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United States v. Lauchli

June 10, 1971


Cummings, Kerner and Stevens, Circuit Judges.

Author: Kerner

KERNER, Circuit Judge.

Defendant-appellant, Richard A. Lauchli, Jr., was convicted by a jury on fifteen counts of an indictment alleging violations of the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act. The fifteen offenses consisted of one count for dealing in firearms without a license (26 U.S.C. §§ 5801, 5802 and 5861(a)), one count for dealing in firearms without registering with the Internal Revenue Service (18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a) (1) and 923(a)), seven counts for possessing firearms not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (26 U.S.C. §§ 5841 and 5861), three counts for illegally transferring firearms (26 U.S.C. §§ 5812(a) (1)-(6), 5845(a) and 5861), two counts of possessing firearms not bearing serial numbers (26 U.S.C. §§ 5842(b) and 5842(c)), and one count for dealing in firearms with a non-resident of the state in which he resided (18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a) (5) and 923). As a result of these convictions, Lauchli was sentenced to a twelve-year term to run concurrently with an eight-year sentence imposed in another criminal matter. See United States v. Lauchli, 371 F.2d 303 (7th Cir. 1966).


The violations which led to Lauchli's arrest and conviction were discovered by John Ennis, an undercover agent of the Treasury Department, who was posing as a tool and dye manufacturer for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ennis had been introduced to Lauchli by a fellow prisoner prior to Lauchli's release from federal prison in February, 1969. On March 20, 1969, Ennis contacted Lauchli and discussed the purchase of ten silencers and some Thompson submachine guns from the defendant. Lauchli stated that he was in possession of approximately 1400 Thompson submachine guns with a cut in the side that ran along the trigger guard and explained to the agent the process by which these guns could be repaired. Lauchli then offered to sell Ennis one rewelded weapon for $150 and other unrepaired submachine guns for $75. However, no sale was consummated at this time.

On March 21, 1969, pursuant to the arrangement made the previous evening, Lauchli met Ennis and drove him to his home in Collinsville, Illinois. A sale of weapons to a "partner" of Ennis was discussed, and Ennis purchased two Thompson submachine guns and ten silencers for $450. Lauchli then showed Ennis two manuals which explained the operation of the guns as well as a list of firearm parts which the defendant was offering for sale. A possible purchase of semi-automatic rifles, which the defendant had for sale, was also discussed.

On April 9, 1969, Ennis again visited the Lauchli residence, this time indicating a desire to purchase ten Thompson submachine guns. Lauchli asked to be allowed an hour and a half, apparently for the purpose of preparing the weapons, and Ennis departed. Upon his return, Ennis purchased ten Thompson submachine guns and fifteen barrels for $790. The defendant also gave Ennis a color code for future orders.

On April 15, 1969, Ennis phoned Lauchli and, using the color code, ordered one hundred thirty Thompson submachine guns. When Ennis arrived at the Lauchli residence on the designated date, Lauchli asked permission to search the agent for a Kel-Com set. Ennis drew his pistol and arrested the defendant. Shortly thereafter, several other Treasury Agents arrived with search warrants for both the Lauchli residence and the Lomax Machine Shop, located approximately seventy-five yards from the Lauchli residence. Two hundred seventy-seven Thompson submachine guns were found in the basement of defendant's home. Two white phosphorus rifle grenades were found in the Lomax Machine Shop and one hundred eighty-four submachine guns were found buried in a trash pile twenty-five yards behind the building.


Defendant contends that all convictions must be set aside as violative of his privilege against self-incrimination. Primary reliance is placed on Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 85, 88 S. Ct. 722, 19 L. Ed. 2d 923 (1968), which held that invocation of the privilege presented a complete defense to prosecutions under the National and Federal Firearms Acts then in effect. However, following that decision, Congress revised the Acts with the intention of eliminating the infirmities outlined in Haynes.*fn1 The Supreme Court in United States v. Freed, 401 U.S. 601, 91 S. Ct. 1112, 28 L. Ed. 2d 356 (1971), has recently approved certain provisions of the amended Acts. As noted by Mr. Justice Douglas in Freed, important changes in the statutory complex and in the mode of enforcement have occurred:

At the time of Haynes "only weapons used principally by persons engaged in unlawful activities would be subjected to taxation." Id., at 87, 88 S. Ct. at 725. Under the Act, as amended, all possessors of firearms as defined in the Act are covered, except the Federal Government. 26 U.S.C. Supp. V § 5841.

At the time of Haynes any possessor of a weapon included in the Act was compelled to disclose the fact of his possession by registration at any time he had acquired possession, a provision which we held meant that a possessor must furnish potentially incriminating information which the Federal Government made available to state, local, and other federal officials. Id., at 95-100, 88 S. Ct., at 729-732. Under the present Act only possessors who lawfully make, manufacture, or import firearms can and must register them; the transferee does not and cannot register. It is, however, unlawful for any person "to receive or possess a firearm which is not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record."

At the time of Haynes, as already noted, there was a provision for sharing the registration and transfer information with other law enforcement officials. Id., at 97-100, 88 S. Ct., at 730-732. The revised statute explicitly states that no information or evidence provided in compliance with the registration or transfer provisions of the Act can be used, directly or indirectly, as evidence against the registrant or applicant "in a criminal proceeding with respect to a violation of law occurring prior to or concurrently with the filing of the application or registration, or the compiling of the records containing the information or evidence." The scope of the privilege extends, of course, to the hazards of prosecution under state law for the same or similar offenses. See Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 84 S. Ct. 1489, 12 L. Ed. 2d 653; Marchetti v. United States, 390 U.S. 39, 54, 88 S. Ct. 697, 19 L. Ed. 2d 889. And the appellees, apparently fearful that the Act as written does not undertake to bar the use of federal filings in state prosecutions, urges that those risks are real in this case. It is said that California statutes punish the possession of grenades and that federal registration will incriminate appellees under that law.

The Solicitor General, however, represents to us that no information filed is as a matter of practice disclosed to any law enforcement authority, except as the fact of nonregistration may be necessary to an investigation or prosecution under the present Act [Footnotes omitted.] 401 ...

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