General

Stag Arms Pleads Guilty, Loses Manufacturing License

Stag Arms Model 9T

Fans of Stag Arms have a lot to mourn today. The president of Stag Arms, LLC, Mark Malkowski, plead guilty to federal firearms charges. Not being an insider, I would say there are always two sides to a story, but the details of this one seem pretty damning for the beleaguered manufacturer. stag-arms-model-9L Per the plea agreement, Malkowski agreed to pay a $100,000 fine, and Stag Arms will pay a $500,000 fine. Stag Arms will also forfeit its gun manufacturing license. This will not be a simple set up shop elsewhere either. In the plea deal, Malkowski agreed to get out of the gun business and never return in an ownership or management role.

The Chronology

The ATF inspected Stag Arms in 2007. The inspection revealed record keeping violations, with a warning to fix. Then, in July of 2014, the ATF conducted a firearms compliance inspection of Stag Arms’s two New Britain manufacturing facilities—including a building housing gun-maker CMT—and that where the real trouble began.

ATF investigators found more than 3,000 gun receivers were not properly registered. This is a major violation of the National Firearms Act. Federal agents also discovered 62 fully automatic machine guns and machine gun receivers that were either registered somewhere else or not registered at all. Making matters even worse, other guns were recovered which had the serial numbers “obliterated.” Piling on even more, federal prosecutors said Stag Arms could not account for 200 guns at all. Whether this was merely shoddy records keeping, or something more nefarious, we may never know. Of course, the fear is that the guns wound up on the streets and in the wrong hands.

Stag Arms, LLC released the following statement: “Stag Arms, LLC today announced that the company and its founder, Mark Malkowski, have reached a resolution with government officials stemming from an investigation that began last year relating primarily to the timing of recordkeeping during the manufacturing process and compliance with federal firearms manufacturing and registration requirements. Both Stag Arms and Mr. Malkowski cooperated fully with the government throughout the investigation. While both Stag Arms and Mr. Malkowski believe that public safety was never compromised, they have agreed to enter guilty pleas and to pay significant fines, because doing so is in the best interests of the company and its employees. Mr. Malkowski has also agreed to transition the business to new ownership and is in advanced talks with a potential buyer. Mr. Malkowski will continue as a marketing consultant to the business and the industry for a period of time following the sale. Stag Arms takes its obligations to comply with all laws and regulations very seriously and has made comprehensive changes to ensure that similar problems cannot happen again and that best compliance practices are maintained in all of its operations.” [dave]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (58)

  1. Lemme get this misunderstanding straight.
    You would plea guilty, then appeal the verdict that you admitted was correct via your plea.
    Yeah, that’ll work out.
    As good as using a hand grenade as a butt plug, after pulling the pin and releasing the safety lever.
    Total non-starter.
    To follow the comparison…
    You admitted guilt vs grenade is cooking off.
    Judge reads the first sentence of the appeal, the grenade cooks off.
    Neither enters.

    Worse, never dealt with butt plugs, dealt with grenades and numbers, as well as civil law as a general citizen.

  2. Though it’s a sad news but we should obey the law of ATF . I think they can fix it after warned. However, can’t they just appeal for the issue?

  3. one ends up with a room full of defunct receivers until one petitions the BATFE, then sues them to be allowed to destroy them, likely with agents witnessing the destruction.

  4. @Kyle, the NFA and Gun Control Act of 1968, as well as various other firearm related laws have passed SCOTUS muster and hence, are the la of the land and considered Constitutional.
    As I don’t require a permit to possess my AR, my 30-30 lever gun, my M1a, my Winchester .32 Spl, my M1911, my various .22LR’s, I fail to see your point.
    A better way to address the assault weapon ban nonsense is that it addresses 4% of all firearm related crimes, while ignoring 96% of firearm related crimes.

  5. William, every right has limitations. You can’t make speech designed to spur imminent lawless action, that is inciting a riot. One may not make speech to plot the overthrow of the government, that is sedition. One’s faith may not attempt to overthrow the government, that is treason. One may not assemble to over throw the government, that is also treason.
    One may not print libelous stories or advertisement in the media.
    That’s just the first amendment and a *few* restrictions out of many.
    You are saying that the first amendment has restrictions, ye the second may not? Even when we had gangsters shooting up the nation in our inner cities with Tommy guns? When the Bath Schoolhouse was leveled when students were in class, we shouldn’t restrict access to explosives?

    There is no such thing as treason against the people, treason is actively attempting to overthrow a government. You need to look up the definitions of legal terms if you’re going to spout them off.

    So, the very first Congress was unconstitutional because a lawyer was in it? How in the world do you pass a law that is Constitutional and doesn’t contradict another law without an attorney present? All may run for office, not just singling out a singular profession and not permitting them to hold office. That undermines the very notion of equality that our Constitution was predicated upon!
    You also confuse an attorney with the court, which is a jurist, not the attorneys from either side.

    What attorn meant before 1776 is utterly irrelevant. No citizen of this land, no attorney, who also happens to be a citizens, owes fealty to any sovereign on that tiny island.

    Nobility is bestowed by a monarch. You confuse inherited terms with title, where no title exists under terms of nobility, royalty, etc.

    Or are you suggesting that we lost both the Revolutionary War *and* the War of 1812?

    1. That every right has limits doesn’t mean that a great many of the gun control laws in place are actually constitutional. That argument is always used by gun control proponents to try and justify all of their various gun control ideas. If we regulated speech the way they want to regulate guns, you’d have to get a permit before being able to protest or write a book and be limited in terms of page number and paragraphs and so forth.

  6. WZRD1 obviously you do NOT understand what “shall not infringe” means! That there is a BATF is UNLAWFUL! None of these are allowed to be Federally Controlled except under the umbrella “interstate commerce” clause in the Constitution. Pushed to the ultimate limits of “MAYBE” by the Feds.

    Everyone in the BATF should be FIRED and Tried for TREASON against the people by direct violation of the LAW!

    Then you start on the Legislative for their part in it and the POTUS for HIS part in it!

    When the Legislature allowed ONE attorney to be seated in the Congress, they violated the “separation of powers” clause in the Constitution and again whenever they allowed a POTUS who had been an attorney.

    CONSPIRACY THEORY???? Hardly! these are FACTS that everyone should know! The War of 1812 should be taught in every grade of school LEST WE FORGET!

    The term “attorn” means to represent the King against the people/serfs. An attorney is a sworn representative of the King of England which requires them to be members of the BAR (British Accredited Registry).

    The missing 13th Amendment states that anyone who holds any title of nobility (esquire)_ can NEVER hold ANY public office in the United States of America.

  7. Bill, there is no scrapping *any* receiver, until the BATFE allows it to be scrapped. Obliterating a serial number isn’t permitted, the serial number must be intact when it is ground to gravel, if the BATFE lets you.
    Otherwise, one ends up with a room full of defunct receivers until one petitions the BATFE, then sues them to be allowed to destroy them, likely with agents witnessing the destruction.
    So, no. It’s not paperwork timing, it’s nothing resembling anything legal or gaffe of legal.
    Remember Red Jacket firearms and Wil Hayden? He lost his FFL license, but was allowed to play manager, which is where the brief series found him, all due to similar gaffes that were rectified.
    His mess today, that’s something for the courts to decide.

  8. The makers/sellers of firearms should be held just as accountable for their actions as the buyers/owners of those firearms. Shirk off the responsibilities and you’ll have to pay the piper. This is just a case of the laws that are already on the books being enforced…..no knee-jerk reaction to pass a bunch of new regulations/laws.
    This whole thing smells of some govt. operation gone bad to me, but that’s only my opinion…I have no facts to back that up yet.

  9. @Dettom, if it tells us anything, it’s that we do need more BATFE agents, so things don’t get so bad that a license has to be forfeited.
    Meanwhile, the jug heads that were involved in Fast and Furious were fired, but we’ll ignore that in favor of heaven knows that.
    After all, one rogue operation that began under Bush and continued under Obama is exactly the same as obliterating serial numbers from firearms and losing 200 firearms of unknown capability.
    Or something.

  10. So, while the Obama administration actually supplied weapons to Mexican drug cartels and there was never any real accountability, we’re supposed to let all that go. As soon as the DNC gets ahold of the news about Stag Arms I can guarantee they will use it as a campaign issue. The message will be that most other manufacturers are doing the same thing and that they have to put them out of business in the interest of “gun safety”.

  11. @Infidel7.62, since when is obliterating a serial number a paperwork violation?
    When not registering receivers is simply a paperwork violation and losing 200 receivers of unknown capability a paperwork violation?

    While the other issues mentioned could’ve been rectified with one inventory control manager, obliterating a serial number is a felony and speaks toward trafficking!

  12. @Pagen, anti-gun?! They had flipping receivers with the serial numbers obliterated, which is a felony in every state of the union. They couldn’t account for 200 receivers!
    This goes past lousy accounting and potentially into trafficking! Obliterated serial numbers are never permitted in any firearms operation.

    It’s nice to know that you don’t demand accountability in corporations, but demand it in individuals.
    The entire cloistersmurf could’ve been avoided by one inventory control manager. One person.

    1. Umm … did scrap that hadn’t met the hammer yet but had been pulled from the production inventory get a date with the grinder before total destruction? Not mentioned is how near to complete the lowers with the obliterated numbers were. Did Stag arms stamp the numbers before completing machining operations? Were these functional lowers or did they have a big hole drilled in them to mark them as scrap?

      In that case the problem WAS paperwork timing.

      We don’t have enough information to make any sort of guess what happened, much less an educated one.

  13. He loses a business for paperwork violations while the government actually supplies semi-auto rifles & handguns to drug dealers and other criminals. Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

  14. This is really a shocking development. one of the best manufacturers of QUALITY guns must now bow down to Anti-Gun regulation. Wonder who the government is going to allow the company to be sold to? Hope it’s not Marlin. If so, there goes the STAG quality control system in favor of government regulation and control systems.

  15. And do we recall who stopped the conversion of semis to selective fire machine guns? Ronald Reagan 1986. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing on both sides of the fence.
    Anything illegal today was once legal in the good old days like when you could buy a real Tommy gun in the Sears & Roebuck catalog, no BATF or special red tape what-so-ever.
    Feeling any less free?

  16. The NFA 1 & 2 have passed legal challenges & reviews several times since They were enacted in 1938 & 1968, which means the highest courts in the land have upheld their legality. While I don’t believe Stag Arms intended to violate the law or commit an illegal act, they still have to take responsibility for their actions in a lawful society.

  17. The only thing that I can say to this is ….. NOWHERE, in the Second Amendment, will you find the words, “until”, “unless”, or “except” …. what you will find is SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

    It is time to enforce the Constitution and to hold our SERVANTS to their SWORN OATHS.

  18. There’s that term again: “fully automatic machine guns.” Lately, I keep seeing it over and over. For crying out loud, people, a machine gun is, by definition, fully automatic. I think the term must have been coined by the Department of Redundancy Department.

  19. Hopefully, Stag can re-start under new ownership/management or perhaps be bought by a company that IS in compliance with the rules. Stag arms makes very good firearms and it would be a shame to see them dry up and blow away in the wind…just my opinion…any others?

  20. What does this mean for people with a stag arms rifle, in respect to our lifetime barrel (10,000 shot) warranty? Will the newly bought stag arms or however this will work still honor that warranty?

  21. CMT was making guns for the CIA to distribute, the ATF doesn’t co operate with any other agencies, they just sue each other and the Government for discrimination and sexual assault. So they wouldn’t look the other way like the CIA asked, and just went in and caused a ruckus. We as tax payers will pay those fines. Notice huge fines, 0 jail time. Thats a sure sign of CIA involvement.

  22. So what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. The Obama admin looses a boat load of guns to Mexico and that’s Ok but this small gun manufacturer gets hit with fines for poor controls from a law that tramples all over the 2nd amendment and should be repealed.

  23. It’s ok though for the ATF to send guns to Mexico just to see if the can track them and one of our border guards gets killed by one of them.

    1. So, you’re saying, two wrongs, conducted by entirely different organizations, makes a right?

      Let’s review the difference, an agent and possibly his supervisor conducts one of the stupidest operations in human history vs a company that is required to keep records failed to do so and worse, serial numbers were obliterated and they misplaced 200 firearms of unknown capability.

  24. I am no fan of the BATF or of the Liberals in this country trying to take away our Constitutional rights. However the laws they were required to comply with have nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment and are reasonable particularly in today’s world. They blew it and have to pay the price. There is no excuse for what happened.

    1. These “laws” you claim ARE NOT LAWS AT ALL SINCE THEY VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION IN LETTER AND INTENT.
      What part of “shall not be infringed” do YOU fail to comprehend?

    2. Um, I think the court was correct when they said the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Of course there have to be REASONABLE codes. Following your logic, jail inmates, convicted felons and the mentally unbalanced should be armed. I’m no fan of more gun laws, but it does seem reasonable that arms manufacturers should keep track of what they have. Especially when they were given ample and fail warning. That said, I’m very disappointed, I appreciate Stag’s product quality.

  25. At the time, ARs were just becoming available again after the first Obama scare and the STAG was in the shop while i would have had to order the Smith – all things being equal I would have bought the M&P. I have a Performance Shop 1911 and it’s my favorite handgun.

  26. Sounds like they waited too long to move. I doubt if they were up to anything nefarious. There was no reason for the initial inspection except, possibly, Martin O’Malley’s (doomed) Presidential run.

    Please do whatever you can to ensure that Marin O’Malley is unemployed at the end of the next election cycle … or sooner.

    1. I don’t know, obliterated serial numbers isn’t lawful. Failing to account for 200 units also is dicey, could be lousy record keeping of units that were irreparably damaged, could be shrinkage, could be diversion.
      Unregistered NFA receivers, that’s already a supremely bad thing. One’s only potential excuse is if they’ve *just* been made and one is filing the paperwork.

    2. @Wzrd1

      You hit it spot on. It’s a business, and in any business you have to comply with government regulations or you pay the price. Whether we agree with it or not, they messed up. Other manufacturers seem to be able to mostly stay out of hot water, and some of them deal with much greater numbers of guns manufactured than Stag does. They failed to account for 200 units . . . so where are they? Who, if anyone, walked out the door with them? In the political anti-gun environment we are struggling with, they really needed not to give the antis any more ammunition to attack us.

  27. Dang!

    I wonder…could you buy the assets, apply for a license and start up your own company?

    Hmmm….. “DaProf Arms” …..yeah…….

    ——-
    Seriously…why the heck wouldn’t you keep records straight, especially these days?

    1. @ DaFrof

      You probably buy the Building, Tooling Equipment and STILL call is STAG, but it would be like buying “Red Jackets” and STILL call it RED JACKETS. Let it DIE.

  28. What a chuckle head!!! There should be jail time involved – this criminality/stupidity/criminal stupidity affects the whole industry

  29. Well, when you break the law you get burned..!!! Never tread on the Gov territory, they are the only one allow to break the law…”Fast and Furious” anyone..!!! God help us, PLEASE!

    1. @ USPatriotOne.

      The $64,000 Dollar Question IS, Who Get’s Burned NEXT. He got Off Virtually Scot-Free. He HAD to have Pointed the Finger At Someone ELSE, Most Liking the Person or Persons that Bought the 3,000 “Un-Marked” Receivers…

  30. Look, whether we agree with the government oversight or nit, the fact is it exists and if they didn’t comply with the law, they get shut down. Simple as that. I don;t really see what choice they have.

    1. Firstly, you MUST understand what a “law” is and the difference for a “Statute”!

      Law is written by the people (We the People) and it IS the Constitutions of the united States of America and each of the sovereign States.

      Statutes are the RULES for the employees and are written by Agents hired by the People! Statutes are NOT for the People but every employee must have a written list of Rules that they have allegedly SWORN to OBEY!

      The People are only responsible to each other under the auspices of common law while the employees are subject to the COURTS of Law.

    2. Thank you, Bill. Very informative.

      The owner, Malkowski pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony count of possession of machine guns not registered to the company, is scheduled to plead guilty in a different federal court to a misdemeanor charge of failure to maintain firearms records. Those are crimes.

  31. What does this mean for current Stag firearms holders,if I read this right they are in talks with selling, would it be selling the stag name and keep producing guns just under new management and new name or doing away with firearm production altogether. And as a Stag firearm owner will i be getting a knock on my door wanting my AR back. Or do i need to contact the ATF and ask them if my firearm is legally registered. Also my Stag being lefthanded will any parts be available in the future or does anyone know? I enjoy my Stag 2L but would hate to be treated like a criminal for owning it. THANK YOU FOR ANY INFORMATION ANYONE CAN GIVE. ..A CONCERNED STAG OWNER

    1. Being a Stag owner myself, at first I was a little worried about parts but than i thought It’s an AR and you can get parts for an AR right here at CTD as well as a zillion other places. I’ve already replaced half the parts on mine already. As far as legality, mine has a serial number and i went through a background check so i don’t see a problem. If it didn’t have a serial number they couldn’t have done a background check. The govenment’s not supposed to be keeping a record of serial numbers and owners anyway – that would be registration!

    2. I wouldn’t worry too much. As you said, virtually everything in an AR is interchangeable to one extent or another. A couple of mine aren’t even close to what they were when purchased.

    3. If the gun shoots well, you have a good gun. I have a “Franken-11”, and it works perfectly. Hopefully none of the left-hand specific parts fail, they might be hard to replace now.

    4. I don’t think they are going to have much collector value since basically it’s just an midlevel AR just like a S&W M&P or lower level Colt. In my case its basically my SHF gun as I prefer my Henry lever guns for the range. I love Henry’s new advertisement since it fits me pretty much – I see my AR every time I take my Henry out to the range. I have a spare BCG and a Stag rebuild kit with firing pin and the common springs that might wear out so I should be OK for a long time. When I bought the Stag, I was looking at a M&P-15 – i guess i should have went that way.
      Scott

    5. @Scott

      If you ever look at an M&P again, you should buy it. I love mine. Reliable, accurate, and even with all the goodies I added easy to afford.

      As for the Stag, I would imagine there will be someone making interchangeable leftie parts for them. They might even reopen with a new owner who will make parts for the existing rifles.

    6. @ Mikial.

      I believe the “Hank Alverez”, ask about a Similar Question. After Injuring Himself, and Relearning how to Shoot Left Handed. The Ruger SR-556 is available in Left-Handed” Configuration, Probable also Manufactures Replacement Parts Too…

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.