Michael Koenigs @MikeOnABikeABC reports on Colorado gun shop owner Mel Bernstein who casually known as the “most armed man in America” after acquiring thousands of high-powered weapons, bazookas and machine guns.
His firearms collection dwarfs the number of guns — 47 — allegedly found in the Las Vegas hotel suite and two homes of mass shooter Stephen Paddock, for instance, but the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is unable to confirm whether Bernstein has amassed more weapons than any other U. S. gun owner.
“ATF cannot quantify who possesses the most firearms in America because there is no database to reference this information,” an ATF representative wrote in response to an inquiry from ABC News. “A firearm registry or database of individuals who own firearms regulated under the Gun Control Act (GCA) does not exist.”
Bernstein says he has amassed over 4,000 weapons at his Colorado Springs compound, where he also keeps military-style vehicles. The weapons are registered in his name, he says, and he also rents and sells machine guns to his customers.
His gun shop, six shooting ranges, military museum, paintball park, motorcross park and home are located on the 260-acre property known as Dragonland.
“We’ve been selling more guns in the last three weeks than we have in the last eight months,” Bernstein said of his firearms shop called Dragonmans.
As for gun ownership in general, about 3 percent of Americans own about half the country’s 265 million guns, according to a 2016 Harvard-Northeastern survey. Such “super owners” possess an average of 17 guns each, and an estimated 133 million guns in total.
“If anybody comes on your property and threatens you with bodily harm, it’s legal to shoot them, [according to] Colorado law,” Bernstein said as he drove toward his one-story house in which he keeps M-16 machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and multiple handguns around his bed.
In August, four people used Bernstein’s truck to smash into the Dragonmans gun store and steal 84 guns, police said. Federal authorities have since arrested four suspects, including his stepdaughter and step-grandson, who now face felony charges in connection to the theft of firearms from a federal firearms licensee. They have not entered pleas.
In 2012, his wife, Terry Flanell, 51, was accidentally killed by a smoke bomb on the property while filming a reality-TV pilot for the Discovery Channel.
Now, his home — decorated with jukeboxes, vintage Cola-Cola memorabilia and model cars — reminds him of a bygone era.
Bernstein also keeps four female mannequins at the home. “I need someone to talk to, to tell them my problems,” Bernstein said.
He added: “This whole house fixed up like this puts me back in my era, back in the sixties where I belong.”
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