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Gun shop owner sues ATF over reports
Virginian Pilot-Norfolk ^ | 12/4/01 | Tim McGlone

Posted on 12/05/2001 10:42:03 AM PST by DoctorMichael

Gun shop owner sues ATF over reports

NORFOLK -- Robert Marcus has never turned down a request by federal agents to help trace a weapon through his store, Bob's Gun & Tackle Shop on Granby Street downtown.

Marcus, who owns the store and has worked there 32 years, understands that firearms sometimes fall into the hands of criminals. He said he wants to do his part to prevent gun-related crimes. But when federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asked him for records of the store's used gun sales, Marcus balked. Despite threats of criminal action and the loss of his license to sell guns, Marcus stood fast and refused. When the ATF persisted, Marcus took the agency to court. In a suit filed Nov. 23 in U.S. District Court, just a block from his shop, Marcus claims the government is trying to compile a database of gun owners, something Congress has strictly forbidden. The bureau, however, says it is trying only to stop handgun violence and the illegal trafficking of firearms. The case, which hinges on the privacy of gun owners and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, is certain to attract widespread attention in the long struggle between gun rights' advocates and those trying to prevent gun-related crimes.

Bob's Gun & Tackle Shop sold nearly 2,000 new and used firearms in 1999. In February 2000, the ATF's National Tracing Center sent Bob's gun shop a letter demanding that the shop turn over the make, model, caliber and serial number of each used firearm bought and sold at the store in 1999. For the first time, the federal government was collecting data on gun sales. Bob's was among 430 firearms dealers -- out of 80,000 -- across the country to receive the letter. His shop and the other dealers were singled out because they had sold 10 or more guns that had been used in a crime within three years of purchase, according to ATF. According to ATF, the average ``time-to-crime'' from when a gun leaves a retailer is six years.

``Research has demonstrated that a high volume of gun traces with a short `time-to-crime' may be an indicator of illegal firearms trafficking,'' the ATF letter said. The agency was not accusing Bob's of any wrongdoing but simply inquiring because Bob's had ``an unusually high number of traces,'' the letter said. Marcus said it's not unusual for some guns sold at high-volume dealers to turn up at crime scenes. Ten guns, of the 1,986 he sold in 1999, traced to crimes is a small percentage -- about one-half of 1 percent, he said. In the letter, the ATF did not give an exact number of weapons traced to Bob's or say what crimes they had been used in. Records obtained by The Virginian-Pilot show that the ATF traced about 1,900 guns in the five South Hampton Roads cities in 1995, the last year records were available. Between 1990 and 1995, the ATF traced 114 firearms to Bob's. That's an average of 19 a year. The records also show that 19 of the 114 guns were tied to violent crimes, including seven homicides. However, the records do not show whether the guns belonged to a victim or a suspect, or whether the trace led to criminal charges.

Licensed firearms dealers conduct instant criminal background checks on all gun buyers through a national computer system. Felons are prohibited from buying or possessing guns. Some cities, such as Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, require purchase permits, but those records generally are not used to trace a weapon, Marcus said. ATF relies on gun dealers like Marcus to maintain records of all sales, which include the name and address of the buyer and the firearm's make, model and serial number. If a gun turns up in a crime, ATF can then trace the serial number from the manufacturer to the store to determine who purchased the weapon. By collecting data from Marcus and other dealers, ATF said it hopes to speed up trace investigations. The ATF letter to Marcus said the gun shop would face administrative or criminal sanctions, including the revocation of his dealer license, if he did not comply. ``While no one has accused me of committing a crime, they're going on a fishing expedition, and I'm not going fishing with them,'' Marcus said in a recent interview from his shop. Marcus has not complied with the request and has not been sanctioned. Both sides have been waiting for a decision in a related federal court case.

In June, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond decided that a Baltimore firearms dealer must turn over to the ATF records of all new and used gun sales. That case differs from Bob's because the Baltimore dealer failed to comply with ATF trace requests, a violation of federal law, according to the appeals court's decision. As a result, the ruling requires him to turn over his records. Bob's has not been accused of breaking any laws. It is the only gun shop to sue, his lawyer said. Marcus and his attorneys expect his case to reach the federal appeals court as well. ``The letter has no basis in law and demands the reporting of information which has no rational relationship to any bona fide criminal investigation or other legitimate law enforcement objective,'' Bob's lawsuit said.

In the Maryland case, the appeals court said that in limited instances, such as a dealer who violates the law, ATF can collect sales data without violating constitutional rights. But in the carefully worded decision, the judges warned that federal law prohibits establishment of a national firearms registry. The law would become meaningless if ATF is allowed to issue ``limitless demand letters'' in ``a back door effort'' that could violate the rights of law-abiding gun owners, the court ruled. ``It is clear that Congress did not intend to give (ATF) carte blanche with regard to information requests from federal firearms licensees,'' the court said. After the June ruling, ATF officials sent more letters to Bob's gun shop demanding the information.

ATF officials defended their position in an interview by citing a federal law that allows the agency to collect gun sales data as long as they don't create a prohibited database that includes names and addresses. ``We have to encourage some responsibility, and we feel we're within our rights, and the courts have agreed with us,'' said Jim Crandall, an ATF spokesman in Washington, adding that agency lawyers haven't seen the suit. ``It's not a condemnation of the manner or the way they conduct business.'' Advocates on one side of the issue see ATF's request as a strategic move in the fight against gun violence. Advocates on the other side view it as an infringement on the rights of law-abiding gun owners and dealers.

Gail C. Horne, executive director of Virginians Against Handgun Violence, said ATF's request is logical if it will reduce crime and gun violence. ``It only takes one death for it to become a common-sense issue,'' said Horne, of Norfolk, who was not aware of the lawsuit. She said she ``struggles'' with the privacy issues involved with gun ownership and would not want to see law-abiding gun owners punished. But ``if we're talking about responsible gun ownership and use, why do we care if somebody has our name? It seems to me the only time we care is if the use and ownership is not going to be responsible.'' Marcus sees the potential for abuse in ATF's attempt to collect gun sales data.

``We have nothing to gain by impeding the police and their work. But this goes entirely beyond that,'' he said. ``Fortunately, we live in a country where we can question the actions of the government,'' he said.


TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banglist
No Leahy stories today folks so I thought I'd post this egregious abuse of governmental power.
1 posted on 12/05/2001 10:42:03 AM PST by DoctorMichael
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To: DoctorMichael
"...those trying to prevent gun-related crimes."

Better known as "fascisti".

prambo

2 posted on 12/05/2001 10:47:57 AM PST by prambo
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To: DoctorMichael
I hate gun control if everyone was packing heat nobody would try anything ever.
3 posted on 12/05/2001 11:09:07 AM PST by weikel
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To: *bang_list
bang
4 posted on 12/05/2001 11:09:46 AM PST by SteveH
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To: DoctorMichael
She said she ``struggles'' with the privacy issues involved with gun ownership and would not want to see law-abiding gun owners punished. But ``if we're talking about responsible gun ownership and use, why do we care if somebody has our name?

Yeah. If you're not doing anything wrong, what have you got to hide? < /sarcasm >

Fascist.

5 posted on 12/05/2001 11:16:19 AM PST by Sloth
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To: DoctorMichael
Already posted here and here.
6 posted on 12/05/2001 11:19:23 AM PST by Yo-Yo
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To: DoctorMichael
Hey, wait a minute. I bought a gun there about 12 years ago.
7 posted on 12/05/2001 11:19:35 AM PST by P8riot
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To: DoctorMichael
This is an O U T R A G E!!!! We have to stop the BATF in court before they illegally confiscate every solitary weapon we own.
8 posted on 12/05/2001 11:23:05 AM PST by 1 FELLOW FREEPER
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To: DoctorMichael
Just think, if our government was made up of mostly Libertarians, there wouldn't be a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. But with the Republicans controlling both the presidency and the House of Reps, plus being only the minority of one vote in the Senate, the BATF and government as a whole only gets bigger and bigger.
9 posted on 12/05/2001 11:27:37 AM PST by rodeocowboy
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To: DoctorMichael
It only takes one death for it to become a common-sense issue,'' said Horne

What about that Congresswoman who had her parents murdered while her gun was in the car as the law required? Do their deaths count?

Man, nothing makes me more irritated than public policy based more on emotional reaction to isolated incidents than by actual rational analysis.

10 posted on 12/05/2001 11:27:40 AM PST by ko_kyi
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To: DoctorMichael
Known Bob Marcus for several years, and have done a bit of business with him. He's a real stand-up guy, and I'm glad to see him pursuing this.
11 posted on 12/05/2001 11:29:55 AM PST by John R. (Bob) Locke
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To: rodeocowboy
Yes, that's right, it's all the Republican's fault. (Sarcasm)
12 posted on 12/05/2001 11:34:25 AM PST by ozzymandus
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To: weikel
I hate gun control if everyone was packing heat nobody would try anything ever.

You said it brother. So did Heinlein:

"An armed society is a polite society"

13 posted on 12/05/2001 12:13:41 PM PST by Chuckster
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To: ko_kyi
What about that Congresswoman who had her parents murdered while her gun was in the car as the law required? Do their deaths count?

That would be Texas State Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp whom at the time of the "Luby's Shooting Rampage" was a Chiropractor having lunch with Her Parents and witnessed them both killed (as well as, if I recall correctly) 57 others right in front of Her. She left Her pistol in the car for fear of losing Her Chiroprators Liscence.

Gun Control is hitting Your target with the first shot and not wasting ammo!

14 posted on 12/05/2001 1:00:30 PM PST by ChefKeith
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To: All
Forgive me for interrupting your very important thoughts and profound wisdom, but we are in the midst of the most exciting fundraiser ever on FreeRepublic. I would hate for any of you to miss it!

Come visit us at Freepathon Holidays are Here Again: Let's Really Light Our Tree This Year - Thread 6

and be a part of something that is larger than all of us.

Alone, we are a voice crying in the wilderness. Together we are a force for positive action!

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Be one who can someday say..................... "I was there when..................."

Thank you to everyone who has already come by and become a part!

15 posted on 12/05/2001 1:35:29 PM PST by 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember
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To: DoctorMichael
Memo to the BATF: If guns are so bad, then why do all of your agents pack?
16 posted on 12/05/2001 1:55:20 PM PST by BenR2
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To: ChefKeith
That would be Texas State Rep. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp

Whom, I am proud to say, is MY Texas State Assembly Representative.

Suzanna Rocks!

17 posted on 12/05/2001 3:40:02 PM PST by weaponeer
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To: 1 FELLOW FREEPER
>>We have to stop the BATF in court before they illegally confiscate every solitary weapon we own.>>

The liberals have more money and more voices than the conservatives do. Just a matter of time before we are defenseless. Read the cards, man. It's just a matter of time. Wait for the national crisis, then look for mandatory trades of guns-for lessened rights. Say what you want, history repeats itself...
18 posted on 12/05/2001 3:45:22 PM PST by Righter-than-Rush
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To: weaponeer
>>Suzanna Gratia-Hupp>>

So, which is she, a Gratia or a Hupp?
19 posted on 12/05/2001 3:46:02 PM PST by Righter-than-Rush
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To: BenR2
Memo to the BATF: If guns are so bad, then why do all of your agents pack?

Because of the unconstitutional notion that some "special" people should be allowed to defend themselves and others shouldn't.

In other words the employees of the state and the elitist's lives are more important than ours.

20 posted on 12/05/2001 3:48:33 PM PST by AAABEST
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To: DoctorMichael
We moved to America from Kyrgyzstan.

We are Russian, but most of the people there are Kyrgyz Muslims.

We know some who have come here and they have been visited by Homeland Security asking about guns they own. Why? I thought freedom to own guns in privacy was a right of American citizens. These people are American citizens now.

Eldar Pompov
21 posted on 12/05/2001 4:05:45 PM PST by ahmedtousay1
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To: ChefKeith
with Her Parents and witnessed them both killed (as well as, if I recall correctly) 57 others right in front of Her

23 including her parents. BTW, even in her vehicle the gun was illegal at the time. You were and are less likely to get caught with it in your glovebox than in a purse or especially on your person. Now it's only illegal if you don't have a CHL. Trouble is the law, not the CHL law, but the need for a CHL to have a handgun in your vehicle, is probably unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution, which only gives the Legislature the power to regulate the *wearing* of arms. To my layman's way of thinking you aren't wearing something that is in your glovebox, or under the seat of your vehicle. Unless of course you are wearing it and in there with it. :)

22 posted on 12/05/2001 5:12:06 PM PST by El Gato
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To: Righter-than-Rush
So, which is she, a Gratia or a Hupp?

Her maiden name is Gratia, she married Mr. Hupp. Since she'd accieved some noteriety as Ms. Gratia, I'm sure she felt it wise to keep her maiden name as well as taking her husbands name. You wanna make something of it, you'll have to take it up with with Weaponeer and me first, even though she can take of herself, both verbally and otherwise. She has Texas CHL #1, IIRC (Might be another low number like 2 or 3)

23 posted on 12/05/2001 5:40:26 PM PST by El Gato
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To: El Gato
23 Some articles say 22, about that many more were injured.
24 posted on 12/05/2001 5:43:00 PM PST by El Gato
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To: DoctorMichael
They put all their effort into attacking gun owners and none to prosecuting criminals. The ATF is a bunch of FBI rejects and Facist. It should never exist.
25 posted on 12/05/2001 6:02:47 PM PST by pulaskibush
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To: AAABEST
In other words the employees of the state and the elitist's lives are more important than ours.

True. And it's also exactly the opposite. The productive citizens are far more valuable and important than government parasites. Who are the value producers? Who are the value destroyers?

Aside from government and criminals, everybody else does business of their own free will choice. When it comes to government and criminals they do "business" with force, fraud and coercion.

I wonder about the Libertarian premise. Assuming people on this forum that are afraid of the vices that the Libertarian premise has a hands-off position on, and would stand firm on individual rights and especially 2nd Amendment -- no-infringement whatsoever -- condier these points under the Libertarian premise:

1. How much would the vices infiltrate citizens lives and society? Probably not much more than they already have. But for examples sake, let's say vice doubled.  How much violent crime would there be? How dangerous would it be for citizens and society? How bad would that be compared to number 2 below.

2. Without the Libertarian premise, how far will government infiltrate to nullify the 2nd Amendment? All the way to gun confiscation. How much violent crime would there be? How dangerous would it be for citizens and society?

26 posted on 12/05/2001 6:16:35 PM PST by Zon
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To: El Gato
You wanna make something of it, you'll have to take it up with with Weaponeer and me first, even though she can take of herself, both verbally and otherwise.

You betcha'! She ocassionally sits in for Jeff Ward on his afternoon Austin Radio talk show. She's not afraid to mix it up. Yet, sitting next to her at a fundraiser, I was impressed at what a perfect southern lady she is. Also at the table with me that day were Rusty and Neal Knox, of NRA fame, who are friends and neighbors of the Hupps. Great time,

27 posted on 12/05/2001 6:45:10 PM PST by weaponeer
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To: DoctorMichael
"...if we're talking about responsible gun ownership and use, why do we care if somebody has our name? It seems to me the only time we care is if the use and ownership is not going to be responsible.''
Und die Government vill decide vat iss responsible.

Sieg Heil, Gail!

28 posted on 12/05/2001 7:40:34 PM PST by Redbob45
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Comment #29 Removed by Moderator

To: John R. (Bob) Locke
Yeah, too bad the BATF is probably going to counter-sue him. They have unlimited money for court cases and they will probably wind up spending this guy to death in court (the unlimited checkbook theory).
30 posted on 12/05/2001 8:00:49 PM PST by Hillary 666
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To: DoctorMichael; Khepera
Just another nail in our rights, they are slowly but surely eliminating all of our constitutional rights. We can thanks George W Bush for this also!
31 posted on 12/06/2001 3:43:52 AM PST by wwjdn
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To: ahmedtousay1
We know some who have come here and they have been visited by Homeland Security asking about guns they own. Why? I thought freedom to own guns in privacy was a right of American citizens. These people are American citizens now.

You are correct. The right to own firearms in a private manner is a right of American Citizens. We are living in strange times right now. I hope it returns to a more normal way someday..

32 posted on 12/12/2001 5:26:10 PM PST by Lazamataz
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