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Posted: 8/18/2005 4:37:38 AM EDT
From the VCDL email list:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), who seem to go out of their way to alienate gun owners with their heavy-handedness, behaved in a shameful manner this last weekend at the Showmasters' gun show in Richmond.

I had reports from members of police going to their houses while the member was waiting for their approval to purchase a gun at the show! The police asked the spouse and other family members questions about the purchases and filled in a survey! "Did you know your husband was going to a gun show today?" "Did you know your husband was going to buy a gun today?" and many other such questions.

If no one was home at the gun purchaser's house, the police went to the neighbors! "Did you know that your neighbor was buying a gun today? How do you feel about him doing so?"

One member, who was carrying a personal gun to sell, was approached by BATFE and taken to a car while they checked him out. The officer said in front of Showmasters' management, "Did you know you need a business license to sell a gun at this show? I have seen you at a lot of shows - are you in the business of selling guns? I think you are." That's called a fishing expedition and intimidation. In the end they let the VCDL member go because their fish hooks came up empty.

They had over 17 BATFE agents at that show. Richmond and Henrico had a large number of officers running to the homes of anyone purchasing a handgun to ask questions.

I guess Mayor Wilder is flush with cash all of a sudden. Too bad he didn't use that money to put all those cops into the rougher neighborhoods of Richmond, instead of harassing the decent citizens who buy guns at a gun show.

And, if you are sitting down, the main BATFE agent at the show told Showmasters' management that Richmond was going to be the model for this kind of behavior across the nation!!!

BUT, THERE IS GOOD NEWS.

Steve Elliott, who heads up C&E Gun Shows and is affiliated with Showmasters, along with Annette Gelles, who heads up Showmasters, went to Washington with some lawyers to get this straightened out on Monday. (BTW, Steve told me that he has spent in excess of $10,000 this year on legal fees fighting this kind of abuse.)

Steve and Annette were told by the BATFE in DC that BATFE would no longer be sending officers to people's houses who were purchasing a firearm and that what happened in Richmond should not have happened.

We will be watching carefully to see if BATFE keeps its word or not. Report any such abuse immediately to VCDL, along with the officer's name, badge number, and department.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 4:50:34 AM EDT
Holy Crap! If this is true (and I don't doubt that it is), we've entered a whole new era. Just when you think the days of Waco are behind us, they come out and declare war on gun owners.

I'm absolutely stunned. I can't even put into words just how angry this makes me.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 7:00:10 AM EDT

Steve and Annette were told by the BATFE in DC that BATFE would no longer be sending officers to people's houses who were purchasing a firearm and that what happened in Richmond should not have happened.


I'm confused by this. It's the VSP that runs the instant checks, not the ATF. If the ATF was somehow dispatching the Henrico/Richmond police officers as requests came in from the show, they would only have been able to do so AFTER being informed of the request by the VSP (who typically have someone on hand at the shows to process instant checks, BTW).

Which would mean that if this is indeed true, that this was sponsored by the VSP as well. Why no mention of that in the email?

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 7:59:31 AM EDT
you know i remember reading about someone else who used to do the same thing. he even had every gun owner register there weapons with the govt. i didnt know the atf, state police, or the local police were followers of this person. oh, and if you dont know who i'm talking about it would be HITLER. i can promise you, if that had happened to me i would have my lawyer so far up the atfs ass over invasion of privacy and harrassment they would need the largest ennima ever created just to have any kinda boul movement.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 8:22:41 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 9:38:51 AM EDT by Hank_Rearden1]
Outrageous.

I am going to pos this in the GD so that we can get more exposure. Here is my letter to Sen. Allen. I hope that he can use his sentaorial oversight power to ram this hard on the BATFE:



The Honorable Senator George Allen
SR-204
Washington, DC 20510-4604

RE: Recent Reported BATFE Abuses in Richmond


August 18, 2005

Dear Senator Allen:

I am writing to inform you that the Virginia Citizens Defense League VCDL has alerted its members of recent abuses by The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) at Showmasters Gun show in Richmond the weekend of Aug 12, 2005. Calls made to BATFE, Richmond State Police, and officials at Showmasters, as well first hand reports by VCDL members present at the event, confirm that the actions took place.

As an American and a Virginian, I am deeply alarmed by the events that took place and I would appreciate if your office would call upon BATFE to explain the actions that transpired and, if appropriate, be held accountable for what may appear to be violations of professional practice and perhaps law, i.e. harassment and the conduct of surveys by Government officers and officials which result in the release of non-public, private information related to private firearm purchases.

The VCDL member alert is presented here detailing some of the specific actions and abuses that took place:

=================================

VCDL Alert Aug 18, 2005:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), who
seem to go out of their way to alienate gun owners with their
heavy-handedness, behaved in a shameful manner this last weekend at
the Showmasters' gun show in Richmond.

I had reports from members of police going to their houses while the
member was waiting for their approval to purchase a gun at the show!
The police asked the spouse and other family members questions about
the purchases and filled in a survey! "Did you know your husband was

going to a gun show today?" "Did you know your husband was going to
buy a gun today?" and many other such questions.

If no one was home at the gun purchaser's house, the police went to
the neighbors! "Did you know that your neighbor was buying a gun
today? How do you feel about him doing so?"

One member, who was carrying a personal gun to sell, was approached
by BATFE and taken to a car while they checked him out. The officer
said in front of Showmasters' management, "Did you know you need a
business license to sell a gun at this show? I have seen you at a
lot of shows - are you in the business of selling guns? I think you
are." That's called a fishing expedition and intimidation. In the
end they let the VCDL member go because their fish hooks came up
empty.

They had over 17 BATFE agents at that show. Richmond and Henrico had
a large number of officers running to the homes of anyone purchasing
a handgun to ask questions.

I guess Mayor Wilder is flush with cash all of a sudden. Too bad he
didn't use that money to put all those cops into the rougher
neighborhoods of Richmond, instead of harassing the decent citizens
who buy guns at a gun show.

And, if you are sitting down, the main BATFE agent at the show told
Showmasters' management that Richmond was going to be the model for
this kind of behavior across the nation!!!

BUT, THERE IS GOOD NEWS.

Steve Elliott, who heads up C&E Gun Shows and is affiliated with
Showmasters, along with Annette Gelles, who heads up Showmasters,
went to Washington with some lawyers to get this straightened out on
Monday. (BTW, Steve told me that he has spent in excess of $10,000
this year on legal fees fighting this kind of abuse.)

Steve and Annette were told by the BATFE in DC that BATFE would no
longer be sending officers to people's houses who were purchasing a
firearm and that what happened in Richmond should not have happened.

We will be watching carefully to see if BATFE keeps its word or not.
Report any such abuse immediately to VCDL, along with the officer's
name, badge number, and department.”


==========================

Senator Allen, as always, my family appreciates your consistent support of the 2nd Amendment and thanks you greatly for your excellent service to our great Commonwealth and Nation.


Best Regards,

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 9:40:28 AM EDT
I was at the show both days. I did not see, hear, or otherwise detect any of this going on.

I did see a larger-than-normal state and local police presence. But I didn't see them scrambling in and out anywhere. I'd like more details before I raise the "oppressive government flag"- like how many people this happened to (if it happened at all), anything missing from the story (like people being questioned for legitimate reasons and then spinning the story), etc.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 9:48:42 AM EDT

Originally Posted By gplg:
From the VCDL email list:

Richmond and Henrico had a large number of officers running to the homes of anyone purchasing a handgun to ask questions.



There wasn't a single Richmond officer there. The show (like every show in this area) was in Henrico and the only LE there was VSP and Henrico PD. And apparently ATF, though all 17 of them that were supposedly there must have been incognito, since they didn't have a booth and I didn't notice any of them.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 1:32:41 PM EDT
I am absolutely furious at the latest abuses of the BATF - in MY HOME TOWN?!! I am about ready to man the next gun show with a video camera and confront these f'ers. Seriously.

dbrowne - I appreciate your skepticism. We should all make sure before we begin acting. Unfortunately, there were multiple reports of this happening. Here's some info from one of the gentlemen who purchased a firearm at the show and had his house visited. He said that an officer (either state of Henrico) visited his Henrico home and spoke to his wife for 10 minutes or so. He asked about what the husband did with his guns, if she knew he was buying it, etc, etc. Here are some excerpts:

"I talked to the wife, here are the questions that she remembers.

How long has he lived at that address?

Cell Phone number?

Do you know your husband is purchasing a gun at the gunshow?

The officer was Henrico and had a questionaire.

The officer told the wife that it was being done throughout Richmond and Henrico."

I think we are doing the entire nation a diservice if we let this happen again in our town. The BATF has stated we are the testbed for the rest of the Nation. This is just nuts....

Black Fox
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 1:58:08 PM EDT
By the way, here's a thread from another board of the guy who was held up for selling a firearm:

www.americanminuteman.net/forums/showthread.php?t=4289
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 2:10:18 PM EDT
I wouldn't think Douggie Wilder would have anything to say about what goes on in Henrico county since he's the mayor of Richmond. At the show last March there was a Henrico cop eyeballin' the .300WSM that my brother in law was trying to sell. I told him it would be a good varmit gun for him and he replied yeah for the varmits across the street.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 3:32:10 PM EDT
The only words you need to know are these: Doug Wilder.
Jackass Extraordinaire...
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 3:51:51 PM EDT
Its true. My buddy was cuffed the first day of the show because the ATF said he was buying and selling too many guns. He works for an guy who is an FFL and he is goes to lots of gun shows in VA. They read to him every single gun transaction he bought and sold in a 10 month time frame. They had been tracking him and he is just a regular guy who collects lots of different stuff. Take it from he, he is too lazy for trouble. They kept his drivers lic and they still have it. He is working with Steve Elliott now to drag them over the rock for it.

Link Posted: 8/18/2005 3:53:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BlackFox:
By the way, here's a thread from another board of the guy who was held up for selling a firearm:

www.americanminuteman.net/forums/showthread.php?t=4289



Hell I did not read your post. Thats him.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 5:05:56 PM EDT
I was at the show Saturday and when I arrived there about 11:00 I observed about 20 or so VSP and Henrico police vehicles parke across fron the entrance. The officers , bot in and out of uniform were all gathered around a central location and and appeared to be in a briefing. I was wondering what was going on, though theuy may have been getting ready for a nearby drug bust of the like. Now I know ! That was a lot of taxpayer overtime dollars being put out to harrass law abiding citizens.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 5:31:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By RSF45:
The only words you need to know are these: Doug Wilder.
Jackass Extraordinaire...



What does Doug Wilder - the mayor of the City of Richmond, where none of this happened - have to do with anything? Also, I don't recall Wilder saying anything outlandishly anti-gun since he became mayor.

Maybe I'll send a FOIA letter to the Henrico Police Chief on my firm letterhead and request an explanation and and a copy of the questionaire that was supposedly used.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 5:41:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By IceHandLuke:
Its true. My buddy was cuffed the first day of the show because the ATF said he was buying and selling too many guns. He works for an guy who is an FFL and he is goes to lots of gun shows in VA. They read to him every single gun transaction he bought and sold in a 10 month time frame. They had been tracking him and he is just a regular guy who collects lots of different stuff. Take it from he, he is too lazy for trouble. They kept his drivers lic and they still have it. He is working with Steve Elliott now to drag them over the rock for it.



So they had an entire list of gun transactions that the guy did over 10 months, and he's wondering why he got grilled for being a possible unlicensed dealer?

As far as the locals going and doing that "questionaire," I'd like more information on that. Think I'll drop a letter to Chief Stanley and see what he has to say.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 6:06:58 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 6:12:25 PM EDT
emails sent to both senators and rep. BATFE is at it again and needs to be put back in their place once again No wander no one including most other federal agencies have any respect for that group
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 6:34:53 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 6:35:29 PM EDT by rlc]
kinda thinking the same thing,


eta, i meant to quote templar's pic!
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 6:35:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/18/2005 6:36:37 PM EDT by 4npower]
Why o Why, There are murders and killers out there and they waste our time and our money eyen us at Gun shows.. God I hope that this subject gets squashed with them and fast . They dont relize the can of worms they could be opening.
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 6:43:26 PM EDT
I just drafted a very diplomatic FOIA letter to Chief Stanley requesting pretty much every document I could think of that would relate to the knocking on doors business, assuming it happened at all.

I'll report back...
Link Posted: 8/18/2005 7:24:49 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 3:39:05 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Templar:
I'd like to hear from someone who this allegedly happened to. I'm a member of VCDL, have been for years, but they are a bit tin-foil hatty when it comes to the Gov't.

I can't believe I didn't hear about this at the shop.

I'm not saying it didn't happen, but what I am saying is that I think it's highly unlikely. Wilder doesn't have anything to do with Henrico.



Wilder doesn't have a damn thing to do with any of this, to the extent that "this" happened at all. I honestly don't know why his name was even brought up - Henrico is more anti-gun than Richmond, and as far as I'm concerned, Wilder is the best thing to happen to the city in years. At least he is trying to weed out inefficiency.

I did see the same large group (30 cars maybe) of VSP and HPD around 1030 on Saturday that Kimberman describes, and I thought that was odd. Even so, there is no way that even that many could cover even a fraction of the buyers there - many of whom live 40, 50, or more miles away, outside Henrico. I have a feeling that the people visited may have been suspicious for reasons other than just buying a gun - i.e., they were suspected of flipping guns or strawman buying before, have R/O or criminal records that mean they shouldn't have a gun, etc.

I'll wait until I get the PD's version of events.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 3:50:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/19/2005 4:18:05 AM EDT by BlackFox]
While I certainly encourage a certain amount of skepticism, I'm not sure what it's going to take for some of you to grant this some sincerity that it COULD have happened? I mean, has anyone posted anything that calls it into doubt?

Here's what we have:
* Multiple "I know the guy this happened to" threads
* A post from one of the individuals linked to another board (his descriptions match everything in other accounts)
* A "I saw ~20 Henrico County guys in front with their cars parked at the gunshow"
* A released statement from VCDL which has probably been checked out, as VCDL has a lot to lose by posting unverified stuff to their member base
* A statement with quotes from the guy and/or his wife that it happened to
* A number of people who've said something like "I've doubted some VCDL releases in the past, but every one of them turned out to be true even though it seemed unlikely. I trust what they say now...." threads in GD.
* I can also tell you personally that all the details aren't being released yet, as people are trying to figure out how to respond.

Let me clarify:
- Nobody has claimed Doug Wilder had anything to do with this. I believe it was pointed out that the political climate in Richmond-proper would promote this sort of nonsense, and Doug Wilder's name immediately comes up as the #1 bozo. It's a BATF-run operation supported by local LEO's (Henrico). It's just not hard to find locals who would back it - even if it wasn't in their jurisdiction.

- The "Instant Background Check" has nothing to do with this (more of an issue in the GD thread). The check may have been instant - it's the visits to the house (and possible delay of the delivery of the NICS approval) that's the problem.

- Templar - I know the gun business is a small group in Richmond, but I believe we're talking about 2 confirmed customers (one a purchaser, one a private seller) that were quiety harrassed in the back of a cruiser at a very small (somewhat unpopular) gunshow. How many times have you seen someone walked out to a cruiser at a gunshow? This would hardly be newsworthy. Besides the two people visiting every gunstore in town in person or writing letters to the newspaper, etc., I'm not sure how the word would have gotten out yet? (I hear the internet and gun-related message boards are a good way to get the word out ) I hear what you're saying, but think it's kind of rude to throw around tin foil accusations just because nobody visited you in person yet to tell you about it in the four days since it happened.

Black Fox
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 4:47:44 AM EDT
I don't doubt that any of this "could" have happened. Like I said, I saw the large group of cruisers there myself. I just suspect that there is a lot to this story that we're not hearing about.

So far, what we have is one guy getting detained for questioning, possibly rudely, for engaging in behavior that looked a lot like dealing in firearms without a license. The guy even admitted that he buys/sells a lot outside of his job working for a dealer. Then we have one fourth hand account of one person's wife being questioned. How do you know the guy isn't a felon? Or a non-citizen?

Lets see what the "other side" has to say before we bring out the JBT mantra as well, OK?
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 4:59:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By dbrowne1:
Lets see what the "other side" has to say before we bring out the JBT mantra as well, OK?



And how do we get the "other side" of this story?

Even if the persons they checked out were suspected of strawman deals or other illicit activities, that does not justify what is alleged to have been done. The "instant check" is not a purchase tracking method. If law enforcement has a suspicion about a crime being committed by an individual, they can build a case and using check information may be a tool in building a case, but it is not supposed to be the basis for starting an investigation.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:03:30 AM EDT
I am putting some taggage here ....


Also I have a feeling there is something more to the story of these "surveys" I would like to know how many occured , was it 2-3 or like 20-30 ?

Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:40:20 AM EDT

Originally Posted By cliffy109:

And how do we get the "other side" of this story?



Uh, with the FOIA requests that I just dropped in the mail to HPD and VSP? I find that a diplomatic, non-accusatory letter with a FOIA request will often shed a great deal of light on a great many things.


Even if the persons they checked out were suspected of strawman deals or other illicit activities, that does not justify what is alleged to have been done.


Yes, it does. And that's exactly what I'm wondering about.


The "instant check" is not a purchase tracking method. If law enforcement has a suspicion about a crime being committed by an individual, they can build a case and using check information may be a tool in building a case, but it is not supposed to be the basis for starting an investigation.


Which is why I am waiting until I hear back from HPD and VSP's public affairs unit, to see what they have to say. And if they stonewall me - which they might - I'll file a petition for mandamus and make them either talk, or convince a judge that everything they have is exempt from FOIA - which is nearly impossible.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:45:53 AM EDT
As I wasn't at the show, I cannot speak from firsthand experience, but I do work across the street from the Fairgrounds and it is not uncommon to see a large number of police cars sitting there.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:46:06 AM EDT
Understood, dbrowne.

I know of a number of us here that trade/sell/buy firearms on the EE. There is nothing illegal about it, and I would take great offense at being questioned about it. I have a problem with a guy being hassled because he shows up at gunshows with something for sale. If they caught him doing something illegal (buying large quantities through employee access to gunshop discounts and then reselling on streets), then arrest him for it or track him down - don't randomly give him a hard time at a gun show. I know plenty of people who always seem to have a car for sale in their yard or trade in baseball cards, whatever. Is there a limit to how many sales you can have before needing an FFL? I can think of a few of us here who get a gun, find something we like better and put the original one up for sale regularly. I can't think of a time I didn't have something up for sale in the EE. So what?

Check out this thread: www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=380877 Lots of comments like "Buying and selling guns, to me, is half the fun. Pursuit, finding a great deal on something new, flipping it over for something you like better."

He wasn't just questioned rudely. My understanding is that he was handcuffed and his license was taken (still not returned). There are reports of rough handling. We know the guy who's family was questioned. I can't run background checks, but if he was a felon wouldn't they have arrested him at the gunshow? They asked his wife for things like his cellphone number, what he did with the guns, how often he shot them, where they were stored, etc. I can't see ANY legitimate reason to ask those questions besides a fishing expedition. I'm open to ideas! I'd love to know how they can confiscate someone's drivers license?

By the way, you are the first person that I've seen use the term JBT. BUT, I'll say that if the BATFE is visiting people's homes to question their spouses or neighbors simply because they're buying a gun (no felonies, etc.), then the term fits. It's illegal, invasive and abusive - IF it happened and that's all there was to it. It kind of reminds me of what they're doing down South of here to people who visit those "massage parlors." The police are taking pictures of their cars and then going to their houses and showing the wives to get them in trouble. I actually wonder if that wasn't part of the plan? If you can't catch them doing anything, then harrass the hell out of them....

Black Fox
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:53:12 AM EDT
Tagging this.

Can't wait to hear the term "Patriot Act" spring up....
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 6:03:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BlackFox:
Understood, dbrowne.

I know of a number of us here that trade/sell/buy firearms on the EE. There is nothing illegal about it, and I would take great offense at being questioned about it.



I too have bought and sold, both on the EE here and very recently at the Showplace last month. I handed a guy a Colt carbine at that show last month, and took $1000 cash from him after seeing his VA driver's license, in full view of probably a dozen LEOs. Nobody said boo to me, which is why I'm always skeptical when I hear these things. I don't look like or dress like a lawyer outside of work, and nobody knows who I am at those things - so I doubt I got special treatment.

As far as the guy who (supposedly) got cuffed and stuffed, I can point him to 100 plaintiff's lawyers who would be willing to evaluate his case and file on a contingency fee basis. Hell, even my firm (that does mostly defense work) might look at it. He has remedies available if he wants to pursue them. I am more concerned with the broader issue of knocking on peoples' doors.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 6:05:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By ANGST:


Also I have a feeling there is something more to the story of these "surveys" I would like to know how many occured , was it 2-3 or like 20-30 ?




That's what I want to know. If 2-3 people got "surveyed," and there was some specific reason for it particular to those purchasers, then I don't really care that much. If it was randomly done on otherwise unsuspicious purchasers, then that's major bullshit.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 6:07:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/19/2005 6:27:51 AM EDT by BlackFox]
Agreed completely, dbrowne, although I'm still not really okay with the questions that were asked and how it was approached even if there was a reason. I can still sleep at night if it was a targeted thing, though. I imagine it was either (a) a prelude to a search warrant, or (b) a fishing expedition in hopes to get enough information to obtain a warrant. I guess I'm just sensitive - I find some questions and the way they're asked offensive. I have local deputies over to my place all the time and trust them like family. As you go up to State and Federal, though, my trust rapidly diminishes. Does that make me "tin foil?" Fine.

As an aside, I'd recommend you guys brief your spouses and family members on what to do in these situations. Sites like www.flexyourrights.org/ may seem a little extreme, but there is some very good information in there.

Black Fox
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 7:52:09 AM EDT
I was there Sunday and saw a lot of Police there. More than usual. There was a Trooper standing next to me when I bought 500 rounds of 5.56 and he didn't bat an eye. He was buying a 30 round mag for his weapon. I didn't see them really talking to anyone in what appeared to be an "official" conversation. I was kind of disappointed that I only found 1 dealer selling 5.56 in bulk and he was from PA.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 1:54:42 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/19/2005 2:08:15 PM EDT by larrycwdc]

Originally Posted By dbrowne1:

... if they stonewall me - which they might - I'll file a petition for mandamus and make them either talk, or convince a judge that everything they have is exempt from FOIA - which is nearly impossible.



You, Sir (or Ma'am), are fortunate to have the wherewithal/expertise to compel the disclosure.

For the other readers, I've jousted at Federal agencies' reluctance to disclose information under FOIA in the past, and left the field angry and disheveled. The problem with FOIA and disclosure of information gathered by an LE agency is the wording of the potentially applicable exemption/exclusion. For example, IMO a FOIA request to the BATFE will yield trivial information, at best, with a statement that (Federal) Exemption Seven applies to the request. FOIA exempts documents that are "records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes," if one or more of six specified types of harm would result (sometimes referred to as Exemptions 7A through 7F). (See 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7).)

At the state level, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act excludes public safety records from mandatory disclosure if the information applies to "prevent(ing) or respond(ing) to terrorist activity" as well as specific types of criminal records, such as: "Complaints, memoranda, correspondence, case files or reports, witness statements, and evidence relating to a criminal investigation or prosecution;" and "Reports submitted in confidence to (i) state and local law-enforcement agencies." (See § 2.2-3705.2 and 3706, for example.)

While dbrowne1 (and others) undoubtedtly know this stuff better than I ever will, for the edification of other readers, the intent behind Exemption 7 (at the Federal level) was to allow agencies to withhold law enforcement records in order to protect the law enforcement process from interference. In my experience, Exemption 7 is often abused by Federal agencies to withhold virtually all meaningful, relevant information from FOIA requestors. While the courts are open to attempt to compel the disclosure of records the agency has identified as exempted, it can be extraordinarily costly for the one filing the suit ... even though reimbursement and punitive damages (all paid for with our tax dollars, and not from the wallets of the as*hats who did the stonewalling) await one who sues and wins.

VA FOIA 3705.2 and 3706 Exclusions no doubt have the same noble objectives as Federal Exemption 7. As dbrowne1 intimated, disclosure can be compelled by filing a petition for mandamus or injunction, supported by an affidavit showing good cause. The nice thing about the VA FOIA is that the end result is that the responsible individual could be held accountable and fined, e.g., if the assertion of excludability is wrong and willful.

Federal Exemption (7)(A) provides for the withholding of a law enforcement record the disclosure of which would reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. This exemption was intended to protect an active law enforcement investigation from interference through premature disclosure.

Federal Exemption (7)(D) is intended to protect the identity of confidential sources and exempt from disclosure information that could reasonably be expected to reveal the identity of a confidential source. It is most difficult to compel disclosure of information that the agency asserts is (7)(D)-exempt for a number of reasons ... most of which attempt to ensure the safety of a 'snitch.'

Exemption (7)(E) protects from disclosure information that would: one, reveal techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions; or two, disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.

In my experience (and I have no experience with VA FOIA and state agencies), Exemptions (7)(A) and (7)(E) are most often cited when Federal LE agencies deny access to records under FOIA. The next step in the dance is to (eta) have your appeal denied, and then hire counsel and file suit ...
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 2:27:39 PM EDT
The concerns you raise are exactly why I am using the Virginia FOIA, and going after records at two state agencies (HPD and VSP, who I also sent a letter to), and not feds. It's a better law and the appeal process is easier and faster.

I also carefully crafted my request to avoid asking for specific information on particular investigations or targets of theirs - so if they deny it, my basic argument at the hearing is "Judge, I don't want to know EXACTLY WHICH Tom, Dick, and Harry they asked about, or why. I just want to know if they're doing this GENERALLY, what they're asking, and how they're using the information GENERALLLY." At that point, I don't see how I'm interfering with their enforcement of anything, and I'm not jeopardizing any ongoing investigation. It's no different, as far as I'm concerned, than getting a training manual, policy and procedure manual, or similar item.
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 3:08:52 PM EDT
Call me jaundiced, but that is why I believe they could cite a 3705.2 disclosure (based on 'guidance from BATFE' to even further obfuscate eventual accountability questions) instead of 3706.

As I implied before, my hat is off to you ... and I look forward to learning the results of your queries!
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 3:33:57 PM EDT
tagged
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 5:48:28 PM EDT
The Hampton Gun Show is the 17th and 18th of Sep. I will be checking it out, and hopefully be buying something.

If they ask my wife if she knows I am buying a gun, she'll probably say "what, only one?"
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 6:16:23 PM EDT
tagged
Link Posted: 8/19/2005 7:10:10 PM EDT
Tagged for further hard info. It's no stretch to believe a gun seller was harrassed at a show but the story about cops showing up at homes during the background check is implausible in the absence of harder evidence.
Link Posted: 8/20/2005 3:38:15 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/20/2005 3:39:04 AM EDT by MGinVA]
Throwing a little gas on the flames - I just received a forwarded email from one of the VSSA directors (David Adams)...

"Chuck Cunningham at NRA Federal Affairs met with Steve Elliot while Steve was in Washington on Monday and verified this account (referring to the VCDL alert email) is generally accurate."

Link Posted: 8/20/2005 10:03:39 AM EDT
Im going to give my opinion.... Secondly I will not. However if any of you would like to know why the AFT and the VSP do certain things.. Feel free to email and Ill shed some light on the subject for you.
Link Posted: 8/20/2005 11:30:53 AM EDT
E-mail sent.
Link Posted: 8/20/2005 12:28:36 PM EDT
Tag
Link Posted: 8/21/2005 12:37:00 AM EDT

Originally Posted By MGinVA:

Steve and Annette were told by the BATFE in DC that BATFE would no longer be sending officers to people's houses who were purchasing a firearm and that what happened in Richmond should not have happened.


I'm confused by this. It's the VSP that runs the instant checks, not the ATF. ...


+1

If ATF supplied information for these visitations from the ATF form 4437, it would seem to me that the Federal Privacy Act may have been violated.

Unfortunately, the Privacy Act Notice on the form only refers to 18 USC 923(g), which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t specify how the information will be used.

Anyway, --> tag
Link Posted: 8/21/2005 4:06:50 AM EDT
Update from VCDL's VA-Alert system late last night. Hopefully it answers some of your questions about how the visitations and checks were done:


There has been a huge firestorm on gun-rights sites across the nation
on the actions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
Explosives (BATFE), the Richmond Police Department (RPD), and Henrico
County at last week's gun show. As you recall the police were going
to people's houses while the people were at the gun show awaiting
approval to purchase a handgun and interviewing family members and
neighbors about the purchase.

Serious questions are raised about various laws that might have been
broken that weekend.

I have been interviewed by Gun Week, CNS News (an Internet news
service), the NRA's First Freedom magazine, and others who are going
to be doing their own investigations.

However, very strangely, there is a LOCAL MEDIA BLACKOUT on an event
that is stirring up people as far away as Oregon and California! I
don't know if the media is asleep at the switch or just not
interested.

I have been trying to contact a Lieutenant with the RPD who
coordinates with BATFE and Homeland Security to discuss the event,
but so far he has not returned my two phone calls. Hopefully he will
return my call next week. I will keep working this until I get some
answers. Push come to shove, VCDL can bring the issue up at a
Richmond City Council meeting.

I also plan on contacting Henrico. A few members have already
emailed Henrico and I will be watching for any response that Henrico
sends. Again, VCDL can work the issue at a Henrico Board of
Supervisors meeting if necessary.

An observation: On the various chat rooms where this incident is
being discussed at length, a few people who haven't heard of VCDL,
quite understandably questioned the validity of the story. It was
truly humbling for me to see so many people jump in at that point to
explain who we are and what we do.

For those who question how BATFE/police could pull this off in a
timely fashion: At the gun shows in Richmond, the State Police setup
a NICS check room where ALL the dealers drop off their NICS forms.
Later, the dealers check back to see if the NICS check has been
completed and the forms ready. All BATFE has to do is to grab the
forms as they are dropped off by the dealers, call in the contact
info and have an officer dispatched to the house. That officer
reports results of survey back to dispatcher, who in turn gives it to
BATFE. The form is then approved and released to the dealer the next
time he checks back. It is not unusual to have to wait an hour for
approval, so the average gun owner wouldn't really be alerted to
anything until he got home.

Where the disbelief seems to be coming from is that in many states,
the dealer calls in the NICS check from the show floor. Thus BATFE
would have to be in the booth with the dealer to get the NICS info
and make the dealer hold the form until the survey results were
returned. This would have also alerted dealers as to what was going
on. But that isn't how it's done at Richmond gun shows.

As I get more information and the story continues to unfold, I will
keep you posted.

Link Posted: 8/21/2005 6:33:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BlackFox:
Update from VCDL's VA-Alert system late last night. Hopefully it answers some of your questions about how the visitations and checks were done:


There has been a huge firestorm on gun-rights sites across the nation
on the actions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
Explosives (BATFE), the Richmond Police Department (RPD), and Henrico
County at last week's gun show. As you recall the police were going
to people's houses while the people were at the gun show awaiting
approval to purchase a handgun and interviewing family members and
neighbors about the purchase.

Serious questions are raised about various laws that might have been
broken that weekend.

I have been interviewed by Gun Week, CNS News (an Internet news
service), the NRA's First Freedom magazine, and others who are going
to be doing their own investigations.

However, very strangely, there is a LOCAL MEDIA BLACKOUT on an event
that is stirring up people as far away as Oregon and California! I
don't know if the media is asleep at the switch or just not
interested.

I have been trying to contact a Lieutenant with the RPD who
coordinates with BATFE and Homeland Security to discuss the event,
but so far he has not returned my two phone calls. Hopefully he will
return my call next week. I will keep working this until I get some
answers. Push come to shove, VCDL can bring the issue up at a
Richmond City Council meeting.

I also plan on contacting Henrico. A few members have already
emailed Henrico and I will be watching for any response that Henrico
sends. Again, VCDL can work the issue at a Henrico Board of
Supervisors meeting if necessary.

An observation: On the various chat rooms where this incident is
being discussed at length, a few people who haven't heard of VCDL,
quite understandably questioned the validity of the story. It was
truly humbling for me to see so many people jump in at that point to
explain who we are and what we do.

For those who question how BATFE/police could pull this off in a
timely fashion: At the gun shows in Richmond, the State Police setup
a NICS check room where ALL the dealers drop off their NICS forms.
Later, the dealers check back to see if the NICS check has been
completed and the forms ready. All BATFE has to do is to grab the
forms as they are dropped off by the dealers, call in the contact
info and have an officer dispatched to the house. That officer
reports results of survey back to dispatcher, who in turn gives it to
BATFE. The form is then approved and released to the dealer the next
time he checks back. It is not unusual to have to wait an hour for
approval, so the average gun owner wouldn't really be alerted to
anything until he got home.

Where the disbelief seems to be coming from is that in many states,
the dealer calls in the NICS check from the show floor. Thus BATFE
would have to be in the booth with the dealer to get the NICS info
and make the dealer hold the form until the survey results were
returned. This would have also alerted dealers as to what was going
on. But that isn't how it's done at Richmond gun shows.

As I get more information and the story continues to unfold, I will
keep you posted.


That is so fucked up and so many levels, I don't even know where to start.
Link Posted: 8/21/2005 1:26:37 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/21/2005 1:29:12 PM EDT by 199]

Originally Posted By BlackFox:
Update from VCDL's VA-Alert system ...
"... That officer reports results of survey back to dispatcher, who in turn gives it to BATFE. The form is then approved and released to the dealer the next time he checks back. ..."


This is really hard to believe.

Why would a background check be held pending the results of the survey? Is some guy going to “fail” a check since his wife didn’t know he was at a gunshow?

The only thing I can think of is that maybe the survey was a ruse of some sort.
Link Posted: 8/21/2005 2:05:40 PM EDT
Just remember the old saying "We're from the government, we're here to help you!"
It seems to me unless you're on welfare the government is totally against you. I'm sure the days of the "Police State" aren't far off. It's a shame our own Constitution that's supposed to protect us from this kind of interference is being used against us.
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