Man Pleads Guilty to Dealing Guns Without Federal License

Printed December 1, 2004.
Source: Tennessean
Section: Local
Edition: 1ST
Page: 4B

Weapons traced to crimes in Michigan, federal officials say

By ROB JOHNSON, Staff Writer

A Nashville man, who had long been under investigation on suspicion of running guns north to Michigan, pleaded guilty in federal court to dealing firearms without a federal license, U.S. prosecutors said yesterday.

Sandy Christopher Dunn, 32, purchased guns in Tennessee that authorities later traced to crimes that occurred in Michigan, said officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Some of the guns also wound up in Canada.

Although prosecuted in a Nashville federal court, Dunn’s case involved a battery of investigative agencies, including Metro police, Michigan State Police, the Canadian Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit in Ontario and the ATF.

Despite Monday’s guilty plea, federal agents say there are many details about Dunn’s case they cannot yet discuss because the investigation is ongoing.

“I can say it started with gun-crime traces from Michigan,” Ronald Turk, assistant special agent in charge of the Nashville ATF office, said yesterday. “There were guns that came back to him.”

Those guns put Dunn into the sights of ATF Special Agent Patrick Hand.

Dunn is expected to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Echols in the coming weeks.

“Mr. Dunn fully acknowledged his responsibility for the criminal offenses for which he was charged,” his attorney, Kim Hodde, said yesterday. Yet she and her client haven’t been willing to concede all of the potentially aggravating factors involved in the case – factors that could lengthen his prison sentence.

Two episodes described by authorities in court shed some light on Dunn’s run-ins with the law:

  • On Sept. 7, 2000, Dunn was stopped by Michigan State Police, who found 13 semi-automatic pistols, ammunition and magazines in his possession. After being read his Miranda rights, he told an officer that he was a gun dealer who had a permit to carry the firearms. He also said he was on his way to Detroit to sell the guns.
  • On Jan. 15, 2001, Dunn called Nashville police to report a crime – the possible theft of 70 handguns from his Nashville residence. The next day, the ATF had some questions for him. During that conversation, he told federal agents that he had planned on opening a gun shop. Then he said that he had applied for a federal firearms license but that he might have “jumped the gun” by building inventory before he’d actually received the license.

He promised to explain it all by bringing some supporting documentation to the ATF, but he failed to show up for questioning.

Federal agents said they have no record that Dunn ever applied for a dealer’s license.

ATF spokesman Eric Kehn said yesterday that plenty of other factors caused the bureau to investigate Dunn but, like Turk, he said he couldn’t elaborate.

Dunn was indicted in February 2004 on charges of dealing firearms without a license and transporting firearms in interstate commerce without a license.

He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

Rob Johnson can be reached at 664-2162 or at