BOISE — Steven W. Clyne, 70, of Meridian, Idaho, was sentenced yesterday to 27 months in federal prison for dealing firearms without a license and making false statements when purchasing firearms, Acting United States Attorney Rafael Gonzalez announced. Clyne was convicted by a federal jury at trial in March of this year.
Federal law establishes a system designed to prevent guns from falling into the hands of felons and others who cannot legally possess firearms. When a person is engaged in the business of dealing firearms, meaning essentially that the person’s principal objective of selling firearms is for livelihood and profit, then they must obtain a federal firearms license. They also may not sell firearms without first requiring the purchaser to show photo identification, certify that he is the actual buyer, complete a form certifying that he is not prohibited from possessing firearms, and then complete a background check to ensure he is not prohibited.
Clyne violated federal law by engaging in the business of dealing firearms without a license to do so, and without following requirements such as conducting background checks. Ultimately, some firearms that Clyne sold ended up at crime scenes and in the hands of dangerous criminals in Idaho, California, and other locations.
According to evidence presented at trial, Clyne purchased hundreds of firearms from licensed firearm dealers and then resold those same firearms to others for an increased price at area gun shows from January 2013 until November 12, 2015. Each time Clyne purchased the firearms from local gun stores, he completed paperwork certifying that he was the actual buyer of the firearms. Each form also specifically notified Clyne that “the repetitive purchase of firearms for the purpose of resale for livelihood and profit without a Federal firearms license is a violation of Federal law.” The federal jury that found Clyne guilty concluded that he willfully committed the crime knowing that his conduct was unlawful.
After learning that guns purchased by Clyne were found at numerous crimes scenes, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began to investigate Clyne. During the investigation, undercover agents purchased numerous firearms from Clyne at Treasure Valley gun shows. On one occasion, an agent telephoned Clyne and asked to purchase two handguns. Clyne agreed to sell the handguns and told the agent he would purchase the handguns later that same day. When Clyne purchased the handguns from the licensed firearm dealer, he falsely stated that he was the actual buyer of the handguns knowing that he was actually acquiring the handguns on behalf of another person.
On November 12, 2015, ATF agents searched Clyne’s residence pursuant to a federal search warrant. Agents found approximately 30 firearms and other items showing Clyne was selling firearms for livelihood and profit. Clyne admitted to agents that he purchased firearms, increased the prices, and then resold the firearms.
At sentencing, the government presented evidence that at least 10 firearms sold by Clyne were later recovered at crimes scenes or in the hands of dangerous criminals. Police in Modesto, California, found one of the guns at the scene of a murder. The man in possession of the gun was murdered during a botched drug deal. Another gun initially purchased and then resold by Clyne was found in Los Angeles, California, in the possession of a registered sex offender. Police recovered the gun along with child pornography and components used to make a destructive device. Police recovered at least three other firearms linked to Clyne in California and another was found in Phoenix, Arizona. Other firearms purchased by Clyne were recovered in Idaho including two found in Nampa and another near Twin Falls. Those firearms were recovered from convicted felons who were also trafficking methamphetamine.
During sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill found that the number of firearms involved in the offense was in excess of 200 and was probably closer to 400. Judge Winmill also concluded that Clyne had not accepted responsibility. In fashioning his sentence, Judge Winmill took into account Clyne’s age of 70 years old and his accompanying health conditions. Clyne will self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons when notified to do so.
“In his pursuit of money, Steven Clyne willfully disregarded federal law knowing that certain people would pay a premium for not having to complete paperwork and a background check,” said Gonzalez. “This case is an unfortunate example of what happens when someone violates those federal firearms laws.”
“The illicit trafficking in Firearms remains ATF's highest national priority. Mr. Clyne's willingness to operate outside the law, directly put his fellow Americans at risk,” said Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Darek Pleasants.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of Idaho