One of the key parts to a fair and just government is when the government makes clear what is a violation of a law and what is not. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been information which has been easy to obtain.
One case in point has to do with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). One of the responsibilities that the ATF has, as you may know, is to investigate firearms dealers to make sure that the dealers are compliant with Federal firearms laws. Of course, the ATF has procedures which they are allowed to use and “procedures” which they are not allowed to use, but the ATF did not want to let firearms dealers know their rights to know when the ATF is overstepping its boundaries.
This is important information to prevent government overreach in the firearms industry. John Crump writes,
Gun Owners of America has obtained the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] Industry Operations Manual used by Industry Operations Inspectors (IOI). The gun-rights group received a copy of the document after submitting multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the federal law enforcement agency.
This copy is the first time since the 1990s that the manual has been made public. The ATF was not quick to supply the information to GOA, but continued pressure by the gun-rights organization forced the ATF’s hand.
The Firearms Industry Operations Manual covers topics such as qualification inspections for those seeking a license, administrative controls of dealers’ records, and inventory, and it explains how dealer violations are reported and punished. Most importantly, it lets the FFLs know when the inspection goes from a regulatory compliance investigation to a criminal investigation. When it becomes a criminal investigation, the dealer should invoke their right to remain silent and contact their attorney immediately.
The manual will also be an invaluable tool for FFL’s lawyers that are defending their clients from criminal prosecution. The attorneys will know if the inspecting agent violated their operational guidelines, which could get the case thrown out of court. Before GOA got this document their scope of power was a secret.
Having this kind of information available to the public is vital if we are to keep government bureaucrats and anti-gunners in government from trying to steal our gun rights. And anything that we can do to limit government overreach is a good thing, not just for us, but for everyone in this country whether they realize it or not.