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Feds pirate investor's gun-shop software

Posted By Drew Zahn On 10/17/2008 @ 11:00 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled

A small software company trying to create a program to help gun dealers comply with federal regulations now believes that the government purposefully stalled and then swiped the technology to create a copycat program of its own.

James LaMonte is the CEO and founder of Coloseum Software Corp. in Mansfield, Mass. He believes the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) used the government’s muscle to extract technology from his business for its own use.

LaMonte told Gun Owners of America, a non-profit lobbyist group defending Second Amendment gun rights, “As a small business owner, I never would have thought that our biggest competition was the United States government.”

The GOA’s website likens what the government allegedly did to Coloseum Software to the IRS creating a “government version” of Turbo Tax to shove the popular tax preparation software company out of business.

The GOA also fears that by muscling a government software program into gun stores, the BATFE may also be seeking an electronic “back door” for unrestricted access to gun dealers’ records.

LaMonte explained to WND that when a customer purchases a firearm from a federal firearm license (FFL) gun dealer, the dealer must fill out the complicated Firearms Transaction Record, or form 4473.

Simple and common errors on the form, however, such as writing an “N” instead of the required “NO,” are deemed in violation of federal law. If a gun dealer is discovered to commit too many even innocent clerical errors, the BATFE can revoke the dealer’s license.

LaMonte cited the case of Red’s Trading Post in Twin Falls, Idaho, which has fought for years to survive after the BATFE revoked its license for what the store’s manager has called mostly human error in filling out forms.

“This isn’t speculation,” LaMonte told WND. “The facts are fact: an 85% decrease in FFL dealers in the last 10 years as a result of revocations from clerical errors. … That’s the procedure; put them out of business for clerical errors.”

So for the last seven years, LaMonte and Coloseum Software Corp. have been working on a program that would check and correct form 4473, guaranteeing it is filled out correctly and in compliance with government regulation.

In April, an FFL dealer filed for permission to use Coloseum’s program, which led to a series of meetings between the BATFE and the software company to ensure that the program would be in compliance with the new 4473 form the government will require next month.

As the months and meetings went by, however, LaMonte claims his company was required to surrender extensive information about the specifics of its software, while the BATFE stalled on giving specifics needed to update the program.

“During this six- or seven-month period,” LaMonte told WND, “we suspected the government was working with us to get this technology out there for the betterment of the FFL dealers, but it was actually just the opposite. They were using our technology processes in order to stall us in order to get their own technology ahead of us.”

The BATFE then shocked Coloseum earlier this month by announcing to the FFL dealers that it was set to release its own electronic form 4473 program.

“We had no idea they were even considering creating their own technology,” LaMonte said. “Had we known that, we certainly never would have met with them. We certainly never would have submitted an application to them, because the application was extremely thick with a step-by-step play manual on how the technology works. Had they mentioned it to us, we would have cancelled the meeting.”

LaMonte told WND that the government has yet to release November’s new
4473 form to his company so Coloseum can update its product.

An official at BATFE deferred to external affairs for comment, though the department has not returned WND’s inquiries.

“How can a small business compete with the government?” LaMonte asked. “We can’t, because we have to go to them for approval.”

 


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