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This website has repeatedly attacked the idea that “trace guns” are the same as “crime guns.” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) encourages every U.S. law enforcement agency—and now our allies abroad—to run an ATF trace on every single gun they encounter, regardless of its source. If the cops recover a stolen gun that wasn’t used in a crime, it’s still traced through the ATF. The ATF lumps it in with all the other traced guns. The media can’t be bothered to make a distinction between traced guns and the ATF ain’t sayin’ nothing ’bout ‘dat. Their silence speaks volumes. Here’s another example of the ATF’s bias against gun dealers in high crime areas and generally. It’s from a presentation to foreign governments called Every Guns Tells a Story, explaining the ATF’s eTrace system to our “partners” . . .

Click here to download the whole document. Check slide number 39, Potential Firearms Tracking Indicators:

Identify FFL’s in your Area Who May Cater to Criminals

•By utilizing the Top Source Dealer report, you can potentially identify FFL’s who are known as a criminal friendly FFL [emphasis added]

•Use Search for Transactions and select all transactions to pull multiple sales, and FFL thefts for the FFL to determine if any of the multiple purchases are ending up being involved in gang crime (ATF/TFO).

It may be a small point, and it may not, but since when are targets of investigations called “criminal” by a federal agency without charges being filed? Clearly, this cavalier conclusion reflects a cultural bias against gun dealers within the ATF.

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  1. Oh, Robert. Please. Do you really think that there aren’t gun dealers who are crooked? Do you really think that every single FFL is a paragon of virtue? Can we agree that there are gun dealers out there who are, in fact, venal scumbags, who either know they are selling to straw purchasers or, suspecting, they are, choose to look the other way? And can we agree that until The Great Farago Ellysium arrives and ATF is abolished, the agency is charged with policing gun dealers? If we can agree on all that, can we not also agree that ATF is doing its job *enforcing the laws we have* (to use the NRA mantra)? It is one thing to defend the RKBA, to criticize abuses thereof, and to agitate for fewer and more permissive gun laws. It’s something else to defend gun dealers who make all of us look bad by breaking the law. If ATF identifies an FFL who is playing fast and loose with the rules, I say bust him. That doesn’t infringe anybody’s rights. In fact, it strengthens them.

  2. Innocent until proven guilty. That’s how we roll in The Land of the Free. Empowering the ATF to go trolling for dirty dealers without a warrant, to assemble an illegal gun registry, to simply assume that any dealer with a large number of traces is a bad guy (note the data crunching issue above), does not jibe with my idea of justice and/or liberty.

    As for the ATF itself, the agency’s powers, scope and obvious overlap certainly don’t fit any notion of a limited government. The Founding Fathers would have recoiled at the notion of a superfluous federal agency like the ATF.

    Kissing the ass of gun control folks who would register all sales of all guns and videotape all gun purchases (as stated in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ shell group’s manifesto) just to appear “helpful” is not my idea of a sound strategy to protect our RKBA.

    The ends do not justify the means. Not in my world. How about yours?

  3. I don’t know, but yes, there might be gun dealers who who break the law. On the other hand, I do know that there are BATFE agents who have broken laws. They never do any time because, I suspect, it’s BATFE policy to be a law unto itself. To be perfectly frank, I’d trust a renegade gun dealer before I’d trust the BATFE.

  4. I believe Robert Farago with his philosophy. I have know of gun stores and dealers who have inadvertantly gotten into the quicksand of BATFE inspections and regulations. These people are usually ruined and prosecuted. You MUST realize that agencies like BATFE NEED to get SOMEBODY once in a while, and with their virtually unlimited power and budget, how can a citizen stand up against it? For me, it’s a miracle that anybody at all wants to sell guns or ammo. Many of us out here are leery of EVER selling a gun to ANYBODY, and so how do we dispose of a private collection, many decades old, without being tripped up somehow? How do we keep our collection OUT of the Form 4473/Brady NICS swamp?

  5. Robert – I normally agree with you but I might not be getting the point of that last part.. I believe the document would be more accurate to say criminal-friendly. I didn’t read it that they were calling the FFL a criminal but that he “might” be one because he is “friendly” to criminals. Maybe that was your point as well, but I don’t think it is wrong for them to say “we might be seeing a pattern that might mean this FFL is breaking the law”. That’s how investigations probably should start, right?

    Now I personally don’t trust the ATF at all and I’m sure there is evil intent as the ends justify their means.

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