BATF--Screwup or Harrassment?


August 1, 2003, 12:23 AM
I got a certified letter today. It informed me that the 4473 I filled out at Wal-Mart when I bought a 10/22 was incomplete.

I was pretty skeptical--I have friends in the business and I've heard the horror stories, so I'm overly cautious when I fill them out.

Anyway, after about 15-30 minutes of waiting at the sporting goods counter for the proper manager to be found and bring the form, she showed up.

She pulled out the BATF squawk sheet and it said something about question 19 which is on the dealer portion of the form. The BATF had dinged them for failing to answer a question about the NICS check.

Of COURSE they hadn't answered it, they hadn't done an NICS check, I've got a TX CHL permit which bypasses the NICS. Which was stated as plain as day in the NEXT line of the form.

The manager stated that the BATF had come and and run them ragged auditing the books and wrote up a ton of infractions, mostly nitnoid "errors" or minor incompletions (such as failures to write out words and using common abbreviations instead) on the 4473 forms.

I can't see how it is possible that the BATF auditor didn't see that I had a CHL--the very next portion of the form (from where he found his "error") stated clearly that I had a CHL and listed the permit number.

It sounds to me like they're trying to shut down Wal-Mart gun sales by picking them to death with BS "infractions."

Your take?

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August 1, 2003, 12:52 AM
I know very little about the ATF. I do know that I don't want anything to do with them and I feel that what ever good they do is certainly overshadowed by their abuse of power. If I had to bet one way or another I would bet that your not too far from the truth.

4v50 Gary
August 1, 2003, 01:00 AM
They dinged Walmart out of the gun bizness in CA. Guess they're going for another state. :(

August 1, 2003, 01:12 AM
ATF is a rogue organization that should be abolished.

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
August 1, 2003, 01:16 AM
Maybe my usual shop is using old forms, but I don't recall seeing anything about NICS on their 4473's. I have a TX CHL, so I don't have to play that particular hide and seek game.

I think the whole thing stinks of ruminant excrement, though, but that's just the radical Jeffersonian libertarian in me.


August 1, 2003, 01:57 AM

She actually mentioned CA and connected that with the problems they're having in TX.


That question isn't on the page the customer fills out. It's on the dealer portion of the form.

August 1, 2003, 07:34 AM
So, why are they sending you a certified letter, if the alleged mistake is on the dealer portion of the 4473? Did they request any particular remedial action on your part, or the dealer? Did they threaten legal proescution? A certified letter is often a signal that other enforcement actions are to follow (i.e., IRS liens); why would the agent waste resources sending such a notice?

Is the letter signed by an actual person? You might consider replying with your own certified/return receipt requested response, concisely pointing up the apparent waste of tax dollars; make extensive use of the word "harassment" the agent is engaging in. Better yet, if you can obtain the names of the higher supervisors in the local office, as well as the supervisors in the Dept. of Justice chain of command, send them certified letters as well. Depends on how much effort you want to spend on it. How about sending a copies to the local newspapers?

There are those (some on this board) who take a rather pedantic view of laws and rules. I'm surprised they haven't weighed in yet...their claptrap is something like:

"The 4473 form clearly states NO ABBREVIATIONS are to be used! Anyone who willfully uses abbreviations, is obviously in violation, and has no excuse...the helpful BATF agents are just enforcing the law, after all. Violators deserve to be prosecuted. The good FFL holders spend a lot of time and effort to not use abbreviations, and those who take shortcuts give everyone a bad name!"

Sorry to digress, but IMO, this anal-retentive attitude permeates agencies like BATF, is a waste of our tax dollars, and not consistent with any positive mission the agency may lay claim to. When a responsible citizen is confronted with such an example of this, it might be worth rattling a few cages in bureaucrat land, to maybe "embarass" them into actually doing something worthwhile for a change (if that is possible...not much else seems to work).

August 1, 2003, 08:06 AM
Yes! Brilliant advice. I can just see it now. JohnKSa sitting in his recliner minding his own business watching some future Monday night football game and in come 30 bATFe agents busting down his door and hauling his whole family away in cuffs to be dealt with another day.

IMO, resist the urge to be nasty with them. I know that it is a shame to fear things such as this but you have to pick your battles.


August 1, 2003, 08:24 AM
Can anyone spell "police state" ?

August 1, 2003, 10:10 AM
They dinged Walmart out of the gun bizness in CA. Guess they're going for another state.

Actually, it was the California Dept of Justice that did that, not the BATF.

August 1, 2003, 10:23 AM
Many times, I believe that someone is bored, and finds an easy mark, instead of working to get a real criminal. Lazieness, and chalk it up to that.

I have to agree, choose your own battles.

I have a friend who was denied on a nics check, and did some work to help him get his record cleared up. ( they had the wrong info on his record, a couple of misd stuff that was entered wrong). You get a long way with being nice, than trying to fight them right off the bat.

Gordon Fink
August 1, 2003, 11:31 AM
Did the store write “CHL 123456” instead of “Concealed Handgun License number 123456” for the NICS exemption?

~G. Fink

4v50 Gary
August 1, 2003, 11:47 AM
Thanks for the correction EOD Guy.

carp killer
August 1, 2003, 11:53 AM
Actually, it was the California Dept of Justice that did that, not the BATF.

Why? What's the purpose?

August 1, 2003, 12:31 PM
This is what happens when bureaucrats are given too much power and self importance. These people are more deadly with their memos then they are with any weapons.

August 1, 2003, 12:33 PM

Gordon Fink
August 1, 2003, 03:09 PM
John, now that I think about it, why would your CHL exempt you from a federally mandated NICS check? Maybe the store just screwed up.…

~G. Fink

August 1, 2003, 03:23 PM
Because you had a much more extensive check done when you got your CHL... at least that is the reasoning in Texas.

August 1, 2003, 03:44 PM
One of the best reasons to have a CHL is so you don't have to go through the damned NICS check and get "delayed" two or three days.


Gordon Fink
August 1, 2003, 04:02 PM
So the federal government will let you off the hook for NICS on Texas’s say-so? It would make sense for CHL holders to be exempted from a state-mandated waiting period—as most NICS checks can be accomplished in only a few minutes, if I’m not mistaken—but how would a state license exempt the permit holder from federal law?

~G. Fink

Standing Wolf
August 1, 2003, 04:20 PM
It's so good to see our hard-earned tax dollars at play!

August 1, 2003, 06:35 PM
That's just the way the federal law is written. State CHL holders are exempt from NICs.


Gordon Fink
August 1, 2003, 06:59 PM
Surprising … in a good way. :D

~G. Fink

August 1, 2003, 07:17 PM
It is surprising, but it makes a lot of sense to exempt Texas CHL holders from the NICS. Applicants must undergo a much more thorough background check and even send fingerprints and photos to the Texas DPS and the FBI.


Gordon Fink
August 1, 2003, 07:25 PM
I’m sure they do, but the federal Department of Justice doesn’t know that the CHL holder hasn’t become a felon, mentally incompetent, or subject to a restraining order since he qualified for the CHL.

~G. Fink

August 1, 2003, 08:01 PM
I hate filling out those Forms (I work at Wal-Mart.. hardware but sometimes i have to run to sporting goods to do one cause no one around knows how)

Its SO easy to accidently leave something out. I.E. the County!

Or look over when someone puts Rd. or St. instead of the actual word.

Esp. since I don't do it everyday..

My small revenge is I am not typical when i call the Nics line.. I try to usually make the people laugh.. or flirt or etc. Cause its buisness as usual and i know they get tired of asking the same questions in a monotone voice all day long

August 1, 2003, 09:22 PM
The letter was from Wal-Mart, and, if there is any harrassment, it's Wal-Mart being harrassed, not me. I didn't mean to imply that I felt I was harrassed, although I was a little put out about driving over there only to find it was their error.

As pointed out, the error was on the portion of the form Wal-Mart was to fill out. The Wal-Mart employee who got tasked with fixing the "errors" isn't the brightest person I've run into, and is a little freaked out about the whole thing. I think she just wrote letters to everyone who had a form that got dinged, without even looking at them to see what the problem was.

I can't remember if they spelled out CHL or wrote it out. I believe it was written out, but I wouldn't swear to it.

As for the abbreviation thing, I'm not talking about abbreviating street or place names, I'm talking about getting dinged for putting N/A instead of Not Applicable. BTW, the form actually uses "N/A" as an option for one of the questions IIRC.

The DOJ shut down the Wal-Marts in CA, but on who's recommendation? Did the DOJ audit the paperwork? I suspect that the BATF did the audit, found errors and turned the results over to the DOJ.

As pointed out, the TX CHL requires a state AND federal background check. Each time the license is renewed (every 4 years) these checks are performed again. TX DPS pays pretty close attention to the CHL records. It wouldn't surprise me to have them show up on the doorstep to retrieve it (or at least send you a notice to turn it in) if you did something that disqualified you from continuing to hold one. In fact, they'd probably confiscate it on the scene of the offense.

August 2, 2003, 12:30 AM
"Weep for the Republic " - Jerry Pournelle

August 2, 2003, 12:39 AM
"Your take?"

Sounds to me like Walmart had best make sure that they completely fill out the forms they submit to the feds.

(The one's which probably (I'd bet) come with instructions to completely fill out the required information, lest the seller come under closer scrutiny than they would prefer.)

August 2, 2003, 12:53 AM

My form WAS filled out properly. Even so, the auditing agent tagged it as a problem.

I should have put the word "error" in quotes in my last post to indicate that. Wal-Mart was told the form was filled out wrong, but the auditing agent was either mistaken, or just trying to yank their chain.

According to the Wal-Mart employee, I was the first of nearly 100 people to come in to fix forms. Now, it's certainly possible that there are that many forms that have errors, but I think it's a bit unlikely. Especially considering that the form of first person to report (me) was not improperly filled out at all.

August 2, 2003, 01:25 AM
I’m sure they do, but the federal Department of Justice doesn’t know that the CHL holder hasn’t become a felon, mentally incompetent, or subject to a restraining order since he qualified for the CHL.

If one is guilty of any of these infractions the state pulls your CHL post haste. I'm sure they check to make sure it's still current.


Gordon Fink
August 2, 2003, 01:32 AM
I’ll take y’all’s word for it, but I also have to agree with Orthonym’s sentiment.

~G. Fink

Byron Quick
August 2, 2003, 01:02 PM
They're known as F Troop for very, good reasons. Basically, the ones who aren't vindictive are usually incompetent.

Brad Johnson
August 3, 2003, 08:13 PM
Some ATF auditors come in from out-of-state offices to help with local audits. Since they are unaware of the TX CHL vs NICS exclusion they automatically write up the form as incomplete. I saw one almost go into mental meltdown one day at a local shop when a customer and CHL holder picked up his new purchase and began to walkout with it (the ATF was conducting an on-site audit that day). I firmly believe that if one of the local ATF agents had not intervened, this out-of-state clown would have shot the poor customer out of sheer ignorance.

Excuse my typing & stuff. I had surgery on my arm Thurs and am doing this left-handed.


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