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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

McKeesport Gun Store and Owner Sentenced

PITTSBURGH – Erik David Lowry, a resident of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to 30 months of incarceration on his conviction for illegal firearms possession, tampering with evidence, and tampering with a witness, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms, the gun store owned and operated by Lowry, was also sentenced for illegally selling firearms, United States Attorney Brady announced.

Lowry, age 38, of McKeesport, PA, and Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms (originally incorporated as Renaissance Electric, LLC), were both sentenced on January 10, 2018 by United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

According to information presented to the court, ATF Industry Operations (IO) employees perform standard inspections of all gun dealers to ensure that federal laws are being followed. Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) inspections of this type reveal that the majority of gun dealers diligently ensure that firearms are sold to law-abiding citizens, thereby enhancing the safety of the public. A January 11 through 19, 2016, IO inspection of Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms (PTF), owned and operated by defendant Erik David Lowry, noted numerous significant and clear violations of law-- including 27 guns located in the store’s gun rack which Lowry called “cash and carry” and was willing to sell without completing any paperwork. ATF Special Agents followed up and that in-depth investigation determined that Lowry and PTF had been illegally selling and acquiring over 100 “cash and carry,” “cash out the door,” or “turn and burn” firearms “off books” at his store and through gun shows between 2014 and January 19, 2016. That is, neither Lowry nor PTF completed the required paperwork for either the acquisition or disposition of these firearms. The investigation also located firearms transactions that were made: without any required background checks being performed; to a prohibited person with a criminal record who was previously denied the ability to purchase a firearm by a background check at PTF; to a prohibited person with a prior mental health commitment (who was denied the ability to purchase a firearm by two other gun dealers who actually did perform the required background check); and by knowingly using false information on paperwork that had been completed. Some of these transactions involved military-style weapons and the ATF has expended significant resources attempting to locate and recover these illegally sold firearms.

Further, Lowry acquired a “destructive device,” specifically a Penn Arms Striker 12 military-style 12-gauge weapon with a drum magazine, not suitable for sporting purposes, and bearing serial number 11170, which, like a machinegun, silencer, grenade, rocket, or landmine must be specifically registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, but was not. Lowry acquired it in the summer of 2015 and disguised that fact until it was located by the ATF on January 19, 2016. As the investigation proceeded, Lowry attempted to conceal his actions by contacting multiple people to have them hide or destroy the unregistered Striker 12 by throwing it in a dumpster, in order to, he said, avoid federal prison.

As these attempts failed, Lowry contacted the previous Striker 12 owner and created a false story about the date, time and manner of the acquisition, which he and the prior owner both provided to ATF.

United States District Judge Schwab imposed a 30-month period of incarceration on Lowry, along with a $30,000 fine, and ordered that Lowry be supervised by the United States Probation Office for a period of three years after he is released from federal prison. The corporation’s conviction means that Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms is no longer legally permitted to possess or sell firearms and Judge Schwab ordered that Lowry notify the Court of the corporation’s dissolution as soon as that is complete.

Assistant United States Attorney Ross E. Lenhardt, a federal prosecutor with the Violent Crime Section of the Office of the United States Attorney, represented the federal government.

U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady commended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), including their Industry Operations investigators, and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, for the investigation that led to the prosecution of Erik David Lowry and his gun store, Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms.

This case is being prosecuted under Project Safe Neighborhoods, a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent, deter, and prosecute gun crimes.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated January 10, 2018