Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ATF = Always Think Forfieture!?!?!??

So did you know that the BATFE wants its agents to “Always Think Forfeiture”? In fact, they want to engrain that mantra into their officers so badly that they had 2,000 Leatherman tools engraved with the slogan and distributed them during the Bureau’s Asset Forfeiture training that urges agents to focus on seizing private property. Here I thought the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution stated:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

I guess the BATFE doesn’t think that applies to them.

In response to this latest slap in the face of American citizens, Gun Owners of America reports that Representative Bill Sali of Idaho will be introducing the “Always Think Freedom” Act. According to GOA:

"The Idaho Republican complained about the program and recieved a letter from Acting ATF Director Michael Sullivan, who apologized for the "confusion" over the issue.

"While Rep. Sali appreciated the apology, he said that, 'My constituents deserve to know the truth about this marketing program, which has been interpreted by many Idahoans as anti-gun and anti-private property.'

"The agency halted distribution of the tools in the face of public outcry, but '[t]he fact remains that the ATF thought it was OK to think 'Always Think Forfeiture' instead of focusing on protecting our constitutional rights,' Sali said.

"In a letter to his fellow Congressmen, Sali noted that 'the inscription raises serious concerns to law-abiding citizens as to the intent of an ATF agent who is performing investigations, particularly with respect to law-abiding gun owners.'"

Quite frankly I don’t think anyone is “confused” over this issue. The BATFE got caught with its pants down yet again acting in a way inconsistent with the Constitution. It’s nothing new, though fortunately the BATFE has no longer been able to fly under the radar in recent years. I’ve already written my representative and urged him to support Representative Sali’s bill.

On a related note, the overall reformation of the BATFE has been once again been taken up by Congress. H.R. 4900, the "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Reform and Firearms Modernization Act" represents a combined and improved version of H.R. 5005 and H.R. 5092 which were introduced and passed the House separately last year. Unfortunately the Senate did not act in time to send the bill to the President’s desk. According to the latest email blast, the bill has 211 co-sponsors. Key points of the bill:

"Of highest importance, H.R. 4900 totally rewrites the system of administrative penalties for licensed dealers, manufacturers, and importers of firearms. Today, for most violations, BATFE can only give a federal firearms license (FFL) holder a warning, or totally revoke his license.

"As a result of BATFE abuses and its raid on a Richmond gun show in August of 2005, the House Crime Subcommittee held oversight hearings and congressional investigations in the spring of 2006 which led to the introduction of BATFE Reform legislation in the 109th Congress by then subcommittee chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) and ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA)."

Full details on the bill can be found here

While it’s only a start, these measures begin the process of reining in an out of control BATFE. If you haven’t already written your representative, please write them soon! Hopefully these bills will form the foundation of once again ensuring that the Bureau remains strictly within its Constitutional mandate.

Until next time!!!

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