On February 15, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security will hold an oversight hearing (the first of three BATFE-related hearings) to investigate apparent wrongdoing by BATFE at a Richmond, VA gun show last August.
In 2004-05, a troubling pattern emerged at a number of Richmond, VA-area gun shows, where hundreds of BATFE agents and state and local police staked out local shows. Immediately upon learning of these incidents, NRA began investigating and working to ensure congressional oversight hearings would be held to determine any wrongdoing and ensure BATFE was not overstepping its bounds or violating the law.
BATFE agents copied lawful gun purchase transaction records and provided this information to local police officers, who in turn conducted “residency checks.” Federal law prohibits the release of this information except in the course of a bona fide criminal investigation. The information provided to local police prompted multiple instances of officers showing up at the homes of those who lawfully purchased firearms from licensed dealers. When the lawful purchasers were not at home, agents questioned family members (for example, inquiring of a wife if she knew her husband was at a gun show and/or had purchased a firearm) or their neighbors. In other cases, reports surfaced of lawful gun owners and holders of valid carry permits having their firearms confiscated.
Those interested in watching the hearing online may do so at http://judiciary.house.gov/schedule.aspx. The hearing is scheduled to begin at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15.