Attorney: New Milford gun dealer to close store after failing to register firearms

Photo of Peter Yankowski
A judge's gavel for the files.

A judge's gavel for the files.

Bjoern Wylezich / TNS

NEW MILFORD — A local firearms dealer has agreed to not challenge his license being revoked and was sentenced to five years of probation after federal authorities said he failed to properly register guns and record sales.

Jon Victor Benson, owner of The Freedom Shoppe in New Milford, will also be required to pay a $5,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Connecticut said Thursday.

The 62-year-old Benson previously pleaded guilty to one count of failure to maintain firearms records on Oct. 27, 2020.

According to the government’s sentencing memo, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was first alerted to Benson in July 2017. The ATF, in Burlington, Vt., was contacted by a federally-licensed firearms dealer who received an Extar firearm from Benson on behalf of a customer in Vermont, authorities said.

The dealer told the agency the gun appeared to violate the National Firearms Act, a law dating from the Great Depression that requires certain guns to be taxed and registered by the federal government.

The ATF examined the gun and determined it fell under the law’s “any other weapon” classification, meaning it should have been taxed and registered.

In December 2017, the agency began a compliance inspection of The Freedom Shoppe, according to the court filing, and discovered “parts” that were not properly marked with serial numbers or identifying information from Benson’s shop. He surrendered those parts to investigators, authorities said.

Benson later admitted to investigators “he had not kept a record of manufacture for any firearms converted from a pistol ... or any other firearms converted from a frame/receiver, as required for all licensed manufacturers,” the memo said.

He also did not register those firearms in the National Firearms Act registry “because he did not believe the firearms were subject to the purview of NFA,” the memo said.

Authorities also allege Benson “did not properly complete” firearms transaction forms when selling guns to customers.

As part of his plea agreement, Benson agreed to forfeit ownership of dozens of guns, including several military-style firearms and silencers.

In a memo submitted on behalf of Benson, Andrew Buzzi, his Danbury-based attorney, said his client “understands the gravity of his offense” and is closing the Freedom Shoppe and surrendering his license without protest.

The memo also included notes from Benson’s son, wife and customers attesting to his character.

Buzzi claimed Benson “fell behind” on his record keeping when a rental property required his attention.

“He has acknowledged his failure to keep up with record-keeping and agreed to close his business and surrender his license for his violations,” Buzzi said.