Central Texas Gun Works
Central Texas Gun Works (Dan Z. for TTAG)
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Question: If you’re an individual who’s suing a federal regulatory agency and that agency then knocks on your door to conduct an audit of your business operations, is it reasonable to conclude that the two events are connected? Would it be fair to suspect the agency of trying to harass the plaintiff who’s been challenging their rulemaking…and winning?

That’s exactly what’s happened to Michael Cargill who owns Central Texas Gun Works in south Austin. Cargill was the plaintiff in the eponymous Cargill v. Garland bump stock case. Cargill won that Fifth Circuit battle resulting in bump stocks currently being legal in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

Cargill is also suing ATF, again in the Fifth Circuit, over the regulatory agency’s “zero tolerance” policy toward federal firearms licensees. Shutting down more firearm retailers is a key front in the Biden administration’s War On Guns™. Old Joe has made much of targeting allegedly “rogue” gun dealers. That has resulted in a 500 percent increase in federal firearm license revocations.

To accomplish that, the ATF has unilaterally redefined what constitutes an intentional violation of the law. If a buyer misspells something on a 4473 form, for instance, and the FFL doesn’t catch it, the ATF is now classifying those simple, routine errors as willful violations and using them as a pretext to shut them down.

As Cargill’s lawsuit puts it . . .

…[E]verything changed in the summer of 2021, when the Biden Administration announced a new policy to enforce the [1968 Gun Control] Act against licensees who inadvertently fail to comply. As part of this effort, the Acting Assistant Director of the ATF George Lauder issued a memorandum instructing ATF Special Agents in Charge and Directors of Industry Operations to revoke FFLs for a single violation in many circumstances. Since then, revocations have increased over 500%, as the ATF has effectively written the word “willful” out of the statute by instituting a policy of revoking FFLs for inadvertent paperwork errors.

This new definition of “willful” violates the plain language of the governing statute and puts all law-abiding licensees at risk of revocation for minor and inconsequential paperwork errors that do not pose a threat to public safety, nor result in prohibited possessors obtaining firearms. Plaintiffs, who operate a gun store in Texas, seek a declaration that the ATF’s new enforcement policy violates the Act and a permanent injunction preventing Defendants from ignoring the Act’s requirement that violations be willful.

Given the fact that he has pending litigation against the firearms regulatory agency working its way through the federal courts, you can imagine Cargill’s surprise when four ATF agents showed up at his door the last week of June to conduct a “standard firearms compliance inspection.”

They did so without bothering to notify his attorney or the court.

I stopped by Central Texas Gun Works last week to talk to Cargill. He confirmed that CTGW was “due” for another inspection given that it had been almost five years since he last had the pleasure of hosting the ATF’s finest. He also told me the number of inspectors doing the audit wasn’t unusual given the large number of transfers he does in his business.

But auditing someone who’s suing you — showing up without any type of prior notification to their legal counsel — isn’t just bad form, it smacks of retaliatory intimidation. Cargill’s representatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, who filed the suit, got in touch with a counsel at the ATF who claimed, ‘Gosh, we didn’t know CTGW was on the audit list.’


Basic legal practice dictates no direct contact between parties to pending legal action without at least contacting the other party’s attorneys. It’s not a law, but it’s standard procedure. You’d think that might be doubly important when the target of the lawsuit regulates the plaintiff who’s suing the agency.

That didn’t happen here.

It’s easy enough to believe that a federal regulatory agency like ATF is big, lumbering, and bureaucratic enough for its industry operations inspectors to not be aware of a pending lawsuit by one of the businesses they regulate. It’s also easy enough to believe, given other actions by Biden administration agencies, that this was a ham-handed (“chickenshit” was how one attorney I talked to described it) attempt at harassment by a thuggish regulatory agency with little regard for the law or the Constitution.

You make the call.

Cargill’s attorneys notified the court that the defendant in the pending lawsuit is currently inspecting the plaintiff. The ATF filed this notice in response, acknowledging that yes, they are inspecting the business of the man who’s suing them and they pinkie swear they’ll notify his attorneys of any further actions against him.

…Defendants have expressed to Plaintiff, and Defendants confirm to the Court, that ATF will ensure Plaintiff’s counsel is notified of all further communications regarding the inspection. At the time the inspection was commenced, the inspecting IOIs were not aware that Plaintiff was involved in this pending litigation or represented by counsel. That issue has been remedied, and counsel will be notified of all further communications.

In other words: Oopsie! Our bad!

As of last week, when I talked to Cargill, he told me that in addition to examining his A&D book and inventory, he estimated the ATF folks had inspected about 13,000 transfer transactions and 4473 forms and found seven errors. One buyer had misspelled the word ‘Austin.’ One had entered his Social Security number in the wrong box on the form. One had written ‘TX’ instead of Texas.

These are the kinds of routine typos and mistakes that are inevitable in any business where humans are involved. Seven out of 13,000 is a 99.95% accuracy rate (a standard the ATF itself couldn’t possibly meet). No reasonable person could conclude that is indicative of “willful” violation of the law.

But under the instructions issued by ATF brass in 2021, that’s exactly the standard law-abiding FFLs are being held to. And that’s why Cargill has sued to stop it.

The inspectors finished their work at Central Texas Gun Works last week. Cargill hasn’t gotten their official findings or conclusions yet. Will ATF see seven typos as evidence of willful disregard for the law and try to pull his license…the license of someone who’s currently suing the agency over exactly that kind of willful, politically-motivated misreading of the law?

We’ll see. Stay tuned.

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    • Because no woman would ever lie about rape, and must be believed? 🙁

      • …..and when they find out she’s made a fool out of them…they get mad at you…go figure…

  1. The fascists in the white house have weaponized the doj and the alphabet agencies. They have turned them against political enemies, not real criminals. Show trials and then the gulag.

    We are way past due Nuremberg 2.0.

    • You are forgetting the prelude. You don’t think they are just gonna go meekly to the dock do you?

  2. Just remember that these “regulatory” agencies do not hold themselves to the same level of accountability standards as they do mere citizens.

    BTW, the BATFE’s internal database of licensees and criminal targets shows there current inspection status as well as other matters pending. There are no reasons for “oopsies”.

  3. If this inspection results in a license revocation, then the plaintiff will have suffered an actual injury, which gives them standing to bring a lawsuit. So actually, BATFE’s IOIs are helping the plaintiff make their case.

    • So this guy ADMITS that he was long ovedue for a COMPLIANCE inspection for which notice does NOT have to, be given because it would negate the effectiveness of the inspection in mthe first place and he was inspected. He admits that the number of Inspectors FOUR was not unreasonable as well given the size of his business. So he gets INSPECTED by FOUR Inspectors. I don’t get the problem .

      • Al! How ya doin’, subject? I was hoping that you’d stop by — maybe you can explain this little problem that you Brits seems to have with knife violence:

        UK: Record Number Of Repeat Knife Crime Offenders Spared Jail, One Offender With 45 Convictions

        According to Ministry of Justice data, the number of criminals with repeated knife convictions going free with a suspended sentence has more than quadrupled, rising from 543 in 2012 to 1,027 last year.

        The statistics obtained by the press under the Freedom of Information Act said that 4,213 convicted knife offenders appeared in court last year for repeated offenses.

        Nonetheless, 1,064 of those received community sentences or deferred sentences. The number of repeat offenders sentenced to immediate incarceration has decreased from 3,531 in 2019 to 2,609 since 2022.

        Since 2017, anyone above the age of 16 who commits a second knife offense faces jail time. Adults would reportedly receive a minimum of six months, while those aged 16–17 would receive four months. However, judges have the option of not sending the defendant to jail if it would be “unjust to do so in all the circumstance.” ” — https://www.oann.com/newsroom/uk-record-number-of-repeat-knife-crime-offenders-spared-jail-one-offender-with-45-convictions/

        Don’t you think you should refrain from commenting on American weapons laws until you can get a handle on your own goddamned criminals, ya limey bastard?

      • Albert L J Hall, you wouldn’t. You see the man filed a suit against the ATF and then he gets inspected? If you can’t smell that stink, then you have a problem with your nose.

      • This is the equivalent of “Nice FFL you have there, shame if something happened to it.”

        As a question, would the law suit be mooted if he loses his FFL?

    • So a guy who admits that his REGULATORY INSPECTION for COMPLIANCE was long over due and that considering the size of his business FOUR inspectors was not unreasonable gets INSPECTED BY FOUR inspectors as required by the Regulatory authority.
      With it so far CHRIS??
      So some idle buggers chain was pulled as a reminder so what? It happens What bloody difference does it make as to the timing? Totally, totally irrelevant.
      By making a fuss and getting you lot involved I bet he’s REALLY ,REALLY pleased that his head has now appeared above the parapet! Those that poke the hornets nest WILL get stung.
      I would not be at all surprised if AGENCIES out there make notes about every comment on these pages . I’d actually be surprised if they didn’t in these days of PERSONAL MEDIA.

        • Seriously, again?

          That ‘joke’ went flat a long time ago.

        • When he puts in enough effort to merit a better response he may receive it otherwise why argue with the broken?

      • siralbertofnuttingham…The reason you are concerned about snoops is because you live your life as a subject.

        There was no reason for 4 nazis to show up looking for wrongdoing at the Gun Store in question because there was no wrongdoing other than the nazi’s wrongdoing you appear to be giddy about.

        There are numerous laws that do not allow you to sell a firearm to anyone who you know is a train wreck or indicates they may be a train wreck…Like yourself because it would be a cold day in hell before you handled firearms around me much less me ever selling a firearm to you…Not f-n happening ol’ chap.

      • So “BRITISH SUBJECT” has now admitted he/she/it is involved in “SNOOPING AND REPORTING” for the US GOV’T!!!!!

      • Albert L J Hall, it is up to the ATF to do their inspections timely. To do one while a suit is pending against the ATF smacks of undue pressure due to the lawsuit being filed against them If you can’t see that, you need new glasses.

      • Albert J. Hall

        What don’t you understand you tea-sipping simp? Cargill is represented by counsel (an attorney), he is suing the ATF for a second time (he won the first case which infuriates the Feds) thus ALL communication whether in person or by mail/email/phone between him and Federal law enforcement agency personnel MUST go through his legal team who are entitled to be present for all such encounters which may include “questioning”.

        • Albert J. Hall doesn’t understand that. He has been raised in the UK’s modern day form of feudal tyranny, they don’t have things like unalienable rights and legal precedent that lay the foundation for a requirement for such to happen. He doesn’t have the slightest understanding of what unalienable rights are, they don’t have those in the UK and what they do have is what their government over time has told them what they can have and do and their government controls that. Basically they have ‘government permissions’ framed to be called ‘rights’ in word (but not unalienable), like in the feudal days with the kings permission for something to be but everything still belonged to the king.

  4. After last week’s TX nut case destroying his shotgun to demonstrate his disdain for firearms you can expect there are lots of democRats like him in Austin celebrating what amounts to the Gun Control military wing of the democRat Party known as the kkk raiding a Black owned business for no viable legitimate reason. They hate you and your Gun just like the kkk hated Blacks and nazis hated Jews…History repeating itself.

  5. Not sure on this one need more info.
    It’s easy to believe that in a gov org one hand doesn’t know what the other three are doing. Their all in somebody’s business trying to see what they can find.
    OR was this retaliatory? Only four and no mention if they were in delta force mode operating operationally.

    • If I remember correctly the Naught-zz’s and the $$ were snappy dressers also.

    • Dan. Thanks for the clarification. Four didn’t sound like enough for a full on rodeo. They would need at least a dozen for that. Just the average goat rope. Keep us updated. Thanks again.

    • “This was not a raid.”

      Aren’t FFLs required to open the books if the ATF darkens their door, even with zero warning?

      Smells like a ‘raid lite’ to me, if they have the power to pull their license…

  6. If they pinky swear, it’s legit.

    You can trust government agencies. All of them. Why wouldn’t you?

  7. Of course they will pull his FFL, it should be clear that the 3 letter mafia and biden don’t give af.

  8. At this point, any honest person working for any of the agencies under DOJ, HHS, DOD, Homeland, etc. that are not writing their letters of resignation or have put in their 2 week notice, they are complicit and condone the over reach and likely illegal actions of the Federal government.
    I understand soldiers not going AWOL or deserting, but anyone re-enlisting or not resigning their commissions as soon as possible is included as being complicit in these crimes.
    The time is coming soon for a reckoning. Just following orders is not acceptable.

  9. “Oopsie! Our bad!” equals one 4473 “Oopsie”……same consequences…..revoke ATF existence.

    At the risk of being flamed for defending the ATF, the inspectors that showed up to actually perform the inspection, quite probably did not know that apecific FFL was suing ATF. But, the question is how this FFL showed up on their inspection schedule. Does software print out who gets scheduled for audit based on length of time since last audit, or other criteria such as previous audit outcomes? Or, did a higher up….who actually was aware of the pending litigation….place this FFL on the audit schedule?

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