ATF agents, state trooper reportedly show up warrantless to inspect Delaware man’s legally owned guns

In a disturbing, still-developing, and now-viral story, two ATF agents clad in tactical vests and accompanied by a Delaware State Police trooper knocked on the door of a law-abiding man’s home and demanded to see his legally-obtained firearms without the benefit of a search warrant as part of an ongoing investigation into illegal “straw purchases.”

The entire incident, first reported on by ArmedAmericanNews (AAN) and picked up by the Washington Times and the Daily Caller,  was caught on the man’s doorbell camera. It soon caught the attention of Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.).

“The ATF must answer questions on why they decided to conduct an illegal search, especially since the homeowner had done nothing wrong,” Rosendale stated. “These actions by the federal government are unsettling, and they have no business going door-to-door to see who owns firearms.”

In the video, “Agent 1” tells the homeowner, who wishes to remain anonymous, “All I’m doing is verifying that you have it, you got two different purchases.”

“If you have them, I’m out of here,” the agent promises. “That’s how quick it is. Yeah. Do you have them with you by any chance?”

The gun owner replies that his weapons are “in my safe.”

“If you can unload them and bring them out,” the agent urges the man. “We can go out to your foyer here, check them out, write the serial numbers and we’re out of here.”

The trooper and the agent then explain that they “have to check them out” because the homeowner purchased “more than two guns at a time.”

“The reason we’re out here is obviously gun violence is at an uptick,” the trooper says. “We want to make sure — we’ve been having a lot of issues with straw purchases.”

A felony offense, a “straw purchase” is the name given to the act of purchasing a firearm for someone who is unable to legally purchase it, for whatever reason, on their own.

“One of the things, indicators we get is someone making a large gun purchase, and then a lot of times we’ve been there and ‘Oh, those guns got taken,” the trooper explains.

“The idea,” said Agent 1, “is that 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. That’s all that is.”

“You did nothing wrong,” the agent stresses to the homeowner. “Absolutely zero.”

 

Says AAN in a follow-up report, “no one from ATF commented for the story prior to publication — neither the Resident Agent in Charge of ATF’s Wilmington, Delaware field office, nor Amanda Hils, PIO for ATF’s Baltimore Field Division or anyone at AFT’s headquarters in Washington D.C.”

After the story was published on Tuesday, Hils issued a statement to AAN reporter Lee Williams saying, “ATF does not release the process in which it conducts investigations.”

According to Williams, the Washington Times and the Daily Caller received “similar statements.”

Hils then reversed course and issued another statement in which she was reportedly fine with discussing the investigations process.

“The Delaware State Police partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) via a task force model to help combat gun violence in our state by investigating potential illegal gun purchases made by individuals on behalf of others who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, also known as straw purchases,” she said. “At times, this leads to interviews conducted by task force officers, which are non0custodial, voluntary interviews done in full compliance will [sic] all applicable local, state, and federal laws.”

While ATF calls the interviews “voluntary,” AAN calls the notion “laughable.”

“ATF’s claim that these task force interviews are ‘voluntary’ is laughable,” Williams writes. “Most folks are not attorneys. so when three armed men wearing tactical vests show up on their front porch unannounced, they don’t realize they can tell them to leave and slam the door.”

“ATF is using the public’s legal naivete to their advantage,” Williams continues. “In fact, they’re counting on it. This is not law enforcement. It’s intimidation.”

According to firearms reporter Stephen Gutowski, who received the same statement from the ATF, the “agents and officers in this video may not have broken any laws, but it’s plain why their conduct is concerning to gun owners. It’s not clear why they targeted this gun owner beyond the fact that he bought more than one gun.”

“An ATF source tells me this is not part of any new program or initiative, and these kinds of ‘knock and talk’ interviews do happen during some investigations,” Gutowski continued. “But the ATF itself hasn’t given me any new details about the situation caught on video.”

Williams points to new ATF director Steve Dettelbach, who is “notoriously anti-gun,” and tells readers to “expect the worst and make ready.”

“These warrantless home intrusions make it crystal clear where the new director is taking the agency,” he writes. “Under Dettelbach, the ATF is ready, willing and able to serve on the front lines of Joe Biden’s war on our guns.”

“I fear that there will be more illegal inspections to come as the Left continues its assault on our 2nd Amendment rights,” said Rep. Rosendale. “Congress should investigate this immediately.”

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