Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The Resurgence of Militarized ATF Raids Threatens American Lives...Yet Again



In the three decades since the disastrous ATF operation in Waco, Texas, which resulted in the loss of 82 civilian lives including 28 minors, and the death of four federal agents, it seems the agency has overlooked the consequences of unnecessary conflicts and extreme use of force that cost innocent, law-abiding American citizens their lives.

A recent report we published, which was met with widespread shock, disclosed the ATF has resumed its raiding practices. Unfortunately, it might not be long before another catastrophe takes place, and further innocent lives are lost. 

ATF officials, clad in tactical gear and armed with AR-15s, stormed the Oklahoma residence of Russell Fincher, a 52-year-old high school history teacher, casual firearms dealer, and Baptist minister.

It's noteworthy that Fincher welcomed the ATF officials into his home when they contacted him before the raid. As expected from a minister, he showed no resistance. However, ATF officers stormed his residence as though he was a significant threat in Southeast Oklahoma. 

Those who have encountered resistance beyond a peaceful pastor and his frightened 13-year-old son understand the gravity of this situation. Raids hinge on speed, surprise, and intensity of action – tactics that were not required at Fincher's humble home in Tuskahoma.

The ATF isn't the only federal agency adopting these aggressive tactics. Recently, the IRS has been militarized under the Biden-Harris administration, transforming it into another well-equipped paramilitary force that reports directly to the president, much like the ATF. These two agencies have even started carrying out joint raids.

A month ago, a combined IRS/ATF tactical squad raided Highwood Creek Outfitters in Great Falls, Montana. As ATF agents were barred from confiscating the gun shop's 4473s, IRS officials took them. They seized thousands of these forms, prompting Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen to voice his concern over the seizure, asking what the IRS would need with 4473s. It's becoming evident that all were handed over to the ATF. Fortunately, no casualties occurred during this raid, but how long can this good fortune last?

ATF's past is fraught with violence

The ATF's own record displays a blatant disregard for human life. The Waco catastrophe, the tragedy at Ruby Ridge where a U.S. Marshal Deputy and Randy Weaver's wife and son lost their lives, and the “Fast and Furious” operation, which led to the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of Mexican nationals, killed by weapons that ATF allowed to be acquired by Mexican drug cartels, show that the agency hasn't learned from these fatal events.

David Koresh and Randy Weaver often visited nearby towns. A local deputy could have easily apprehended either of them safely, but the ATF, once in tactical mode, seems to overlook simpler and safer enforcement methods. Suspects, who should be considered innocent until proven guilty, are seen as "adversaries," thus warranting a tactical response.

Flames engulf the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Susan Weems, File)

Many were optimistic that the ATF would learn from the Waco incident and halt their overuse of force, but the recent raid on Fincher's home suggests nothing has changed. Once they prepare for action, the ATF perceives lawful gun owners as adversaries, deserving the same response they meted out to Koresh and Weaver.

To clarify, Fincher extended an invitation to the officers to his home. A single special agent and a few inspectors would have been enough. The deployment of a SWAT team to invade Fincher's home, detain and handcuff him in front of his adolescent son, was unnecessary.

The looming threat of another Waco 

Raids pose a significant risk to both law enforcement officials and civilians. A single instance of poor firearm control could lead to fatalities. This is why most professional law enforcement agencies consider raids a last resort. However, the ATF doesn't seem to adhere to this principle. For them, everyone appears to be a potential criminal, so no level of force is considered too much.

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

If the ATF continues to treat lawful gun owners and firearms dealers as if they are hostile forces, it's only a matter of time before more innocent American lives are lost.

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