Crime

Unreported guns, illegal anti-tank rifle transfer land midstate gun dealer in hot water

The Rifleman gun shop on Hawkinsville Road in Macon, Georgia.
The Rifleman gun shop on Hawkinsville Road in Macon, Georgia. awomack@macon.com

A Macon gun dealer found guilty of illegally possessing a 20mm anti-tank rifle must serve 97 months in prison and pay a $5,000 fine, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Mark Mann, the owner and operator of Mann’s World LLC, also known as The Rifleman gun shop, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

Gordon “Chip” Warren Jr., an investigator with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified during the sentencing hearing that he and another agent visited the store in 2013 to perform a routine inspection.

After comparing log book entries to guns at the store, Warren said the investigators found 103 weapons that hadn’t been properly reported to the ATF.

Although Mann and another employee were told not to alter the log books during the inspection, Warren said investigators later found that nearly 20 entries were added.

At least two of those entries have been proven to have been false, prosecutor Kimberly Easterling said.

Seeing the log book discrepancies, the investigators reported their findings to an ATF criminal investigator, leading to a search warrant being served at the business March 20, 2013. Mann and the store’s general manager, Henry Hyde McGirt III, were indicted in early 2016.

McGirt later pleaded guilty to making a false entry in a firearm record and was sentenced to five years on probation last month. He also must pay a $2,500 fine.

Mann was found guilty of possession of an unregistered firearm, the anti-tank rifle, during an April trial.

His attorney, Alexander Repasky, argued Monday that his client had an accounting problem and didn’t intend to commit a crime.

“He takes responsibility for what he’s done,” Repasky said. “This is a man who is dealing with the variety of intricacies of legislation and rules that would be well-suited to someone who can see what he’s doing.”

But Mann is “visually impaired” and “he has to rely on other people,” the attorney said.

Repasky said “it would be a shame” for Mann to go to prison because his employees didn’t do what they were supposed to do.

Easterling countered that Mann — who used a cane and was led to the front of the courtroom with his hand on a man’s shoulder — was disabled when he obtained his federal firearms license and was aware of his responsibilities.

“He doesn’t get a pass because he cannot see,” she said, adding that he also can’t blame his workers.

Witnesses have said they acted at Mann’s direction, Easterling said.

Warren and another ATF agent, Wesley Whitaker, said employees told them Mann instructed them to alter the gun logs.

One said Mann also told him to destroy records, Warren said.

Easterling argued that Mann bypassed regulations meant to allow the ATF to track dangerous weapons for economic reasons, so he didn’t have to wait for the federal agency’s approval.

The judge agreed to allow Mann to voluntarily surrender himself to the federal Bureau of Prisons so he can help transition the store’s operations to someone else who has a temporary ATF license in place.

The Hawkinsville Road specialty gun shop was open Monday after the sentencing hearing. An employee said the store will remain open.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

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