Man Sentenced For Selling Guns Without License

A Las Vegas man was indicted by a grand jury they week after regulators claimed he sold a number of guns, including pistols across state lines, without a federal firearms license.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that Charles Martin Ellis, 64, was charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license and the transfer or sale of a firearm to a non-resident.

A four-page indictment returned by the grand jury held that Ellis, who does not have an FFL, sold four handguns and a rifle to three people in California, Arizona, and Texas last year. Moreover, prosecutors claim that from January 2016 to February 2018, Ellis bought and quickly resold over 250 firearms, including a number of AR and AK-pattern handguns.

One of these, a Zastava 7.62mm caliber pistol sold to a convicted felon, 32-year-old Thomas Daniel Littlecloud, was later used in the fatal shooting of a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy and wounding of two Highway Patrol investigators during a shootout at a California Ramada Inn. Prosecutors say Ellis came under scrutiny due to the shootout.

“We’ve been pushing for this for a long time and really driving this investigation forward,” Sacramento County sheriff’s Sgt. Shaun Hampton said. “Without our federal partners, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Based on the Gun Control Act of 1968, current laws as regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives require persons who are “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms be licensed. Generally, if an individual repetitively buys and sells firearms with the goal of turning a profit, they need a license while someone making occasional sales from a personal collection does not.

The ATF does not define how many guns one needs to sell to require a license but instead relies on a host of other factors that accompany the unlicensed sales such as advertising, selling and payment methods. For instance, presenting oneself as a licensed dealer on business cards and accepting credit cards could be a factor. However, the agency may issue a warning “when only one or two transactions took place.”

Those violating such laws, if prosecuted and found guilty, face up to five years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both.

Last December, a 63-year-old New York man was sentenced to three years probation for dealing firearms without a license after he sold guns to undercover federal agents through a classifieds service after authorities warned him to either curb his practices or get an FFL. This came four months after a 70-year-old Montana man was given 27 months for dealing firearms without a license after he resold hundreds of guns in a three-year period. In 2016, a Minnesota man was sentenced to 18 months in prison after a plea agreement after his buying and reselling habits garnered the attention of federal regulators.

  • Craig Apelbaum

    Oh well. Live and learn. I guess he had to learn his lesson the hard way.

  • Steven Earle

    This guy is an enemy of all legal gun owners because he gives gun grabbers the kind of publicity they can use to advance their agenda. Send him away for a decade or two.

  • Kanawah

    Nail his ass to the wall.

  • Agostino

    It’s way past time for some of these unlicensed sellers to spend time in jail. I’m a licensed dealer in MD, and I know there are individuals who routinely flout the law. Other than legitimate collectors working on their own collections, no one should be in competition with licensed dealers.

  • rivahmitch

    “shall NOT be infringed”?

    • L Cavendish

      right to keep and bear…says NOTHING about selling or reselling…and I am very pro 2A…

      • rivahmitch

        If a gun cannot be sold, that’s infringement. How can one keep it if one cannot buy it?

    • hoyingla

      Tell that to the widow and children of the slain officer oh bright one! This is not a infringement question but a question did he take care to ensure he RESPONSIBLY in selling or was RESPONSIBLE when he RESOLD that firearm!! Grow up buckwheat, every time someone sells or resells a firearm without checking to at least ensure the recipient is legally entitled to or and possess is setting them selves up for failure and in this case prosecution!!

      • rivahmitch

        While I feel sympathy for them, I’m not willing to sacrifice rights for them.

  • Dale

    He was wrong and now must suffer the consequences!

  • I have held an FFL in the past, in Massachusetts, which has always had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Since my move to Las Vegas, Nevada, I had to give it up. I never carried any inventory, other than to order specific guns at the request of my repair, hunting and target shooting customers. (In more than 10 years of business, I ran fewer than 200 firearms transactions of all types through my books.) My business was primarily doing repairs, modifications and other custom work, so I used a workshop in my house as my business location. ATF and most states are fine with that, but Nevada requires a commercial retail outlet with daily walk in hours. My type of business can’t afford that much overhead, so I left the business. (even though my house is actually more secure than most commercial locations.)

    An FFL holder (retail sales, or not!) is very careful about who buys what and how transactions are handled. All of their books are available for inspection by state and federal agencies at any time and thus must be exact and complete. Someone who obviously sells to anyone with the cash should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This person is the reason we need better enforcement of the existing laws rather than adding more laws that criminals and the unscrupulous will not heed any more than they do the original laws.


    This is what our government should be working on not gun control. The majority of criminals and gang bangers get their guns from the black market .

    • L Cavendish

      actually they just have someone straw buy it for them…also an illegal transaction

  • L Cavendish

    A few sales per year…or one sale of a collection perhaps.
    Not sure though…I have 50+ guns…all legally purchased…I should be able to sell them if I need the money…and not to a pawn shop or gun store offering me peanuts for them…
    BUT…I would make sure I did it legally within my state…ask for photo ID for each sale…make sure to the best of my knowledge it was to a US citizen or permanent resident
    would be great if we had access to cheap/fast background checks like dealers do…but the FBI does not want to open that can of worms…

  • hoyingla

    Mr. Ellis deserved what he got !! All people who sell a firearm have a moral if no at legal responsibility to ensure the person they are selling to is legally eligible to own and possess a firearm. Had he done so there would no halve been death and destruction caused by him in the sale of a firearm to a felon!!!

  • Santiago

    He was wrong and now must suffer the consequences!

  • Guadalupe Vidal

    If a gun cannot be sold, that’s infringement. How can one keep it if one cannot buy it?