Regular readers will be familiar with the Montana Firearms Freedom Act. The ATF and U.S. Justice Department have been making threatening noises, vowing legal action against anyone who thumbs their nose at the federal leviathan by obeying a state law.
Some of you will also be familiar with the case of Richard Celata and KT Ordnance from back in 2006. Richard was manufacturing 80% complete receivers and the ATF decided they'd seize his property.
Well, the rumor is going around Montana that Richard might be interested in manufacturing firearms consistent with the Montana Firearms Freedom Act. Enter the Arrogant Thug Force. I certify that this is a true transcript of a copy of a letter I received just this afternoon. I will post the original later, probably on Scribd.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES
SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE
DENVER FIELD DIVISION
DENVER, COLORADO 80294
NOTICE OF UNLICENSED FIREARMS DEALING IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW
Richard P. Celeta
382 Adams Lane
Dillon, Montana 59725
Dear Richard Celata,
Recently your participation in the purchase and sale of firearms has come to the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). ATF is responsible for enforcement of the Federal firearms laws and, as part of that duty, ATF licenses those persons lawfully dealing in firearms and prevents unlicensed dealing in violation of Federal law. We seek the cooperative efforts of the general public in fulfilling this mandate.
Your firearms activity appears to bring you within the definition of a dealer in firearms as that term is defined by the Gun Control Act. A "dealer" in firearms includes persons engaged in the business of buying and selling firearms at wholesale and retail. A person engages in business as a dealer in firearms by devoting time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms. See 18 U.S.C. S 921(a)(21)(C). A person convicted of unlawfully engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license is subject to imprisonment for not more than 5 years and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
This letter serves to officially advise you to cease and desist engaging in the business of dealing in firearms until you have sought and obtained a Federal firearms license. A Federal firearms license would authorize the purchase and resale of firearms from a licensed business premises, Continued activity without the required license could result in a recommendation for criminal prosecution.
An Application for License, ATF Form 7, may be obtained from the ATF Distribution Center by calling (301) 583-4696, or by placing an order for an application at www.atf.gov.
(MBV Note: Scrawled signature which appears to be D. Dawson, which would be Douglas Dawson, Assistant Special Agent In Charge, Denver Field Division.)
Special Agent in Charge
(MBV Note: Maybe Dawson gave himself a promotion.)
So that was the shot across the bow. Mr. Celata's lawyer decided that one shot across the bow deserved another, so he fired this back:
SULLIVAN, TABARACCI, RHOADES ATTORNEYS AT LAW
1821 South Avenue West, Third Floor
Missoula, MT 59801
Telephone: (406) 721-9700
Denver Field Division
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
1961 Stout Street, Room 674
Denver, Colorado 80294
RE: RICHARD CELATA
Dear Mr. Brown,
We represent Richard Celata. He was hand-delivered the enclosed undated "Notice of Unlicensed Firearms Dealing in Violation of Federal Law" on November 10, 2010.
Be advised that Mr. Celata is not now, and has never, dealt in the purchase and sale of firearms, with or without a license to do so. Still, he does make a living, in part, by manufacturing and selling components that can be made ultimately into firearms. He is therefore very worried and intimidated by your agency's letter. In short, you vague but very intimidating demand that Mr. Celata "cease and desist" threatens his livelihood, as well as his freedom, without stating any factual basis for your command.
Frankly it is shocking to me that the Government of the United States of America would make such vague and intimidating demands absent all specific allegation or direction. This is a clear and inexcusable violation of due process. In response to your demand, we demand, on behalf of Mr. Celata, the the BATFE identify the specific items in which you allege he is dealing that you allege to be firearms. (MBV Note: Emphasis in the original.)
Please respond to this letter immediately. Every day that goes by is another violation of Mr. Celata's due process, and costs him not only money, but peace of mind. If we do not hear from you by December 1, 2010, Mr. Celata has authorized us to sue the Government in federal court for a declaratory judgment, as well as actual damages and attorney fees.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
SULLIVAN, TABARACCI & RHOADES
(MBV Note: Illegible scrawl signature.)
Quentin M. Rhoades.
cc: Richard Celata
We will see how this goes.