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Criminal and Corruptors Alike

Written by: Marc Kelley
One of the best things about running a firearms business is interacting with customers, and learning about their perceptions of the laws governing the private ownership of firearms. Our customers come from all walks of life; and as such, have a wide difference of opinions as to what the government’s role in firearms ownership is; as well as, what it should be. Sadly, the government’s response and lack of candor concerning COVID-19 has resulted in a widespread distrust of the information coming from the government concerning nearly every aspect of our lives. It is this distrust which drives many to simply ignore the steady erosion of their civil liberties, finding comfort in their own ignorance and the belief they have nothing to hide. But hiding anything in 2023 is nearly impossible. The cellphones we all keep at our sides twenty-fours hours a day, are in fact nothing short of surveillance devices which have an option that allows us to make calls and text our friends. Big tech wants us to believe they are looking out for our best interest by censoring free speech and canceling anyone who does not worship at the altar of climate change. Trust us they say….we know what’s best for you. The following story is true and is based on personal conversations with members of law enforcement across the spectrum of local, state, and federal jurisdictions. While none of the cops we spoke with want to be identified, fearing retaliation from their own departments, their perspective on the happenings of 2023 is nothing short of terrifying. They too are very concerned about the ongoing attack on the 2nd Amendment and the cavalier attitude which seems so pervasive in the uppers echelons of the ATF
To understand the actions of the ATF in 2023, one needs to start at the beginning and explore how the agency came about, why it was empowered, and how the winds of politics blow across every aspect of the bureau. The roots of the ATF can be traced directly back to the Volstead Act of 1919, which established prohibition in the US. Agents charged with enforcing liquor laws were part of what was known as the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Using a heavy hand to eliminate the liquor producing stills operated by blue collar Americans across our country, they became known as, “ The Revenoors”. As one might expect the government’s attempt to legislate morality and thereby eliminate what many Americans believed was simply good clean fun resulted in a true disdain for Revenue Agents. This disdain resulted in underground networks of moonshiners and bootleggers which would ultimately give rise to organized crime syndicates such as “The Chicago Outfit”, run by Al Capone.
By 1933, even our government recognized eliminating alcohol in America was never going to become a reality. What was equally clear to the “bean counters” in Washington DC, was their efforts at prohibition had created a new and highly lucrative liquor industry. With the repeal of the Volstead Act came an opportunity to eliminate the hated revenue agents and disband an expensive government agency which no one supported. No one except the politicians that is. Virtually overnight, the Bureau of Revenue became part of the Treasury Department and used their existing personnel to form what would now be known as, The Alcohol Tax Unit. By its own hand, the government had created an industry which was no longer seen as a problem; but rather, as an income stream from which new taxes would be collected. Rather than eliminating wasteful costs and limiting the size of our government, a decision was made to keep their staff of heavy handed Revenue Agents and further empower them to collect taxes from the liquor industry.
In the early 1950’s The Bureau of Internal Revenue was renamed and would become the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As part of the newly named agency, the Alcohol Tax Unit’s duties would be expanded to include tax collection on tobacco as well as alcohol, and would be called The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division. In 1968 congress passed the Gun Control Act. Just as it had done in the past, our government recognized an opportunity to bring more taxes into the treasury and added enforcement of firearms laws to the duties of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division. Once again a name change would be made, and the newly empowered agency would be known as; The Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division and would remain under the supervision of the Treasury Department. From the earliest days, the ATF has been and remains today, a vehicle used by the government as a means to collect taxes.
From 1972 through 2000, complaints began pouring in alleging the ATF was abusing their power. Only through Congressional investigations was it learned that the ATF relies extensively on the legal concept known as “malum prohibitum” for its prosecutions and confiscations.  Malum Prohibitum is a Latin phrase which is used to describe conduct which constitutes an unlawful act only by virtue of statute, as opposed to conduct which is evil in and of itself. A clear pattern of conduct was established proving ATF Agents routinely focused on “privately held collector items rather than criminal street guns.” During these same hearing’s the ATF was forced to admit, “over seventy-five percent of the cases which were brought for criminal prosecution, were aimed at ordinary citizens with no criminal intent.”
Apparently, Congressional Hearings and oversight mean little to the power brokers in Washington DC. This contention is backed up by a host of activities for which the ATF has never been held to account. In June 1990, an ATF informant hired Randy Weaver to cut the barrels off of two 12 ga shotguns. Once Weaver provided the shotguns to the informant, the ATF filed charges against Weaver for violations covered by the National Firearms Act of 1934. In an attempt to coerce Weaver into becoming an informant, the ATF ramped up pressure on Weaver and his family. Fearing for their personal safety, the Weaver’s barricaded themselves in their remote mountain top cabin and refused to come out. The resulting standoff, known today as Ruby Ridge, left Weaver’s wife Vicki and their fourteen-year- old son dead at the scene. At trial, The ATF was found to have fabricated evidence which led to the standoff and Weaver was acquitted of all charges with the exception of missing his initial court date.
On May 1, 1992, the ATF was requested by then Chief of Police, Daryl Gates to provide support to the LAPD following the beating of Rodney King and the ensuing LA riots. The ATF had one job during this assignment, to recover the 4,690 firearms which had been looted from local gun shops. In a press release, the ATF Director would herald the action of his agents as a “ stunning success” in recovering the stolen firearms. The public would have bought this high praise for the ATF Agents, if not for the unfortunate reality reflected in official ATF documents showing of the 4,690 firearms which were stolen, fewer than 200 were actually recovered, leaving the remaining guns on the streets and in the hands of criminals.
On February 28, 1993 the ATF conducted a raid on a remote complex in Waco, Texas which was home to over one-hundred-fifty, men, women, and children. As armed ATF Agents attempted to serve a search warrant of the property, a gunfight broke out which killed four ATF Agents and six residents of the property. Over the next 51 days the ATF grew tired of a standoff with people who had nowhere to go and very limited resources within the compound. On April 19th, Attorney General Janet Reno approved the assault on the compound code named, “Operation Showtime.” Using armored vehicles to punch holes in the compound walls, agents pumped what they knew were highly flammable gasses into the structure. In the resulting fire, 76 residents lost their lives including: 25 children and 2 pregnant women. The Siege at Waco, as it is now known, was overseen by Special Agent David Chipman who would continue his career with the ATF and be nominated by Joe Biden to be Director of the ATF in 2021.
On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 AM, a truck bomb exploded outside the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The bombing resulted in the deaths of 163 people, including 19 children who were playing at the daycare center located inside the building. As part of his defense, a stone cold terrorist and killer, claimed he felt his life was in “imminent danger” from the Federal Government based on their actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge. In the end he died by lethal injection June 11, 2001, having never shown any remorse for his actions.
In 2009 following his election, Barack Obama announced he would be the one person to take illegal guns off of our streets and return safety to our neighborhoods. Under the direction of his Attorney General, Eric Holder, the ATF concocted a plan to sell firearms to known criminals, then follow their paths and conduct sweeping arrests of those involved in illegal gun sales and trafficking. What could possibly go wrong with this plan you might ask ? In a period of two years the ATF sold over 2, 000 weapons to known criminals, only to find once the criminals had possession of the weapons, they would disappear faster than a trailerhood in a tornado. Of the 2,000 + guns the ATF would admit to handing out, fewer than 700 were ever recovered. When General Eric Holder was called before Congress to explain what happened, he refused to answer questions and became the first sitting Attorney General to be held in Contempt of Congress. For his trouble, the Obama Administration refused to prosecute Holder and later cleared him of all charges.
So here we are again, only it’s 2023 and the ATF is up to its same old tricks. This time the focus is on: pistol braces, (PMF) Privately Made Firearms, and using credit cards to purchase firearms and related goods. All of these resources are being expended to make criminals out of law-abiding gun owners, while parent’s fear letting their children play outside. Our children are not safe because they are being cut down by illegal guns in the hands of known criminals. But there is nothing to see here, because no one wants to see, no one wants to admit why we have a violence problem in our country. It’s far too easy to blame the gun. Far too easy to explain that violence is the result of systemic racism, too many cops, and centuries of oppression which have gone unatoned. But all is not lost so long as we have the ATF on the job, keeping the streets safe for criminals and corruptors alike.
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