A retired man in Maine is in court charged with multiple counts of selling firearms without a license. You see, while Maine is a pretty pro-gun state that lacks universal background check requirements, the gentleman in question was buying and selling guns in an effort to make a profit. He was selling them like a business.
The problem? He lacked the federal license to do so.
It seems he had an understandable reason for breaking this particular law, though.
A 71-year-old Lisbon man appeared remotely Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland on five counts of selling guns without a federal firearms license.
Wendell Millett, who winters in St. Petersburg, Florida, was released on bail.
He has claimed that he buys and sells many items besides guns, including boats and lawnmowers.
Millet was trying to supplement his Social Security income, according to his attorney, Verne Paradie of Lewiston.
“He was not trying to be a black-market dealer or intending for them to get into the wrong hands,” Paradie said. “He enjoys it. It’s a hobby for him.”
Under federal law, it is illegal to sell guns to make a profit without a federal firearms license. Millett had a license from February 1989 to September 1994 but let it lapse, according to court documents.
I get it. I really do understand where he’s coming from.
Of course, that last paragraph isn’t quite accurate. It’s illegal to buy and sell several guns in an effort to generate a continuing profit, but there’s nothing illegal about making money on a deal. For example, if I sell an SKS that I paid $100 for at the going rate for today, I’d more than triple my money. That’s not illegal in the least.
Selling ten of them, however, is.
The difference is a matter of scale. Millet didn’t just sell a gun or two per year, he’s accused of selling more than the allowable number.
It should also be noted that Millet sold plenty of other goods in the same manner and no one is batting an eye at those. He may have sold dozens of them per year, and still nothing. It’s only the guns that created a problem.
However, Millet was a licensed gun dealer for five years. That suggests he actually knew he was breaking the law, and that’s not going to work out well for him.
Not that it should matter, mind you, but my opinion on this isn’t going to sway a court. The law is the law. It’s unlike that this particular law is about to be overturned, either, which means Millet will likely go to prison where all of his expenses will be paid for by the taxpayers, so he won’t need to supplement his social security.
That said, I do think Millet was trying to be careful with who he sold guns to. I’m quite sure he sold them to people who he felt were good, decent, law-abiding folks, much like any of the rest of us would do in our home states. It really shouldn’t be a crime to buy and sell guns to make a little bit of money on the side.
Unfortunately for Millet, though, it is.