Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

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MaduroBU
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Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby MaduroBU » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:51 pm

I am looking for advice on recovering firearms from a gunsmith. I have several firearms, including two belonging to my father, in the shop of a local gunsmith for various sorts of work. We've been doing business for about two years, and he's always done great work in the past for very reasonable amounts.When last I spoke with him, around mid-late of March, he said that he was finishing up the three long projects and would soon be on two of the smaller projects that I had just brought in (a trigger job/free float on my dad's rifle and a rebarrel/trigger job on an M700). I told him to call when it was finished and that I'd come by to pick it up then and he agreed.

Fast forward to today. Having heard nothing for 3 months despite efforts to call and drive by his shop, I finally drove by a local indoor shooting range that carries his guns. When I asked if they had heard from him, they told me that he has gone out of business, and that they were handling a few consignments for him. They suggested that I continue trying to contact him, but declined to assist in the matter. I decided to try the two methods that I hadn't yet attempted: email and a facebook message to his business website. Today, I noticed that since Friday the gunsmith's website has been replaced by a HostGator "buy this URL" page, and I haven't received a reply to either message.

At this point, I am considering my options. My chief goal is to get my guns back, as the total value (plus the $3500 that I put down on the custom rifle that he is building...which I have personally observed to be near completion on prior visits to his shop) is somewhere north of $10000. I have been considering my options, but I have literally no experience in these matters so my thoughts may be entirely off base. Based upon my experience with the guy, he is an honest small business owner; I would be startled if he's run off to Mexico and sold my belongings to the Zetas. Based upon what little information I do have, it appears that he is still around and trying to tie up loose ends from the unfortunate failure of his business.

I see my options as follows:

1.) Wait and hope that he replies to the Facebook message.

This more or less happens by default unless I sabotage it. Low cost, but my hope that it will work out is dwindling.

2.) Speak to a lawyer.

I don't know which lawyer would want this, nor do I even know what to look for under "practice areas" to see if one might be interested. Further, since my first order of business is to simply contact the gunsmith, I'm not sure that a lawyer would be any better equipped than I to start the process.

3.) Report the guns stolen to the local PD and to the ATF.

This seems like the option least likely to get my guns back, as well as having a whole host of other nasty side effects. It's easy to envision a nightmare scenario wherein the aTF a.) simply doesn't care b.) pretends to care, but doesn't c.) cares way too much, sends the special Elian Gonzalez Unit to bust down the door, accuses everyone within walking distance of being a terrorist, confiscates my guns and holds them until a Democrat is elected again and then proceeds to back a bulldozer over my belongings in the mid 2020s. Further, I imagine that launching a formal accusation of theft and Federal crimes against someone who is merely guilty of being impossible to get on the phone would render all future dealings antagonistic in the extreme and probably also unfairly accuse someone who already has more than enough on his plate.

I have deliberately not used names, so if any of this strikes you as familiar, I'd encourage you to avoid posting it in the interest of not defaming any of the parties involved in light of the extremely murky facts. If you absolutely must have specifics in order to offer advice, PM me and we can discuss it.


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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby bbhack » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:00 pm

$10000 is the magic number for small claims court. You can get a default judgement, after which you can file liens if he owns property. None of this has to be in anger, although that's not the issue. It's just a way to get the paperwork done without paying for a lawyer's new boat.


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MaduroBU
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby MaduroBU » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:04 pm

1.) How would I prove to the court that my firearms are worth that much? $3500 is on a statement from VISA and his emailed receipts, but the rest of the value is in guns that can't be appraised at the moment.

2.) Will those liens help me to get my property back? They're worth far more than their market value to me, and given the circumstances that I know about, I'm not sure that he has that much money to hand me even if he wanted to do so.


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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby WTR » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:45 pm

MaduroBU wrote:1.) How would I prove to the court that my firearms are worth that much? $3500 is on a statement from VISA and his emailed receipts, but the rest of the value is in guns that can't be appraised at the moment.

2.) Will those liens help me to get my property back? They're worth far more than their market value to me, and given the circumstances that I know about, I'm not sure that he has that much money to hand me even if he wanted to do so.


1, Go to the web and get comparable prices for your weapons. That is what I did for the insurance Co.


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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby OneGun » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:55 pm

Your first question was what do to do in this situation.

1) I would make an attempt to contact the gunsmith to return your firearms. Keep records of your correspondence.
2) I would retain an attorney to file a lawsuit. I am not an attorney, but I think the cause of action would be something called "conversion", in the legal sense. Nonetheless, being served with a summons that you are being sued will get his attention, one way or the other. You can always drop the lawsuit if he returns the firearms.
3) I don't think you need to know the value of your firearms right now. I have been involved in several lawsuits, as a witness, where parties claim they will prove their damages at trial.
4) Retain an attorney. Members on this board, except for Mr. Chas. are not qualified to give you legal advice.
5) Do nothing is not an option.
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby RPBrown » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:01 pm

OneGun wrote:Your first question was what do to do in this situation.

1) I would make an attempt to contact the gunsmith to return your firearms. Keep records of your correspondence.
2) I would retain an attorney to file a lawsuit. I am not an attorney, but I think the cause of action would be something called "conversion", in the legal sense. Nonetheless, being served with a summons that you are being sued will get his attention, one way or the other. You can always drop the lawsuit if he returns the firearms.
3) I don't think you need to know the value of your firearms right now. I have been involved in several lawsuits, as a witness, where parties claim they will prove their damages at trial.
4) Retain an attorney. Members on this board, except for Mr. Chas. are not qualified to give you legal advice.
5) Do nothing is not an option.



I agree with all but # 4. There are more attorneys on this board than just Charles.
If all other attempts failed, I would file in small claims court.
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Jusme
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby Jusme » Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:09 pm

OneGun wrote:Your first question was what do to do in this situation.

1) I would make an attempt to contact the gunsmith to return your firearms. Keep records of your correspondence.
2) I would retain an attorney to file a lawsuit. I am not an attorney, but I think the cause of action would be something called "conversion", in the legal sense. Nonetheless, being served with a summons that you are being sued will get his attention, one way or the other. You can always drop the lawsuit if he returns the firearms.
3) I don't think you need to know the value of your firearms right now. I have been involved in several lawsuits, as a witness, where parties claim they will prove their damages at trial.
4) Retain an attorney. Members on this board, except for Mr. Chas. are not qualified to give you legal advice.
5) Do nothing is not an option.



:iagree:

Especially the "do nothing" portion. I understand your reluctance to tarnish the good name of someone you considered a friend. But he had plenty of opportunity to notify you, that he would not be able to complete the work, and give you the chance to seek another gunsmith. That didn't happen. He has basically committed theft, since he is no longer in business, and still has possession of your firearms, I would contact the local PD, and report this as a theft. That may prevent you from having to file a lawsuit or go to small claims court, since the police will have the ability to locate the guy. If he believes, he will be charged, it may force him to reach out to you. If that doesn't get your guns back, then you will have no choice but to file litigation, but, by then you should know where to have the papers served. IANAL
Take away the Second first, and the First is gone in a second :rules: :patriot:


bbhack
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby bbhack » Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:52 pm

MaduroBU wrote:
2.) Will those liens help me to get my property back? They're worth far more than their market value to me, and given the circumstances that I know about, I'm not sure that he has that much money to hand me even if he wanted to do so.


Yes. If one needs money, selling property is common. Liens mean you will get settled, with money or property, before his property is sold. The point of going the legal route is to get the paperwork right, not to be punitive or vengeful. IMO, this is not worth the attorney's fees unless and until it's time to file the liens. I would not recommend DIY liens, if that's even possible. As for the true value of the property to you, that might be the problem.

As for legal advice, the only legal advice you should take is from an attorney that you have retained, and then not always. Talking about options is not legal advice. Either proceed on your own or hire an attorney. Listening to what others say is your option, especially when you asked first.


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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby rotor » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:21 pm

Doesn't sound like an honest small business owner to me. Does not answer your emails, you can't get in touch with him, no contact since March. Guns are in consignment somewhere (maybe yours). You need to be able to contact him at some address. If he has guns on consignment someone has an address to reach this guy. I consider him a crook from your story. Get a lawyer and consider stopping the sale of guns until you have been made whole again.


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MaduroBU
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby MaduroBU » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:06 pm

I appreciate those who have taken the time to read over this and reply. I'll get in touch with a lawyer in the morning.

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der Teufel
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby der Teufel » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:44 am

Small Claims Court is an option. It's relatively low-cost and simple. You simply state the amount you feel you are due and it's argued in court.

There are some potential negatives, or at least some not-so-positive potential outcomes.

It's very possible that the person whom you are suing won't even show up, if they know they don't have an argument, although I wouldn't plan on that. But, assuming you win what you get is a judgement against the other party. It doesn't guarantee payment. You can then have liens placed against their property, which I understand to mean they can't buy or sell any real property (real estate, cars) in the county where the lien exists. In all likelihood, if the gunsmith still has your property, upon receipt of notification of the lawsuit, he'll try to return it to avoid going to court.

I had a similar case involving a large deposit I'd made for work on an old sport car. I sued, the other guy didn't even show up in court, I got a judgement. I filed liens. He didn't own any real property (rented an apartment, leased a car) and I never got anything.

I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. I am merely relating my personal experience in a matter that seems similar to yours.
Good luck!
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby RossA » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:50 am

This is just a thought, and maybe you covered this and I missed it. But have you gone to the guy's house/shop and knocked on the door to see if he will answer?
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The danger gone, the trouble righted,
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby Archery1 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:50 am

What I would do? I would go back to the only place that has good contact with him, the consignment shop. I would politely ask them to put you in contact with him so that you can go and pick up your guns. If they refuse to help, I would politely tell them that you suspect he's fenced your guns through their shop and will seek law enforcement to assist in checking their sales for your guns. That's not an idle threat for the sake of fishing for a contact. It's just what's at hand. I don't think they nor he will want others in their business and will help you get your guns back.


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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby RossA » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:55 pm

Archery1 has a good point. If this shop has some of "his" guns on consignment, how do you know that some of "his" guns aren't really yours? Are all of the consignment guns on display for you to see? Could some be hiding in the back of the shop?
God and the soldier we adore,
In times of danger, not before.
The danger gone, the trouble righted,
God's forgotten, the soldier slighted.

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der Teufel
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Re: Property/Legal Question Regarding Firearms

Postby der Teufel » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:35 pm

RossA wrote:This is just a thought, and maybe you covered this and I missed it. But have you gone to the guy's house/shop and knocked on the door to see if he will answer?


This is, in my opinion, the first step you should take. Try to locate the guy and talk to him.
Auf einen großen Klotz gehört ein großer Keil.
English equivalent: You must meet roughness with roughness.
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