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Brother of Badger Guns owner files to take over operation

Nov. 15, 2011

The brother of the owner of Badger Guns is seeking to assume control of the operation after his brother's license was revoked for breaking federal law, according to a document released Tuesday.

Michael Allan applied for an occupancy permit with the village of West Milwaukee last month for the location under the name Brew City Shooter's Supply Inc., according to the application, released to the Journal Sentinel under the open records law.

The permit is the first step toward Allan, 26, getting his own federal firearms license and taking over the operation.

His older brother, Adam Allan, has owned Badger Guns for four years. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked Adam Allan's license for violating the Gun Control Act. Under federal law the ATF cannot talk about those violations. ATF is allowing Adam Allan to continue operating through the end of the year.

Badger Guns and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, have been the top sellers of crime guns recovered by Milwaukee police for at least the past decade, according to Milwaukee police data obtained by the Journal Sentinel. In less than two years, six Milwaukee police officers were wounded with guns sold by Badger Guns or Badger Outdoors. Four of those officers are suing the owners.

Michael Allan has been employed at the gun shop for years and currently works behind the counter, selling guns for his brother. If a new license is issued to him, the brothers would switch roles.

"I would just be counter help if that would happen," Adam Allan said Tuesday. "It would be whole different operation, a whole different gun shop."

If such a change occurred, the violations that led to Adam Allan's revocation would disappear, according to federal law. Michael Allan would start with a clean slate.

It would be the second time in recent years that players inside the operation changed position, wiping away violations. In 2006, ATF recommended revocation of Badger Outdoors' license. That license was surrendered by the owners, Mick Beatovic and Walter Allan, father of Michael and Adam. Then Adam Allan took over the operation and Walter Allan became an employee.

ATF is largely powerless to stop such changes. The agency can only deny a license if it can prove there is a "hidden ownership" arrangement, and Congress limits how deeply ATF can dig into a new applicant's background - one of several ways that federal lawmakers have crippled ATF's ability to regulate lawbreaking gun dealers.

A Journal Sentinel investigation published in December found more than 50 examples across the country where a dealer's license was revoked but he or she remained close to a gun-dealing operation after a family member, friend or employee received a fresh license.

The ATF has a name for such situations: "Phoenix from the ashes."

Michael Allan appears to have been positioning for months to attempt to take over the gun store, according to documents filed with the state.

Brew City Shooter's Supply was incorporated in April, according to online records from state Department of Financial Institutions. The records do not list Michael Allan, or anyone else, as a registered agent. The agent office listed is "United States Corporation Agents," with a Green Bay address. That company is listed as the agent for more than 500 corporations in Wisconsin, according to DFI.

Last month - the same day the Journal Sentinel reported Adam Allan was losing his license - Michael Allan filed an application for an occupancy permit with the village, according to the application's cover sheet, the only part of the document released by the village.

Michael Allan listed his business name as Brew City Shooter's Supply. The owner of the property is shown as Regdab Properties, with Walter Allan as the contact person.

Adam Allan said several people had expressed interest in running the gun store. But Michael Allan is the only person to date to apply for an occupancy permit, according to West Milwaukee Police Chief Dennis Nasci.

Asked last month if he was seeking a federal gun license, Michael Allan said, "No comment on that yet." He did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

ATF records do not show a license issued to any entities going by "Brew City" in Wisconsin or at the Badger Guns location. An ATF spokesman said the agency could not comment on federal firearms license applications.

The Police Department approved Michael Allan's occupancy permit application on Oct. 21, three days after it was filed. Fire and building inspections are still to be done, and the application must go to the village administrator, Nasci said.

Nasci said it is likely that the permit would be issued as long as conditions had not changed with the building recently. The chief said he had no doubt the store will continue to sell firearms

"I can guarantee it will be a gun store. That is what it is built for," he said.

Nasci said Adam Allan had become cooperative in the past couple of years, allowing the Police Department to run the names of people who use the shooting range and telling police when people trying to buy guns failed background checks. The chief said he hopes to have the same cooperation from the new owner.

"From my point of view, if it is someone I know and agrees to work with me, it makes it easier. If it is a new person, we go to square one," he said. "If it is a relative or friend (who takes over), we don't want that to be the number one crime gun store in Milwaukee, in the state or top five in the nation."

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