Sunday, May 9, 2010

Machinegun amnesty to settle problems with NFRTR?

From CPT Jonathan Tuttle:

Hi Mike,

I got an inquiry based on this web site today, and had been unaware it was up. Some stuff is inaccurate, but mostly not: . . .

. . . The guy did more than a casual job on this site, and it's among the best I've seen. You called some attention before to the new evidence ATF has released on the NFRTR, which logically gives some fresh impetus. That's safely up on the NFAOA web site, copied below FYI.

CPT Jonathan Tuttle

(The below is copied from the section on NFRTR legal/other issues)

ATF releases evidence it has added firearms to the NFRTR after obtaining SOT records

In June 2009, ATF began releasing documents in response to a FOIA request that was filed in 2007, requesting copies of the Work Papers used as evidence in the Department of Justice Inspector General's "review" of the NFRTR, entitled The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, Report Number I-2007-006, June 2007 (click here to read it).

Further background on this FOIA request is discussed in the entry entitled "ATF uses new form to identify 'discrepancies' in the NFRTR" in this section, and will not be repeated here in the interest of conserving space and in reporting new information. NOTE: Anybody can request copies of these documents. Although ATF is still processing this FOIA, the information released so far is too important to wait upon the release to be completed before making these documents public. To obtain copies, do a FOIA to request the same documents that are being released to Eric M. Larson, P.O. Box 5497, Takoma Park, Maryland 20913, under the release identified as 08-726.

What's new is that ATF has released hundreds of pages of evidence that it has added firearms to the NFRTR after obtaining evidence from Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT) FFL dealers. It has been common knowledge for a number of years that ATF has been using SOT records to correct its version of the NFRTR. The two documents reproduced here are representative of hundreds of other such documents.

As previously noted, ATF heavily redacted its "Firearms Inspection Worknote: NFA Inventory Discrepancies" document, whose obvious "purpose" was to correct the NFRTR. In releases of documents for this FOIA request, ATF has provided a considerable amount of information that had been previously redacted (click here to read it), thus confirming the evidentiary nature and value of the document.

In this document (click here to read it), ATF has provided evidence that ATF had no record of 3 (three) silencers in an SOT's inventory from 2001 to 2003.

While in theory ATF might be able to correct its version of the NFRTR, given enough compliance inspections, there's a vaster hole in that logic than can ever be addressed. The reason is that ATF has no means of making these sorts of corrections in many instances where ATF has approved transfers of NFA firearms or devices between unlicensed transferors and transferees who live in the same state, and are not required to keep records. What happens when James buys a machine gun from Robert in 1985 (or some other year); ATF approves that transaction; Robert takes possession of the machine gun in a timely way; Robert loses his copy of the Form 4 because there was a house fire, flood like Katrina, or just plain human error, and asks ATF for a replacement copy. ATF checks the NFRTR and finds only that the machine gun is registered to James, who died in 1987; whose relatives/survivors recall "Yes, there were some guns, but we don't know anything about them, or in fact anything about guns because guns don't interest us." Where does that leave Robert? The insidious thing about this is that many people who are likely to be victimized are people who only did their best to follow the law. An ATF Special Agent does a lookup on, for example, an amnesty gun that the owner (or heir) recall was registered, and the single piece of paper at ATF's end has vanished, lost or destroyed, or cannot be found. Virtually nobody fights an ATF Special Agent suggesting that "charges here can be avoided if you voluntarily abandon the weapon to ATF, but remember the statute of limitations on your violation is 3 years." The cost of fighting a seizure and forfeiture quickly exceeds the value of the firearm, and is a serious personal disruption.

What else about this? It is worth noting that ATF refused to release any of these Work Papers in the Friesen case, and their significance is clear in the Motion in Limine filed in the case (click here to read it), because they provide valid and reliable evidence that demonstrates the legal basis for the Department of Justice Inspector General's finding that ATF has added firearms back into the NFRTR after losing or destroying NFA paperwork. The legal repurcussions are frightening, in the sense that at least some innocent citizens have been unlawfully deprived of their valuable firearms, some of them heirloom firearms used by a grandfather, father, and son; irreplaceable family artifacts. The American people deserve a better standard of justice by a federal law enforcement agency.

As noted elsewhere in discussion on this site, the Department of Justice Inspector General's "review" of the NFRTR states on page 31: "If the NFA weapons owner [sic] can produce the registration paperwork, ATF assumes the error is in the NFRTR and fixes it in the database." This condition apparently fulfills a Department of Justice standard for requiring a new amnesty period. Specifically, if ATF determines that "a particular individual or weapon is registered" and ATF finds that its "files are missing," then "the only solution would be to declare another amnesty period (click here to read the document).

Finally, while the NFAOA "Resources" page has taken a necessarily critical view of ATF's institutional conduct, ATF should be publicly credited for having the courage to release these documents. Why ATF has chosen to release documents that will probably impeach the NFRTR in Federal District Court at some point, is unclear. That should not be a reason fail to praise the good citizenship and respect for Constitutional processes that ATF as an institution has exhibited by releasing these documents. After the FOIA distribution and appeals are complete, all of the FOIA documents will be put into PDF files and posted on the NFAOA "Resources" page.


Anonymous said...


Dakota said...

Gooolllly, I can only hope that there are hundreds of thousands of Machine Guns out there that the Feds have lost track of. All those WW2 vets sure as hell aint gonna tell them either.

This is the proper way of looking at it you know. I sleep well at night knowing that my brothers and sisters are out there able to defend their own property and lives with the firearms that they so chose. Only tyrants worry about where such things are, for they have a guilty conscience.

Dedicated_Dad said...

Dakota: You're right on -- I just wish the stupid ones would stop polluting these valuable "artifacts" by throwing them in the horrid pits full of di-hydrogen monoxide!


rexxhead said...

So where does that leave all those cases where ATF has testified under oath that NFRTR was 100% accurate? Is this enough to get a new trial (at worst) or a directed acquittal (at best)?

Dennis308 said...

IF I had a machine gun I still would not register it or any Guns that I don´t have.


Anonymous said...

Machinegun amnesty? Damn, I didn't get one!