A Delaware man was stunned when two Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents and a state trooper rang his doorbell and asked if they could do an inventory of seven of his legally-obtained firearms.
The gun owner has remained anonymous, but describes himself as a law-abiding citizen and small business owner. He captured doorbell camera video of the unsettling incident and shared the video and his account of the incident with Armed American News:
“I was embarrassed. My neighbors saw the whole thing -- guys in these police vests standing in my yard. I was really uncomfortable. I felt really confused, like I was in some way being accused of something even though I didn’t commit a crime. It was quite embarrassing."
One of the ATF agents explained the surprise inspection was prompted by the gun owner simply having simultaneously purchased multiple firearms:
“When you purchase more than two guns at a time, it generates a multiple-sales report and it comes to us and we have to check them out...There’s an email from the federal side saying, 'Can you make sure this guy’s got his guns?' "
The state trooper explained the agents were trying to police "straw purchases" -- the purchase of firearms with the intent to sell them to someone who's prohibited from buying a firearm, or otherwise doesn't want to go through a background check or have their name associated with a purchase. It's a felony offense.
Though they didn't have a warrant, the agents implied that if the gun owner didn't produce his weapons for inspection, it wouldn't be the end of the matter: "We can look at them and write which ones you just bought, so we can save a trip from coming back,” one of them said.
Even as the ATF agents reassured the gun owner, they added to the authoritarian flavor by bringing up an apparent recent traffic stop: "You did nothing wrong – absolutely zero. I noticed you were stopped in Philly, though, with one of your guns?”
The reference to nearby Philadelphia seems to confirm these surprise inspections are part of the Biden administration's crackdown on the so-called "Iron Pipeline," a term used to describe the trafficking of firearms legally purchased in the South and then transported north for illegal resale along the I-95 corridor.
When the gun owner said he had the weapons in his safe, an ATF agent asked him to unload them and bring them out so the agents could check the serial numbers against their records. "All I'm doing is verifying that you have it...you got two different purchases. If you have them, I'm outta here," he said.
The gun owner, who'd purchased seven weapons since January, decided to consent to the request, telling Armed American News:
"I knew they couldn’t come in, but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to get put on some watch list. We just got new gun laws here. I didn’t want them coming back again. I felt like they were invading my privacy.”
Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale wants the ATF to explain their actions. He told the Washington Times:
“I’m extremely concerned by the reports of a surprise and unwarranted firearms inspection conducted by the ATF. This incident occurred the same day Steve Dettelbach was sworn in to head the ATF, and it is exactly the kind of action I was concerned about under his leadership. ATF agents did not have a search warrant, and they had to rely on pressuring the homeowner for consent.”
Responding to an inquiry from Washington Times reporter Kerry Picket, the ATF said , “We are unable to comment on the details of any ongoing investigations; however, interviews are an entirely appropriate part of the investigative process for any law enforcement agency.”
The gun owner produced one rifle for the ATF to inspect. Apparently having quickly convinced themselves that they weren't dealing with a gun-runner, the agents checked the serial number, skipped the rest of the inventory, apologized for the inconvenience and went off to the next stop on their 2022 summer tyranny tour.