John. J. Miller's inventory (courtesy bostonglobe.com)

“A New Hampshire man allegedly sold a military-style assault rifle, a shotgun and thousands of rounds of ammunition to an undercover federal agent who was part of a joint investigation with Tewksbury police,” bostonglobe.com reports. Holding that joint: our good friends at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (And Really Big Fires). Just in case you thought this was yet another case of the ATF manufacturing a crime, you’re right! Well, maybe . . .

[John J.] Miller drew the attention of law enforcement when he allegedly attempted to illegally sell firearms in Tewksbury and one other Massachusetts community, officials said. As part of that investigation, Miller met with an undercover ATF agent at the Holiday Inn on Highwood Drive in Tewksbury, officials said.

During that meeting on Tuesday Miller allegedly sold the assault rifle, a shotgun, and more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition, officials said. He was arrested as he left the meeting, and authorities found a loaded handgun inside his vehicle.

Question: if the Tewksbury po-po and the big guns at the ATF knew Miller was selling firearms illegally, why didn’t they monitor his movements, wait for him to sell a gun illegally and then arrest both buyer and seller? Perhaps that would have led to other criminal prosecutions.

I know: that takes honest-to-God police work. Time. Money. And it’s not half as fun as posing as a buyer. And the ATF doesn’t seem to have much experience nor the taste for traditional police work. But hey, if entrapment – or something not far from it – takes one “military-sty;e assault rifle” off the street it’s worth acting as if a citizen is innocent until made guilty. [/sarc]

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86 Responses to ATF Entrapment of the Day: Tewksbury Edition

  1. If you could only see how that looks from here ATF / MA / VT / ME / NY / N.E., you’d beat yourselves with a wet flip-flop.

    Tell you what, you drag your sweaty a_ _es down here, http://www.tulsaarmsshow.com/home.html [we know the ATF will be there, probably scanning the lots for various license plates and drinking beer on the job] and see what it looks like to eat at the adult table (you’re not allowed to stay, we’ll chase your dumb butts back home so you don’t screw things up around here). But you’ll see how pissant you (work so hard to) look.

    • Please don’t lump ME, NH, and VT into this. ME and VT are two of the least restrictive states in the country (constitutional carry), NH is shall issue in 10 days. No magazine capacity limits and no silly registration.

      Last I check OK wasn’t constitutional carry.

        • ME has a two term Republican Governor. NH, VT, and ME have the least restrictive firearms laws in the country, regardless of representation. The crap laws in NY, NJ, CT, RI and MA don’t bleed into our borders.

          A simply simple search would do you both wonders 😉

        • Those are all liberal states, HEAVILY [PREDOMINENTLY] BLUE, we don’t find ourselves arguing much over red state Conservative stuff. Ever.

          Get red like us and you won’t have to whine about how people call you blue . If I make you hate yourself, I CAN’T HELP YOU. If I don’t, I CAN’T HELP THE REST OF US.

        • Northern New England is ‘Exhibit A’ proving there is no correlation between gun laws and gun/violent crime.

          Among the safest states in the union, usually in the top 5 safest states – check!
          Among the least restrictive gun laws in the country, actually the world – check!

          We are not MA/CT/RI, and definitely not NY or NJ. It would be a pretty good trifecta if NH could eliminate their concealed handgun permit requirement.

        • NH has 50% D, 50%R on a national level. R’s reclaimed one of the congressional districts, by same guy who lost it. On a state level, have R majorities in house and senate. yes we have a anti freedom Dem gov, but that’s still a 4/7 pro gun reps (overall , Ayotte’s a little squishy) . VT despite being Dem repeatedly kills Gun control bills in their state. But please, tell me again how things are getting worse…….

        • Joe R. is a perfect pawn of the two party system. Ignoring the total lack of firearms laws in three states because they are “blue”. Hell, NH passed constitutional carry only to have it vetoed by the governor, and the other 2 have constitutional carry (with VT never requirement a permit ever!). Is this a gun forum or a RNC forum?

        • It’s fun to play like guns are the only problem with satan’s evil blue house of (D)heads. Two party system my a_ _ if N.E. Had two we might be ~ ok. Instead we got red and blue there selling ‘blue is ok too’ bs. You’ll only hear me pitch Conservatism, it’s an easy sell if you’re even slightly paying attention. The super-majority (by wide margin) claim to be Republican / “ref” because that’s where Conservatism is most often preached, but would gladly trade for a truly Conservative party and believe many others on the blue team would sign up. I am very caustic / hard-lined in addressing all things liberal / blue because Conservatism has historically gotten such a bad wrap from libs who are wholly ignorant to how we get-along. Conservatives are typically silent about it, and absorb a lot of abuse quietly from liberal POS’ mf’s. That’s gotten us nowhere, so F dat. Libs, you suck, watch your a_ _. You don’t rate my urine if you were on fire, and you are even worse when you kind is paired with any badge or pyblic office. This is, and will be a permanent bone of contention, and I have been extremely consistent in my comments about it.

        • Last I checked, OK had a law against CCing anything over .45″-caliber, which means I can’t carry my .46. You lose! Good day, sir!

        • Maine also just passed a law requiring the Chief Law Enforcement to sign off on Suppressor applications.

          Looks like OK requires a permit to open carry, or you can carry open but unloaded in SOME areas…hahahaha NH, ME and VT? Nope.
          Carry a firearm over .45 in OK? Nope. NH, ME and VT? 30-06 pistol if you want.

          OK’s Constitution:
          Section 26 of the bill of rights to the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma states, “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons. ”

          ME’s Constitution:
          “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms for the common defense; and this right shall never be questioned.”

          NH’s Constitution:
          All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.

          VT’s Constitution:
          That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State — and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.

          Looks like the GOP in OK doesn’t give two craps about gun owners.

        • You seem to have neglected to include your definition of a “conservative”, which leaves us with nothing but your silly “red vs blue”, “dem vs rep” claptrap on the subject. WTF do you think defines a “conservative”?

  2. Is that a Pmag in the shotgun? Or is it the dreaded” clipazine” a dastardly multi caliber, multi gun assault clipazine?

  3. What makes this an illegal sale, other than perhaps a MASS specific state law? And if that’s the case, why is the ATF involved at all?

    • Cross state lines? ATF and MA po-po like to meet strange men in border-town hotels at night, plus, if they book the room, they get the frequent flyer miles.

    • Wondering that also. What, specifically, was illegal about this sale? A guy want to buy a lot of guns at one time. What is wrong with that ? Was he a convicted felon or is there something else going on here ?

    • You need a license in MA to buy or possess guns/ammo and if the transaction doesn’t take place at an FFL there’s a form you are both supposed to fill out. Also, unless he had a non resident LTC he shouldn’t have been in the state with guns anyway.

        • The guns were presumably manufactured in another state or otherwise were involved in interstate trade.

        • If you recall Waco, for two weeks after the initial murders, the only reason we heard for the raid on a religious compound by 100 armed ATF agents hiding in horse trailers was that Koresh was molesting little girls. Had me SCREAMING at the TV, wtf does that have to do with alcohol, tobacco, and firearms? No one in that organization has any idea about any law, they do what they damn well please, make up some excuse later. We really, really need to eliminate the entire agency, making sure none of the employees are allowed to transfer to any other federal LE agency. Individually and as a group, they are totally out of any control, and dangerous to themselves and anyone around them.

    • Victimless unconstitutional laws:

      John J. Miller pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Lowell District Court Wednesday to charges including trafficking firearms, sale of an assault weapon, possession of a large capacity assault rifle, and 11 counts of possession of a large capacity ammunition clip. Bail was set at $20,000 and Miller was ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device and not to leave Massachusetts.

      11 counts of a large capacity ammunition “clip”

      This guy definitely needs to become a slave for the state, working for his slaveholders in prison, while he makes them money. When he is released he’ll get to have “some” of his supposed “rights” back for this crime that didn’t have a victim.

    • Exactly. MA specific laws. Large capacity mags are illegal, he got charged with 11 large cap. Also the AR can’t have both the pistol grip and the adjustable stock, one or the other, but not both. The shotgun is also a “large capacity” shotgun.

    • Exactly. MA specific laws. Large capacity mags are illegal, he got charged with 11 large cap. Also the AR can’t have both the pistol grip and the adjustable stock, one or the other, but not both. The shotgun is also a “large capacity” shotgun.

    • Looks to me like a guy trying to liquidate a personal collection, which would be illegal if he did not have the permission of the owner, shall we say? Other than that, I can’t imagine. Could it be that an ATF agent is a prohibited person?

        • Then you just have to make sure you comply with the laws of your new state of residence. A “transfer”, legally speaking, means a change of ownership.

        • So, if I move, then a few years later sell one? Transfer? What’s that? I’m going to transfer a fart from my butt to their lungs…

      • I thought you only needed an FLL to ship the gun. So if I am out of town and meet a fellow enthusiast and we broker a trade, I can’t use my frequent flyer miles and bring it to him even if the State he lives in is a free State? And if the State is some anti American shithole, why is the local LE agency not enforcing this? The FLL isn’t even going to open the box. WTFF!?

    • I am pretty sure the right to keep and bear arms was infringed upon in this case.
      Hampering the free trade of guns from person to person is one definition of infringement.

    • Hard to consider anything that happened “breaking the law” when absolutely none of it would be illegal (or even uncommon) here in AZ. Except for that crossing a state line business, which somehow makes it OK to ruin the guy’s life. Nothing about this bust sits right with me.

        • Welcome to “interstate commerce”. I have seen feds convict for an 80% lower being sold to a prohibited person because the aluminum was cast in another state. There are worse examples of the feds misusing the interstate commerce act.

        • We have too many laws and it seems like most of them are written so vaguely that the Feds can interpret them anyway they want.
          Our laws are an overflowing septic system and the Democrats have diarrhea. All the Republicans do is clean the toilets.

  4. So he was already involved in these illegal activities, which attracted ATF attention. When the ATF set up a buy, he allegedly again committed the crimes he’s already been involved in. Sooo…..what’s the problem? That’s routine and legitimate law enforcement.

    Now, I don’t agree with those laws on constitutionality, let alone as a matter of policy. However, those are separate issues; issues for the ballot box, state legislature, and appellate courts. Until resolved in the political and/or constitutional law realms, it’s the law of the land, which this alleged criminal knew full well.

    You keep using that word “entrapment.” I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    • Yeah, if the facts as presented are true, it’s hard to see how this is entrapment. Entrapment means the LEOs are inciting someone to commit a crime they otherwise wouldn’t. Sounds like this dude was already selling illegally across state lines, and it’s probably a lot easier to make a case stick if you set up a fake buyer than trying to catch him selling to someone who’s not in on it.

      I think the laws he (allegedly) broke are stupid, pointless, and unconstitutional, but it sounds like the guy was already breaking them before the ATF got involved.

    • I agree. The article isn’t exactly clear on what law he broke, exactly, but it doesn’t sound like there was any extraordinary inducement on the part of the police. It’s not entrapment, not even a close call.

      • Both the buy and the sale are illegal. Who was the buyer? That is entrapment. Oh you say the ATF did this for a noble reason? What if the seller was trying to make extra cash to take care of his sick mother in law? Cops should not be above the law for any reason.

        • No, that is NOT entrapment unless you are using ‘entrapment’ apart from it’s legal meaning.

      • From the original Boston Globe article, the charges include “trafficking firearms, sale of an assault weapon, possession of a large capacity assault rifle, and 11 counts of possession of a large capacity ammunition clip.”

        The trafficking part sounds like selling without a federal firearms license. You can buy and sell your own guns at your own leisure, even turning a profit on them along the way. However, they have to be your personal firearms and you cannot be engaged in commercial trade for the purpose of earning a living, unless you have an FFL.

        There’s no magic number as to how many guns sold in what time frame constitutes dealing without a license, but I’d bet the quantities involved in these cases aren’t usually aon the borderline, anyway.

        The other charges seem to be just that he had such items and they were illegal, like the magazines.

    • Given that the ATF is busy jackbooting inherently unconstitutional laws, I wouldn’t feel bad if all the brownshirts involved got lit up when they tried to entrap the wrong gun runner.

        • I agree. I think as the government steps up its campaign against gun owners, you are going to see more violence and bloodshed.

  5. Let’s be fair to the brilliant, honest and dedicated ATF agents who brought down this one-man crime wave. John Miller, fool that he is, was trying to sell a “military-style assault rifle.” If that puppy was a “Hello Kitty-style assault rifle,” he’d be off the hook.

    Lesson learned. From now on, all you hoodlums out there had better paint your rifles pink. For the children!

    • Yep, a pink AR-15 would really mess up that mean assault rifle/shotgun/ammo mug shot those dweebs at the BATFE (and other totalitarian supporting police agencies) always have for the useful idiot media types.

  6. Five bucks the guns and ammo get “tested” by the cops at a local gun range. After which they will be “destroyed” and end up in some cop’s home.

  7. 1st THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ASSAULT RIFLE !!! every time someone uses the term they show their STUPIDITY and lack of Knowledge of the English Language !! it’s just a rifle (if it has a rifled barrel) it is either Automatic, Semi-Automatic, Bolt Action, Lever Action, pump action, or single load………a Rifle is a Tool, it functions or it fails to function, it can not Assault you !! without a human, it’s the Human that does the Assaulting not the Rifle. With Massachusetts Gun laws what’s the Moron doing selling guns in mass if your from NH ?? id i was selling a gun i have a few requirements, Drivers license that i will photo copy in my scanner and a copy of your CCW that i will also Copy, and you MUST come to ME, if any state lines are to be crossed that is the BUYERS problem !!!

    • Assault _rifle_ is pretty well accepted to mean an intermediate caliber, select fire or full automatic shoulder fired weapon used by a single person. Assault _weapon_ is where we start to have problems.

    • You can copy whatever you want…FEDERAL LAW states ALL transactions a cross state line require an FFL. Period..no matter what state you live in

    • You sell to an out of stater and it’s BOTH of your problems if and when something happens…with all your photocopies and bill of sales…not going to matter…

    • What Hasdrubal says. It’s essentially a translation of the german Sturmgewehr as in the STG44. It denotes exactly what Hasdrubal lays out, as those where the demands for the rifle when they had it designed. The phrase “assault weapon” is used when something cannot be said to be an actual assault rifle but someone wants the masses to fear it in the same way.

  8. It’s starting to seam like the term “entrapment” is going to be the new “passive voice” here at TTAG. It has a defined meaning, and it does not mean “police tactics I don’t like used to enforce laws I disagree with.”

    • Well, last post–and it was pretty what I came here to say. We need to stop throwing the word “entrapment” around so cavalierly hereabouts. It is a viable defense to a criminal charge but it does have a specific meaning in each jurisdiction where it may be used.

      • Entrapment:

        In criminal law, entrapment is a practice whereby a law enforcement agent induces a person to commit a criminal offense that the person would have otherwise been unlikely to commit. It is a conduct that is generally discouraged and thus, in many jurisdictions, it’s a possible defense against criminal liability.

        ATF agent: I need everything for a 3gun match. An AR, a shotgun, a pistol, and plenty of ammo for practice. I need it in a hurry. How does 20 grand sound for that?

        New Hampshire man: Huh???! Yeah! we can do that! 20 grand you said?? Damn – i’ll make that happen.

        • I don’t know that it applied in this case though.

          “He drew the attention of law enforcement when he allegedly attempted to illegally sell firearms in Tewksbury and one other Massachusetts community, officials said.”

        • Two points: that’s a really generalized definition of “entrapment” that really doesn’t convey the degree of law-enforcement inducement that is necessary to trigger the defense. And, as you note, even that definition probably wouldn’t apply in this case.

  9. If one decides to sell firearms privately you must still abide by the law governing such sales .If this transaction had taken place within the State of NH all would have been on the up and up as long as the seller is not buying then selling more than 5 guns in a calendar year.but even still it is good practice to do a transfer through a FFL holder.This benefits the seller by allowing him to know who he is dealing with,unless of course the buyer is known personally by the seller

  10. Enough with the “entrapment” articles already. Every writer at TTAG is intelligent enough to understand what entrapment consists of, and smart enough to know that these are not examples of entrapment. I disagree with these laws as much as you do. However, words mean things; you can’t redefine them to suit your needs. Please stick to the truth and the facts, unless you are consciously trying to borrow a tactic from the civilian disarmament complex. If that is the case, maybe you should rename your website.

  11. I had read from another source this guy wanted to meet the ATF Agent over the border in NH(his home state) but he was pressured by the Agent to do the transfer just over the border. If that is the case I call it entrapment.

  12. Mr. Farago uses the word “entrapment” the same way Diane Feinstein uses the word “assault rifle.” He either doesn’t know the definition, or it’s just hyperbole to disparage the people involved. Frankly, this tactic undermines his credibility.

    Yes, there are a lot of stupid laws in this country. But selling a few guns and a few boxes of ammo LAWFULLY is REALLY NOT THAT HARD. Especially if you live in New Hampshire!

    Our prison populations are full of dope pushers, bribers and extortionists who, frankly, belong there. They were caught through sting operations and many of them never would have been arrested through other means.

    • Sting operations = entrapment.

      We only have the cops’ word that Mr. Miller was engaged in illegal activity before they set-up the sting. If they had proof that he was selling guns illegally, why not arrest him?

      As for “many of them never would have been arrested through other means” then . . . don’t arrest them. The ends do not justify the means.

      • From a prosecutorial standpoint, it’s a lot easier to make a case with a LEO “star witness” than with a criminal “star witness”, who may wind up being unavailable for one reason or another anyway. Also if you are controlling the environment you can set up recorders, both sound and video, that are better evidence than someone’s unsupported testimony.

  13. At least the ATF is concentrating on the real bad guys and leaving the Mexican cartels alone. God bless our govt flunkys. Where would we be without them keeping us safe? I shudder to think.

  14. @ JOE from OK – Yeah, Joe. Your state is soooo Conservative that you had to remove the 10 Commandments from the capitol grounds. Good one. I have seen some really Liberal legislation get passed in recent years in the state of OK, so quit beating your chest like your state is the bastion of Conservatism all others should be measured by.

  15. “Psst. Sell me your virgin underage daughter for a million bucks.”

    “A million bucks, sure.”

    “You’re under arrest for child trafficing and endangerment.”

    “ENTRAPMENT!, Lousy cops messing with an innocent man.”

    • These days, sex with underage children is merely a lifestyle choice, whereas gun owners are demons from the deepest part of hell and deserve to be persecuted right back to where they came from.

  16. How many armed citizens do you think it would take to stop this one?

    I see this coming soon. What would you do if that was you or your family?

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