Pittsburgh gun store owner pleads guilty to host of weapons charges

Erik Lowry plead guilty to selling guns through his shop, Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms, without the proper paperwork and illegal possession of a destructive device (Photo: KRMG)

Erik Lowry plead guilty to selling guns through his shop, Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms, without the proper paperwork and illegal possession of a destructive device. (Photo: KRMG)

A western Pennsylvania gun shop owner entered a guilty plea Tuesday over improper records on numerous transactions and mishandling of an unregistered National Firearms Act item.

Erik David Lowry, owner of the now-closed Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms in McKeesport, plead guilty in federal court for felony witness and evidence tampering and owning a shotgun classified under the NFA as a destructive device without supporting documentation. He also plead to charges that his shop failed in its duty as a federally-licensed dealer to keep proper records on gun sales.

Indicted in March, court documents hold that from early 2014 until January 2017, the store sold and delivered over 100 firearms without completing any of the required federal paperwork for such sales. In a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office, these weapons were described by Lowry as “cash and carry,” “cash out the door,” or “turn and burn” firearms “off books” with officials cataloging 27 guns so classified on the store’s racks during one visit alone.

Investigators found the store had sold guns without a background check including one to a prohibited possessor with a prior mental health commitment, and another to a buyer who had previously failed a background check at the store due to a criminal record.

“Some of these transactions involved military-style weapons and the ATF has expended significant resources attempting to locate and recover these illegally sold firearms,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song’s office.

As for Lowry himself, he possessed for several months in 2016 a Penn Arms Striker 12-gauge destructive device that was not registered and, to keep the ATF from investigating the specialty weapon, asked several people at the shop to remove the gun from the safe and throw it in a dumpster to “avoid federal prison.”

Lowry’s sentencing is set for October before District Judge Arthur J. Schwab, where the former gun store owner faces as much as 55 years in prison as well as fines topping $1.25 million.

Court records show that Lowry is currently free on a $50,000 bond.