United States District Court, D. Nebraska
FINDING, RECOMMENDATION, AND ORDER
R. ZWART UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Joseph L. Melton has moved to suppress all evidence and
statements obtained during the inspection of his firearms
business, Leadfoot, LLC, on August 24, 2017. (Filing No.
34). Defendant argues that prior to the inspection, the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(“ATF”) agents had reasonable cause to believe
Melton was violating the record-keeping requirements of the
Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). Defendant claims that since
the ATF could have obtained a warrant to search his business,
the agency's inspection without a warrant violated the
Fourth Amendment. (Id.).
LLC is a Nebraska company located in Holdrege, Nebraska. It
applied for and was granted a Manufacturer's Federal
Firearms License (FFL) in 2014, and it manufactures
silencers, which are classified as firearms under the GCA.
(Filing No. 35, at CM/ECF p. 35). Melton runs
Leadfoot's day-to-day business operations and is
responsible for its recordkeeping requirements.
2017, ATF agents spoke by phone with a party who identified
himself as a former Leadfoot employee and longtime friend of
Melton's. “Michael” reported concerns
regarding Melton and his operation of Leadfoot, including
noncompliance with the National Firearm's Act (NFA), and
using straw purchases when selling firearms. (Filing No.
35, at CM/ECF p. 31).
approximately 8:30 a.m. on August 24, 2017, ATF Industry
Operations Investigators (IOI) Kubert and Vickers, and
Special Agents Shelton and Sorenson initiated an unannounced
regulatory compliance inspection of the Leadfoot business
premises. (Id.) (See. 18 U.S.C. §
(g)(1)(B)(ii)). Upon discovering that the front door of the
Leadfoot premises was locked, IOI Kubert contacted Melton by
telephone. Melton answered the phone and stated he was in
Aurora, Colorado, so he could not immediately meet with the
agents at the Leadfoot premises. IOI Kubert asked Melton to
text a picture of a mountain or another landmark to confirm
his whereabouts. Upon receiving that confirmation, the IOI
was willing to reschedule the inspection. (Id.) No.
such text message was received by the agents. (Id.)
that afternoon, Melton called IOI Kubert and admitted he had
been in Lexington, Nebraska all day. (Id.) Defendant
explained that he panicked after receiving the call from IOI
Kubert because he knew his records were not in good shape.
(Id.) Melton acknowledged that his operations were
subject to ATF inspection, but thought he would receive
advance notice of any inspection. (Id.)
then met with the inspectors at the Leadfoot premises and at
approximately 3:15 p.m., the inspection began. The inspection
ultimately revealed 18 violations of federal code and
1. Willfully obstructing ATF's right of entry to conduct
a compliance inspection;
2. Falsification of required records;
3. Conduct of business away from the licensed premises;
4. False statements and representation made by the licensee
with respect to any information or records required by the
Gun Control Act;
5. Failure to document the transfer of a firearm to a
nonlicensee on ATF F 4473;
6. Failure to conduct a NICS check prior to the transfer of a
7. Failure to maintain an accurate Record of Firearms
Manufactured or ...