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.
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...