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There’s a civilian disarmament complex JournoList. How else do you explain the New York Times article on Governor Cuomo joining the Brady Campaign for Prevent Gun Violence’s upcoming crusade against “bad apple” gun dealers coming within hours of’s article Only 7 Percent of Licensed Gun Dealers Were Inspected Last Year? In the wake of Representative Gwen Moore’s Gun Dealer Accountability Act [via]? Anti-gun agitprop propagators are setting-up the push to punish (their word) gun dealers who legally sell a legal product to non-prohibited buyers. Right now the question is, are gun dealers “uniquely shielded from scrutiny”? Make the jump for The Trace’s case . . .

At most, federal agents are allowed to visit gun sellers no more than once every twelve months to ensure compliance with the Gun Control Act of 1968, which established the federal licensing system for firearms dealers and mandates that anyone in the business of selling guns adhere to certain requirements. Any additional inspections require a warrant.

The once-a-year rule is just the limit to how often the ATF can inspect a gun dealer. The agency’s goal is for its 780 inspectors to visit the country’s 140,000 licensed dealers every three to five years, a target they rarely meet. In 2013, only 42 percent of gun sellers had been inspected in the preceding five years. Last year, just 7 percent of dealers nationwide were inspected.

Even when an inspection raises flags, it can take a long time for agents to return. In the late ’90s, ATF inspectors arrived at Shawano Gun & Loan, a now-defunct gun dealer 150 miles north of Milwaukee, for an unannounced inspection and found that records were missing on the sale of at least 145 guns. Despite the violations, investigators didn’t return to the store for five years, citing tight budgets and overworked investigators.

Businesses in other industries with implications for public health are subject to tougher oversight. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects tobacco retailers as many times a year as it sees fit. The same goes for alcohol retailers, which are inspected by the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a division of the Department of the Treasury. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which regulates pharmaceutical manufacturers, is able to periodically audit registered controlled substance storage locations and laboratories across the country with no prior notice. It also enjoys wide latitude to shut down rogue Internet pharmacies.

Fair enough? Or fair enough, considering that the ATF has a habit of hassling gun dealers, period. Like this.

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  1. Considering that the ATF isn’t usually a benevolent entity when it comes to the products they have been placed in charge of regulating, I’m not complaining.

  2. “Question of the Day: Are Gun Dealers ‘Uniquely Shielded’ From Federal Oversight?”

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer: !#^% No.

  3. Does the BATF abuse their power and authority to harrass, intimidate and fabricate evidence to shut down as many gun dealers as possible?

    Does a BATF initiate an unnecessary raid that leads to the burning deaths of almost one hundred men, women and children?

    Does the BATF retaliate against a man that refuses to be government snitch that gets his son shot in the back and his wife shot in the head?

    Does the BATF illegally sell thousands of weapons to the Mexican drug Cartels that is then used to murder hundreds of Mexican citizens and a US government agent?

    The BATF, by it’s own actions, shows itself to be more of a danger to americans security, safety, civil rights and lives than any “bad gun dealer” they attempt to shut down.

  4. Gun sales and commerce in firearms generally are highly regulated. More regulated than, say, the lying sacks of sh!t who call themselves “journalists” and who have a high level of immunity to defame pursuant to New York Times v. Sullivan and a host of other Supreme Court cases.

    Liars with word processors are far more dangerous than good people with guns. Just remember Richard Jewell and countless others. Complaints by “journalists” about a lack of regulation simply reek of hypocrisy.

  5. If you actually read upon FOPA 86 it actually says the ATF can make a follow up visit for violations. Not only that but there is the belief of the ATF using visits as a tool of harassment to drive FFLs out of business. Just like the whole thing with CDC funding for “gun studies” being a punishment for them funding anti gun groups. They are just hoping people don’t understand or have forgotten why these measures are in place.

    What it also likely doesn’t take into account is what percentage of the FFLs out there are merely C&R where it’s one person who’s collecting for themselves? There are perks to being a C&R holder such as being able to have an SBR in IL that make it worthwhile.

  6. Absolutely, federally licensed gun dealers that also have to be audited every year by ATF and have to send paperwork in with every purchase are totally shielded from oversight.

    • As far as I know, FFLs are not required to “send paperwork in with every purchase”.

      But the truth is worse than that.

      They have to maintain purchase records on the premises for every purchase, filed in a manner that they can respond to any BATFE request for information about the disposition of any single gun, within 24 hours of being notified by ATF of a legal request (must be in conjunction with a criminal investigation). These records must be maintained for 20 years, and if the FFL chooses to not renew their license or the store goes out-of-business, all records must be forwarded to ATF headquarters for “storage”.

      Please note while this sounds simple to the computer-educated users among us, most of the time these records are old paper records, not electronic. Any popular gun store that’s been in business for 30 years or more usually has a room dedicated to file cabinets filled with 4473 forms and other required Federal paperwork.

  7. It is shocking that the Federal government needs a warrant to raid a business, it is almost like we live in a free society. It almost seems like they are saying there are not enough inspectors. With the 780 inspectors inspecting 1 dealer a day, not working weekends and having 3 weeks off, that allows 187200 inspections. That is more than enough officers to hassle a legal business.

    • The thing is, this could all be an “engineered” problem.

      The administration tells the ATF to cut back on inspections, documents the reduced numbers for a few years, then complains that they aren’t “able” to do inspections in a timely manner, which is used as either a lever to boost funding, or a club to beat pro-gun legislators into passing new laws/restrictions (as the anti-gun folks are doing right now with the 3-day background check limits).

  8. Okay, fine.

    Say just for the sake of argument we agree that FFLs should be visited once per year, instead of twice per decade.

    Crudely speaking, that means the agency has to have 5x more personnel. Practically, since bureaucracy scales faster than linearly, it will be more, but let’s call it 5.

    ATF’s funding in 2015 was $1.2Bn, according to their ’16 budget submission. Multiplying by 5 takes us to a clean $6Bn.

    So, which social program do you want to take that extra $4.8Bn out of, hm? After all this will keep people safer (heh) so surely you can justify doing it at the expense of other, perhaps less socially beneficial, spending?

  9. FTA:

    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which regulates pharmaceutical manufacturers…

    I’m sure that comes as a surprise to FDA, who are the ones who actually regulate and inspect pharmaceutical manufacturers, under the auspices of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. (And when they need muscle, they bring the US Marshals along with them.) DEA are only involved if there is a controlled drug substance involved.

    • The funny thing is that the DEA doesn’t do any better if you do some research.

      They are a multi time violator over a period of oh half a decade. Not to mention it is likely that many people died due to their lack of oversight. Over 4,000 people die a year in Florida alone due to this and 5 million people use prescription pain killers recreationally.

      Probably my favorite quote of the whole thing:

      “I considered it to be highly suspect that two of 14 pharmacies in a city of only 53,570 residents could alone be dispensing 7.2 million dosage units of oxycodone over an approximately three year period,” Leonhart said in court papers.

      Cardinal shipped two CVS pharmacies in Sanford enough of the drug to serve a city of 400,000, Clifford Reeves, a Justice Department lawyer, said at a court hearing in Washington on Feb. 29.”

      • Up until just a couple of years ago pill mills were a boom business here in FL. There were 4 of them within 5 blocks on one major road in Tampa near Raymond James Stadium. These places were in strip malls. Security looked like strip club bouncers. They were cash only and there were lines of people outside waiting to get in. The average RX a person walked out with was for 180 20-40mg oxytocin pills, 180 2mg (largest made strength) Xanax, and 90 muscle relaxers. The “clinic” also dispensed the meds from an in house “pharmacy”. Probably 80% of the cars in the parking lots were from out of state or rentals. It didn’t end until the state stepped in and stopped it. Fed oversight my a$$.
        Dealers put up with enough oversight. A large store can have an agent doing an inspection for several days or weeks and has to assign an employee to the agent to meet the agents every need. How about no oversite like it was pre 68. Guns are after all about the only product sold at retail protected from gov infringement.

    • Doctors and veterinarians have to buy licenses from the DEA, not the FDA in order to write certain narcotic prescriptions.
      I’ve reconciled the bank accounts and seen the checks (a few hundred $ IIRC) to the DEA.

  10. Shielded? According to your numbers, it seems FFL license holders are only protected by the ATF being too lazy/inefficient to trouble themselves by checking up on them.

    When the ATF does go after violators, the rules enforced are generally arbitrary ones. Lack of enforcement in those cases harms no one, and they enforce to the fullest extent of the law?

  11. If 780 inspectors each averaged one inspection per week, they’d visit each of 100,000 stores once every 3.5 years. If they’re not meeting the goal of every five years, it’s their own fault.

    They’ve even got other feds inspecting Alcohol and Tobacco sellers for them.

    • Come on, you know that at least half of those “inspectors” are managers, who only inspect the top of their desk and chair as they plop down and get comfy in their office about 4 days a week.


    No. Uniquely they have to do a ton of work FOR the fed’s oversight… without being compensated for it


  13. If “uniquely shielded” means not at all or harassed whenever possible then yes. If it means what it really means by the dictionary definition then no. By the newspeak dictionary definition I’m sure it means white privilege or something like that.

  14. I don’t know….except for the part where none of those things are specifically protected in the U.S. Constitution. I’ve looked. It’s not the 2nd amendment right to keep and bear tobacco, alcohol, or pharmaceuticals. The anti-gunbots argument is, that selling guns is no different than any other over-regulated commercial transaction. That’s the anti’s inherent, disingenuous nature. The Dark Side, it is.

  15. I was LOL at the question.
    I suppose if by ‘uniquely shielded’ you actually meant ‘uniquely subjected to scrutiny’…

  16. Not if you ask an FFL. I have known FFLs who got out of the business because of the ATF harassing them and having them jump through hoops..

  17. Gunsmiths have to have a FFL, as I do. And I don’t really deal in retail sales. Gunsmiths need to have a FFL, as do those who do checkering, engraving, finishing work, heat treating, testing etc on firearms for money. There’s no retail sales happening at any of these FFL’s, so the ATF tends to inspect them infrequently.

    Here’s how a gun ends up in my booK:

    1. Someone brings me a gun, wants X done to the gun.
    2. The work will take longer than one day. So it goes into the book.
    3. I work on the gun. The gun is on my book.
    4. When I return the gun to the customer, the owner’s name/address/etc is copied from the acquisition box on the line to the disposition line in the book for the same gun. There’s no background check, no 4473 form, etc, because the gun isn’t being transferred to anyone else. It’s just going back to the owner.

    And before GCA ’68, there was never a need for any of this BS.

  18. This is nothing but an attack on what is likely the most watched, regulated and scrutinized business in the USA. Selling firearms is legal and some people run a business to sell them. These sellers go above and beyond on a daily basis to try and protect against illegal acquisition. And in this if at any time there seems an infraction has occurred they will get an immediate visit from authorities. More propaganda. Don’t let the progressives destroy our Nation, that’s all I ask.

  19. Many moons ago I worked in a sporting goods store that sold firearms (long guns and pistols) and when the ATF showed up, they were always really easy to deal with. They would usually just look over the 4473’s the make sure that they were being filled out correctly and stored, etc… The whole thing rarely took more than an hour. The guy we dealt with said the only problems they really tended to encounter were related to missing information on 4473’s (boxes not being filled out, or filled out correctly). This idea that the anti-gun crowd has that these dealers are lawlessly dishing out firearms is extreme paranoia and delusion.

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