Monday, November 29, 2010

The True Story of the Life of "R.A. Bear": Inception & impregnation into the minds of the ATF via a highly placed snitch named Dan Shea of the NFATCA.

Dan Shea and John Brown at an early age.

Long-time readers of Sipsey Street will recall Dan Shea's first appearance in these pages. At the time I dubbed him a "Useful Jew" along the lines of the Lodz Ghetto's Chaim Rumkowski, for using his pulpit at Small Arms Review to make statements like:

There are a few misguided crusaders on the pro-gun side who cross the line; probably the most dangerous people there are to us because they will sacrifice anyone and anything to their generally misguided and usually self-serving agendas. Up in the mountains, we used to have a self-mocking saying. "Hey, Elmer, why don't you go poke that stupid old bear over there with a stick. Stupid old bear." The problem here is that all of the rest of us are are near that bear too. One has to wonder how much damage has been done by this very small group of "true believers" who have attacked the general employees of ATF instead of trying to effect true change in policy, regulation or law. Generally, their arguments are poorly thought out and rely on parsing words, instead of reading the laws as written and working within that as well as the existing political structure to effect real, solid changes. We need good, solid well thought out negotiation and proper legal and legislative remedies to address our issues. Join the NFATCA and help.

Now that Shea has been identified as the ATF snitch who first introduced R.A. Bear into the minds of the ATF Chief Counsel's Office and since NFATCA is back in the news as doing us all a favor making a back room deal with ATF and other entities on large-caliber ammunition (see David's column linked below), the cockroach spokesmen are popping up to defend their fellow photo-phobes.

In comments at David Codrea's Examiner column and here at Sipsey Street, The Dan Shea/John Brown/NFATCA/ATF Anti-Defamation League writing either anonymously or under the Frank Herbertian nom d'guerre of "kwisatz" attempts to defend the indefensible. Here's the one he posted at Sipsey Street:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for confirming what I already suspected. You have no idea what you are talking about. That's just fine. You wrote that Dan Shea was the president and were wrong. What else have you wrote about him that is wrong?

As for the 'public" being "invited" to this meeting let's be very clear. EPS was trying to get this shoved through without any scrutiny of any kind. NRA was unaware, NSSF, SAAMI, Safari and all the others were totally in the dark. NFATCA pulled of the emergency meeting with a week of notice and got the brakes put on a monumental cluster in the making. That very much benefits the public in my mind.

What specific ideas and concepts did you want advanced at this meeting? I'd like to know. Somehow I think that you are going to say that the ATF should be abolished. That may be very true but it is not a viable component of this meeting. So what did you want advanced?

And as far as the whole Dan shea thing, dude, you give him wayyy to much credit. Bowers supporting ATF and NFATCA, what a hoot!

Now, for the uninitiated, here are the players and names:

Bowers: Principal moderator/owner of, a machine gun collector and enthusiast website, with a reluctance to take on the ATF and an over-active delete key.

John Brown: Friend of Dan Shea and President of NFATCA, the NFA Trade and Collectors Association (the machine gun equivalent of the NRA).

EPS: Inside ATF speak for the Enforcement Programs and Services Directorate. Since May 2010, Arthur Herbert has been the Assistant Director for EPS.

Dan Shea: NFATCA big wig, owner of Long Mountain Outfitters and Small Arms Review, as well as an ATF snitch with a symbiotic relationship with the agency, who apparently both dispensed and received information.

Now, "Anonymous" is correct when in an earlier post, I characterized Shea in a typo as "president" of NFATCA when I meant to say "de facto president." I later corrected it. Brown is President of the NFATCA, but he and Shea have, until recently, been joined at the hip -- the Bobsey Twins of the NFATCA "go-along, get-along" ATF friendly leadership.

I now know that I also made an error about the inception of R.A. Bear in my open letter to Andy Traver. Here is what I told him last Friday on the blog and in email:

The cultivation and pressuring of informants, including those at the highest levels of industry associations such as the NFATCA, is doing your agency more harm than good when it is driven not by actual police work in furtherance of the law but by the desire on the part of CCO to root out and make unwarranted criminal cases against people they view as "poisonous weasels." This agenda-driven corruption of the process opens the ATF up to self-discrediting errors such as that represented by R.A. Bear. As best I understand the beginning of the story, the CCO wanted to "get" an honest man whose only "crime" had been to defy them in court. To that end they put pressure on all their snitches to come up with anything. One highly-placed informant, apparently on the hook legally and under pressure himself from the ATF, leaned on on another man who knew the target to rat him out for any irregularity. Caught in an awkward situation, unable to satisfy a man who himself could make economic trouble for him, he gave the informant a name -- R.A. Bear. From that point Mr. Bear took on a life of his own, a process which I was honored to assist in. We gave him friends, a life history, we paged him at gun shows and machine gun shoots and, on the orders of the CCO, your agents scurried hither and yon, chasing each and every clue and always coming up empty. CCO lawyers demanded to know about him in discovery depositions, always to be told truthfully under oath, "I know of no such person as R.A. Bear."

The error I made, however, actually gave Shea more credit than he deserved. Here is the more accurate story of the inception of R.A. Bear and the impregnation of that fertilized fictional ovum into the brains of the malevolent morons of the ATF Chief Counsel's Office. We begin by deconstructing the problematic portion of the paragraph above:

As best I understand the beginning of the story, the CCO wanted to "get" an honest man whose only "crime" had been to defy them in court. To that end they put pressure on all their snitches to come up with anything.

MBV: This part is true. (Although "defy" is way the ATF CCO looked at it, his actual sin in their eyes was to be an effective expert witness for the defense.)

One highly-placed informant, apparently on the hook legally and under pressure himself from the ATF,

MBV: This part is also true.

leaned on on another man who knew the target to rat him out for any irregularity. Caught in an awkward situation, unable to satisfy a man who himself could make economic trouble for him, he gave the informant a name -- R.A. Bear.

MBV: This part is not true. The truth, for one E. Daniel Shea, is even more damning. For it is Dan Shea, and Dan Shea alone, who first gave the suggestion of corporeal form to the stuffed child's toy as ATF "person of interest."

The story starts innocently enough years before, when a man we will call The Author needed a second phone. In his own words here is The Unlikely Story of Ramsey Bear.

Earliest known photo of ATF "Person of Interest" R. A. Bear.

In the mid 1980s, the author wanted a second telephone line in his home. In order to avoid confusion in the telephone directory with the first telephone line, he obtained the second phone line in the name of his daughter's toy bear, R. A. Bear. . .

(Later), the author began writing for MACHINE GUN NEWS. After MGN closed its doors, the author became an 8% owner of a limited liability corporation that was formed to print a new magazine called SMALL ARMS REVIEW. Dan Shea was the general partner of the LLC.

The author paid for a regular subscription to SMALL ARMS REVIEW. Not wanting to wait for the slow 3rd class delivery of the magazine, and wishing to have a second copy as a reference as well, he paid for a second subscription to SMALL ARMS REVIEW. This one to be delivered by 1st class mail. In order to avoid any confusion with his 3rd class subscription, the author used the name of Ramsey Bear for the 1st class subscription.

Nearly three years ago, Dan Shea emailed the author saying that if the author was not happy with the way that things were going at SMALL ARMS REVIEW, the he would buy the author's share of the LLC. The author was in the dark regarding the possible value of his share. He queried Dan Shea regarding the detailed financial information that would be required to make a proper evaluation. Some information was forthcoming but not nearly enough to make a proper evaluation.

Per the LLC's written Operating Agreement, any shareholder, or his CPA is permitted to audit the LLC's books during normal business hours. The author sent a forensic CPA to audit the LLC's books. After two days of work, the CPA reported that he was not being given access to sufficient information to complete his audit.

To no avail, many emails were exchanged between the author and Dan Shea to resolve this situation. As a consequence, the author retained a Nevada attorney and filed litigation to require Dan Shea to comply with the rules of the LLC's written Operating Agreement.

Afterward, at a meeting of the LLC's shareholders, Dan Shea stated, "I am not going to work with you any more." After this, none of the author's already submitted stories were printed in SMALL ARMS REVIEW and the author's paid 3rd class mail subscription to SMALL ARMS REVIEW ceased to arrive. Ramsey Bear's 1st class mail subscription continued arriving but after a few months, it too ceased. In Nevada at that time, the only known connection between Ramsey Bear and the author was that both of their subscriptions came to the same street address.

During the pre-trial discovery, the author was required to provide Shea's attorney with many items of information. All of the requested items were provided but one. Thinking it hilarious that Shea believed that Ramsey Bear was a real person, the author refused to provide any information regarding Ramsey Bear, saying that whatever the bear and the author did in the privacy of their home was not a concern of Shea's.

Several months later, during depositions taken during the Len Savage affair regarding the arrested MAC10 belt fed upper, Ramsey Bear's name came up again. Both Len Savage and an expert witnesses were asked if they had consulted with Ramsey Bear while designing the arrested upper. Both answered truthfully that they knew no person named "Ramsey Bear."

So, how did the bear's name come up in a deposition that was taken in Georgia? The author cannot say with certainty. At that time though, the only known person though who thought that Ramsey Bear was a real person was Dan Shea. Perhaps Dan Shea still believes that Ramsey Bear is a real person. In August of 2010, Shea's attorney tried to serve a subpoena on Ramsey Bear in order to require the teddy bear to appear for a deposition in Nevada.

The point is, how did ATF come to be interested in R.A. Bear enough to begin asking about him in depositions regarding Len Savage? How did this morph from a personal matter with Shea to an agency investigation of a stuffed child's toy?

What follows is what can be discerned from court papers filed in Nevada as well as ATF emails revealed as part of discovery in another case. About the same time as the Shea/Author controversy began, the ATF was very upset at Georgia firearms designer Lennis "Len" Savage for testifying against them as an expert witness in the Olofson case and others.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, at the same time Dan Shea announced that Small Arms Review would no longer accept articles by or about Len Savage (Shea later gave this account himself under oath).

Thus there appears to be an identity and confluence of interests -- political, economic and bureaucratic -- ATF wished to remove the "poisonous weasel" Len Savage from competition in federal court; Dan Shea had his own reasons, founded upon, by his own words and actions, an animus towards Len Savage.

Meanwhile, and not coincidentally in this writer's opinion, in what has now become known as "The Case of the Arrested Gun," the ATF seized a firearms component -- an upper designed by Savage -- in furtherance of an "economic Waco" in order to force him out of business and out of federal court and his status as an expert witness. This campaign was almost entirely driven by the malevolent morons in the Chief Counsel's Office.

However, as a result of that case and internal ATF emails provided under discovery, we know more than a little about the symbiotic relationship between certain NFATCA board members and the ATF at the highest levels, including Shea and his Bobbsey Twin John Brown. For example, Brown forwarded emails that Len Savage had sent to him privately on to the ATF IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ATF'S LITIGATION OVER THE "ARRESTED GUN."

It was as part of the ATF's search for anything to use against Savage and Shea's adoption of their anti-Savage cause, that Shea provided the name R.A. Bear. Now this could have been a cynical attempt by Shea to use the ATF's investigatory power to help him go after The Author, or it could have been ATF pressuring Shea -- who is rumored to have his own legal difficulties with the ATF, the usual pattern for ATF informant recruitment -- to give them something, anything, on Savage and his friends.

Once it became clear, through other means and venues, that the ATF had an intense interest in the whereabouts of one R.A. Bear and his relationship to Len Savage, the chase was on. In effect, Dan Shea gave the ATF a name to chase, but some of us members of the Coalition of the Willing Lilliputians fleshed out the phantom and gave him real form. And boy did they ever chase him.

The bare bones of this story initially came to me after I contacted Len for help with technical aspects of Absolved, although the story I gleaned was both absent names and incorrect in some details and later interpretation. The fault for that error is all mine, not that it exculpates Shea in any way. Quite the opposite.

The rest, as they say, is history, or at least it will be as soon as R.A. Bear "testifies" at a congressional hearing about "economic Wacos" to the utter discredit of Dan Shea, John Brown, the NFATCA and the ATF.

Fortunately, I was able to pull my bad copy of the letter to Andy Traver out of the mail before it left this morning, so I will be editing it to reflect this more perfect understanding of how Dan Shea, ATF informant, sandbagged that agency with the willing and eager assistance of the malevolent morons of the ATF Chief Counsel's Office.

The only mystery now is how will the net trolls of the NFATCA/ATF Anti-Defamation League explain this one.

Mike Vanderboegh


Dedicated_Dad said...

This may be the funniest modern-day "keystone kops" story I've ever read, and yet it's equally horrifying to contemplate the ease with which the omnipotent only-ones can be made to chase their tails and tales.

What's even MORE mortifying is the apparent ease with which an absolute innocent -- in this case Mr. Bear -- can become the target of out-of-control thugs operating under color of law.

Just this past weekend I loaned my phone to a stranger who was stranded so they could call for assistance, and made another call to a stranger's cell phone to help him locate it within one of several pieces of luggage.

For all I know, either could be the target of some "investigation", or up to some conspiracy -- into which I am now implicated based solely on a chance contact and my desire to emulate my Savior and abide by The Golden Rule.

On the bright side, we are promised protection even from vipers (a fitting description of said thugs if ever there was such) - so I will lose no sleep over the chance of my decency being turned against me.

In any case, thanks much for sharing! I'd often wondered what I was missing during the oblique and somewhat cryptic references to Mr. Bear. Now that the truth is known, I'm a bit saddened that I missed the opportunity to join in the fun!


Defender said...

Mr. Shea's cautions about not poking the "stupid old bear" of an ATF with a stick...
When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
When I read about licensed gun dealers whose books are audited by an ATF agent and not even a typographical flaw is found, and their relief is so great you'd think they had gotten a stay of execution... Maybe they did.
There was a gun shop and indoor range here with "Police Equipment" in their name, located across the road from the state police headquarters. Well, they seem to have sold some guns to people who would not have passed the instant criminal record check, before the instant check was introduced. Psychic powers are rare in the business world.
Rather than be indicted and jailed, the owner called 911 to report his own suicide, and then did it.
We may never see true "shall not be infringed," but to persecute a business for selling a legal product while obeying existing laws, to the point that their owners off themselves... Call me crazy, but it's not something I support.
Abolising the ATF is not a viable subject at this meeting? So we're going to feed the stupid old bear and get him bigger and stronger before he comes for our pic-a-nic basket?
There's another joke about bears. Two hikers encounter a grizzly, and it's about to charge. One sits down and starts changing from hiking boots into running shoes.
"What are you doing? You'll never be able to outrun him!"
"I don't have to outrun HIM, I just have to outrun YOU."

Jimmy2Times said...

I hate to see Tom Bowers dragged into this mud slinging. Tom is a good guy. It's his right and his business to run his website the way he sees fit. I don't always agree with the way he runs his site but it is HIS site. Tom is a good man, and a personal friend and he is not the enemy here.

Aside from that, Mike, you're spot on as usual.

Anonymous said...

actual police work in furtherance of the law

You mean, infringing RKBA only in the manner described in writing by the legislature? How is this concession an improvement on the NRA, Snowflake, SCOTUS, liberals, the Fudds, etc.? I don't see how conceding that infringing RKBA can be valid is helpful. If you aren't an RKBA absolutist, then at best you get orderly Nazis who fill out their paperwork correctly.

Never Again...except in such Manner as Congress shall by Law direct

Anonymous said...

I have been told many times that gun owners are united. Next you'll tell me there ain't no Santa Claus.

Anonymous said...

Kind of like how Dan's magazine small arms review will not write an article portraying a product in a bad light. That seems like a lack of journalistic integrity that has kept me away as a subscriber. I want to know if the product being written about fails to operate proprly or fell apart after 87 rounds fired. Seems that Dan lacks integrity in many ways . Sad for a guy who was once a pillar in the Class 3 community.

Anonymous said...

sheesh I need a scorecard to keep track of everything... looking forward to the next installment...

The Shocker said...

Shea, Brown and others have built a fortune fucking other people and "poo poo"ing the idea of an NFA amnesty. When Ashcroft was the USAG, we actually could've gotten it done. But no way. Kent LoMont, Dan Shea, Brown, and a couple dozen others were raking in the cash like real estate speculators, Pharisees, forming and molding prices and attitudes at ATF/NFA. It was no surprise to most of us in the biz, after seeing the DIRECTOR OF THE NFA BRANCH, Ken Houchens, decked out in LMO polo shirt at Knob Creek one year, that they think and thought they "owned" the NFA branch, and after the publication of the "NFA handbook", written with the "insight and blessing" of the NFA Branch, we had those fears confirmed. Dan Shea you suck. You've always been a two-faced shyster in the spirit of J. Curtis Earl.