When an ATF inspector showed up at Black Metal Firearms in Mesa, Ariz., a few months ago and began taking photos of the gun shop’s sales records using her personal phone, owner Dave Nagel couldn’t believe his eyes.
Nagel posted a snippet of the 20 minutes of footage he had of the auditor snapping pictures of the store’s Acquisitions and Dispensations (A&D) books on Instagram, and the video has gotten tens of thousands of views and plenty of comments. ATF Industry Operations Inspector (IOI) Pamela Scott methodically photographed every page of the A&D books, rather than documenting specific errors, which is common practice.
“No registry? Here’s our ATF auditor copying every single page of our A&D books with her cell phone camera using an app that reads text,” Nagel captioned the video. “This data includes make, model, serial number, buyer’s name and address, and even the seller. We have well over 20 minutes of footage of this happening in our shop in public view. Yes, this is illegal.”
He later added an edit: “We recorded these in January 2022 during our audit. This is not happening in our shop right now, but definitely happening in a shop near you. Most dealers don’t even know this is wrong or are coerced into letting it happen. Help us fight this grotesque ATF overreach and abuse! Link in bio if you want to help.”
The link in the shop’s Instagram bio points to a GoFundMe page where the owners are raising money to fight what they call an abuse of ATF authority.
(Note: there are varying dates for the incident. The Instagram post cites a January 2022 date, while the GoFundMe page says the inspection took place in December 2021. PJ Media spoke with Nagel, who clarified that the audit began in December, but the incident with the agent photographing sales data took place in January.)
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“The world wants to see what’s going on here,” Nagel told Stephen Gutowski at The Reload. “If the right people can take that information, hold the ATF accountable for what they’re doing, help put an end to these practices, and save a few people’s livelihoods. That’s all this is about.”
Gutowski reached out to the ATF to ask whether the agency was investigating the incident, and a spokesperson told Gutowski that “We are unable to comment on any specific investigation or inspection,” but “any claims reported by the licensee to ATF would be investigated.”
Auditors are only supposed to document any errors they come across. Where at one time, the ATF relied on portable copy machines and scanners, inspectors can now use their phones. Nagel said that Scott informed him of a handful of minor errors, but they didn’t warrant Scott photographing the entire series of sales books.
“The dispute represents a high-profile flashpoint between the agency and the industry it oversees,” Gutowski points out. “It comes as the ATF implements President Joe Biden’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach toward regulating gun makers and dealers. It may test how well the agency, under freshly-confirmed director Steve Dettelbach, can continue to foster relationships with the gun businesses it heavily relies on to report potential crimes while revoking licenses over what the industry views as minor infractions, utilizing controversial enforcement tactics, or allowing infractions by agency staff to go unpunished.”
It also comes around the same time that gun accessory manufacturers are receiving the Commerce Department’s Commodity Flow Survey in disproportionate numbers. Those survey results could serve as a sort of back-door attempt by the Biden administration to fashion a gun-owners registry, which is prohibited by law.
It’s yet another example of the Biden administration overstepping the reach of the executive branch as well as bypassing the law. By now, is anybody really surprised at this type of behavior during the Biden years?
Editor’s note: this article was updated to clarify the dates of the audit at Black Metal Firearms.