Max Motors targeted by ATF, banks and General Motors
Missouri car dealer Mark Muller, owner of Max Motors.
Despite the White House harassment, and the loss of financing and insurance arrangements that came in the past, the Butler, Mo., car dealer who will be giving away AK-47’s again starting in October.
“Guess what? We are doing it again! It is the Fourth Annual Great Guns and Gas Give-Away!” said Mark Muller, the owner of Max Motors, whose July 17, 2009 interview with CNN’s Carol Costello about his promotion was great publicity, but brought him unwelcome attention.
Within days of the CNN broadcast, three agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived at the dealership, he said.
“I was not there, they identified themselves and asked who was in-charge, and everybody pointed at each other,” he said.
Undeterred, the agents demanded to see the guns, he said. When it was explained that there were no actual guns, and that the promotion was really for vouchers towards the purchase of an AK-47, the agents did not believe it.
“There was an empty gun box here from a gun dealer in North Carolina, and they took that and demanded to see the gun that came with that box,” he said. The agents also went into storage rooms and took photos.
The next day, Muller received a call from the ATF asking him to come in for a meeting with all of his personal guns, which they insisted they had to authority to order, he said. Muller held his ground and refused to submit to the audit without first going through due process.
“The ATF people were just as nice as can be. They were not mean or hateful—and finally I asked the lady on the phone: Don’t you have something better to do?” he said. He then re-explained that there were vouchers for guns and that no guns were being given away.
“She said: ‘Let me tell you how important this is, the White House started their morning with a briefing on you. We got a call from Washington, D.C. this morning. They wanted you checked out,” he said.
“That’s your big government in action. I’m a guy exercising his constitutional rights and I’m such a threat to security that the White House has to check in on me?” he said.
At the end of his conversation with the ATF agent, she threatened to raid his house to audit his personal firearms, but it never happened, Muller said.
In addition to the government, Muller said his business relationships also suffered.
“First National Bank of Kansas called and said they did not appreciate the promotion. We were cancelled instantly. ‘Never send us more paperwork: You’re done,’” he said. This was the end of three-year relationship.
“The bank told me was political: ‘What you’re doing is irresponsible—and we don’t ever want to do business with anyone like you ever again,’” he said.
“I had another business in the next county north of me here, and I got another cease and desist letter from the insurance company in Harrisonville saying they are cancelling all of my insurance immediately,” he said. “That was for a business that didn’t even involve Max Motors.”
The state of Missouri also got in on the act, he said.
“The Missouri Department of Revenue came down on Max Motors for some very petty stuff and threatened to shut me down,” he said.
“When I asked the agent if this had anything to do with my gun promotion he just smiled big and said what promotion?” he said. “He was a real jerk and this also stinks of Big Government.”
The most serious action came in a letter from Detroit, he said.
“The factory rep walked in and had a letter that said: Do to the gunning of the Jewish community center in California by a right-wing extremist,” he said. The letter directed Muller to cease and desist the AK-47 promotion immediately or General Motors, the parent of Chevrolet, Buick, GMAC and Cadillac, would revoke his dealer agreement.
When Muller asked the factory rep to see the letter, which was addressed to him and signed by then-GM Vice-Chairman and Senior Advisor Robert A. Luntz, the rep refused to hand it to him. “She said: I can’t give it to you.” But, holding it firmly, the rep allowed Muller to read it himself.
“I got Ford, Dodge, Chevy, Jeep, Buick, GMC and was Cadillac,” he said. “They took Cadillac away from me, but now they are going to give it back to me.”
Coming up in October when he brings the promotion back, Muller said he is undeterred.
“I got a great picture of an AK-47 in the newspaper. I am doing it at the Ford dealership, but I am advertising in the paper where I have my Chevy dealership, so when GM complains, I’ll ask ‘em: So, now you’re telling me what I can do at the Ford store? I tell them: I understand that Government Motors is an all-encompassing thing, but don’t you think that is a little strong?”