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U.S. company's bankruptcy leaves behind cache of weapons

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) - The Bankruptcy Court in Delaware may soon be overseeing what could be a legally dicey firesale - an apparent arsenal of Glock and Beretta handguns and other weapons.

Advanced Interactive Systems Inc of Seattle, which owns shooting ranges and trains security professionals, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday under Chapter 7, which means it is going out of business.

Its inventory included scores of firearms and parts, including the AR-15 rifle, similar to the one used in the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre in December.

It was unclear how many guns the company actually held. At least 15 guns were listed in the safe of the company's Melbourne, Florida, location. In addition, there were scores of entries for gun parts, from barrels to triggers. The company noted that in its rush to file for bankruptcy its records may be incomplete.

It was also unclear whether the weapons were for use in simulated training or whether they could be used with live ammunition.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies are fairly routine operations. A trustee is appointed and liquidators are brought in to auction everything from factories to chairs and computers. But selling the weapons will likely be anything but routine.

According to Brad Sandler, a Wilmington bankruptcy attorney with Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, the trustee could be liable if a buyer were to turn around and go on a shooting rampage.

Sandler received approval from the Delaware Bankruptcy Court last year to sell a handgun that was owned by Christopher Tigani, a Delaware liquor distributor who filed for Chapter 7.

Sandler was the attorney for Alfred Giuliano, the trustee in the Tigani case. Giuliano ended up arranging a sale to a licensed gun dealer and asked the court to skip an open auction, which is format often used to get the best price.

Sandler also said the trustee assigned to Advanced Interactive may consider selling the business as an ongoing operation as one way to skirt the tricky issue of liability for the gun sales.

Most of the company's common stock was held by a unit of Sciens Capital Management, a private equity firm that is a major investor in Colt Defense, one of the world's top gun makers.

Messages left with Advanced Interactive Systems offices in Seattle and Orlando were not immediately returned. Jason Madron, an attorney with Richards Layton & Finger, which filed the bankruptcy, did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Steven Kalman, who is listed as the president on the company website, said he left a year ago and could not comment on the company or its inventory.

The case is Advanced Interactive Systems Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 13-10517.

(Reporting By Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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