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HOUSE HEARS CONCERNS ABOUT RICHMOND GUN SHOW

On Wednesday, February 15, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security heard testimony from individuals affected by heavy-handed enforcement tactics of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) at a gun show in Richmond, Virginia last August.


According to the gun show organizer, Annette Gelles of Showmasters, dozens of BATFE and local law enforcement officers intrusively questioned dealers and customers, tried to discourage people from buying guns, and stopped show attendees on the roads after they left. In some cases, customers' lawfully purchased guns were confiscated, and returned only when the customers visited BATFE's office for more questioning. In other cases, local police officers visited gun buyers' homes to conduct "residency checks"-intrusive questioning of family members and even neighbors.


One show visitor, James Lalime, a private citizen who sometimes works for a dealer at the local gun shows, testified that he was interrogated by BATFE and other law enforcement personnel who accused him of dealing in firearms without a license. John White, a show exhibitor, licensed dealer, and former police officer, testified that he appreciates law enforcement officials' efforts to prevent illegal sales, but that enforcement activities went too far-especially in focusing on buyers who were women or members of minority groups. Suzanne McComas, an investigator for NRA-ILA, also testified and provided sworn affidavits from individuals who were singled out for BATFE attention, apparently on the basis of race or sex.


The subcommittee members were upset with what they heard. Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-NC) questioned whether the operations were "a proper allocation of resources," and suggested that "49 law enforcement officers could have found a better way to curb criminal activity in the Richmond area." Over the next few months, the same subcommittee expects to hold additional oversight hearings on this and other BATFE activities, including both citizen witnesses and BATFE officials. Watch the Grassroots Alert for more details as they're available.
 

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I know Jim (James Lalime).

He's a member here actually but hasn't posted.

He had a very messed up experience with some honest to goodness JBT's , sans the jackboots.

They are no longer in the investigation division though because of this.
 

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I spent over an hour last week watching the webcast recording of the testimony. That was absolutely surreal! It's like somone in charge at BATFE has taken LSD and jumped off the deep end or something. Due the screwed up over the top tactics used to check residency at that show, one "bad guy" even got away. He would have been taken in by State Police had the usual procedures been followed!
You never hear about this incident on the regular new outlets. :mad:
But I've noticed that the State Police and BATFE presence at the gunshows I've been to since that incident have been low key and professional like you'd expect it to be. And that is what is needed. No one wants a return to the days of gang bangers at shows causing fights and using them as a distraction to steal weapons from dealers. But the over the top hassling of innocent folks like they were Nazi secret police or something is just plain wrong.
If not anything else, even the best of people can screw up at times. And mistakes can be learned from. You're never so screwed up that you can't at least serve as a really good "bad example" is what my old Senior Chief used to say. My opinion is that this incident has probbaly caused many hours of re-evaluation of procedures and extra training for supervisors there. And it'll be interesting to see if any civil suits are filed over it too. But in the long run I'd call it a good bad example to learn from.
 

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I know alot of the State Police investigators who handle firearms and they never understood why the ATF flipped their shit on this either.

The ones I know go to gunshows, and as you say are low key and are out to get the bad guys, and look at cool stuff while they're there too. :twisted:
 
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