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By Lee Williams

ATF’s severely underworked public information officers are flustered. A story we first published Monday about a surprise firearm inspection at a Delaware man’s home has gone viral, exposing their agents’ misdeeds and questionable tactics.

Now, ATF’s PIOs are answering questions from the national media and an irate Montana Congressman. Before, the PIOs didn’t even answer their phones.

The story chronicled the plight of a law-abiding Delaware man who asked that his name not be published. Two ATF agents and a Delaware State Police trooper showed up on his front porch – unannounced – wearing tactical vests, t-shirts and dirty jeans.

They pleaded with the homeowner to show them several of his firearms. One of the agents told the man they were investigating whether he had committed a “straw purchase,” since he had bought seven firearms since January. If they could just see his guns, they said, they would leave immediately and not have to return. They did not have a search warrant.

The homeowner’s security system captured a video of the encounter.

To be clear, no one from ATF commented for the story prior to publication – neither the Resident Agent in Charge of ATF’s Wilmington, Delaware field office, nor Amanda Hils, PIO for ATF’s Baltimore Field Division or anyone at ATF’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Things changed on Tuesday after the story was published. Hils issued a quick statement:

On 2022-07-19 12:32, Hils, Amanda M. wrote:

Good afternoon, Lee — Thank you for reaching out and I appreciate your patience with my reply. ATF does not release the process in which it conducts investigations.
I hope you have a great day.
Amanda M. Hils
Public Information Officer
ATF Baltimore Field Division

Both the Washington Times and the Daily Caller began asking ATF questions about the incident. The ATF sent them similar statements:

“The ATF defended itself in a statement to The Washington Times, saying the agents’ actions were ‘entirely appropriate.’ ‘We are unable to comment on the details of any ongoing investigations; however, interviews are an entirely appropriate part of the investigative process for any law enforcement agency,” the Washington Times reported.

According to the Daily Caller:

“A spokesperson for the ATF said they ‘are unable to comment on the details of any ongoing investigations; however, interviews are an entirely appropriate part of the investigative process for any law enforcement agency.’”

Wednesday night, Mils sent another statement describing the process ATF uses to conduct such investigations, which she had previously said was secret:

The Delaware State Police partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) via a task force model to help combat gun violence in our state by investigating potential illegal gun purchases made by individuals on behalf of others who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, also known as straw purchases. At times, this leads to interviews conducted by task force officers, which are non-custodial, voluntary interviews done in full compliance will all applicable local, state, and federal laws. ATF and DSP remain committed in our mission to reduce violent crime and help make communities safer.
Amanda M. Hils
Public Information Officer
ATF Baltimore Field Division

Possible Congressional inquiry

The story caught the attention of at least one Congressman. According to the Washington Times, Montana Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale was not pleased and he wants answers:

“The ATF must answer questions on why they decided to conduct an illegal search, especially since the homeowner had done nothing wrong. These actions by the federal government are unsettling, and they have no business going door-to-door to see who owns firearms. I fear that there will be more illegal inspections to come as the Left continues its assault on our 2nd Amendment rights. Congress should investigate this immediately.”

When he learned about the possible congressional inquiry, the anonymous homeowner said only, “Hell yes!”


ATF’s claim that these task force interviews are “voluntary” is laughable. Most folks are not attorneys, so when three armed men wearing tactical vests marked ‘POLICE’ carrying sidearms show up on their front porch unannounced, they don’t realize they can tell them to leave and slam the door.

ATF is using the public’s legal naiveté to their advantage. In fact, they’re counting on it. This is not law enforcement. It’s intimidation.

The Delaware homeowner had done nothing wrong. He had the financial means to purchase a few firearms, which is a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment, so he bought a couple of guns. That is not a crime – at least not yet.

That fact that ATF declined to comment about the Delaware encounter because it was an “ongoing investigation” is ludicrous. What federal crime did the homeowner allegedly commit? Is there a grand jury investigating his lawful firearm purchases? Does he need a lawyer? If the agents had actual probable cause that he committed a crime, they would have gotten a search warrant, rather than waiving a page from an illegal gun registry.

It should come as no surprise that this encounter came just a few days after ATF’s new director, Steve Dettelbach, was sworn in. Dettelbach is notoriously anti-gun. When he ran unsuccessfully for Ohio Attorney General in 2018, he was endorsed by Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Everytown for Gun Safety. During his campaign for AG, Dettelbach called for reinstating the failed federal “assault weapon” ban and for universal background checks.

These warrantless home intrusions make it crystal clear where the new director is taking the agency. Under Dettelbach, the ATF is ready, willing and able to serve on the front lines of Joe Biden’s war on our guns.

Expect the worst.


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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

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  1. Well guess Delaware has entered the totalitarian race to the bottom for constitutional rights.

    • I would have handed over my badge before participating in such nazi ss shenanigans.

      The uninvited three on the doorsteps obviously had no integrity and are not to be trusted. If they had evidense of the home owner making a straw purchase like the Gun Control democRat spaceman Giffords attempted to do they would have a search warrant.

      IMO..The three nasty nice bullys used their positions in LE to incite unwarranted fear and intimidation on an innocent citizen…That spells Lawsuit.

  2. We will talk when you have a warrant. My end of the conversation will be,’Lawyer. Now.’

  3. Wondering if it is “legal” to tell interviewers, “I am going to call 911 to have your credentials, and this contact, verified. After that, I will call my pre-paid self-defense attorney to seek legal advice. I am now closing and locking my door, until I complete those calls.” And after locking the door, forget to make the calls?

    • The jackbooted ones would then charge you with “Lying to a federal law agent” (18 u.s.c. § 1001)

      • “The jackbooted ones would then charge you with “Lying to a federal law agent” (18 u.s.c. § 1001)”

        Is forgetting something the same as falsifying, concealing, or covering up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact”?

        Old people sometimes forget, and put ice cream in the microwave, or completely forget to set the cook time on a microwave dinner.

        Can’t tell you how much time I have spent looking for the TV remote that was in the pocket of my house robe.

  4. There are times it is good to be on a tight budget. If I were wealthy, I might go buy 11 guns one morning, just to see what happens next.

  5. The ATF itself is inappropriate… but he better be glad they were nice and really didnt want to be there…look at ruby ridge and Waco… they really really wanted to be there and a little if people were MURDERED in the process…If he didnt cooperate with them, THEY would be back…It wouldnt end so well..

  6. So I guess we are no longer “Secure in our property and possessions”?? We just submit to warrantless search and seizure now. If that’s the ATFs definition of “entirely appropriate”, I’d hate to see what they thought was inappropriate.

    • Burning down a family ranch compound filled with children? Shoot mothers holding babies? Executing an ambush on a snowcovered rural road? NOPE all approved for ATF thugs.

  7. When the time comes that in-home searches of gun owner homes becomes the norm and frequent, I have devised a plan to thwart and FRUSTRATE the jack-booted government thugs.
    I will not reveal it on any means of communication that the govt can observe, only to those I know and trust in person.
    Think about their search methods and tools used. You might come up with how I will accomplish that mission.

    • Exactly. Those pr!cks in the article pictures are the real face of tyranny. Without their enablers the other pr!cks wouldn’t dare even peek out the window. Then we have Uvalde…

      • I have to wonder, were they really officers? No officers i know would come to check guns and NOT be dressed in official uniforms. These 3 had the vests, yes, but wearing OLD JEANS & T-SHIRTS???WTF. They supposedly showed ID or at least 1 did. I would have told them I am checking your ID Locked the Door and did exactly that & if genuine asked for their LEGAL authorization to check my guns

        • These 3 had the vests, yes, but wearing OLD JEANS & T-SHIRTS

          Maybe they were triple double super-secret undercover types…

  8. Show up at my door looking to see my stuff you better have a warrant (good luck getting THAT in FL) and a local cop.

  9. There’s nothing they or any other “weaponized” fed agency is doing that’s appropriate! They know it, we know it, they know we know it……..

  10. The American people need the BATFE budget zero’d out. Decommission that agency.

    All records shredded.

    • All records retained long enough to process criminal and civil charges agains the former employees of said agency, and then destroyed immediately afterward

  11. “unable to comment on the details of any ongoing investigations”

    So it’s an ongoing investigation?

    • So many ways to lie: resort to half-truths(lie), twist(lie), avoidance(lie).
      Don’t believe me, then just ask most any politician a question.

      • Yeah they’re FOS. I mean, what comes next? Monitoring from an unmarked van parked down the street just in case this poor guy commits a crime? Maybe they’re going to interview every person in this guy’s life to find out if he sold any firearms. Ongoing investigation my a$$.

  12. “Do you have any reason to suspect that I’ve committed a crime? No? Then stop bothering me and come back when you have a warrant or not at all.”

  13. “I’ll be happy to cooperate as soon as you show me a valid search warrant. If you don’t have a warrant, please leave my property immediately and come back when you do. Have a nice day.” Close and lock the door. If they’re not gone in 2 minutes, dial 911 and report armed trespassers on your property.

  14. If the ATF continues this it is going to eventually result in serious injury or death. Eventually the ATF is going to get more aggressive in assuming authority they do not have.

    • Their next visits will be at 2am announced when CS gas (the old type that also releases fatal doses of carbon monoxide gas) and flash bangs are thrown through the windows.

      All based on an “anonymous tip”.

  15. “ATF is using the public’s legal naiveté to their advantage. In fact, they’re counting on it.”

    You’ve described *ALL* law enforcement from top to bottom here. Speeding tickets to murder investigations, in any case that isn’t a slam-dunk obvious one, the whole thing is based on getting you to screw yourself over because you don’t know any better.

  16. it’s really a no win situation…if you don’t comply, they will come back with a search warrant they got some leftard judge to sign and they will just seize all your guns and it will take months if not forever to get them back…these people aren’t above falsifying documents to take our stuff…

    • they will just seize all your guns and it will take months if not forever to get them back…

      No, they won’t, a warrant must be specific and state exactly what they are looking for and why. They cannot just start grabbing your stuff and hauling it away. If they have a warrant then cooperate, film the whole encounter show them what they came for and escort them to the door. A warrant to “verify” a serial number does not give them authority to seize anything.

      • Try and stop them while you’re handcuffed and have a boot on your neck.

        That computer may have child porn on it. Seize it for examination. That TV may have been used to view child porn. Seize it. Can’t produce receipts (a bit hard when you’re ‘cuffed)? Items may be stolen.

        • You must have forgotten, this is not Australia, we still have courts and rule of law and this ATF action would never get that far. A warrant would never be issued just because some guy bought a couple of guns and if the fucking “jackboots” put their foot on my neck they better make sure I don’t get up because I’ll be a very wealthy man if they do. The purchase of more than one gun is not illegal either federally or on a state level and it is not reasonable to suspect that a law-abiding citizen would suddenly start breaking federal straw purchase laws.
          That computer may have child porn on it. Seize it for examination. That TV may have been used to view child porn. Seize it. Can’t produce receipts (a bit hard when you’re ‘cuffed)? Items may be stolen.
          You obviously don’t understand how warrants work in the U.S.

    • Yep, once they get in your house it’s a free for all. If they cant find an illegal gunm theyll find an illegal gunm.
      The Delaware dude did the smart thing, may have not been the Right thing but seeings how Rights are to trampled on he saved himself a bunch of money fighting it in court.

  17. What a load of bollocks. I’ve watched the videos and from waht I saw the occupant was informed of his rights and was told hbis co-operation was voluntary THAT’S why they had a Police Officer in attendance. THe occupant then voluntarily fetch3d the Rifle in question and the Serial Number was checked. The Officers involved then departed, >

    I rather doubt that this occupant was the one and only person visited so let’s hear about some of the rest INCLUDING those that did NOT co-operate and those that did NOT pass muster and were involved in the STRAW FIREARMS trading.

    I notice that there is NO denial that such transactiions are taking place and that they ARE illegal. Surely responsible gun owners of America have and absolute duty to abide with the law as it stands and not as they wish it to be and assist in the detection of such illegal trade that does their cause absolutely no good at all.

    Surely it is in their interests to put a stop to it or is it that so many, in other respects legal, gun owners are involved that they are running scared?? After all as I understand it a STRAW FIREARM carries at least a 50% markup.

    Byb the way as you might know I live in the uK and everything I say is based on information that is in the Public Domain and easily available . My opiniions are base on that information using logic and some critical thinking -so a sadly lacking it a seems on these pages/. I do NOT profess to be right and am ONLY expressing opinions. As more information is gained then I am quite prepared to change those opinions.

    A person who CANNOT change his or her opinions in the light of further knowledg and experience is a FOOL

    • Prince Albert, once again the “actual” point has evaded you. I’m sure that Nanny State where you allegedly live allows this stuff to happen and you willingly drop to your knees on command but in the United States there is a thing called the Constitution and then there is the rule of law and since there were no laws broken (there is no federal or state law against buying two guns at the same time) the ATF had NO authority or even a REASONABLE suspicion (which is why they didn’t have a warrant because they could not get one) to come knocking on this guy’s door. We are not Communist China or Russia YET. Again, I would suggest that you concern yourself with things that affect you personally and leave American issues which you know NOTHING about to Americans.

    • I agree with MaddMaxx you do not seem to grasp the cultural differences and in this Country they need a warrant to do what they did. You actually need to prove probable cause with evidence that someone in fact committed a crime.
      There was no crime here and that individual would have been within his rights to ask them to leave is property and simply go in the house and ignore them. If they try to enter the house by force then he is free to invoke what we call Make My Day or Castle Domain laws and defend himself and his property with deadly force if necessary.
      Now most of these ATF guys are pretty tuff when they have you outnumbered and out gunned, but they are going to run into some people who have them outnumbered and outgunned and they are going to learn a very nasty lesson when that happens.

  18. I would like to offer how to handle a situation like that particularly for those who are not faint of heart. First never leave the inside of your house or unlock a screen or storm door. Always keep something between you and them and never let them in without a warrant because when you do that you have given them consent which is not good. Next ask for a warrant right off.
    No warrant, no discussion, ask them politely to leave the premises. If they don’t call 911 and tell the local police you have trespassers on your property. There is NO law that prevents you from buying more than one gun at a time using the NICS background check. That entire affair was an effort at intimidation and those guys knew it and as far as I am concerned broke their oath of office following an order like that.

    People need to be physically prepared to repel anyone attempting to breach their home including law enforcement without a warrant. You must stand and fight or these people will have you on a dog leash in no time. Make up your mind Live Free or Die.

    Also, never register your firearms and never give them up if you bought them legally. There is no such thing as a buy back because they never sold the firearms to you in the first place.
    Stand your ground and Molon Labe to them.

  19. Several years back I read an article in the SF Examiner in which it was stated that California knew where over 20,000 felons are who are in possession of firearms.

    Nothing was ever done.

    Nothing STILL is not done.


    If something was done , theres a good chance that folks wouldnt feel the need to arm themselves for protection. Jerry Nadler , can you hear me ?

    When was the last time you read an article stating that the ATF , FBI or whoever , conducted any form of checks on the REAL criminals ? Sounds like Chicago would be a great place to start. But they dont care about gang bangers with guns or cartels at the southern border with guns , they seemingly only care about some poor bastard in Delaware.

    Off to the side , its just like the FBI investigating parents at contested school board meetings while groups like Janes Revenge carry on with their activities.

    FBI , ATF and others ,we hear you loud and clear…

  20. @Country Boy
    “Just claim “plausible deniability” like Hunter and Joe Biden do?”

    Could do that, but probably forget the phrase. I could write it down, and put it in my pocket, but likely forget which pocket.

  21. Missed trolling opportunity.

    “You’ve purchased seven guns since…”

    “Wow, schools must be really bad where you’re from huh? You can’t even get your decimal point in the right spot.”

    *closes door*

  22. it wasn’t an illegal search, the homeowner consented. NEVER CONSENT. He should have told them to #vk off and shut the door.

  23. The ATF is testing the waters. They want to see just how far they can push Americans, before the people say “enough”. At this point, it seems that Americans are willing to put up with just about everything short of being hauled off to a FEMA camp somewhere. I surmise when the ATF (and the other alphabet soup agencies) start door-to-door gun confiscations, and start shooting people like this Delaware man, instead of being all polite and nice, maybe, then, people will realize that it CAN happen here.

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