Felons Can't Own Guns. So How Did This Guy Acquire Three ... Gun Companies?
In August of 2009, Booth made his third and most alarming acquisition, bringing Bob Reynolds of Templar Consulting under the Victory brand.
Templar/Reynolds is licensed by the ATF to build weapons heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), including selective-fire weapons and machine guns. Booth allegedly ran Templar into the ground, as he did Pace Airlines, and Reynolds was forced to restructure Templar Consulting through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Victory Arms allegedly still possesses (or possessed) Templar property awarded to the company by the bankruptcy court, including: 3000 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, around 24 handguards, 148 bolts, cam pins, and 300 trigger control pins. Possessing these parts, in actuality or on paper, should presumably put Booth in prison for a very long time.
But authorities have allegedly turned a blind eye to Booth's activities, time and again.
Investigations conducted by those interested have been far more competent.
An investigator has alleged that Lee Booth acquired a North Carolina concealed handgun permit within the past decade in Guilford County, apparently in direct violation of North Carolina state law. Booth allegedly surrendered the permit to the Guilford County Sheriff's Department once it was revealed he had a criminal record, and the department allegedly let the investigation drop in order to avoid the embarrassment of explaining how they issued a permit to a felon in the first place. If true, this places the department and Booth in violation of numerous laws. The same investigator also alleges that the ATF's Atlanta office knew he was a felon as a result of the Detonics USA acquisition in 2007, but no prosecution was pursued.
Likewise, Templar's Chapter 11 court case and filings show that Booth's company, Victory Arms, claimed ownership of gun parts and firearms belonging to Templar Consulting -- including parts regulated by the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act of 1968 -- and had possession of these parts as well. This was evidence presented in a federal court that shaped the court's ruling. ATF auditors were told on two occasions that Victory/Booth had controlled parts, and was reminded that Booth was a convicted felon. ATF again chose not to intervene.
After the Templar/Victory split, it is suspected that the FFL acquired by Victory was revoked, but no criminal charges have apparently been filed. We also know that the ATF was notified that Booth/Victory had illegally taken possession of AR-15 style rifles and parts from Reynolds, which was confirmed by the ATF's own audit of Reynolds' books (Reynolds did not know of Booth's conviction until after their split, and maintains his FFL and rights to manufacturer custom firearms).
We have stumbled across one possible reason why the ATF may have refused to act.
According to an eyewitness, an IRS agent was frequently a guest of Booth's at Victory Arms. It seems rather odd that a federal agent would frequent an establishment run by a convicted felon. As federal agencies in smaller localities such as Greensboro often share office space and close relationships with other agencies, it isn't absurd to wonder if the agent’s alleged friendship with Booth and chummy relationship with other federal agencies became a factor in the local ATF's refusal to act.
If all or even most of the allegations made by various sources are true, Lee Franklin Booth should be behind bars. If these allegations are accurate, Booth is guilty of possessing hundreds of firearms, operating three firearms companies that each had firearms inventory, and receiving a CCW permit.
A U.S. Department of Justice investigation should be launched to investigate the possibility that multiple law enforcement agencies allowed a felon to run free after attempting to build a gun manufacturing empire.
This couldn't be the plot of a bad Hollywood movie. It simply isn't believable theater. Unfortunately, it is real life, and those agencies responsible have a hell of a lot of accounting to do for their failures.