Tuesday, September 06, 2011

At the ATF, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has acknowledged an Indiana dealer’s cooperation in conducting straw purchases at the direction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Exclusive documents obtained by Gun Rights Examiner show the dealer cooperated with ATF by selling guns to straw purchasers, and that bureau management later asserted these guns were being traced to crimes.

From the confidential source providing the documents:
The dealer…was sent a "demand letter," based on the number of traces to him, which was retracted after his attorney pointed out they resulted from his cooperation with ATF. (Strangely, he got two voicemails from two different ATF people, both saying they were the head of the tracing operation).

Some of the straw men turned out to have felony convictions, the agents called the FBI background check system and fixed it so the transactions would be approved, something which may also have happened in Phoenix. (The attorney wasn't clear as to whether the guns were actually delivered to the gangs).

If the guns did not make it to criminal end users, why the demand for the reporting requirement was made remains unexplained: A demand letter, dated February 14, 2011 and signed by Charles J. Houser, Chief, National Tracing Center Division, informed the dealer he was required to provide acquisition and disposition information on firearms obtained from non-licensees, as well as to provide quarterly reports, based on ATF’s assessment that the dealer “had an unusually high number of traces of new crime guns with a relatively short ‘time-to-crime’…”

In a response dated March 10, 2011, attorney Brent R. Weil of Kightlinger and Gray, LLP, informed Houser:
Specifically, my client participated with and cooperated in certain law enforcement operations during 2009/2010 at the behest of ATFE enforcement officers from the Evansville, Indiana office (Agent Kevin Whittaker) and in the course of doing so, followed their instructions regarding the completion of certain transactions and the delivery of firearms to purchasers who did not clear the standard NICS [National Instant Check System] background check and were suspected of being involved in the purchase and transportation of handguns out of state despite passing NICS’s background checks.

In order to verify ATF claims, Weil requested they “be given a list of the ‘ten or more crime guns with a “time-to-crime: of three years or less’ so that we can satisfy ourselves that we are not being improperly included in this program because of our cooperation with and/or involvement with ATFE enforcement activities.”

The response letter resulted in a voice mail from Houser to Weil on March 15, 2011, ignoring his request for the list of guns, but promising:
If…that count is composed of firearms that were, where your client was working in conjunction with ATF, we will get your client removed entirely from the program.”

That same day, another voice mail was received, this time from Brenda Bennett, also identifying herself as “Chief of the National Tracing Center,” who informed Weil:
I have verified the information in the letter. I talked to law enforcement and they confirmed what he had to say. Therefore, he is being removed from the demand list.

See the sidebar slideshow accompanying this article for screen captures of all documents referred to in this column. At the very least, as with “Project Gunwalker,” they indicate straw purchased guns ended up in crime traces, something those directing surveillance were well aware of. It also indicates the FBI and ATF were once again involved with allowing transactions rejected by NICS to proceed, indicating this practice could be more widespread than has been previously documented, and not confined to Southwest border operations.

Much more here

CA: Black woman fires gun at Latino home intruders who scrawled racist graffiti on her house: "A woman used a gun to fight off two men who forced their way into her house after spray painting racial epithets outside early Thursday, officials said. Two men, described only as male Latino suspects, scrawled anti-black graffiti on the outside walls of a home in the 12900 block of Lindale Street about 1:30 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Bill Evans said. They then forced their way inside of the home, occupied by a black woman in her 40s, he said. But the frightened resident was ready with a gun, the lieutenant said. "The resident, in fear for her safety, fired a firearm at the suspects," Evans said. "It doesn't appear anyone was struck." The intruders then fled from the home and were not found."

PA: Victim strikes back: "A 15-YEAR-OLD thug who tried to rob a Temple University student early Monday got an unexpected surprise when the college kid pulled out a piece of his own, in self-defense. The young gunman and two teenage sidekicks came upon Robert Eells, 21, and a friend just before 2 a.m. on 12th Street near Dauphin. He tried to rob Eells and opened fire, at which point Eells shot back, police said. Multiple shots were fired, and Eells was struck in the stomach and the robber in the chest and leg. Both were taken to Temple University Hospital, where they were treated and listed in stable condition Monday, police said. The would-be robber, whom police did not identify because of his age, will be charged, police said. Officers last night were looking for his two accomplices. Police said that Eells, a sophomore from Chalfont, had a permit to carry a weapon."

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