More than a year ago, TTAG noticed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) was subverting the very gun laws it was sworn to uphold (enabling straw purchases from Badger Guns). And then drug thugs wielding ATF-enabled firearms murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Between now and then there was talk of disbanding the ATF. If only. As we wait for the denouement of the showdown between Congress and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder over Operation Fast and Furious, it’s important to remember that the ATF is profoundly anti-gun rights and fundamentally corrupt. Our man Ike sent us a not-so-subtle reminder [also posted at cleanupatf.org] by parsing a press release from the ATF public information office . .
Alaskan Congressman Don Young met with ATF Deputy Director Tom Brandon [above] on May 18, 2012. Congressman Young had sent a letter on April 24 which called on the ATF to explain why its agents had been visiting Alaskan gun dealers and asking for copies of their gun sale records . . .
During today’s meeting Deputy Director Brandon assured me that this is not an accepted practice at the ATF…
Mr. Brandon also used the meeting as an opportunity to affirmatively state that ATF has never maintained a database of lawful firearms owners; is not permitted by law to create and maintain such a database; and has no intention whatsoever of collecting any information for such a database.
These are absolute, bald-faced lies. ATF has been copying FFL Bound Books for years – with or without FFL permission. During annual compliance inspections in other states, FFL dealers have reported that ATF industry operations investigators (IOI) brought in digital cameras and photographed the entire dealer “Bound Book” without permission of the FFL holder. Other dealers reported investigators brought in digital scanners and scanned portions of the Bound Book – line by line. Of course, the Bound Book contains the dealer’s full record of lawful firearm sales transaction records.
“ATF has never maintained a database of lawful firearms owners“? Oh, yeah? What about this:
The ATF Firearm Tracing System (eTrace) provides manual & automated data retrieval of lawful firearms owners and transactions from the following sources:
1. All previous firearms traces from all sources,
2. Dealer, Importer, and Manufacturer computer, paper or microfilm “Bound Book” Out-of-Business records (including digital files required by ATF Ruling 2008-2),
3. Dealer “Bound Book” records (computer and/or paper) copied or photographed by ATF during annual inspections.
4 ATF Form 4473 from dealers copied or photographed during annual inspections and in Out-of-Business records.
5. Multiple Firearm Sales reports (ATF F 3310.4)
6. Traditional trace phone calls to the manufacturer, distributor and final selling dealer,
7. Additional data sources, such as some state firearms sales records as required by state law or policy.
8. Dealer “Bound Books” over 20 years old voluntarily sent in to ATF, including some antique firearms allowed to be entered in “Bound Books”.
9. Stolen firearms reported to ATF (Not NCIC).
10. System 2000 automated retrieval system from manufacturers, importers and distributors (100 companies as of 2010)
11. Certain firearms dealers required by ATF to report certain used firearms transaction to ATF for entry into the Firearms Tracing System.
12. For every firearm reported stolen to the NCIC stolen firearms database, New Jersey now automatically submits a trace to ATF (NJ Trace System). ATF is reported as working on a similar program.
13. Some state firearm registration systems are being loaded into the ATF tracing system.
14. In a press release, New Jersey admits tracing (from police records) all of private gun purchases into the ATF Firearms Tracing System through eTrace. By state law, New York and Connecticut also require tracing of all such private purchase firearms.
15. ATF hired private consultants to catalog information on firearms and submit trace requests from police departments to ATF.
16. ATF has imposed a requirement (pilot project) to report all dealer multiple sales (2 or more) of all semi-auto rifles with a detachable magazine greater than .22 caliber. (Currently restricted to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – border states with Mexico). This requirement
includes 100 year old Model 1907 Winchester rifles, WWII M1 Carbines, German G43 rifles, FN 49 rifles, and many other historic firearms of primary
interest to collectors which are not known to be used by Mexican drug catels. Over 7,000 lawful firearm sales reported to date.
This is not an inclusive list, as other sources exist.
Lawful firearms owners and transaction records are held in the following ATF databases at ATF’s National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia:
1. Multiple Sale Reports. Multiple handgun sales reports (ATF F 3310.4 – a registration record with specific firearms and owner name and address). Reported as 4.2 million records in 2010.
2. Suspect Guns. All guns “suspected” of being used for criminal purposes but not recovered by law enforcement. This database includes (ATF’s own examples), individuals purchasing large quantities of firearms (including collectors of older firearms rarely used in crime), and dealers with “improper” record keeping. May include guns “observed” by law enforcement in an estate, or at a gun show, or elsewhere. Reported as 34,807 records in 2010.
3. Traced Guns. Detail results from all traces, no matter how innocent. A total of 4 million trace records since inception. This is a registration record of lawful firearm owners which includes Name and Address of the first retail seller and Name, Address and personal information for the first lawful purchaser. This information is fully reported to the requesting agency – including corrupt Mexican, Central American, and South American Police.
4. Out of Business Records. Data is manually collected from paper Out-of-Business records (or input from computer records) and entered into the trace system by ATF. These areregistration records, indexed by serial number, which include name and address, make, model, serial and caliber of the firearm(s), as well as data from the 4473 form – in digital or image format. In March, 2010, ATF reported receiving several hundred million records since 1968.
5. Theft Guns. Firearms reported as stolen to ATF. Contained 330,000 records in 2010. Contains only thefts from licensed dealers and interstate carriers (optional). Does not have an interface to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) theft data base, where the majority of stolen, lost and missing firearms are reported.
ATF holds hundreds of millions of lawful firearm owner and sale transaction records.
And Mr. Brandon has the gall to say, “ATF has never maintained a database of lawful firearms owners“? Really? Is the above information wrong?