Monday, October 16, 2023

ATF Seeks to Muzzle Gun Owners of America Advocacy Group


In 2021, AmmoLand News disclosed documents that indicated the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had been using the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to surveil Americans without proper authorization. Often, these individuals were monitored solely based on associations rather than concrete evidence of misconduct. This revelation prompted the Gun Owners of America (GOA) to seek further details via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

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In a 2021 exposé, reporter John Crump unveiled that leaked ATF records showed a secretive surveillance operation targeting numerous legal gun buyers. This was accomplished by monitoring all gun transactions processed through the NICS system, as detailed by GOA.

After facing potential legal actions and a year of persistence, ATF released some information concerning the initiative. However, inconsistencies in redaction led GOA to seek complete versions of these records. Upon realizing their oversight, the ATF pressed GOA to erase all obtained records.

Yet, GOA resisted. They had legally received the documents from ATF and believed they had every entitlement to retain and utilize them for public awareness regarding unauthorized surveillance. In a subsequent move, the ATF sought a legal directive against GOA, demanding the deletion of the records and a commitment to silence.

This situation mirrored a prior incident involving AmmoLand News in the AutoKey Card case. In that instance, backed by GOA-funded legal support from Stephen Stamboulieh, AmmoLand News successfully resisted ATF's efforts to silence them. Now, with the tables turned, GOA has enlisted Stamboulieh to challenge another ATF attempt at suppression.

GOA firmly maintains that since they legally acquired the documents, they have full rights over them. They are willing to eliminate personal details like social security numbers but will resist a comprehensive deletion mandate. They allege that ATF's primary intention is to conceal their clandestine surveillance.

GOA's legal briefing emphasizes the importance of upholding First Amendment rights, highlighting the extraordinary nature of ATF's request and labeling it as potentially unconstitutional.

While ATF asserts a motive of privacy protection for its subjects, GOA counters this by pointing out the inherent irony. The ATF's very operation intrudes upon individual privacy. GOA's intention is to make these records available to Congress, suggesting that ATF might be keen on keeping this information away from its regulators.

GOA's briefing also notes, "It's a profound paradox that while ATF claims to safeguard gun owners' privacy, they are the very entity spying and collecting personal data on these individuals." GOA has urged the judiciary to uphold their First Amendment rights and dismiss ATF's claims against public interest.

With the ATF fervently attempting to suppress details about this operation, many are left pondering, "What is the ATF concealing?"

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  1. If you’re not doing anything wrong, there shouldn’t be anything to hide. Gee…where have we heard that before?

  2. From every Fudd ever.