Docs Reveal FBI, ATF Have Been Monitoring Law-Abiding Gun Buyers Through Federal Background Checks

P. Gardner Goldsmith | January 17, 2023
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If one were to draw a Venn Diagram, the circle representing Americans who protest the immoral and Constitution-insulting National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) forced onto gun buyers and “Federal Firearms Licensed” gun shops (FFL) likely would be congruent with the circle representing Americans who rightly decry the equally immoral and Constitution-insulting federal mandate that gun dealers get “licensed” in the first place.

Both circles are small, but, thanks to their diligence, we have new information on shocking unwarranted federal surveillance of gun buyers.

Thanks, specifically, to the long-established and tireless work of Gun Owners of America (GOA) and its team securing FBI and ATF documents through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filings, and thanks to an exclusive report from The Epoch Times’ Emily Miller, we now know that the ATF and FBI have been working together to engage in unwarranted surveillance of gun buyers nationwide.

She writes:

“Hundreds of pages of documents produced to Gun Owners of America from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit show ATF agents telling the FBI to daily monitor specific people through the federal background system when they lawfully purchase guns.”

This criminal activity is not abstract, not a hypothetical. It has been uncovered as a consistent, long-term, extrajudicial, Constitution-defying day-to-day practice that has a direct impact on real people.

Miller continues:

“The records show dozens of ATF agents requesting the monitoring of law-abiding people through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) The FBI calls this secret system with the ATF the ‘NICS Monitoring Services.’ This is a manual, daily check of firearm sales to see if a specific person buys a gun, (conducted) for as long as the ATF agent wants.

‘They are basically tracking—without a warrant—every gun purchase by these people,’ Rob Olson, an attorney for Gun Owners of America (GOA), told The Epoch Times. ‘There’s no legal process here. At best, this is highly questionable, if not outright unlawful.’”

And she adds:

“A spokesman for ATF declined to comment. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.”

Some Americans who read or hear this information might find that their nervous systems and even their sense of moral outrage are not as engaged as they previously might have been. After all, in April of 2021, Ammoland, GOA and other vigilant gun-rights groups revealed that, contrary to the feds’ claim that the NICS background checks are not stored, in fact, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was keeping the information alive for TEN YEARS. At the time, Ammoland’s John Crump wrote:

“The monitoring of NICS isn’t for prohibited people. It is for monitoring people that are not prohibited from buying a firearm, but the ATF suspects MIGHT be committing a crime in the future. Someone buying too many guns in the ATF’s or FBI’s eyes could be placed on the list. The person being monitored will NOT be notified of the surveillance. The object of the monitoring is to ‘catch people who are committing straw purchases or similar crimes.’”

This new information sheds light on the vast scope and sheer criminality of this patently unconstitutional breach of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that any government agent interested in searching a person or place must get a public warrant from a judge, who, himself or herself, claims there is “probable cause.”

Related: Blue States Are Targeting Second Amendment Rights - and the People Are Pushing Back | MRCTV

And that problem, itself, stands atop the mountain of unconstitutional “federal firearms license” requirements and the Constitutionally transgressive NCIS itself, as well as the insufferably anti-constitutional ATF, and the FBI.

The trouble is that, for many people, these systems have been in place so long, they are taken as "given." For example, even in Miller’s piece, one can see a small amount of normalcy bias. She writes:

“The NICS system is supposed to be used only to ensure that those prohibited from possessing a firearm are stopped at the point of sale. Yet the ATF and FBI are using it to find fugitives and to track those they suspect of being straw purchasers.”

It is essential to remember that there is not supposed to be any level of government impediment on any free person exercising his or her right to keep and bear arms. Thus, the phrase, “…that those prohibited from possessing a firearm” only is supposed to apply to people who are incarcerated. If one is not in jail, one is supposed to be free to keep and bear arms. As a new court case amplifies, it wasn’t until the 1968 federal Gun Control Act that the feds forbade gun ownership for people released from prison after serving time for felony convictions – and they even forbade ownership for those who have been convicted of some misdemeanor offenses.

However, her coverage of this new information is important, and amplifies the April 2021 revelations about storage of the NICS data.

Writes Miller:

“The secret system works by agents emailing the FBI a completed document called ‘ATF Investigations Information Form for Monitoring Firearms Purchasers in the NICS.’”

She quotes GOA attorney Rob Olson, once more:

“If they had probable cause, they could seek a warrant from a judge, but they aren’t doing that,” explained Olson. “They are just deciding they have some reason to believe a certain person’s exercise of Second Amendment rights needs to be monitored. And it’s their own system so they make up their own standards.  There doesn’t appear to be any oversight here.”

Not only do these hundreds of new FOIA-obtained ATF-FBI documents show that there is no time limit on how long the FBI will monitor a person, the documents shed light on the arbitrary and subjective government “rationales” and strange suspicions these underhanded, tax-paid agents have used to back their spying.

“Another form shows the ATF had the FBI monitoring NICS in 2021 for a black male suspect because he ‘stated he was purchasing the firearms to provide to female family members during the COVID-19 quarantine.’  The agent wrote that he ‘found this reasoning to be suspicious’ because the man purchased a shotgun and rifle.”

Of course, no one should have to provide to any agent of the state a “reason” for obtaining anything. The peaceful acquisition of anything, obtained through market exchange, is not an aggressive act.

But Miller makes a good final point:

“The agency’s theory as to why a woman would not use a rifle or shotgun for self-defense is not provided. Of note, Pres. Joe Biden said he owns shotguns and advises his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, to use them for self-defense.”

This is a valuable report, and it sheds light on an important, ongoing effort by GOA.

They both might help more Americans realize that the very concepts of the NICS, ATF, and FBI stand in contradistinction to, and as enemies of, individual liberty, peace, and free will.

The population of people who are aware of the systemic, institutional, government affronts to their rights might be small, but revelations such as these could help increase the numbers, and bring people from different backgrounds together to stand for universal Natural Rights.

Related: Biden’s Assault On Right To Keep And Bear Arms Is Indefensible and Absurd | MRCTV