ATF Death Watch 144: Long Gun Registry Abuse Begins

One of the most compelling arguments against gun control: laws affecting legal gun purchase and ownership put the government on a slippery slope towards gun confiscation. One of the least compelling arguments against gun control: laws affecting legal gun purchase and ownership put the government on a slippery slope towards gun confiscation. Gun control advocates—and those who view the government as a benign entity—dismiss any mention of creeping tyranny as the paranoid ravings of firearms-fixated members of the lunatic fringe. The ongoing Fast and Furious scandal has highlighted the divide . .

On one side, gun rights advocates see the ATF’s “Guns for Goons” program as a government conspiracy to promote gun control. On the other side, supporters sell the feds’ Fast and Furious anti-gun smuggling gun smuggling as a “botched sting”: a virtuous though misguided attempt to shut down the “iron river” of illegal guns flowing from US gun stores to Mexican drug cartels. Now here’s a fun fact bound to fuel both sides of the “debate”:

Federal agents in South Texas have opened 123 criminal investigations as a result of a new requirement that border-state gun stores report customers who buy two or more large caliber rifles in the same week, especially those preferred by Mexican drug cartels.

The ATF’s multiple gun reporting regulation for border state gun stores was created out of whole cloth by the Bureau just as the Fast and Furious scandal was breaking. The reg requires 8500 gun dealers in four border states to file a same-day report on any sale of two or more larger than .22 caliber rifles to the same buyer in a five-day period.

Originally mooted as an “emergency measure” to deal with U.S. to Mexico gun smuggling, the ATF registry morphed into a “pilot program.” Which will now automatically renew. The registry was created by Executive Order, bypassing Congress and violating federal rules against the creation of ANY federal gun registry. After a trip to court, the long gun registry was unleashed.

And now chron.com reports that the ATF has launched not one, not two, not three but 123 criminal investigations into potential gun smuggling—in The Lone Star state alone. But don’t worry because . . .

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Wednesday that it is not looking at everyone who makes multiple purchases, but those who draw suspicion for other reasons, such as repeatedly buying the same guns.

People like veterans of the Fast and Furious operation; buyers paid by Uncle Sam to smuggle guns to Mexican drug thugs? All non-kidding aside, what are the odds that every one of these 123 investigations is focusing on “real” criminals? The ATF will never tell.

So think of of it this way: either the extra-legal ATF gun registry is a great success or the ATF is hassling legitimate gun buyers. Hassling as in bringing all the tools of federal law enforcement to bear: financial audit, surveillance, search, seizure, the whole Uncle Sam schmeer. At least potentially. For the foreseeable future.

The ATF long gun registry is What Me Worry for those who like gun control. For them, the UK paradigm applies: if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to fear. And if a legitimate gun buyer or 100 get caught up in the effort to stem the tide of guns to Mexican drug cartels who couldn’t possibly purchase a gun any other way than through American gun stores (e.g., “seepage” from official U.S. military sales), that’s OK too.

For those of us on the right [side of the issue] the ATF registry opens a new chapter in big government creep. It’s only a matter of time before the registry spreads to other states and other calibers and other time periods. This as Canada kills its gun registry as expensive, intrusive and useless.

Worse, the ATF’s long gun registry establishes an extremely dangerous precedent: the ATF can do whatever the fuck it wants to do.

It’s a principle that’s been established though Fast and Furious; an illegal program that enabled the murder of two federal law enforcement agents and hundreds of Mexicans. A scandal where not ONE government employee has lost their job or, for that matter, served prison time. With the registry, the ATF has shown its true colors. And they are not red, white and blue.