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CNSNews.com on BATF: "Dumb," "FOIA refused"

Discussion in 'Legal' started by AZRickD, Feb 18, 2006.

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  1. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Were do they find these THUGS?

    Yet another argument for defunding and disbanding F-Troop.

    The adventurous among you might call your local constabulary or submit questions to your City Council to see if your local officials are doing the nasty with BATF&Eeeeee.



    *Congress Told of ATF Seizures, Threats to Gun Buyers*
    By Jeff Johnson
    CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
    February 17, 2006

    * (CNSNews.com)* - Agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
    Firearms and Explosives (ATF), allegedly acting without warrants or
    legislative authority to do so, seized firearms from at least 50 gun
    show patrons in Virginia according to congressional testimony and an
    agency document made public Wednesday. Witnesses also testified that
    African-American and female gun buyers in Richmond, Va., and Pittsburgh,
    Pa., were profiled based on their race or sex and some in Pittsburgh
    were threatened with arrest by ATF agents for alleged actions that are
    not violations of law.

    Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on
    Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over ATF.
    While he supports the agency's mission, Coble questions some of its tactics.

    "ATF reports that 206 [gun show] participants were stopped and
    interviewed while it confiscated firearms from another 50 participants,"
    Coble said, referring to gun shows in Richmond, Va. "Although most of
    the firearms were ultimately returned, the purchasers were notified via
    official letter
    <http://www.cnsnews.com/PDF/2006/atf-richmond-letter.pdf> from ATF that
    [they] were ordered to appear at the local ATF office to discuss their
    transactions. In addition, the letter explained that failure to appear
    could result in an arrest warrant being issued for the alleged charges."

    The form letter had blanks for the name of the gun show patron and the
    date and time they were ordered to appear at the ATF field office, but
    cited no authority for the gun confiscations or the mandatory office visits.

    "An investigation has revealed that you may have violated Title 18
    U.S.C. Section 924(a)(1)(A)
    <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/ts_search.pl?title=18&sec=924>, a
    crime punishable by imprisonment for up to five years," the letter
    began. The U.S. Code citation refers, in this instance, to knowingly
    making a false statement on the ATF Form 4473 "Firearms Transaction
    Record Part I - Over-The-Counter," which is completed for each firearm
    purchased from a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL).

    "The firearm that you purchased is being taken into ATF custody," the
    letter continued, citing no authority for the seizure.

    Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said the ATF letter and the reported
    interrogation of lawful gun buyers raise "serious questions."

    "There's a way to have a sting operation that's legal. This dragnet,
    apparent dragnet, however, is not the way it ought to be done," Scott
    said. "You have to show probable cause and it can be done. But you ought
    not just stop people without probable cause and without any indication
    of guilt."

    John White, a former law enforcement officer who is now an FFL operating
    under the business name "The Gunsmith," said female customers who
    approached his sales area at the Richmond shows were immediately
    targeted by the "undercover" officers.

    "If a woman showed up at my table, she was surrounded by law
    enforcement," White recalled. "If the lady walked off and suddenly
    stopped, they would have bumped into each other. Their surveillance
    methods were pitiful.

    "Every woman that makes a purchase, every woman who comes to my table to
    buy a gun was automatically [treated as] a straw purchaser," White said.
    (A "straw purchaser" is a person who can otherwise legally purchase a
    firearm, but who does so with the intent to illegally provide it to an
    ineligible buyer such as a convicted felon or an illegal alien. "Straw
    purchases" are illegal.)

    As *Cybercast News Service* initially reported
    ATF agents working with as many as 400 state, county and city police
    officers near Richmond, Va., conducted so-called "residency checks" on
    individuals who purchased firearms from the Showmasters Gun Show Aug. 13
    and 14, 2005. Uniformed officers went to the homes of prospective gun
    buyers, while they waited for their National Instant Check System (NICS)
    background checks to be completed and questioned family members and
    neighbors about the gun buyers' firearm purchasing habits.

    In a subsequent report
    *Cybercast News Service* detailed that ATF had conducted at least seven
    similar gun show "sting operations" targeting Richmond-area residents
    since July of 2004. ATF refused to discuss any of the operations with
    *Cybercast News Service* and refused to provide any documentation in
    response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the sponsors of
    the Richmond gun shows.

    Suzanne McComas, a licensed private investigator who has worked with the
    America's Most Wanted television program, was hired by the National
    Rifle Association (NRA) to gather information about ATF's Richmond
    operations. During her investigation, she learned that the agency had
    been conducting "residency checks" in at least one other U.S. city, but
    using different and "much more intimidating" tactics.

    "At Pittsburgh, the Firearms Task Force there that's also headed by the
    ATF, instead of doing residency checks immediately, they're collecting
    the 4473 with the purchaser's address on it, then they go knock at the
    door about a week later and ask, 'Could we see the gun that you
    bought?'" McComas explained. "There's absolutely no process involved,
    there's no reason for them to do it. If you cannot produce the gun, they
    ask you for the sale paperwork. If you refuse to produce the paperwork
    they put you under arrest for a 'straw purchase.'"

    Federal law requires licensed gun dealers to complete an ATF Form 4473
    for each firearm sold through their business, in addition to any forms
    required by the state, county and/or city where they do business.
    Private sales between individuals, who are not engaged in the firearms
    trade as a business, are subject to no such federal recordkeeping
    requirements. Therefore a gun show purchaser could legally sell or even
    give the gun they purchased to someone else yet have no paperwork to
    meet the ATF's demand.

    "You and I know that, but [a woman who bought a gun and then gave or
    sold it to someone else, both legally] probably doesn't," McComas told
    *Cybercast News Service*. "If she can't produce it, they arrest her for
    a straw purchase and her life turns into a living hell until she can
    prove otherwise. It's zero probable cause except for the fact that they
    thought it was a straw purchase because she was black and she was young
    and she was female."

    McComas questioned not only the legality of the ATF tactics in
    Pittsburgh, but also the methodology.

    "When I asked them what their criteria was for the people that they
    collected the 4473s on at the Pittsburgh show, the answer I got back
    was, 'If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's a duck. That's
    all we need,'" McComas continued. "Translation: Under 30 and black,
    period. That's all they were looking for. Anyone who meets those
    criteria, they're doing a follow-up on."

    She said that, as in Richmond, agents in Pittsburgh were also engaged in
    activities that gun dealers believe were designed to discourage lawful
    purchases by minorities.

    "Anyone who was a minority, they picked up their 'tail,' if you will,
    and just followed them through the gun show. When they stopped at a
    table, the agents would literally stand on one side or the other and
    watch what they were doing. If they started to purchase a gun [the
    agents] would ask them why they were buying it, what were they buying it
    for, what did they need that gun for," McComas related. "It was
    ridiculous. There was absolutely no reason for it other than the color
    of their skin."

    Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) said he had not intended to attend the
    hearing, which was held immediately after a subcommittee vote on an
    unrelated bill, but stayed because he was fascinated by the witnesses'

    "These must be the dumbest ATF agents in the entire agency," Delahunt
    said. "I am absolutely shocked that they could be that stupid.

    "It's almost to the point that it's difficult to believe," he added. "I
    have never heard of an experience like the ones you recount, but you all
    seem to be in agreement. It's just mind-boggling."

    Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) expressed curiosity that federal law
    enforcement officers would not know that the actions described by White
    and McComas violate federal statutes.

    "Did anybody mention that it is a federal crime to deny women or
    minorities their civil rights?" Feeney asked. "Did anybody mention to
    the ATF that denying civil rights, including the right to bear arms, is
    a federal crime?"

    Feeney suggested that, since ATF had refused to comply with the Freedom
    of Information Act requests from the gun show promoters, the
    subcommittee should request the information they were seeking. Coble
    noted that such a letter had already been sent.

    ATF representatives present at Wednesday's hearing reluctantly
    identified themselves by raising their hands when asked to do so by
    Coble. They would not respond to the new allegations raised in the
    hearing, but referred questions to their press office. ATF officials are
    expected to testify on the issues raised Wednesday in a second hearing
    scheduled for Feb. 28.
  2. engineer151515

    engineer151515 Member

    Oct 6, 2005
    US Southern Gulf Coast
    "These must be the dumbest ATF agents in the entire agency," Delahunt
    said. "I am absolutely shocked that they could be that stupid."

    I'm not.
  3. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Well, sure. You're an engineer. ;)

    Let's hope that the Legislator's annoyance turns into action.

    We can help that by forwarding the CNS story to your two Senators and your Congressman.

    You have your marching orders... :)

    Rick :evil:
  4. Chipperman

    Chipperman Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Essex Co, MA
    Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) -- ""It's almost to the point that it's difficult to believe," he added. "I have never heard of an experience like the ones you recount, but you all seem to be in agreement. It's just mind-boggling."

    WOW. A Mass Democrat <almost> sympathizing with gun owners.

    I think that's the Seventh Sign.
  5. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

    May 21, 2004
    "Land of (dis)Enchantment"
    "Did anybody mention that it is a federal crime to deny women or
    minorities their civil rights?" Feeney asked. "Did anybody mention to
    the ATF that denying civil rights, including the right to bear arms, is
    a federal crime?"

    Gun control = Racism.

    It's not about guns, it's about control.
  6. Flyboy

    Flyboy Member

    Apr 19, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    There you go, Mr. Feeney. Fixed it for you.
  7. HankB

    HankB Member

    Mar 29, 2003
    Central Texas
    It would seem that a video camera (better yet, multiple video cameras) would be a good response to these tactics by the BATmen.
  8. lamazza

    lamazza Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    I seriously doubt that these officers are acting on their own volition.
  9. justashooter

    justashooter member

    Jul 30, 2003
    luoyang, PRC
    and yet i remember the girl in the york county sherrif's office filling out a ccw application. her banger boyfriends were helping her fill it out.

    i asked the dep if he thought the guys qualified for permits. he just shook his head and said there was nothing he could do.
  10. tom barthel

    tom barthel Member

    Jan 24, 2006

    AND YOU ARE SURPRISED????:banghead:
  11. BenW

    BenW Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Well, I'm simply curious as to where representatives of the NAACP and mainstream Feminist Movement are during this. Why are they not representing their constituency?

    Oh yeah.... right.
  12. AirForceShooter

    AirForceShooter Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Central Florida
    it's all nice and everything but Who is going to do something about it??

  13. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Who? We, you.

    I wrote:
    Write your legislators as I have done to make sure they know this is on your radar screen. Write a letter to the editor. It doesn't have to be printed, but it puts the editors on notice such that they can't claim ignorance.

    Nowhere in my post did I say I was surprised. In fact, I wrote:
    That would lead most to assume that having "another argument" meant that I had previous knowledge.

    BTW, could you edit your post so that it doesn't contain my ENTIRE original post?

  14. BostonGeorge

    BostonGeorge Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    Salem, NH

    He wasn't even almost sympathizing, he was basically calling them liars to their faces.
  15. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Utah, inside the Terraformed Zone
    My congressman is pretty pro-gun. I'm going to forward this to him. Can I get a link to the original article?
  16. Langenator

    Langenator Member

    Jul 30, 2003
    Ft Belvoir, VA
    Anyone have POC info for the show(s?) promoters? I'd love to get a copy of their FOIA request, and send in my own request for the same info. Or maybe the NRA folks have it?

    I'd love to see the ATF deluged with FOIA requests for this info.
  17. k_semler

    k_semler member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Democratic People's Republic of Washington
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