Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ATF Does What ATF Does...

The on-going ATF "initiative" in Texas is the subject of a Houston Chronicle article that led off Drudge this AM (and my pod rant last week):
Federal agents hunt for guns, one house at a time 
In front of a run-down shack in north Houston, federal agents step from a government sedan into 102-degree heat and face a critical question: How can the woman living here buy four high-end handguns in one day?
The house is worth $35,000. A screen dangles by a wall-unit air conditioner. Porch swing slats are smashed, the smattering of grass is flattened by cars and burned yellow by sun.
“I’ll do the talking on this one,” agent Tim Sloan, of South Carolina, told partner Brian Tumiel, of New York.
Success on the front lines of a government blitz on gunrunners supplying Mexican drug cartels with Houston weaponry hinges on logging heavy miles and knocking on countless doors. Dozens of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — sent here from around the country — are needed to follow what ATF acting director Kenneth Melson described as a “massive number of investigative leads.”
Definitely read the whole thing...it's guaranteed to turn your stomach. The proper response for the lead paragraph of this story is simple — in the absence of probable cause that a crime has been committed, it is no one's business if, how or why a poor woman bought 3 "high-end handguns." It is certainly not the business of a federal agency who shipped in agents from around the country to basically use the Bill of Rights as toilet paper.

The fact that a later stake-out captures a crime in progress doesn't ameliorate the fact that this sort of "law enforcement" flies in the face of the American system of justice. The ends — federal agents arrest a low level gang banger — doesn't justify the means — pretending the Fourth Amendment is just a speed bump.

Here's more: 
On this day, agents weren’t wearing raid jackets or combat boots and weren’t armed with warrants.

Guns were hidden under civilian shirts.

Another tip took agents on a 30-minute drive from the shack to a sprawling home with a pool in the back and an American flag out front.

It turned out two handguns, of a type drug gangsters prefer, were bought by a pastor for target practice.
Wow! I personally would much rather see the Constitution crapped on by guys in Hawaiian shirts than in all that Federale "contractor casual" attire.

Here's the problem(s) with what's going on in Texas:
The whole American guns/Mexican drug war story is bogus at it's very roots. Read real journalist Dave Workman's report here. It is simply another antigun initiative, designed to inflame the larger body of the public against gun owners.
A door-to-door search like this is a flat violation of Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure. Our justice system is supposed to protect us from this kind of criminality. "Probable cause" demands that law enforcement agents go before a judge and explain the evidence against a person in order to obtain a warrant before entering that person's home, car, business, etc. and conducting a search.
Yes, asking permission to search a home or car is certainly within the letter of the law, but it is essentially an end-run around Constitutional protections. Why? Because a team of armed federal agents standing on your porch "asking" to come in and look around is by definition coercive, even if they're wearing Hawaiian shirts covered in happy smiley faces. 
The Fed's "asking permission" includes the not-so-veiled threat of what happens if you fail to cooperate. One DRTV member in Texas reported that his attorney told him to let the ATF agents in, lest they station armed guards on his porch, get a warrant from a "pocket judge" and tear his place apart as an object lesson for people who refuse to cooperate.
At the very least those who choose to stand on their Constitutional rights and not cooperate run the risk of getting crosswise with a Federal agency with a long history of ignoring the Fourth Amendment. It has been almost 500 days since the ATF raided Cavalry Arms in Arizona with a warrant reading, "Firearm law violations. Seize everything."

Since the raid, which including dragging the owner of Cav Arms out of his home in handcuffs in front of his wife and children, no criminal charges have ever been filed, hundreds of thousands of dollars of Cav Arms inventory was confiscated and has "gone missing," and the company has been forced to fight an incredibly expensive legal battle against civil forfeiture of property seized for "evidence," which the ATF filed for a month and a half after the initial raid without ever stating what the raid was for.

BTW, Cav Arms remains open for business — that's right, their FFL is still valid...one wonders why if indeed the company was a "criminal enterprise," as agents whispered off-the-record to the local MSM reporters, why wasn't their FFL pulled? It's SOP in gun law violation cases... 

14 comments:

hillbilly said...

Just stalwart hero types following der ORDERS uv der Vatherland....uh, oops, I mean doing their best to maintain law and order...

Steve said...

I have mixed feelings on this.

I've seen how my favorite local gunshop has had to stave off repeated straw purchase attempts by the girlfriends of bangers and other thugs.

Examples include a girl that wanders in, look at the handguns in the case, then go to the back of the store, talking on a cellphone in rapid-fire Spanish, with the words "Glock 17" intermingled. Yep, she was told quite bluntly to leave and never come back.

Or the meth-addled lady that wanted to buy two "R-15" rifles. They had fun with her before she got booted.

They don't need or want the hassle; they wish these folks would just go away, since they get plenty of business from honest gunnies.

If ATF truly goes after these people, I have no misgivings. How could I?

And the last part of that article...a police officer, apparently selling rifles to drug cartels! Throw his ass under a microscope, and get internal affairs involved.

I actually know of a Border Patrol officer that routinely buys dozens of firearms at a time: he's located way, way out, and has a rich wife and lots of overtime. When he gets to my favorite shop, he pays off his layaway list, and then puts another 6-10 guns in the back for next time.

Now, because of this idiot corrupt cop in Texas, he probably has to deal with ATF rummaging through his multiple gun safes.

Point is, what these scumbags do hurt all of us, and puts us collectors/shooters in the spotlight.

With regards to CavArms, I'm in full agreement that it was uncalled for. I bought a CavAid 2008 lower in response to that atrocity, in fact.

The ATF SAIC in AZ has made it clear in press conferences that he could care less about honest gunowners. Not surprisingly, he could also care less about the numerous straw attempts being made, claiming other priorities.

On the other hand, you have ATF agents that do care, even ones here, that do their jobs, and do them well.

It's damned unfortunate that cowboy ATF agents screwing the pooch repeatedly in the 90's ruined any cooperation between our two groups, and now they are paying the price.

zippy said...

The bottom line is don't trust anyone from the government! It is no secret that if your weapon is seized, no matter how flimsey the reason, it will cost you big $$ to get them to return it. It is the policy (written or not) of many law enforcment jurisdictions. Even if you are a FFL and this is stock for sale, make it so costly that you give up! My answer is mid priced reliable guns and two or more of each in appropriate storage.... It seems like the founding fathers would consider this obvious....

Anonymous said...

The reasoning,besides testing the waters of public response ,is to attempt to produce concrete evidence that Cartels are using/sending agents of procurement into Texas or wherever to Straw or otherwise procure SEMI automatic weopons To provide Security for their MULTIBILLION dollar cocaine and other drugs(MONEY,ALSO) pipeline.
So, instead of getting MP5s,fn,h&k and anything is delivered to Mexico via EURO/ Columbia or any one of cartel members in the southern hemisphere(not to mention any delivery on the the Mexican southern coast from Pacific Rim Manufacturing locations providing full auto AK variants,grenades and RPGs),MR. Cartel partner is going to send Jose to San Antone or wherever to get bubba or bubbette to sell him or straw buy SEMI auto weapons to secure his $$$pipeline? OH"" &. someway after paying HIGH prices He will convert To Full auto? He also can procure in MEXICO Arms furnished to MEXICAN MILITARY for various and sundry Drug interdiction programs?
When all is said and done,They will have evidence that Semi_autos and Revolvers of the Fancy or high end BBQ styling guns you would never see coming in on a drug plane from Columbia or a container ship forged /unknown manifest "Do" get confiscated now and then.

Anonymous said...

ATF = FASCISM

Flash Powder Hal said...

Seems "Jack-Booted-Thugs" are making a come back.

BTW - Nice chatting with Michael tonight.
SIG229DAK - Flash Powder Hal

Anonymous said...

"How can the woman living here buy four high-end handguns in one day?

"The house is worth $35,000. A screen dangles by a wall-unit air conditioner. Porch swing slats are smashed, the smattering of grass is flattened by cars and burned yellow by sun."

Maybe the woman can afford to buy four good handguns because she's not burdened with a costly mortgage and doesn't contract out her yard work to a lawn care company.

How does living in a rundown house constitute probable cause for a search and seizure operation? What the heck is going on here? Have we forgot that a man’s home is his castle?

In 1763, William Pitt declared in the House of Lords: "The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail -- its roof may shake -- the wind may blow through it -- the storm may enter -- the rain may enter -- but the King of England cannot enter! -- all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!"

When you celebrate our nation’s independence this Fourth of July, consider carefully how far down the path to ruin we have trod.

MALTHUS

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Greg Rodriguez who writes for Guns & Ammo and other Intermedia pubs was visited by the ATF while out of town. His wife directed them to call him. He explained who he was, what he did, and why he has had so many guns transfered to him on 4473 forms.

Their idea of a lead is a hispanic sir name and a multi-gun form. Sounds like profiling to me, but then I'm not a legal expert.

I know this story to be true because I was standing next to him at PASA Park during the Intermedia Roundtable when he took the call from his wife.

- Paul

Middle Man said...

Say the FDA decides to follow the advisories that have been the news recently regarding drugs containing acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc). Now substitute guns and ATF searches with "FDA inspectors today visit the homes of consumers that pharmacy records show have purchases large quantities of Tylenol ahead of the imposition of new acetaminophen restrictions". Or how about the bit in that new cap and trade legislation that says that before you sell your house it must meet some energy efficiency standards. Will I have to allow EPA agents in my home to inspect before I am allowed to sell???

Anonymous said...

It's damned unfortunate that cowboy ATF agents screwing the pooch repeatedly in the 90's....

And the '70s and the '80s. From what I've read, ever since sugar price supports put the moonshiners out of business and they turned to "enforcing" the shiny new GCA of '68.

After having been thugs for a generation it'll be at least another before there will be "any cooperation between our two groups".

Anonymous said...

Since you guys Like Govt. dog and pony shows,get your cameras,binoculars and tripods ready.The last week of this month is NLE 2009 or could be known as DHS Best Defense and showin' taxpayers they is on the ball,etc.!
Check it out?

http://www.fema.gov/media/fact_sheets/nle09.shtm

Anonymous said...

"ATF Does What ATF Does..."

Which is to "suck like a hoover" .
Tom Bogan

Anonymous said...

"ATF Does What ATF Does..."

Which is to "suck like a hoover" .
Tom Bogan

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