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ATF’s Behavior Paints Ominous Picture for Biden’s “Crackdown” on FFLs

Monday, June 28, 2021

ATF’s Behavior Paints Ominous Picture for Biden’s “Crackdown” on FFLs

According to the president and his ever-obliging attorney general, a crackdown” is coming on Americas federally licensed gun dealers (FFLs), with zero tolerance” for allegedly illegal behavior. While no decent person – least of all the NRA or its members – supports arming dangerous criminals, a recent case from Texas provides disturbing hints as to what this policy might look like in practice.

Biden announced the new effort last week while finally acknowledging what was already obvious to most Americans: violent crime, particularly in Americas cities, is on the rise.

It came as no surprise, however, that Biden was unwilling to admit the culpability of his own partys disastrous defund the police” initiatives, as well as a host of progressive” criminal justice reforms” that had the effect of curtailing enforcement and allowing dangerous offenders to roam the streets.

Instead, the administration continued its long string of blood libel by falsely blaming the NRA, Americas law-abiding gun owners, and the industries that serve them for the violence decimating many of the nations most vulnerable communities. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland disclaimed any intention to intensify efforts to punish those actually pulling the triggers. [A]rrests and convictions,” he indicated, are not ends in themselves.”

Rather, the administrations efforts will focus on supply side measures to broadly curtail access to firearms, even those – like braced, large-framed pistols and semiautomatic rifles – rarely implicated in the crimes the administration is supposedly trying to prevent.

The Texas case concerned Robert and Samuelia Arwady, who held an FFL for their business between 1989 and 2007.

The government charged Robert Arwady for alleged record-keeping violations arising out of a 1996 compliance inspection of his firearms business. He was, however, acquitted on all counts.

The Arwadys attorney maintains that the couple had a contentious relationship with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) because they refused to cooperate with ATF as informants, including in operations where the ATF allowed criminals to obtain usable firearms.

ATF claimed to find additional record-keeping violations and the apparent disappearance of some 600 firearms during a 2004 compliance inspection, circumstances Arwady blamed on the illicit activities of a police sergeant who was working for the business part-time. The agency brought criminal charges against the employee, who in a plea deal agreed to provide testimony against Mr. Arwady.

Mr. Arwady was eventually able to account for 570 of the supposedly missing firearms, but ATF in 2006 refused to renew his FFL. He filed numerous appeals challenging this decision, but eventually decided to close his firearms sales business and transfer his remaining inventory (some 150 guns) to himself for liquidation.

A provision of a federal law makes clear that liquidating a personal collection of firearms” is not indicative of the principle objective of livelihood and profit” that triggers the need for an FFL in the case of repetitive firearms sales.

Another law, in the section proscribing rules for dealer licensing, states: Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit [an FFL] from maintaining and disposing of a personal collection of firearms, subject only to such restrictions as apply in this chapter to dispositions by a person other than [an FFL].”

In any case, Mr. Arwady arranged these sales through other FFLs. Thus, the firearms were accordingly documented in those FFLsbooks and sold to the ultimate customers with the usual formalities of transfer paperwork and background checks on the perspective buyers.

ATF agents became aware that Mr. Arwady was advertising these sales on the Internet. One undercover agent tried to induce Mr. Arwady to sell him a gun without a background check. Arwady refused. Another tried to get Mr. Arwardy to buy and resell a firearm to him, and Arwady again refused.

In 2009, the ATF obtained a search warrant for various properties belonging to Mr. Arwardy and seized 165 firearms. The government then commenced a civil forfeiture proceeding to seize the firearms, but this action was dismissed in 2012. Notably, a 1986 provision of federal law prohibits mass seizures of firearms in the case of an alleged violation of the Gun Control Act. Instead, Only those firearms … particularly named and individually identified as involved” in alleged violations of law shall be subject to seizure, forfeiture, and disposition.”

Nevertheless, the government was not finished with the Arwadys.

In 2014, Mr. Arwady was indicted on eight counts related to firearm sales he conducted after his firearms business closed. The government dismissed six of the counts before trial, and Mr. Arwady was found not guilty of the remaining two counts in 2015.

A court ordered the return of the 165 firearms seized from Mr. Arwady. Over a period of five months, the government managed to produce 160 of them, but many were damaged, missing parts or accessories, or had been removed from the original manufacturers packaging in which they were taken.

Over the ensuring years, the Arwardys brought civil claims against the government for the damages and mistreatment they had suffered, pursuing the matter all the way to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, with assistance from the NRAs Civil Rights Defense Fund.

Early in June, the Fifth Circuit disallowed the last of those claims on various technical grounds.

The Arwardyssaga shows how even those FFLs who are never found in violation of any provision of criminal law can still be pursued, harassed, intimidated, and dispossessed of lawful property through a variety of means. It also shows that even after they are vindicated in court against false charges, the opportunities for meaningful recompense are extremely limited.

Not only is the Biden administration promising to crack down on those engaged in firearms sales, its attempting to place one of Michael Bloombergs hand-picked gun control operatives in charge of the agency that oversees the nations FFLs.

The whole point of having federally licensed firearms sales is to ensure Second Amendment protected commerce is conducted in a way that is safe, transparent, and consistent.

The distrust the Biden administration seems determined to sow between Americas FFLs and the ATF, however, can only undermine what could otherwise be a partnership that benefits both public safety and fundamental constitutional rights.

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Louisiana: House Passes Constitutional Carry, Now Headed to Gov. Landry’s Desk for His Signature

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Louisiana: House Passes Constitutional Carry, Now Headed to Gov. Landry’s Desk for His Signature

Today, the House voted 75-28 to pass Senate Bill 1, the NRA-backed constitutional carry legislation that passed the Senate last week.

Louisiana: Constitutional Carry Advances to the House Floor – Final Vote Imminent

Monday, February 26, 2024

Louisiana: Constitutional Carry Advances to the House Floor – Final Vote Imminent

Today, the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee passed the NRA-backed constitutional carry legislation, Senate Bill 1, by a 10-3 vote. The bill now heads to the House floor for a final vote this week. SB 1 ...

Washington: Two Anti-Gun Bills Advance Through the Legislature

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Washington: Two Anti-Gun Bills Advance Through the Legislature

On Tuesday, February 27th, HB 2118, the “FFL Killer” passed the Senate, and SB 5444, "sensitive places" expansion, passed the House. Both bills were amended in the second chamber and now must return to their ...

Maine: PETITION: Stand with Maine Gun Retailers

Monday, February 26, 2024

Maine: PETITION: Stand with Maine Gun Retailers

Gun Control groups are launching an all-out assault on the Second Amendment in Maine. Their most recent tactic?

Maine: Gun Registries, Red Flags, Universal Background Checks and more.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Maine: Gun Registries, Red Flags, Universal Background Checks and more.

It has been a busy week for Maine’s anti-gun politicians. From releasing a new bill that would implement Universal Background Checks and Red Flag laws in Maine, to Rep. Jared Golden (ME-02) pushing for a ...

Minnesota: Two Anti Gun Bills Scheduled to be Heard in Committee

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Minnesota: Two Anti Gun Bills Scheduled to be Heard in Committee

On Thursday February 28th at 10:30 am, House File 601 and House File 4300 will be heard in Room 200 of the State Office Building by the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee and the Children and ...

South Dakota: Enhanced Conceal Carry Bill Passed in Committee

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

South Dakota: Enhanced Conceal Carry Bill Passed in Committee

Yesterday, Senate Bill 203 was passed in the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 11-1 and will be heard on the House floor today, February 27th. The bill allows gun owners with enhanced concealed ...

Minnesota: "Assault Weapons" Ban Referred to the Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Minnesota: "Assault Weapons" Ban Referred to the Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy

On Monday, House File 3570 was referred to the House Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy and would ban so called “assault weapons” by expanding upon an existing statute used to define these firearms. The bill ...

South Carolina: Permitless Carry Passes the Senate, Waiting on Concurrence by the House

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

South Carolina: Permitless Carry Passes the Senate, Waiting on Concurrence by the House

Last week, South Carolina moved one step closer to becoming the 28th state to enact Permitless/Constitutional Carry! This effort has been years in the making, clearing a major hurdle by passing the Senate, which has been ...

Louisiana: Senate Passes Constitutional Carry - Take Action Now!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Louisiana: Senate Passes Constitutional Carry - Take Action Now!

Today, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1, NRA backed constitutional carry legislation, on a 28-10 vote. The bill will next be considered in the House. Please contact your state representative and ask them to SUPPORT Senate Bill 1.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.