Franklin Gun Shop shotguns

The owners of the now closed Franklin Gun Shop pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and making false entries regarding the disposition of firearms in Federal court on Tuesday.

According to a Department of Justice news release, Franklin residents and Franklin Gun Shop co-owners Alan Hassler, 49, Brian Hassler, 52, and Michael Hassler, 45, were charged in September following a federal regulatory inspection by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

“Proper record keeping is an essential requirement of all Federal Firearms Licensees,” U.S. Attorney Mark H. Wildasin said. “When the firearms record-keeping process breaks down, the resulting implications can be disastrous and hinder law enforcement’s ability to properly investigate gun crimes or keep firearms out of the hands of violent criminals and disqualified persons. I commend the ATF for their vigorous attention to this matter.”

In 2016, the ATF performed a compliance inspection of the Franklin Gun Shop, where they found "numerous violations of applicable federal regulations regarding record keeping." 

A follow-up inspection by the ATF in 2020 found that "hundreds of firearms, out of the more than 10,000 firearms in Franklin Gun Shop’s inventory, were unaccounted for in the business’s internal records."

The DOJ said that over the following year, hundreds of those previously unaccounted-for firearms were located within the business, but as of July 2021, approximately 144 firearms were still missing.

The DOJ said that the Hasslers later provided the ATF with fraudulent documentation "in an attempt to account for the missing firearms."

"In many cases, the Hasslers would take a completed, legitimate 4473 form —from a prior purchase — and would add one or more of the missing firearms to the form to make it appear to regulators that these firearms had been purchased as part of that original transaction," the news release reads.

"The goal was to deceive the ATF into believing that the firearms were not missing but had been sold. Subsequent interviews by the ATF with multiple customers identified on these fraudulent forms established that these customers had not purchased the firearms attributed to them. Several of these customers produced original receipts showing that the missing firearms had not been purchased as the falsified forms indicated."

In 2020, Brian Hassler spoke with The News, (previously known as the Williamson Home Page,) about the then increase in demand for guns and ammo and the ammo shortage due to civil unrest and the then-new pandemic.

In January 2021, approximately 41 guns were stolen from Franklin Gun Shop in an overnight burglary.

The Hasslers have accepted a plea agreement, that if accepted by the judge, will result in a sentence of three months of home detention and two years of supervised release for each defendant.

The Hasslers have also surrendered their Federal Firearms License and will complete the audit in progress by the ATF.

That sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 25, 2023.

“ATF’s core mission is to protect the public from violent crime, particularly crimes involving the use of firearms,” Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Nashville Division Marcus Watson said.  

“An essential part of this mission is ensuring that federal firearms licensees comply with applicable federal laws and regulations, particularly the implementing regulations of the Gun Control Act. This FFL committed numerous violations with the intentional disregard of their known legal duty and with plain indifference to their legal obligations. The ATF remains committed to ensuring public safety and compliance and enhancing the traceability of firearms.”

The building previously occupied by Franklin Gun Shop is now home to The Outpost Armory, which was founded in 2009 by firearm designer Chris Barrett.

This is The Outpost Armory's second location after they moved their original store from Christiana to an expanded facility in Murfreesboro in 2021.