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Franklin's owner looks to sell shop
Firearms dealer
By Don Nelson | [email protected] | Story updated at 12:55 AM on Thursday, January 4, 2007
Franklin's Gun Shop is selling firearms again under a new licensee, and the store owner, Barbara Franklin, wants to sell the business, one of the largest independent gun dealers in the South and oldest retailers in Athens.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revoked Franklin's firearms license in 2005 because the Bogart business did not account for hundreds of guns during a 2003 ATF audit.

However, owner Barbara Franklin's daughter and son-in-law obtained a firearms license in April and transferred it to the Franklin's address so sales could resume at the store at 3941 Atlanta Highway.

Franklin said she is actively trying to sell the entire retail operation and has two prospective buyers.

The store was able to continue selling firearms until September because Franklin's asked a federal judge to review the revocation and disputed the number of missing or undocumented firearms initially cited by the ATF - 677. The appeal also argued that 356 guns had been stolen in a burglary and that the whereabouts of the remaining 321 guns could be explained through commercial invoices and forms that retail customers must fill out.

The ATF later reduced the number of undocumented firearms to 563.

Last August, U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal upheld the ATF's decision to revoke the Franklin's firearms license and said Franklin's did not "fully comply" with federal law in tracking the gun sales.

The ruling triggered a deadline for Franklin's to liquidate or transfer its remaining firearms inventory, said Marc Jackson, a spokesman with the ATF in Atlanta.

Franklin's "had a 30-day period with which to wind up business, but as a licensee, they could dispose of them (during that time)," Jackson said.

The store, which also sells outdoor sports equipment and clothing, had to stop selling guns on Sept. 18, but firearms sales in Franklin's Atlanta Highway store continue now under a new licensee.

Kimberly's Jewelry Inc., doing business as Duncan & Co. and owned by Franklin's daughter and son-in-law, Kimberly and Dale Duncan, holds the firearms license to allow gun sales at Franklin's Gun Shop, Jackson said.

The new license-holder can legally sell guns from the same location where a previous license was revoked, according to Jackson, but must record any selling of firearms separately from the store's other transactions and follow all other ATF guidelines.

The Duncans were approved April 1 for a firearms license which will expire in 2009.

"Kimberly has had a firearms license ... and she transferred it (to the Franklin's address)," Barbara Franklin said. "She transferred it so we could liquidate some of the guns until we could find a buyer (for the business)."

Franklin and her late husband, Clarence, started Franklin's in 1962 and originally operated out of their basement.

Jackson said that the ATF's 2003 case against Franklin's was "for all intents and purposes" closed, and that ATF officials monitored the license changeover at Franklin's to ensure ATF guidelines were followed.

Appeal denied

Despite an appeal by Franklin's that hundreds of missing guns could be explained, a federal judge ruled in August that Franklin's failed to note several transactions in an Acquisition and Disposition book, as required by federal law, which led to the store losing its license to sell firearms.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 010407
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