Former Pittsburgh gun store owner gets 30 months on weapons charges

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Erik Lowry, 38, pleaded guilty last June to selling guns through his shop, Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms, without the proper paperwork and illegal possession of a destructive device. (Photo: KRMG)

A one-time western Pennsylvania gun shop owner was sentenced in federal court this week over improper records on numerous transactions and mishandling an unregistered National Firearms Act item.

Erik David Lowry, owner of the now-defunct Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms in McKeesport, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and assessed a $30,000 fine for felony witness and evidence tampering and owning a shotgun classified under the NFA as a destructive device without supporting documentation.

According to court documents, 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.

As for Lowry personally, 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, who entered a guilty plea on the charges last summer, was facing as much as 55 years in prison as well as fines topping $1.25 million. In addressing the court prior to sentencing, Justin McShane, Lowry’s attorney, noted his client had cooperated with the ATF since his indictment and taken full responsibility for his actions.

“Simply put, he did improper and illegal acts,” said McShane. “He was caught during a routine audit conducted by the ATF Industry Operations. He takes ownership for it.”

In addition to prison time and fines, Lowry faces three years of supervised release.

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