What if the ATF comes to your house?


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Extremely Pro Gun
September 29, 2009, 10:36 PM
I have wondered what I would do if the ATF came to "see" my newly purchased guns. :uhoh:

Should I tell them I sold them? Or lost them? or just comply?

What would yall do?

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N003k
September 29, 2009, 10:42 PM
Depends.....are you an FFL?

How does it FEEL?

What excuse do they give?

Do they have a warrant?

Odds are, I'd ask them to wait outside, call the local PD to make sure they're legit, then, since my father has a C&R, I wouldn't have overly much of a choice I don't believe....Be doing a quick search to double check that before they come in though...

bigfatdave
September 29, 2009, 10:45 PM
If there's no warrant, they had better be pretty damn polite asking, and I'll be polite declining.

I highly doubt the ATF (or a real LE agency) really cares about any citizen's arsenal, it isn't high on my list of priorities.

Extremely Pro Gun
September 29, 2009, 10:47 PM
well i was wondering if i had the right to not comply and tell them to leave. I guess so.

N003k
September 29, 2009, 10:55 PM
Well, yes, unless they have a warrant or you have an FFL.....you can say "No thanks, cya around!"

Extremely Pro Gun
September 29, 2009, 11:02 PM
I dont have an FFL :D

I actually heard about them coming to peoples residences in Texas after they make a purchase of ARs or AKs. I think its because the BS in mexico and cartels.

Spirit 1
September 29, 2009, 11:07 PM
I would guess, and that's a guess, that unless a rather serious crime was committed or they had gotten a 'hot tip' that the chances of ATF ever planning a warrantless search are slim in the extreme.

Personally, should it ever happen, I would certainly ask if they have a warrant, and if not, "Have a nice day, folks..." and close the door.

If they did have a warrant for a search then it's good to remain civil and cooperate at least to a limited extent otherwise you'll be getting three hots & a cot for a while, possiby a very long while.

I have heard of a local getting busted real hard because of a LE tip by his ex-wife. She provided no proof other than a personal statement. I also heard the charges were later dropped but not before some long jail time.

mljdeckard
September 29, 2009, 11:07 PM
This doesn't need to be hypothetical. Members have posted threads where it has happened. Particularly when they purchased more than one military-style rifle the same day and BATFE wanted to make sure that they weren't selling them in Mexico.

Here's the long and short of it. They need a warrant. In coming to your house WITHOUT a warrant, they are HOPING that you will surrender your right to privacy and let them in anyway. They can do anything they want to to convince you that this is a good idea. If they had probable cause to get a warrant, they wouldn't show up without it. Do you work hard for your money? DON'T GIVE THEM A FREE LUNCH.

I had a business partner who was visited by a federal agency. They said that someone he had sold something to was involved in child pornography and they needed to get a copy of his hard drive to make sure that he wasn't also involved. He fell all over himself to show them everything. It smelled fishy to me, and I told him so. When I later had some joint training with some people who worked for this agency, I heard them discussing a related matter, so I brought it up to them. They looked at each other and giggled. The explained to me that if you want to get ANYONE to forget all about that annoying little warrant, drop the kiddie porn accusation. All you have to do is HINT that they are involved in trafficking child pornography and they instantly become more worried about their image than their rights. They said if it's failed they haven't seen it yet. They are allowed to lie, threaten, and coerce to try to make you forget that to go into a home you need a warrant, exigency, or permission. If you don't have a warrant, and there is no exigency, time to get some permission.

There will be those in here who will say; "Just let them in and show them the guns. What can it hurt?" It sounds like a great idea until they come in and look in your safe, and see an SKS that has been modified.

"Hey. I don't think that SKS is is compliant with 922r."

"But the guys on The High Road told me it was if I did it this way."

"So you admit that it was YOU that did the modifications. You didn't buy it that way. I'm calling the judge to ask for a warrant to search all of your guns, bank records, and internet logs to see who you have been doing gun business with."

"But that's not correct. The gun is compliant. There's a carbon smudge over the "Tapco U.S.A. stamp."

"I can't see it. Please don't touch anything while I'm on the phone."

.............NOW does it sound like a good idea?

Eightball
September 29, 2009, 11:29 PM
I'd ask to see their warrant. No one in my dwelling has a C&R or other FFL, so they'd a warrant to enter the premises. I'd also probably check their credentials, and call the local LEA to make sure, but still deny them entry until that piece of paper manifests itself.

jon_in_wv
September 29, 2009, 11:35 PM
I would politely decline without the presence of a warrant. I'm not a criminal and I have no intention of PROVING to them that I'm not.

mp510
September 29, 2009, 11:41 PM
Whatever you do, DON'T LIE. Generally you have the right to refuse to answer their questions- which is fine and well if you choose to take that route. However, don't try to make a fib to the feds.

Usually when they come to peoples houses looking for that information, especially in the OP's region, they are attempting to figure out if (or make sure that you're not) buying guns to resell illegally. (So, your fib could actually seem incriminating...)

mljdeckard
September 29, 2009, 11:51 PM
mp510 is absolutely right. I meant to touch on it and I forgot. Lying to them is illegal, and no good can come of it. Even if they don't charge you, if they uncover flaws in your story, it will make it easier for them to GET a warrant. While you're worrying about the Fourth Amendment, don't forget the Fifth. SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE.

chevyforlife21
September 30, 2009, 12:06 AM
i would wonder why they are here cuse everythings legal.

mljdeckard
September 30, 2009, 12:17 AM
chevy, that has nothing to do with if, why, or most importantly, HOW they are doing it.

gunlaw
September 30, 2009, 12:20 AM
shut the door clam up and call your lawyer

X-Rap
September 30, 2009, 12:33 AM
At present this is really not much of an issue. I think it will be in the future so I think it is well worth the disscusion.
The thought of home invasion by imposters is very real especially if the theives have you targeted as a gun guy.
Rational fear of our gov. is not out of the question either.
3 guys in plain clothes or non recognizable uniforms flashing badges around and insisting they enter your home could quickly get out of control.

bob.a
September 30, 2009, 01:01 AM
I've been thinking of getting a C&R license. What can you tell me about ATF or other governmental types gaining access to my home? Some of the above comments seem to indicate that no warrant is necessary. What rights do I waive in obtaining this license?

Thanks for the info.

Deanimator
September 30, 2009, 08:00 AM
1. No warrant, no entry.
2. No conversations of ANY kind without a lawyer present.

No exceptions, PERIOD.

Bailey Boat
September 30, 2009, 08:16 AM
I don't answer the door.... I'm not home, I'm never home.... I don't live here.... I don't exist, I haven't existed for quite some time.... I'm a figment of my imagination......

benminer
September 30, 2009, 08:42 AM
If the ATF or any other law enforcement has a warrant, they are not going to "ask" if they can come in.

sanerkeki
September 30, 2009, 09:03 AM
Just let them in, if you decline or tell them you are going to call a lawyer they will think something is up. let them wait in the living room and bring out what they are looking for only and if you have paper work and thats all. No need to get all offensive they are just fallowing orders. If you say No they might get a warrant and knock your door down so it makes it easier for you.

rbernie
September 30, 2009, 09:36 AM
Yes, the F Troop has done some purchase follow-ups on gun purchases, to make sure that we's not all smuggling arms into Mexico. :rolleyes: The following threads outline one such encounter and the advice solicited/provided here:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=453768

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=455650

Just let them in, if you decline or tell them you are going to call a lawyer they will think something is up. let them wait in the living room and bring out what they are looking for only and if you have paper work and thats all. No need to get all offensive they are just fallowing orders. If you say No they might get a warrant and knock your door down so it makes it easier for you. As a general rule, I would expect that letting any uninvited guest inside your house is a bad idea. In the case of LE, it legally opens up the interior of the house to a visual inspection that can go all ways of bad on you.

However you intend to handle the situation, do it on the front porch.

shut the door clam up and call your lawyer That's a bit extreme.

Be nice. Chat with them, on your front lawn or front porch. Answer their questions honestly. Do not sign any paperwork, and contact the NRA or other gun rights organization if you feel that you need legal help.

wheelgunslinger
September 30, 2009, 09:48 AM
Just let them in, if you decline or tell them you are going to call a lawyer they will think something is up. let them wait in the living room and bring out what they are looking for only and if you have paper work and thats all. No need to get all offensive they are just fallowing orders. If you say No they might get a warrant and knock your door down so it makes it easier for you.

Anyone who believes this needs to get to know some Feds and sit in Federal court for a day or two watching and listening to how evidence is gathered and cases are made against citizens.

It's a big game they play with the wording of the law. People that let them do what they want are seen as ignorant suckers that they can play any way they want.

staghounds
September 30, 2009, 09:53 AM
I disagree with that last, often times even if there is a warrant LE knocks and asks for consent.

I'd ask them what they were looking for. They will tell you something specific, find out and maybe show them.

It never hurts to give them a pleasant experience and to be seen as helpful rather than uncooperative.

For example, the ATFE agents say they want to see the three ARs you bought last month at the gun show, to make sure you're not reselling.

Thought experiment 1:

"Sure, one is in the car trunk, I'll show you that one first. Two of them are in the safe, I'll go get them- my house is a mess, just wait here on the porch. I'll break them open so you know you're safe. Would you like a cup of coffee?"

ATFE agents look at guns, leave pleased that you made their day easier, and figure that you are a solid citizen. It takes ten minutes, and all they see is those guns.

Thought experiment 2:

"You got a warrant?"

2A- "No."

"Then go away. "

Agents leave. They have to report their own failure. They figure you have something to hide. At best, you go into the jackass/probable criminal/probably dangerous category. At worst, they decide to investigate you more closely.

2B:

"Yes, we do. "

You get handcuffed and sit in a very hot car for three or four hours while the agents see EVERYTHING YOU OWN, cut into your gun safe, look at your computer, etc, etc. Assuming you aren't charged, you STILL go into the jackass/probable criminal/probably dangerous category, as well as having all the suspicious but not criminal stuff they saw listed. Your "arsenal", your "anti government web sites", your "thousands of rounds of ammunition".

With a bonus listing as "We just missed that guy, next time..."

And they WILL investigate you more closely.

ATFE is law enforcement, aren't we in favour of that?

chuckusaret
September 30, 2009, 09:56 AM
Just let them in, if you decline or tell them you are going to call a lawyer they will think something is up. let them wait in the living room and bring out what they are looking for only and if you have paper work and thats all. No need to get all offensive they are just fallowing orders. If you say No they might get a warrant and knock your door down so it makes it easier for you.

Wrong!!!!! According to my lawyer the ATF does not make friendly visits to inquire about any possible weapons violations, questionable gun sales or just to see your last purchase. They come with a warrant to ensure anything and everything they uncover can be used in court as evidence.
My lawyer said if they have or don't have a warrant that the best thing to do is KYFMS and call for legal assistance.

staghounds
September 30, 2009, 10:23 AM
Your lawyer is clueless, or angling for a fee.

First, such a blanket statement is obviously wrong, "never" is a very long time.

Second, my own experience in working with ATFE is that its agents, like those of every other police department I've worked with, OFTEN do knock and talks. There are lots and lots of reasons for this, including wrongful, career "enhancing" ideas by their superiors.

I say he's clueless, because anything and everything seen by consent can be used as evidence, too. Actually consent is often broader in scope- if the warrant is to look for "rifles", they can't look in places rifles can't fit. But if you give consent, they can look anywhere you consent to.

The wonderful thing about consent is that YOU CONTROL IT. If they ask to see X, you show them X, it's over. They have seen what they came to see. You have cooperated.

If they then ask to see Y, you might start with the less cooperative path. "You said you wanted to see X, I showed it to you. My lawyer said not to show you anything without a warrant, I'll take that advice now, sorry. "

mustang_steve
September 30, 2009, 10:39 AM
No warrant, all they'll see is the front door. I may offer them a few diet cokes from the mini fridge next to the front door though if it's hot outside just because I'm nice like that.

Anyways, if they're targeting me for anything, they're barking up the wrong tree. My collection, if you can even call it that, is worth less than a new Glock.

Deanimator
September 30, 2009, 02:02 PM
Just let them in, if you decline or tell them you are going to call a lawyer they will think something is up.
I couldn't care less if they think I'm the point man for an alien invasion from the Pleiades.

I don't want ANY contact with them, and will have none not SPECIFICALLY required by law. I will not "shoot the breeze" with them under any circumstances. They've got nothing to say that I want to hear, nor do I want them in my home saying it.

They will not enter without a warrant.
We will not talk without a lawyer present.
PERIOD

I have to obey the law and so do they. If they don't, there are consequences.

Deanimator
September 30, 2009, 02:06 PM
Your lawyer is clueless, or angling for a fee.
So, how long have you been a lawyer?

Advising someone to not seek legal counsel when they are potentially the subject of an investigation or a "fishing expedition" is like advising someone to perform brain surgery on himself. Mistakes are typically about as recoverable as an inverted flat spin in a P-39.

Grey_Mana
September 30, 2009, 02:17 PM
As an fyi, for >99% of you, the ATF wouldn't come to your door if they were interested. Neither would any of the other agencies that regulate other stuff (like EPA, IRS, FDA, CPSC). They'll send a letter with a deadline for a response. You are much more likely to get a subpoena to appear somewhere than you are to get a visit.

mljdeckard
September 30, 2009, 02:22 PM
sanerkeki and staghounds haven't been paying attention to what we are saying.

If they have a legitimate reason to search, they won't show up without a warrant. If you refuse to let them in because they don't have one, they don't magically become empowered with some piece of probable cause they didn't already have. It doesn't make it easier for them to get a warrant just because you stood on your rights.

Investigators of all types get paid to be creative. Look at it this way. If an agent keeps going out on routine inquiries and coming back empty handed, say 0 for 10, and his boss asks him, "Why didn't you get inside?", and he replies; "I didn't have a warrant.", what do you think the boss will tell him? "We NEVER have a warrant. It's your job to complete the investigation anyway. Be creative. Use your charm. Tell them they are under investigation for child pornography. I don't care how you get them to let you in, just make it happen. That's what everyone else here does. 0 for 10 is unacceptable. I need 7 or 8 for 10. Make it happen."

You can be one of the 8. I will be one of the other 2.

Cosmoline
September 30, 2009, 02:23 PM
Unless you hold a firearms license (including a C&R) there's really no reason at all for them to even know you exist. They don't go around checking people's gun safes at home. If you are a license holder you will already be familiar with the procedure for checking of bound books and the like. If you are not a license holder, and the feds come knocking, it isn't for tea. Politely but firmly deny any request to do any searches. Don't physically try to stop them or resist. Give no statements. Call your lawyer.

The wonderful thing about consent is that YOU CONTROL IT.

Not really. When you start down that road you're entering a Byzantine array of often conflicting case law. And I don't mean a few cases, I mean tens of thousands of them. Millions of printed words, plus more in the secondary sources. Most lawyers don't even know enough to safely navigate these waters. That's why anyone who knows anything about this area of law will tell you it's a bad idea to play this game. If the police have a good reason to search they will already have a warrant. Do not consent, but do call a lawyer.

For example, the ATFE agents say they want to see the three ARs you bought last month at the gun show, to make sure you're not reselling. ...

ATFE is law enforcement, aren't we in favour of that?

Are we in favor of having the feds "check on" citizens who buy guns legally? No, we are not. Not at all. Not even a little tiny bit. We oppose that. And I think I speak for more than the royal "we" in this case. We very much oppose that. We oppose it with every tiny fiber of our being. We will never consent to it. Not just because it's foolish to consent to any search, but because the notion that law enforcement has some right to perform "check up" searches on private homes is anathema to the Bill of Rights and as deeply anti-American as it is possible to be. They do that sort of thing in countries where people are SUBJECTS and have no rights.

mljdeckard
September 30, 2009, 02:44 PM
I'm in favor of protecting my rights. ALL of my rights. My Second Amendment rights aren't worth much if I give it up like a prom date for the Fourth and Fifth.

staghounds
September 30, 2009, 05:14 PM
I've only been a lawyer in two states since 1987.

Been a state prosecutor almost all of that time.

I'm not advising anyone to not get counsel.

I'm not advising anyone anything, I'm not anyone's lawyer.

And I'm assuming that the original questioner meant what he asked- what if the ATFE came to the house and asked to see his newly purchased guns. NOT asked to search the house, but asked to see specific guns.

There are plenty of reasons that might happen. They might, unknown to the buyer or the seller, be stolen guns- refusal to show them to law enforcement could look like consciousness of guilt.

The agents might have been told (by one of the questioner's enemies, for example) that the questioner has sold the guns unlawfully, and they are verifying that isn't true.

They might be checking up on the dealer, to see if the serial numbers he said he sold you are the ones you actually bought.

For all we know, the questioner has had his guns stolen without knowing it, and the agents are there to restore them to him!

They might be on some general task, remember the Richmond gun show thing?

What I am saying is that if law enforcement people show up at your door and ask you something, you should be polite and try to comply if what they ask seems reasonable to you.

If the police came to your door and asked you if you'd seen a murderer walk by, you wouldn't say "I'll tell you on the witness stand".

Just because you have rights doesn't mean you have to die in the last ditch to enforce every last one.

And you absolutely do control your consent. If the agent says "I want to look at Colt AR SN XXX", and you say "Sure, I'll get it for you, wait right here", there isn't any case law I've ever seen that gives the agent any authority to do anything more than wait on the porch, unless you consent to more.

General Geoff
September 30, 2009, 05:20 PM
ATFE is law enforcement, aren't we in favour of that?

the ATF enforces laws against victimless crimes. I'm not in favour of criminalizing victimless behavior, thus I am not in favour of the ATF. Nothing against the agents personally, they just happen to enforce pointless laws.

rbernie
September 30, 2009, 05:30 PM
As an fyi, for >99% of you, the ATF wouldn't come to your door if they were interested. Neither would any of the other agencies that regulate other stuff (like EPA, IRS, FDA, CPSC). They'll send a letter with a deadline for a response. You are much more likely to get a subpoena to appear somewhere than you are to get a visit.
You didn't read the links that I posted.

You should.

CoRoMo
September 30, 2009, 05:36 PM
Nothing against the agents personally, they just happen to enforce pointless laws.

+1

Plus, I'm still sore from the whole 'agency policy for lying under oath'. If they come to my door, I figure I'd have some reason to expect them.

Deanimator
September 30, 2009, 05:38 PM
What I am saying is that if law enforcement people show up at your door and ask you something, you should be polite and try to comply if what they ask seems reasonable to you.
And how would a non-lawyer KNOW if it really WAS "reasonable"? He wouldn't. That's the point... and sometimes the idea when LEOs show up without warrants.

My lawyer's been a lawyer just about as long as you have, was a prosecutor and says EXACTLY the opposite. Don't consent to ANYTHING. Don't talk without a lawyer present.

A prosecutor's interests are 180deg diametrically opposed to that of the person being questioned by LEO's.

TexasRifleman
September 30, 2009, 05:42 PM
My lawyer's been a lawyer just about as long as you have, was a prosecutor and says EXACTLY the opposite. Don't consent to ANYTHING. Don't talk without a lawyer present.


Question: "The police are here. They want to talk to me. What should I do?"

Answer: "Make no statement to the police under any circumstances."

- Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson


That's good enough for me.

staghounds makes a good point, but he's a prosecutor so he has a little different view it seems. Certainly there are cases where it's perfectly fine to cooperate with LE, but the problem is that most of us don't know when that is and it's a horrible time to start playing lawyer when they show up. That is the point of Justice Jackson's quote, we won't know when it's OK.

If I see a crime and I'm a witness, absolutely not involved in any way? Maybe I speak to the police, maybe.

When they show up at my house asking for things? Not a chance.

Deanimator
September 30, 2009, 05:42 PM
Plus, I'm still sore from the whole 'agency policy for lying under oath'.
That is all the reason which I will ever need to never "trust" them, and to only have the absolute minimum dealings with them SPECIFICALLY required by law.

Only a fool would trust the employees of an agency which had PERJURY as an OFFICIAL policy and made an OFFICIAL training video on how to lie under oath.

Cosmoline
September 30, 2009, 06:00 PM
If the police came to your door and asked you if you'd seen a murderer walk by, you wouldn't say "I'll tell you on the witness stand".

There's a universe of difference between saying "he went thataway" and allowing a warrantless search of your property. Assuming you are a DA, you would certainly know that. And to suggest otherwise in this thread is highly disturbing. But again, a reminder to us all why we need counsel.

There are plenty of reasons that might happen. They might, unknown to the buyer or the seller, be stolen guns- refusal to show them to law enforcement could look like consciousness of guilt.

This is rubbish. Under no circumstances will an insistence on Constitutional rights be held against a criminal defendant in court. In fact it sounds like the precise sort of nonsense an LEO might try to suggest to coerce cooperation. And it's precisely why you need to get a lawyer post haste when they come knocking. They cannot be trusted.

The agents might have been told (by one of the questioner's enemies, for example) that the questioner has sold the guns unlawfully, and they are verifying that isn't true.

Then they can get a warrant.

They might be checking up on the dealer, to see if the serial numbers he said he sold you are the ones you actually bought.

Then they can get a warrant.

For all we know, the questioner has had his guns stolen without knowing it, and the agents are there to restore them to him!

And maybe Ed McMahon is waiting in the bushes to give the suspect (you keep saying "questioner") a million dollars.

They might be on some general task, remember the Richmond gun show thing?

We surely do. And you think that is going to make anyone here feel more comfortable with our federal friends?

If they think the arms are evidence in a criminal investigation they can get a warrant. That's what the system is set up for. It's not being rude to insist that officers follow the very laws they have SWORN TO UPHOLD.

And you absolutely do control your consent. If the agent says "I want to look at Colt AR SN XXX", and you say "Sure, I'll get it for you, wait right here", there isn't any case law I've ever seen that gives the agent any authority to do anything more than wait on the porch, unless you consent to more.

Again, if you are a DA you know perfectly well that LEO's and agents will leverage more consent from the initial consent. They're extremely skilled at it. The next thing the hapless suspect knows, he will have let them come inside and opened his gun safe for them. The sanctum sanctorum laid bare for the state with no hint of a warrant. They're not there to do the suspect any favors, again as you well know. They're fishing, and the suspect is on the menu.

Beside which, WHAT RIGHT do officers have to demand to see any firearm any of us own? None, as far as I can see. If they believe the arm to be evidence they can follow lawful procedures to obtain it. Otherwise there is no way on this Earth I'm going to consent to a search--LEAST OF ALL a search of my most prized and valued property!

mljdeckard
September 30, 2009, 08:30 PM
I very much agree. I feel like staghounds, as a prosecutor, has had plenty of professional benefit from investigators being creative in ways to get consent, and has come to like their point of view. I've taken law classes from a couple of prosecutors. His idea of being good to the police seems to favor one side of the aisle much more than the other. You're a prosecutor. That changes EVERYTHING?!

Withholding information about a murder you witnessed is obstruction of justice. Calling an investigator's bluff and making him get a warrant or get lost is standing up for your rights. Their general tasks are their problem. They do not cancel my rights. Just because their boss wants them to make checkmarks on a list doesn't mean I have to help them. They certainly won't help ME if the tables are turned.

Even if all they want to see is my guns, not the interior of my home, it doesn't mean that their motives are in my interests. Just because I'm standing on my rights doesn't mean I'm being rude.

Yoda
September 30, 2009, 08:51 PM
I seem to recall that the Supreme Court held that any federal officer can tell you any lie they want, even during the course of an investigation, and you have no grounds for action against them. So, in effect, they could say something along the lines of, "We have information that your AR-15 was illegally converted to full auto. If you let us see it, we can clear this up." It could be a complete fabrication, and you can't do a thing about it. They can lie to you with impunity.

On the other hand, the more you talk, the more opportunities you're giving them to hang you on some minor discrepancy between what you said one time and what you said another time, or based on some disagreement between your recollection of events and someone else's recollection.

I know that law enforcement officers have a tough job to do, but they've put themselves in this position. Personally, I would express some sort of support for police in general, then explain that, since officials can lie without penalty yet I can be charged with perjury or obstruction on the slightest pretence, I'm not cooperating.

Sorry, but the feds put themselves in this position. If they wanted the cooperation of a free people, they'd have remembered that a free people have rights. They did this to themselves by doing it to us.

- - - Yoda

paintballdude902
September 30, 2009, 08:52 PM
ask for a warrant if they dont have one politely ask them to leave and close the door

MR_A
September 30, 2009, 09:34 PM
I wolud have to agree with chuckusaret, atf does not make friendly visits and they will have a warrant, and they will enter and search, keep you mouth shut and call your attorney before answering any questions. Atf has become a rogue agency you have to right to an attorney use it. Sometimes a rokie local law enforcement officer may try to search without a warrant following up bougus leads...no warrant...no entry and call his supervisor and file a complant.....if he doesent have probable cause to get a search warrant he has no probable cause to be at you door.

2TransAms
September 30, 2009, 09:43 PM
Tell 'em, "Come back with a warrant, I'll be waiting right here with my attorney."
As far as what they might be interested in, I would be less concerned about the guns I own than the guns I used to own. That is why everything I sell goes through an FFL, or if it's FTF in my state I keep a record of it.

Jim K
September 30, 2009, 10:18 PM
The idea that you should never even talk to a LEO without an attorney is not only stupid, it can help a criminal. Everyone likes scenarios, so here is one. Suppose you see a car drive up on the sidewalk and kill some school children. The car drives off. You got the license number but when asked by the police for help you refuse, saying that you won't talk without a lawyer present! The killer gets away. Now don't you feel good about that?

Jim

2TransAms
September 30, 2009, 10:23 PM
:uhoh:

mljdeckard
September 30, 2009, 10:28 PM
I never said never. I only said when they come to your door asking to see something that you don't have to show them.

Deanimator
September 30, 2009, 10:46 PM
The idea that you should never even talk to a LEO without an attorney is not only stupid, it can help a criminal.
I'll NEVER talk to the cops without a lawyer where I could by ANY stretch of the imagination be considered a suspect or a "person of interest".

You don't have to like that. You just need to accept that there's NOTHING you can do about it.

I can't be bullied into giving up my rights.

staghounds
September 30, 2009, 11:22 PM
I'm not saying that you don't have a right to refuse to talk to them, or a right to slam the door in their faces.

What I am saying is that there are times when standing on those rights is stupid and likely to get you more difficulty. A search under a warrant, like a tax audit, is a very unpleasant and troublesome event and one to be avoided if it's practical.

One of those times might be when the agents come to your house and ask to see a specific, recently purchased gun or two.

The original question was "What do I do when that happens?"

Some of you seem to think that the questioner (the person who asked the original question in this thread) is an idiot, that he isn't capable of controlling himself enough to show them the guns and stop. I don't assume that.

I once read a book, written for people who had been arrested, which said that the criminal justice system is like a big industrial machine, full of gears and belts and sharp corners. And that once the machine grabs you, you don't know how it will deal with you or how you will look at the end of it. So it's best to get loose from it as quickly as possible.

There were never truer words spoken. Sometimes it's best to just be polite and comply.

And as to the Ed McMahon comment, about every other week I see a case where the first time a victim finds out that his house has been burglarized or his car stolen is when the police call to ask "Is this person supposed to be (driving your car, pawning your stuff, etc.)?" I had one today, actually. So it is entirely believable that ATFE agents or police officers would be there to return property.

And finally, sometimes it's plain jackassery. If the agents are there to recover stolen guns, what kind of jerk are you to refuse?

Sure, there are plenty of times when I might slam the door. But to give that as the blanket, every time response is foolish.

Fenris
September 30, 2009, 11:27 PM
Do NOT lie.
Do NOT tell the truth.
Do NOT say a damn thing.
The 5th Amendment is your friend. They are not.

All they have to do is "mis-remember" what you said, and they have you on lying to a Fed LEO.
All you have to do is make a tiny mistake or even restate yourself, and they have you.

ATF: "What is your favorite color?"
YOU: "Blue. No yel-- Auuuuuuuugh!"
ATF: "Sir, you are under arrest."

Do NOT consent to a search or even talking to them inside your house. They are like vampires, once invited in you can't get them out. If they have a warrant, then you stand aside, but you do not consent.

Even if they have a warrant, they may ask for consent first, because you have fewer rights after you consent than you do under a search warrant.

If you have a silencer, full auto etc. I believe they have they right to inspect. Keep these items separately and NEVER allow them further access to your home.

YMMV. Consult an attorney, and have one on speed dial.

This advise is intended for entertainment purposes only.

Zeabed
September 30, 2009, 11:29 PM
I've bought guns since 1979 and I own about 10 right now. Live in South Florida, have a CCW and am merely a collector/range shooter. I've never been visited by any LEO regarding my guns or even learned about anyone I know ever incurring that experience. Have things changed on this issue or was I just unaware that an LEO visit was a possibility all along for someone who buys a gun? If so, I guess that I must have missed that meeting. Out of touch, I guess. Or just lucky, depending on what's really going on.

INMY01TA
September 30, 2009, 11:40 PM
The Maryland State Police have been doing this here in Md recently as well from what I hear.

Riss
September 30, 2009, 11:57 PM
#1 rule when dealing with the Feds. Get names, business cards are great for that and DO NOT LIE. ABOUT ANYTHING. Decline to answer if you want, tell them to come back with a warrant if you so insist. ANYTHING. BUT DO NOT LIE.

gideon_70
October 1, 2009, 12:49 AM
ATF comes to your house. They say, "Can we ask you a few questions? Look at your guns?"

You should ALWAYS reply, "Do you have a warrant?"

If they say no, then you should ALWAYS say, "No, thank you. Am I free to go?"

Let me explain in other people's words.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc&feature=related

AKElroy
October 1, 2009, 01:01 AM
Whatever you do, DON'T LIE. Generally you have the right to refuse to answer their questions- which is fine and well if you choose to take that route. However, don't try to make a fib to the feds.

+1! that would be called "obstruction of justice", and while I am not a lawyer, I believe carries more liabilty than any trumped up weapons charge.

Be polite, ask for the warrant, and tell them you are happy to cooperate once they produce it. What you believe is legal and what they interpret as out of the oridnary may be completely different. Many have a lot of guns. Many people also stock a lot of ammo. All may be perfectly legal, purchased soley for personal use & enjoyment. However; opening such a mancave with all that hardware to anyone, feds or otherwise, could be a very uncomfortable feeling. It also might not be that difficult for a witchhunt to find a spare parts bin with a recently replaced sear (maybe because it finally wore down to the point of an occasional double), or any combination of items they view as potentially capable of producing a violating weapon. Maybe you picked up a pre-ban SKS & lawfully converted it to detachable mags, then sold it. You still have a few detachable 30 round mags, and a more recent post-ban SKS with the factory fixed mag. Could they make the case you planned to modify because of the existance of the 30 rounders? I don't know, but I would not volunteer finding out. Get the warrant & stay safe. If you are obeying the law you have no worries.

mljdeckard
October 1, 2009, 01:09 AM
^^ exactly.

gideon_70
October 1, 2009, 01:24 AM
Just to say it. You can confess, give evidence, and even be recorded without a miranda warning. Miranda only comes into play AFTER you have been arrested. If ATF comes to your house, and asks questions, everything you say, EVERYTHING is admissible in court.

gideon_70
October 1, 2009, 01:27 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyokKFIecIo&NR=1&feature=fvwp

This is a good one as well.

gideon_70
October 1, 2009, 01:30 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3uk8QoSih4&feature=channel

One last one tonight

RollerCam
October 1, 2009, 02:12 AM
"...atf does not make friendly visits and they will have a warrant, and they will enter and search..."

Uh... they often start out as "friendly." I suppose that you've never heard the phrase "knock and talk?"

Remember: Reasonable suspicion is a building block for probable cause.

I gotta' go with their past history. BATFE has the worst reputation among all Federal law enforcement, and if you've been paying attention lately, you'll know that their reputation is well earned.

How could Waco and Ruby Ridge have been forgotten so quickly?

http://www.thegangmovie.com/

Cosmoline
October 1, 2009, 03:22 AM
One of those times might be when the agents come to your house and ask to see a specific, recently purchased gun or two.

No. Not at all. Not even a little tiny bit. There is no possible good that can come from consenting to this nonsense, they should not be doing it in the first place and they have no business asking to see your firearms. It's outlandish.

So it is entirely believable that ATFE agents or police officers would be there to return property.

That's hilarious. ATF going around giving people guns door-to-door.

Whatever you do, DON'T LIE.

Exactly. And more to the point, don't put yourself in a position where you need to! In other words, keep your mouth shut. The police can and often will lie to you. Unless you sit them down and swear them in they have very little obligation to tell suspects the truth. They can make up all kinds of stories, and they don't need to tell suspects what they're actually there for. It's perfectly legitimate and they do it all the time. But particularly when the federales are involved, YOU cannot lie to THEM--it's a crime in itself.

Is that fair? Not even a little bit. But thankfully you have this thing called the Bill of Rights on your side. Use it!

If the agents are there to recover stolen guns, what kind of jerk are you to refuse?

The kind of jerk who would really wonder why the FEDS are there instead of APD. There may be times when you know the officers and they're local boys when you can trust each other under certain parameters. (Though truth be told my local guys rarely try to pull this kind of nonsense--they operate with warrants and record all their interviews) But when FEDS are at your door asking for consent to search, the ONLY POSSIBLE SANE RESPONSE is to politely refuse and get counsel NOW. They're not friendly. They're not your friend. They're certainly not OUR friends. Their track record dealing with gun owners is a parade of horrors, as most people on this forum know. Now in some alternate universe it would have been great if they hadn't set out to wage war against us, but those bridges are burnt and if any gun owner trusts them now he has only himself to blame for what happens.

So it's best to get loose from it as quickly as possible.

That's another trick. They will imply that if the suspect cooperates he'll be free momentarily. Don't be stupid enough to fall for it!

Cosmoline
October 1, 2009, 03:35 AM
Suppose you see a car drive up on the sidewalk and kill some school children. The car drives off. You got the license number but when asked by the police for help you refuse, saying that you won't talk without a lawyer present! The killer gets away. Now don't you feel good about that?

That's not a search or seizure. We're talking about consenting to searches here, not giving the license plate of a felon to the cops. There's a MONUMENTAL difference.

Revolver Ocelot
October 1, 2009, 03:44 AM
they came to my house once, I had been living in a house for about a year before I started making any firearms purchases using that address, evidently the person that lived there before me was not allowed to have guns and they thought he was stilll living there so they came to check it out.

RP88
October 1, 2009, 04:18 AM
be cooperative. Always be cooperative. Be honest, be nice, don't lie, etc.

Just remember that being cooperative, nice, honest, etc. does NOT mean you have to answer all of their questions or let them in without a warrant. Or, hell, you don't have to do anything at all. Just answering the door, assuring them that everything is fine or deferring to legal council, and wishing them a nice day is enough.

Agent: "We have suspicion that there are stolen weapons on these premises."

You: "That odd. I'm the only one here. No stolen guns here that I personally know of."

Agent: "Do you own any guns, sir? Do you mind if we take a look just to clear things up and so we don't have to worry about coming back here?"

You: "Sir, I appreciate the concern, but you'd only be wasting your time."

Agent: "So you DO own guns? Let us in, please? Just real quick, so we can say that we check everything out and be on our way."

You: "Sir, I never did answer that question, and I do not feel comfortable answering it or any other questions. I also don't feel like letting you in right now. Maybe you could just give me your card and I'll get back to you on that when I'm more available."

or...

Agent: "Sir-"

you: "Warrant?"

Agent: "No sir. We-"

You: "I'm sorry to seem rude, but I'm in the middle of something right now. Have a good day. Maybe you can call me later and see if we could maybe talk about this when I'm more available."

Deanimator
October 1, 2009, 06:39 AM
What I am saying is that there are times when standing on those rights is stupid and likely to get you more difficulty. A search under a warrant, like a tax audit, is a very unpleasant and troublesome event and one to be avoided if it's practical.
But an uncontrolled, pretextual fishing expedition under circumstances you can't POSSIBLY know the truth of, much less control, is to be WELCOMED?

Allowing a warrantless search or talking to the police without counsel is like picking up hitchhikers. Not every hitchhiker is a serial killer... but SOME of them are.

Those cops at your door are under ZERO obligation to tell you the truth. They may be there for the reasons they state. On the other hand, they may be there for UTTERLY different reasons. If you can read minds and know why they're REALLY there, you shouldn't be wasting your time collecting guns. With that ability, you'd have enough money... and power to be collecting countries.

MT GUNNY
October 1, 2009, 01:31 PM
If they want any info from me, they will have to bring the County Sheriff with them to my door!

X-Rap
October 1, 2009, 01:42 PM
MG
I think that is one of the most intelligent points made yet. As potential targets from the federal gov. simpley due to gun ownership people need to have a plan for dealing with this situation beyond slamming the door in their face and getting your front door wrecked by a Hooligan bar.
My thought would be to have a family member make a call to the Co. Sheriff and ask for a deputy on some que that your home is being visited by a Fed. Police Agency.
Not all S.O.'s are going to stand up for locals but some will and at least you have a witness if somebody is tossing your house without cause.
I would think a lot of Sheriffs would be a little pissed about that happening to one of their constituants .

TexasRifleman
October 1, 2009, 03:16 PM
Have things changed on this issue or was I just unaware that an LEO visit was a possibility all along for someone who buys a gun? If so, I guess that I must have missed that meeting. Out of touch, I guess. Or just lucky, depending on what's really going on.

Yes, things have changed, especially on the border states.

What is happening with, apparently, some regularity is agents visiting folks who made multiple handgun purchases.

They claim to be making sure those multiple handgun purchases are not being moved over into Mexico.

It's being reported often enough by folks living in Texas that people are starting to ask what to do.

So far I've only heard of these visits being kicked off by the multiple handgun purchase form.

trekgod3
October 1, 2009, 06:39 PM
I had two AFT agents show up at my doorstep earlier this year. They flashed badges and asked if they could come in to ask me a few questions. I let them in and we went into the den and sat down. They then asked me to give them info about every firearm I had ever purchased. They wanted the when, where and how much for every gun I owned. When I got to my Cobra Patriot, they asked to see it. It was in my truck ,so we went outside and I retrieved it for them. They compared the serial # to a piece of paper they had and then finally explained what was going on. They said they had a partial serial number from a gun used in a crime and it partially matched my gun. When they saw it wasnt the gun used in the crime, they shook my hand and thanked me and left.

TexasRifleman
October 1, 2009, 07:19 PM
They then asked me to give them info about every firearm I had ever purchased. They wanted the when, where and how much for every gun I owned.

And that right there is the problem. They came in the door knowing they were looking for one specific gun, yet got you to come clean on all kinds of unrelated stuff.

With no warrant, and your cooperation, anything that came up in the conversation could have been used against you.

There was no upside for you in this situation at all.

Deanimator
October 1, 2009, 08:11 PM
With no warrant, and your cooperation, anything that came up in the conversation could have been used against you.
And might yet be...

w_houle
October 1, 2009, 08:13 PM
I have held on to the receipts of every firearms purchase for seven years, and if it's sold before seven years then i write the name and phone # of the purchaser on the back of the receipt along with date of sale. I hold on to those for seven years after sale.

jaholder1971
October 2, 2009, 09:10 AM
It's 100 percent in the context of the questioning.

I've only been asked about my guns by a LEO once. I'd earlier in the week made a stolen handgun report for insurance. I saw the officer and the Chief at the C-store on my way back from getting a replacement.

The officer asked if I'd replaced it, told him yep and asked if he wanted to see it. We spent the next half hour BSing guns and he later ended up buying a Browning HP like the one I got!

627PCFan
October 2, 2009, 09:24 AM
Good points from a now police commisioner of a major city were given to me a few years ago. Never answer questions from an officer, under arrest or other. He is there to gather evidence to give to the DA (or other in this case) in order to build a case against you. 2. Miranda, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law but what they dont tell you and arent required to is that anything you say in your DEFENSE cannot be used in your defense of the charges and are inadmissable because thats considered heresy.
Funny how that works-

Warrants only, and keep your mouth shut. Lawyers get paid to do the talking. Let them talk. Never offer anything.

danbrew
October 2, 2009, 09:33 AM
A great read from Jim Jefferies: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/wbardwel/public/nfalist/jim_jeffries/jim4.txt

WHEN THE BATF COMES A-CALLIN'

James H. Jeffries, III

"There is no wholly satisfactory substitute for brains, but silence does pretty well." Anonymous

Probably one of the least favorite events for any Federal Firearms Licensee (hereafter "FFL") is a visit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (hereafter "BATF"). This can occur in one of at least six very different ways and your legal rights and recommended responses vary accordingly.

For purposes of the following discussion I will assume that you are a law-abiding licensed dealer or collector who tries to comply honestly with the federal firearms laws. If some of the discussion below seems excessively cautious, or even hostile to BATF, it is based on real world experience with an agency which has been found by Congress, by various federal judges and juries, by other federal and local law enforcement agencies, and even by some Presidents to be inept, indifferent to citizens' rights, and capable of the most outrageous abuses of the law.

BATF operates under the rationale of requiring you to comply with the law. I operate under the rationale of requiring BATF to comply with the law. I required this of BATF as a federal prosecutor for almost 30 years, and I require it as a private citizen and as a lawyer. You should require it as an FFL.

A non-licensee has no legal duty whatsoever to talk to or otherwise cooperate with a BATF agent (or any other governmental official). It is a sad commentary on our times and the state of our federal government (and especially BATF) that the appropriate legal advice from a defense lawyer to a non-licensee confronted by a federal or state law enforcement officer can be capsulized in a single sentence called RULE ONE: Silence is golden; or what part of "no" don't you understand?

If you are an FFL, however, additional considerations come into play.

1. The Tracing Center Inquiry. Most active dealers have had a telephone call from BATF's Tracing Center at some time or other inquiring about the disposition of a firearm whose serial number traces to the dealer. This is usually an inquiry concerning a third party and does not implicate the dealer. It should normally occur during your listed business hours, although emergency traces in high-profile matters could occur at any time of the day or night.

These inquiries are authorized by law in official criminal investigations and as a licensee you have a statutory duty to cooperate by furnishing the requested information. Be aware, however, that the Tracing Center is a part of BATF's criminal enforcement apparatus whose function (and principal interest) is to put people (including firearms dealers) in jail. You should always obtain the full name and telephone number of the caller and note it in writing. An entry in your bound book alongside the entry for the firearm involved would not be inappropriate. If in doubt about the caller's identity, you should terminate the call and call back before giving any information. Cooperation would include supplying copies of any related documents. Never surrender an original document or legally-possessed firearm (or other property for that matter) except in response to a summons, subpoena, or court order, and then only after obtaining legal advice.

When faced with the prospect of providing information to the government, keep in mind that there are only two legal options: silence or complete truthfulness. Lying (even by partial truths or literal but misleading true answers) is never an option. A false statement to a federal officer in his official capacity is a felony akin to perjury, and usually much easier to prosecute and prove than the matter being investigated. If you cannot speak truthfully without incriminating yourself or injuring your legal interests, then remember RULE ONE.

If the inquiry is about a Title II firearm, you should attempt to determine if the trace was initiated by local law enforcement. If it was, you should remind the caller that the information requested is privileged tax information and that it is a federal felony for BATF to disclose the information outside the agency. Your interest in this aspect is that you do not wish to aid and abet the commission of a felony -- even one committed by a federal official.

Occasionally a tracing inquiry will be made in person by one or more special agents. They are, of course, purely criminal investigators whose only function (and interest) is to put people (including firearms dealers) in jail. Write down the names and badge numbers of all present. If anyone present is not a BATF special agent, inquire why that person is present (and later note the response in writing). If there is more than one agent, inquire why. If anyone refuses to display official identification direct them to immediately leave the premises. If they refuse, call the local sheriff or police and make a trespassing complaint.

Do not allow anyone to search your records, premises or inventory for the information or items being sought. You or your employee do the searching, retrieving and copying. The same rules apply with respect to refusing to turn over original documents or items of personal property. If an agent should physically insist on taking custody of an original record or legally-possessed firearm or other item of property, resist verbally and vigorously, but not physically. Advise him calmly that your first call after he leaves will be to your lawyer and his first call will be to the Inspector General of the Treasury Department. Successive calls will then also be made to BATF's Office of Internal Affairs, the agent's SAC (Special Agent in Charge), the United States Attorney, the FBI and the sheriff -- the latter three to report the theft of your property by a federal agent. Then do it. In short, if an agent is stupid enough to violate your Fourth Amendment right to be secure in your papers and effects in front of God and everybody, then he needs to have his whole day ruined.

A tracing inquiry is usually directed at a third party recipient of a firearm which has passed through your hands at some point and generally is not targeted at you. However, if you sense that the inquiry is, in fact, targeted at you, you should immediately terminate the inquiry, ask the agents to leave the premises (after which they are legally trespassers), request them to put their inquiry in writing, and seek legal counsel. Remember RULE ONE.

Failure to cooperate in a tracing request can put your license at risk, but loss of a license (or the expense of defending it) compares very favorably with a prison sentence (or the cost of defending a criminal indictment). And your license is not realistically at risk if BATF is trying to further a criminal investigation of you through a pretext tracing inquiry. The majority of all inmates talk their way into prison; you have no legal obligation to help put yourself there. This type of confrontation is an IQ test. Don't flunk it; remember RULE ONE.

Clients occasionally inquire about tape-recording their telephone or in-person conversations with BATF employees (and others). This is legal under federal law so long as one party to the conversation (you) knows of the interception. However, state laws vary on the issue and you should be certain that such consensual recording is legal under the law of the state where the recording is taking place. You should never record a conversation (telephone or otherwise) where no one present knows of the interception. This is a felony violation of the federal wiretapping statute, and you are creating the very evidence needed to prove it. You can, of course, legally tape-record any transaction in any jurisdiction when all parties are aware of the taping. Any such tape should itself reflect that all present are aware of the taping.

You should never knowingly consent to your own interview or conversation being tape recorded without making a tape of your own. More important, the taping of your interview is a strong signal to invoke RULE ONE and immediately seek legal counsel.

2. The Third-Party Inquiry. A third-party inquiry is broader than a simple tracing inquiry, but otherwise involves the same principles and recommended reactions. It could be a telephone call, but will ordinarily be a personal visit by one or more special agents who are after more detailed information than just the acquisition and disposition of one or more firearms which have passed into or through your inventory. All other factors remain the same and your responses should be the same as for the in-person tracing inquiry.

Needless to say, if the inquiry is not about a third-party transaction but rather is directed solely at you, invoke RULE ONE and seek legal counsel immediately. Remember, refusing to talk to federal criminal investigators and seeking legal counsel are not admissions of guilt or signs of a guilty conscience. They are manifestations that you are an American citizen aware of your legal rights and an individual who will not be bullied, coerced or frightened into giving up those rights. The agents already believe you are guilty; their job is to prove it. Your job is to avoid helping them prove it.

3. The Undercover Solicitation. This may be a contact by BATF which, if you are fortunate, you never learn was made. It is a sad fact that a high percentage of non-violent federal gun crimes committed in the United States (perhaps even a majority) are manufactured by BATF -- crimes that would never have occurred but for the fact of an offer from or solicitation by a BATF informant or undercover agent to an unwitting citizen. Technically, most of these BATF-sponsored offenses do not rise to legal entrapment. But they would never have happened if BATF had not planted the idea and created the opportunity. This is done for the simplest and ugliest of all bureaucratic reasons: agent and agency self-preservation and budget and case statistics.

Sometimes you will know you are being shopped -- perhaps by recognizing the agent or perhaps by the sheer stupidity of the approach. You are probably also being recorded, possibly even videotaped. Your response should be precisely the same whether it ultimately turns out that you were speaking to a government microphone or to the village idiot. You should firmly, but not politely, advise the proponent that what he/she is proposing is illegal and that he/she is no longer welcome on your premises or at your table. Then remember RULE ONE. Do not engage in a discussion of the law or alternative solutions to the "customer's" proposal; terminate the conversation. Politeness is not called for when someone is either intentionally or ignorantly soliciting you to commit a federal felony. And your politeness on a federal tape recording in a subsequent criminal prosecution can often be construed as acquiescence in or lack of strong feeling about committing a crime.

Some of my bolder clients, who are truly tired of being harassed this way, are fully prepared to make a citizen's arrest in such circumstances and then call the local sheriff to come collect the offender (attempts and solicitations to commit an offense are also crimes under federal and state law). If this appeals to you, make sure first that the law of your state permits a citizen's arrest. Know the amount of legal force you can use to effect such an arrest. Then cuff the son of a bitch and give him a taste of what he's probably trying to do to you.

A criminal solicitation by someone you've known for years, and who you know cannot be an agent, is especially dangerous. It probably means that your acquaintance has gotten his own tail in a crack and is now making cases for BATF in an attempt to lighten his own load. Finally, bear in mind that an undercover approach may be made by a female agent or by a mixed couple.

4. The Compliance Inspection. Compliance inspections are conducted by inspectors of the regulatory enforcement branch of BATF. These individuals have no criminal law enforcement authority -- or training (although they have recently been issued badges, perhaps in an effort to bolster morale or create an appearance of authority for low-paid personnel). Theoretically, inspectors are charged with the civil and regulatory aspects of firearms law. They do not have the power of arrest or the authority to serve subpoenas or warrants. Nor may they make seizures of any kind. I say "theoretically" because in some recent instances inspectors have been observed accompanying special agents on raids and even illegally carrying firearms. In short, there are some cop wannabes among the inspector force whose intrinsic suspicion of firearms dealers as criminals must be guarded against.

The legally-authorized purpose of compliance inspections (and pre-licensing inspections) is to ensure that the firearms statutes are generally being complied with by the firearms industry. The true job of inspectors is to spot and correct discrepancies in compliance with federal firearms statutes, to establish the qualifications of license applicants, and to enforce and collect the excise tax on the manufacture and importation of firearms. If an inspector discovers evidence of a criminal violation he is supposed to make a referral to the criminal enforcement branch of BATF (the special agents).

As a licensee you are required to display your license on your licensed premises, to maintain certain required books and records accurately, and to submit to a compliance inspection of your licensed premises, your inventory and your required records as often as once annually.

The only firearms records which you are required by law to maintain, and to submit for inspection, are an acquisition and disposition book (your bound book), original BATF Forms 4473, "Firearms Transaction Record" for each firearm sold, original BATF Forms 5300.35 "Statement of Intent to Obtain a Handgun(s)" (the Brady Act form), and your retained copies (copy 4) of BATF Forms 3310.4, "Report of Multiple Sale or Other Disposition of Pistols and Revolvers" for each multiple sale of handguns. Special occupational taxpayers may also be required to produce their Forms 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10 for firearms on hand. There may be additional state law records required of a dealer, but BATF has no jurisdiction over these records and arguably no jurisdiction to inspect them.

When a BATF inspector shows up for a compliance inspection, require credentials to be displayed by everyone present and note the full name of the inspector(s) in writing. Never permit a special agent or a state or local or non-BATF federal official to participate in a compliance inspection. These individuals have no authority under the inspection laws, and are there for some different (and more ominous) reason. A state official might have independent state-law authority to conduct an inspection or investigation, but he has no right to do it in tandem with a BATF compliance inspection. You should require other inspectors or investigators to get in line so that you can deal with them at a separate time. If they refuse to leave, call the sheriff and swear out a trespassing complaint. If a BATF special agent, a firearms specialist from BATF's Technology Branch in Washington (part of the criminal enforcement branch), or other criminal law enforcement type is present, this is not an ordinary compliance inspection and you should immediately terminate it, direct the individuals to leave and contact legal counsel.

BATF inspectors can inspect at any time during your listed business hours, without prior notice or appointment. If they do not give you advance notice then restrict their inspection activities to your listed hours. If you are subjected to an unannounced inspection, be on guard. You may be under suspicion or you may be dealing with one of the cop wannabes. If the inspector has the courtesy to advise you ahead of time of an intended inspection you are free to, and should, accommodate the time, date and hours of inspection to the inspector's convenience. You should never consent to more than one compliance inspection in any twelve-month period. Require BATF to obtain an inspection warrant and immediately seek legal counsel.

Under general principles of law a compliance inspection must be "reasonable" in terms of time, duration, scope, number of inspectors, lack of disruption to your business, etc. If the inspector is reasonable and professional, you should be too. The process does not have to be adversarial or antagonistic. If the inspector is not reasonable or professional, keep in mind that your license does not require you to talk to him, or to provide him access to your copy machine, rest room, etc. If you are dealing with an idiot, remember RULE ONE -- and let him bring his own copy machine. Also remember that he has no right to use your electricity.

The inspector is legally entitled to inspect all your required records, your business premises, and your firearms inventory. He is legally entitled to inspect nothing else. You should not permit inspection of non-required records unless there is a satisfactory explanation of why it is desired (such as inspecting a purchase or sale invoice for the correct serial number where the bound book and the Form 4473 show different serial numbers for the same firearm). You should not permit inspection of non-business portions of the premises when your home is the licensed premises. (When your business is conducted from your home, you should carefully delineate that portion dedicated to the firearms business and confine the business strictly to that portion of the premises.)

You should accommodate the inspector by making copies of any records desired (within reason). Never permit original records (or firearms or other property) to be removed from the premises without a summons, subpoena or court order, and without seeking legal counsel. The inspector has no power of seizure and may attempt to bluff his way into removing original records or may try to obtain your consent. Do not be bluffed and do not consent. Inspections should be conducted on your premises. (If you store firearms off premises, the inspector is also entitled to inspect such storage facilities.)

A compliance inspection of a special occupational taxpayer will begin with the inspector attempting to reconcile his NFA Branch printout of Title II firearms shown as registered to you in BATF's records with the actual Title II firearms in your possession. He will be unable to do so because of the abysmal state of the national registry. Have mercy on him and help BATF untangle its records. Try to refrain from thinking about whose records and recordkeeping should really be under audit here. The inspector will also likely need your technical expertise in identifying anything more esoteric than a rifle, pistol or shotgun. Try to conceal your contempt for a "federal firearms inspector" who probably doesn't know a wipe from a baffle, or a lightning link from a drop-in sear, and who may think a Mauser broomhandle is something used by a German hausfrau.

danbrew
October 2, 2009, 09:34 AM
Part II

If you are a firearms manufacturer or importer, an inspector may plan to conduct an excise tax audit at the same time as a compliance inspection. The authority for these two types of inspections/audits derive from entirely different legal authorities and they involve entirely separate legal considerations. You should insist that either the audit or the inspection be conducted first and separately. The reasons are expanded on under Paragraph 5, below.

Curio and relic (collector) licensees have the legal option of bringing their records and firearms to the nearest designated BATF office for a compliance inspection. Although I am unaware of any compliance inspection of a collector, this is an option to be considered seriously. The simple truth is that you never want a BATF employee in your home if it can be avoided.

In summary, the firearms regulatory process does not assume you are a criminal, but rather seeks to ensure that dealers generally are complying with the requirements of the law. If bona fide, the process does not require invocation of your various rights to notice, counsel, warning, non-self-incrimination, etc., which all come into play when you are the target of a criminal investigation. Unfortunately, BATF sometimes attempts to avoid these constitutional "inconveniences" by illegally using the access of civil inspectors to further a criminal investigation without alerting the targeted dealer. You should never cooperate in such a subterfuge.

5. The Excise Tax Audit. If you are simply a dealer in firearms or ammunition, you will have no occasion to undergo an excise tax audit. However, if you manufacture or import firearms or ammunition you are subject to audit by the regulatory enforcement branch of BATF.

The manufacturers excise tax on firearms and ammunition is one of the most complex and least understood federal tax statutes. It is said that only three people in the world completely understand it. One is dead, one went mad trying to explain it, and modesty prevents me from naming the third. Suffice to say, however, that BATF, which acquired jurisdiction over the tax from IRS in 1991, is hopelessly inept in administering it.

An excise tax audit is governed by the general principles of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and not the National Firearms Act of 1934 or the Gun Control Act of 1968.

You are required to maintain the same records any other taxpayer/return filer is required to maintain: whatever records are necessary to support the figures on your return. There are no records specifically required by law to be maintained such as those required of dealers by the Gun Control Act. And, absent tax fraud or evasion, there are no criminal penalties for failing to maintain such records. Therefore, the only penalty for failing to keep excise tax records, or to produce them, is that BATF could choose to treat all your sales as taxable events.

As a practical matter a logbook of operable Title I firearms manufactured by you plus any BATF Forms 2 (Title II firearms manufactured by you), and a file of BATF Forms 6A, operable firearms imported by you, accompanied by your bound book showing the same firearms sold by you and sales invoices showing the sale price, would be all the records required for a proper excise tax audit (in addition, perhaps to your retained copies of excise tax returns filed). You should decline to produce any other records for an excise tax audit unless you have an alternative pricing issue under the excise tax regulations or tax-exempt sales (to a government entity, the military, or for export).

You should also be aware that the definition of firearm under the excise tax statute is different from other statutory definitions of "firearm." Excise taxable firearms are only those complete portable firearms which go bang. The tax does not apply to crew-served weapons, silencers, frames or receivers, conversion kits, parts, most destructive devices, etc., etc. The tax only becomes due on a sale or its commercial equivalent. A transfer of a complete Title II firearm which goes bang is not always a sale and does not always trigger the excise tax. Even when it is a sale, it is not taxable if the Title II transfer tax is being paid (a Form 4 transfer). There is also no excise tax due on the manufacture or importation and sale of blank ammunition. I cover these points because BATF inspectors are generally excise-tax illiterate and much excise tax is asserted and collected which is not legally due and owing.

If you are a firearms manufacturer or exporter, you should have competent tax counsel.

6. The Raid. This is an event which means you are in deep, serious. It is the execution of a judicially-issued search and seizure warrant (and occasionally also an arrest warrant) by BATF special agents, frequently accompanied by agents of other federal or local agencies, on premises owned, occupied or inhabited by you.

When a raid team shows up at your premises and announces (usually by breaking down your door, sometimes by killing your dogs and throwing flash bang grenades at your women and children) that they have a federal search warrant, you must instantly do several things. You must first of all mentally assimilate the fact that they are law officers rather than a rampaging motorcycle gang (which they often resemble in both appearance and behavior). Having identified them as law rather than outlaw, you must freeze in place in a non-threatening posture and attempt to stabilize the situation until some of their law-enforcement adrenalin (the most dangerous drug on the street) has bled off. If only a search warrant is involved, you must then recover your wits sufficiently to do the following:

(A) Try to note and record the identities of as many participants as possible, by name, agency, badge number, and physical description.
(B) Ask for a copy of the warrant.
(C) Disable -- not unplug, disable -- your telephones and fax machines.
(D) Gather your family, children and pets and leave the premises.
(E) Call your lawyer.

You may be prevented from doing some or all of the above things by legally illiterate agents, but that will simply lay the foundation for your own day in court.

A federal search warrant authorizes only the search of a specified premises and only the seizure of specifically described items. Corollary to the execution of a warrant, the law permits the agents to make a forcible entry if that becomes necessary after knocking and announcing their identity and purpose, to control the premises, and to take reasonable precautions for their own safety -- such as a pat down for weapons of those persons present and assigning an agent to watch over and accompany anyone moving about on the premises. The law authorizes the agents to prevent the destruction of evidence or contraband and it protects them against being assaulted or interfered with. It is a serious federal crime to assault a federal officer or to obstruct execution of the warrant. Don't turn a possible later indictment into a sure one.

Never assist the raiding party in locating the items described in the warrant. They have the right to search, but not the right to find. Do not open locked compartments, safes or rooms for them or provide them with keys or combinations. Do not talk to the raiding officers other than to request identification and a copy of the warrant. Resist the compulsion to show what a good guy you are; these are not your friends and they are not there to help you.

A search warrant does not authorize agents to arrest you or anyone else on the premises (although assaulting the agents or forcibly interfering with the execution of the warrant will justify a warrantless arrest) and it does not authorize them to handcuff you, restrict you to a particular place or prevent you from leaving.

You have a perfect right to leave the premises and should do so immediately. If you are physically prevented from leaving, you have just been falsely arrested in violation of the Fourth Amendment and will have your recovery later in court as well as taking some of the other retaliatory measures promised in Paragraph 2, above. You must get yourself and your family out of the house for several reasons: (A) to avoid the personal insult, humiliation, provocation and indignities which many agents seem to enjoy; (B) to avoid a potential life-threatening situation; and (C) to avoid creating evidence against yourself (RULE ONE). There is no useful purpose your remaining on the premises can serve; if the agents are going to plant evidence or destroy property, they will do it whether or not you are present.

You will need as much information about identities, badge numbers and descriptions as you can manage in the minutes before you leave. These will be useful later when you assert or defend your rights. But they are not a reason to delay leaving the premises promptly. You are legally entitled to a copy of the warrant, but do not remain on the premises if you are refused.

You should disable your telephones and fax machines before leaving in order to prevent the agents from illegally seizing evidence (calls and faxes) which might come in while they are on the premises. Such items did not exist when the warrant was signed and cannot possibly be covered by the warrant. Their seizure will probably therefore be illegal; but it is better to prevent such seizures from even happening. If you are physically prevented from disabling your own property, go somewhere else and place incoming calls to all your lines and keep the circuits open.

Now, call your lawyer.

[The author is a retired U.S. Department of Justice lawyer and a retired colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve practicing firearms law in Greensboro, NC. He is a 1959 graduate of the University of Kentucky and a 1962 graduate of the UK College of Law, where he was Note Editor of the Kentucky Law Journal.]

X-Rap
October 2, 2009, 11:29 AM
Wish I had that guy living in my town. When he showed up the ATF guys would be piddeling down their legs.

chuckusaret
October 4, 2009, 01:02 AM
Your lawyer is clueless, or angling for a fee.

I passed your comment to my lawyer and his reply was; a lawyer would never make a statement like that and if one did, he chases firetrucks for a living.

gideon_70
October 4, 2009, 01:25 AM
I had two AFT agents show up at my doorstep earlier this year. They flashed badges and asked if they could come in to ask me a few questions. I let them in and we went into the den and sat down. They then asked me to give them info about every firearm I had ever purchased. They wanted the when, where and how much for every gun I owned. When I got to my Cobra Patriot, they asked to see it. It was in my truck ,so we went outside and I retrieved it for them. They compared the serial # to a piece of paper they had and then finally explained what was going on. They said they had a partial serial number from a gun used in a crime and it partially matched my gun. When they saw it wasnt the gun used in the crime, they shook my hand and thanked me and left.
I'm confused. Federal agents have a partial serial number of a gun used in a crime. They see your serial number and, well, oops it's not it. But they know what kind of gun they are looking for.

First. If they already have a partial serial number, and were able to trace it enough to find YOU, then, they already know the rest of the serial number - your address - your type of gun, and where you bought it.

Second. If they are looking for a specific gun that they already know you own, why would they ask to see any other weapons? Especially ALL of your weapons?

Third. When, where and how much. First, the when and where are kept in the ATF's Bound Book. How much, if you told them, and it does not match the amount in the bound book, then you have just discretited yourself, and if you are involved in a case at a later date, it will be used against you.

Fourth. Assume that they have a partial serial number. They have part of it, you have the rest, now they have it all. Think about this... If they already knew you owned a Cobra Patriot - and had a portion of the serial number that they used to find YOU, they were just confirming that you still owned the gun.

Fifth. If I was on the jury, I would be hard pressed not to convict you. They came to your house, proved that you had the gun, got a list of every other gun you owned, got dates and times to look every purchase you made in the Bound Book - which gives them the location to look for any undisclosed purchases, and puts you on the short end of a shorter fuse.

My advice, shut your mouth, get a lawyer, and pray it never goes to court.

Cactus Jack Arizona
October 4, 2009, 02:10 AM
I couldn't take the time to read through all the pages of posts, but on the first page someone (the OP I believe) mentioned something about wondering if this was due to the illegal guns "coming" from US FFL's. :eek: The stats I heard was that only about 7-17% of the guns found in Mexico used in crimes were from the US. :p The majority of the gun problems in Mexico are due to guns coming into their country from elsewhere. :rolleyes:

jobob
October 4, 2009, 03:13 AM
If you buy a gun, how would the BATF know you did? When the dealer does the instant FBI check they only say if it is a handgun or a long gun. No serial numbers are given. How could they know if you bought an evil assault rifle? They don't. They have plenty of bigger fish to fry than to follow up on individual purchases.

I've been to training with a couple of ATF agents. They were good, honest cops. One of them was a bigger gun nut than me. They had been investigating a series of arsons on the east coast. Doesn't seem like they were enforcing victimless crimes to me. They do a lot more than just harass innocent gun dealers.

Just because cops can legally tell an untruth in order to get a confession out of a suspect doesn't mean they routinely lie every time they do an interview. If they did, their career wouldn't last long.

I'm not saying that there are not over zealous officers or supervisors. They certainly exist. What has been done to Cavalry Arms is a good example. Normally, though, if you are law abiding you have no worries. So far, at least. I suspect things might change during this administration. Hope I'm wrong.

Shadow 7D
October 4, 2009, 06:08 AM
wrong branch of the BAFTE, the door kicker and sucker'er (it not entrapment, he walked into it willingly) tend to be from the F and E part, but then the A part did / does still have a pretty bad rep in Appalachia, if they come calling, you should wonder why they are on your door step, it does have something to do with you...

And they can lie as much as they want, ever wonder why BAFTE would be investigating kiddi porn?? or looking for somebody who would have to be buy in quantity and exporting the "assault weapons" to mexico to make any money, when a nice call and could we meet with you as your name came up...

But i'm paranoid, I mean after the stories my mom told about the FBI when she was help them as an insurance investigator, naw they are great, just want to talk...

Ranb
October 5, 2009, 12:43 AM
And I'm assuming that the original questioner meant what he asked- what if the ATFE came to the house and asked to see his newly purchased guns. NOT asked to search the house, but asked to see specific guns.

There are plenty of reasons that might happen. They might, unknown to the buyer or the seller, be stolen guns- refusal to show them to law enforcement could look like consciousness of guilt.

What I am saying is that if law enforcement people show up at your door and ask you something, you should be polite and try to comply if what they ask seems reasonable to you.

Staghounds, you would talk to the police who are present to possibly arrest you instead of talking to a lawyer first? I think you are giving bad advice. If the police really want to talk to someone, then they can wait for that person to get a lawyer. You think anything you say to the police can be used to help you in court? If you do then I think you are mistaken.

As a prosecutor, did you often believe that a person who asserts their fifth amendment rights was portraying a consciousness of guilt? That would be very sad indeed.

Here is a nice video on why a person should never talk to the police about themselves unless they have immunity or a lawyer present.
http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=Why+You+Shouldn%27t+Talk+To+The+Police&emb=0#

Have any reason to disagree with anything in the video?

Ranb

staghounds
October 27, 2009, 03:26 PM
What I'm saying is that there is no blanket answer to this question, it depends on the situation.

If an LEO comes to my door with what seems to be a reasonable request, I'll do my best to cooperate- just as I would if you came to the door with an apparent reasonable request. Just as I might pick up a hitchhiker.

If I'd just bought a couple of guns and ATFE wanted to see that I hadn't sold them on, I'd show them. If (Yes, ATFE does some theft investigations) they said they were there to recover stolen property and I had it, I'd give it over with a receipt. There are times to be a citizen.

EmGeeGeorge
October 27, 2009, 03:41 PM
sometimes they're just trying to make sure an ffl isn't using an old customers name on transfer forms then shifting them over to unqualified individuals or black market...

if you deal with a shady ffl you'll prolly increase the chance of getting contacted...

Ranb
October 27, 2009, 03:44 PM
Care to answer the questions I had for you? You think anything you say to the police can be used to help you in court? As a prosecutor, did you often believe that a person who asserts their fifth amendment rights was portraying a consciousness of guilt? Have any reason to disagree with anything in the video?

If the police showed up at my door asking for serial numbers ( I know nothing I own that is registered is stolen), then they are not getting them as this helps no one, and could possibly hurt me. While I can cooperate, it would be limited to assuring them that they are not going to find stolen property in my home. I will not help them convict me of anything.

Ranb

DWH
October 28, 2009, 01:25 AM
Light up a smoke, crack a beer, and say, I can't recall my safe combo, but if you get a warrant I might remember!

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