JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri – The owner of Skelton Tactical, a gun store in Osage Beach, Missouri, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for illegally selling firearms to undercover officers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco , Firearms and Explosives.
James Antonio Skelton, 74, of Kaiser, Missouri, was indicted in a 15-count indictment sealed by a federal grand jury in Jefferson City, Missouri on December 14, 2021. This indictment of indictment charge was unsealed and made public following Skelton’s arrest this morning.
The federal indictment alleges that Skelton, a federal firearms licensee, used his business to illegally sell firearms by authorizing straw purchases; that is, allowing customers to purchase firearms on behalf of another person who is the actual purchaser, but for whom there is no background check or information recorded.
Federal law requires federal firearms licensees to certify that the purchaser is the true purchaser of the firearm. Federal firearms licensees must establish the identity, residence and age of the actual purchaser, as well as complete a background check before a firearm is sold. Licensees are responsible for ensuring that the actual purchaser completes the federal firearms transaction record. The firearms transaction record requires that the purchaser certify that he was the actual purchaser of the firearm.
Federal agents executed a search warrant at Skelton Tactical on November 9, 2021 and seized 323 firearms in Skelton following a secret ATF investigation. The federal indictment contains an allegation of confiscation, which would require Skelton to confiscate all of these firearms for the benefit of the government.
The federal indictment charges Skelton with four counts of failing to keep proper records required for federally licensed dealers. Skelton reportedly sold 19 firearms to an undercover ATF agent in four separate transactions from September 24 to October 29, 2021, without recording the buyer’s name, age and place of residence. Skelton is also charged with four counts of non-background checks related to these sales. Skelton allegedly sold the 19 guns to an undercover ATF agent without performing the proper background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system prior to the sale.
Skelton is charged with two counts of false records in a gun transaction. Skelton reportedly advised an undercover ATF agent to have another person (also an undercover ATF agent) make a four gun straw purchase on his behalf from October 5 to 15, 2021 – a rifle Romarm / Cugir 7.62 x 39mm, one Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun, one 12 gauge Derva Arms shotgun and one .45 TISAS pistol. Skelton reportedly advised an undercover ATF agent to have someone else (also an undercover ATF agent) make a 10 gun straw purchase on his behalf from October 5 to 29, 2021 – a BH Best Arms shotgun from 12 caliber, one Pioneer Armes 7.62 x 25 mm pistol, one Weihrauch .38 caliber revolver, one ALFA-PROJ .357-caliber Magnum revolver, two TISAS 9 mm pistols and four TISAS .45 pistols.
Skelton is charged with five counts of failing to make the correct entries in a required file. Skelton reportedly sold five firearms from September 24 to October 15, 2021, without making entries in his acquisition and disposal register, as required by federal law.
The charges contained in this indictment are merely charges and not evidence of guilt. Evidence to support charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty it is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being continued by US Deputy Prosecutor Michael S. Oliver. He was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.