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The Case of Mark Lancaster  by Blake M. Wylie

The Case of Mark Lancaster

By Blake M. Wylie
blake@nashvillefiles.com

May 30, 2003

KeepAndBearArms.com -- On January 8, 2003 the BATF conducted a search at the residence of Mark S. Lancaster in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee (located just outside of Nashville). Lancaster was arrested after they found several machine guns that had been assembled from parts kits (mainly WWII era). That was all...nothing more. He had not been selling these machine guns, using them in a crime, and he had not been involved with drugs or terrorism. He simply had them in his home. 

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Can anyone among us honestly say that an automatic rifle is not an "arm"? Dare anyone imply that imprisoning a man in possession of said "arms" and stealing his property does not qualify as an "infringement"?

BATF has no constitutional authority whatsoever to so violate this man's right to keep and bear arms unless he's shown clear criminal intent to violate the rights of others. Period. Let us hope the Supreme Court resolves this thuggery soon -- patriots' patience has long worn thin.

The BATF had been tipped off about these guns after several of Lancaster’s coworkers had conspired to turn him in to get rid of him. An anonymous tipster (the affidavit* said there was an anonymous tipster as well as three confidential sources) had called in and made several false statements saying he was mentally unstable, manic depressive, that he had explosives, etc.

*For all documents related to Lancaster’s case, go here: http://www.nashvillefiles.com/blake/lancaster/ 

Did I mention that Mark was a music minister at a Baptist church? Yes, it turns out that several of the other ministers wanted to get rid of him because he was opposing the passage of a budget in the church, and they knew he had supposedly "illegal" guns. 

After his arrest, Lancaster spent two weeks at a Federal detention center in Kentucky before being released on bond. His family has suffered, he has suffered, and his friends have suffered (and all of this also caused a subsequent split in the church since the leadership had actively sought to get rid of him and then tried to cover it up). 

At a recent suppression hearing, it was learned that the second confidential source had been the anonymous tipster and it was proven that the tipster had lied (saying that Lancaster was mentally unstable, etc). It was also learned that the anonymous tipster got all of his information from another one of the confidential sources. This would seem to discredit the first two confidential sources. The third, however, provided most of the information, but it was also learned that the second confidential source was in the room during the questioning and by the admission of the third confidential source and he was threatened with jail time unless he told the BATF everything he knew (sounds almost like government tactics that existed in Germany many years ago). The judge ruled in favor of the government, and the search warrant remained intact. 

Over the past 70 years, we have slowly been desensitized to the whole gun issue. It's like boiling a frog...you keep him in the pot, and slowly turn up the heat. Before he knows it, he's been cooked! The NRA has unfortunately taken this route as they won't touch most issues like this one. However, organizations like KeepAndBearArms.com seems to take the no-compromise stance when dealing with 2nd Amendment issues. How plain can you be when you say "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall NOT be infringed." The government, wielding unlimited power, can now do anything they wish. How long before we have soldiers with sub-machine guns in our streets, and what can the people do with mere hunting rifles or shotguns when the government decides to abuse its power? The idea of the Founding Fathers was that the people had the same weaponry as the government...to keep it in check. Isn't that a novel idea?

What about the local gun community? What do they think of this case? Their stance seems to be that as long as the government is leaving them alone, then they don't care. However, the more you feed the giant, the bigger it will get. They don't understand this....they're just frogs sitting in the pot as the water slowly gets hotter getting closer to the boiling point. 

Currently, Lancaster’s jury trial is set for June 10 at the US Court House in Nashville, Tennessee under Chief Judge Robert Echols (Courtroom 874); however, the US Attorney on the case has not given Lancaster’s attorney the time of day up until this point. No offers have been made yet, and even the time of trial has not been given to Lancaster. Lancaster and his lawyer were supposed to meet with the US Attorney and BATF Agent (Agent Hand) on May 13, but they were stood up as the BATF agent had other business that came up. 

Lancaster’s lawyer is a Federal Criminal Defense lawyer, but he has had no experience in firearms related cases. The Grand Jury Indictment (*found with the other legal documents) lists four counts against Lancaster (who, by the way, has no prior convictions): One count of possession of NFA firearms (machine guns), one count of knowingly engaging in a business as a manufacturer of NFA firearms, one count of possessing NFA firearms without paying the special occupational tax required for the business, and another possession of NFA firearms charge. The indictment states that he had 15 machine guns, but it was apparently also counting guns that didn’t work and/or weren’t even put together. The charge of “engaging in a business as a manufacturer” shouldn’t even have any bearing as he did not sell these firearms. They simply were in a locked closet in his home.

Lancaster would like to fight this on 2nd Amendment grounds, but he really has no real support outside of his friends. We as a community need to support him. This is one of the few cases in which a person was in possession of machine guns and was involved with no other crimes. Many of us believe that the machine gun ban is unconstitutional. This case, if done right, can go a long way in making right this wrong. Could this case along with the Silveira v. Lockyer case be the one-two punch that is needed to get rid of the infringements upon our Constitutional right? Only time will tell.

If you would like to offer your support, you can email me at blake@nashvillefiles.com, and you can also send encouraging messages to him at his family’s email address at JLancas477@aol.com. A friend of the family also setup a website at http://www.freemarklancaster.com where you can make donations. Legal support is needed also, so if you can help out there, please contact me. 

*Legal documents related to this case can be found at http://www.nashvillefiles.com/blake/lancaster/

 

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