Many people outside the 'gun culture' wonder, when it comes to firearms owners, why so many inside said culture are anti-government.
The truth is, we aren't. We just feel ... failed. We're model citizens, by and large. We pay our taxes ahead of time, we pay our student loans with a little extra left over. We have high-paying jobs, college-level educations, and none of us has ever been convicted of a felony-level charge, or even anything more serious than a parking ticket.
I should probably explain what I mean. A little background, first.
The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was a Treasury agency charged with taxing the sale of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Incepted in 1886 as the "Revenue Laboratory" within the Treasury Department's Bureau of Internal Revenue, Laboratory's powers were expanded radically when it became the "Bureau of Prohibition" in 1920, with the passage of the Volstead Act. When the Volstead Act was repealed, ending the prohibition on alcohol, the Prohibition Bureau was renamed the Alcohol Tax Unit, or ATU.
In the early 1950s, the ATU was merged with the tobacco taxing department of the IRS, and formed the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division, ATTD. When the Gun Control Act of 1968 passed, the ATTD also took over regulation of the National Firearms Act's tax codes, becoming the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. With the GCA-86 under their belt, ATF had gained tremendous self-regulation powers, and was given the flexibility to determine what was legal and what was not without referring to any court processes.
But these are not our current intrepid National Heroes. No, the current organization designated "ATF", the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, was created as a Justice Department agency by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Its role in the IRS was succeeded by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which handily allows the ATF to get around the issue of a Justice Department agency instead of a Treasury agency issuing currency in the form of tax stamps.
So here we have the current ATF. And now begins the first part of our story, but it begins at an ending.
Randall Weaver was a poor, dirt-farming racist in Idaho. However, to dismiss him because of any of this is a mistake. Randall was a Green Beret, a member of the United States Army's most skilled and distinguished combat unit, in Vietnam. However he felt cheated that he was trained for combat, ready for duty, and left languishing at Fort Bragg during that conflict.
Randall raised a family with his wife, Vicki Weaver (nee Jordison), in a house he built himself out of scrap lumber on Caribou Ridge near Ruby Creek, eight miles from Bonner's Ferry, Idaho.
The ATF originally investigated, charged, and attempted arrest of Mr. Weaver on charges relating to possession and sale of a shotgun, one-eighth of an inch shorter than the legal minimum permitted by the NFA tax law, without payment of the $200 tax associated with shortening a shotgun.
At this point, let's stop and examine the situation. We have a rural citizen charged with sale of a weapon that is below the legal size limit without also transferring it on a $200 tax stamp. Now, if this agency were the IRS, or perhaps the Bureau of Land Management, this whole conflict could be solved with a phone call. Or a pair of tax agents in smart business suits, with paperwork. Here, Mr. Weaver. Sign here, thumbprint here, photo here. $200, please. Thank you, and here are your tax forms, please give them to the man you sold the shotgun to.
But oh, no. This is the ATF. And this matter of $200 and 1/8th of an inch is Serious Business. The ATF mounts a surveillance operation, drops its charges and re-files them under seal so that Mr. Weaver will be unaware that he is still being charged, and contacts the US Marshal Service to survey the area preparatory to a strike. They claim the strike will be to search the house for other unlawful weapons, as it's clear that Mr. Weaver is working on an illegal firearms factory, possibly even converting weapons unlawfully to a fully-automatic configuration in violation of the Volkmer-McClure Act of 1986.
The Marshals onscene at the Weaver property, to put it delicately, failed in their duty to covertly examine the area. The Weavers' dogs detected the men and Randall, his fourteen-year-old son Sam, and family friend Kevin Harris went out to the area the dogs were in. They were prepared to repel intruders, with legally-owned semi-automatic carbines and rifles.
The facts of what happens next are disputed. Suffice to say that regardless of who fired first, one of the Marshals (William Degan), Sam, and the dog nearby were killed. Randall and Kevin recover Sam's corpse, and place him in the wood shed behind the house until a proper burial can be arranged.
The next day, Randall, his oldest daughter, and Kevin went out to the wood shed. The FBI had arrived overnight, and made their presence known when Special Agent Lon Horiuchi, a sniper with FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, shot Mr. Weaver in the back. The three at the shed ran back to the house.
Agent Horiuchi's second shot was the one that caused the most damage that day. It split the head of Vicki Weaver while she held her infant daughter. The child was unharmed, but Vicki was not going to be able to have an open-casket funeral.
In the end, Randall Weaver was declared innocent of all charges save the failure to appear in court for the 'sealed charges' ATF pressed against him. He was sentenced to time served plus $10,000 out of the government recompensation of $100,000.
All this over some guy in Idaho selling a shotgun that was negligibly under the legal limit.
CHARGES: Violation of NFA-1934: Shotgun sold, 17 7/8ths-inch barrel ($200)
ATF ACTION: Surveillance (including use of covert surveillance aircraft), US Marshal Interdiction, FBI HRT Interdiction, Destruction of Property (one dog), Homicide (Vicki Weaver, Samuel Weaver), Grievous Bodily Harm (Randall Weaver).
Michael Bloomberg is the mayor of New York City. Elected in 2001, he has pushed an anti-gun agenda that would leave police and military personnel the only legal operators of defensive weaponry in this nation.
In 2006, and again in 2007, Mayor Bloomberg orchestrated a private 'sting' operation on more than fifteen gun stores in the states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and West Virginia, places where he has no legal authority. Furthermore, he hired a private investigation firm to conduct these 'stings'.
By communicating with others his intent to have them purchase firearms and return them to him, he was in fact committing conspiracy to violate Federal firearms laws. By having his 'agents' lie on tax forms (Form 4473, Firearms Transaction Record Part I), he violated the National Firearms Act of 1934. By having other people purchase weapons intended to be delivered into his hands he violated the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, pertaining to the National Immediate Criminal-Background-Check System (NICS) run by the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Furthermore, to own a pistol in New York City, you must register it. Creation of a registration system or maintenance thereof for weapons is a violation of the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986, also called the Volkmer-McClure Act. Registering a firearm is also a Federal crime, but a misdemeanor and not a felony.
We're listing charges here per violation, mind. And each of these is a Federal felony, costing thousands of dollars and years in jail. And Michael Bloomberg confessed to all of this in front of his city on national television.
Michael Bloomberg is a very rich man, politically conscious and friendly to his 'superiors' in Washington. He has a stance that would prohibit the citizenry from keeping arms, and bearing them against attackers. He owns a major media conglomerate, and maintains his position as head of a police department that is so apt to shoot first and ask questions later that GLOCK GmbH, the producer of the New York City Police Department's issue weapon (The GLOCK 19) has an option called the "New York Trigger", which gives the weapon's trigger a heavier pull-weight. The NY Trigger requires 15-19 pounds of force to fire one round, compared to the standard civilian 4-8lb trigger.
CHARGES: Conspiracy to Violate Federal Firearms Laws, Conspiracy to Violate Federal Tax Laws, Violation of Federal Firearms Laws, Violation of Federal Tax Laws, Evasion of the NCIC-NICS Check System, Unlawful Interstate Transport of Firearms, Unlawful Possession of an Unregistered Firearm Inside New York City, Maintenance of a Firearms Registration System, Registering a Firearm. (30 counts, assuming 15 stores 'hit' in 2006 and 15 stores 'hit' in 2007)
ATF ACTION: None.
So, what's the real difference between a man in Idaho and a man in New York City?
Apparently, the guy in New York City can get away with nearly a hundred counts of felony without anyone batting an eyelash. And the guy in Idaho gets watched for months, shot, and has his dog, his son, and his wife killed in front of him.