first. I prefer showing only one gun at a time. If you have more than one gun being shown and questions are being asked, it may become very confusing for both you and the department. Always remember KISS (keep it simple stupid) and you will not have a problem during the demonstration. Continue passing out the next gun as the other guns are returned to you. When all the rifles have been examined and returned to you, take out the shotguns and proceed as with the other firearms. When you are done and no further questions are forthcoming, shut and close the cases. Also, at this time most of the other officers present will excuse themselves and go back to their duty assignments. They have nothing further to offer, as the decision process is not up to them.

You will probably be left with your original contact, whether it’s the Chief of police, Sheriff or assigned officer. It is at this point in the demonstration that the subject of the department’s obsolete, unused firearms should be brought up. Ask what type of firearms the department currently uses. Ask what firearms do they have in storage and say, “I showed you my guns, how about showing me your guns?” This is not meant as a joke, although it usually does get a chuckle or two. By asking directly to be shown the departments’ guns, in every one of my demonstrations, I have been successful in getting to see them. It will work for you too.

In our next installment we will go over the type of weapons that you may find and what to do and say to encourage the department to part with their old Thompsons, Reisings, M16’s, S&W 76’s, etc, etc.

Send your questions or comments to:

Hal Lewis care of SAR, or you can e- mail him at: birchwoodmanor@cyburban.com

Many times he is found hanging out on the Tom Bower’s Machine Gun Discussion Board at: http://www.subguns.com

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N5 (February 1998)
and was posted online on September 8, 2017


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