Tag Archives: BATFE
Posted on April 30, 2010
It was only a month ago that a bizarre story broke in the Pacific Northwest, as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers trumpeted their seizure of what they claimed were more than two dozen machine guns disguised as toys.
They really were toys.
But instead of admitting they can’t tell a toy gun from a real one, CBP turned these Airsoft rifles over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), and the agency agreed that these pot-metal made, plastic BB-shooting plinkers were honest-to-God firearms.
To put it mildly, things got interesting.
In short, multiple experts examined the dubious BATFE claim and found that the WE Tech rifles confiscated by the CBP and slated for destruction by the BATFE cannot be converted to machine guns, or any other kind of working firearm.
To read the entire story go to http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/agents-of-incompetence-atf-dodges-foia-still-has-seized-bb-guns-part-iv/
Posted on March 9, 2010
CORNELIUS, Ore. – A local business owner is flabbergasted after a shipment of 30 toy guns for his store was confiscated by BATFE agents in Tacoma.
Brad Martin and his son, Ben, sell the Airsoft BB guns from their store in Cornelius where they’ve been in business for seven years.
The Martins said they buy their stock from Taiwan because the merchandise is less expensive. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized a shipment of 30 in October. That shipment is worth around $12,000 and the BATFE is promising to destroy the entire shipment.
Special Agent Kelvin Crenshaw said the toys can be easily retro-fitted into dangerous weapons.
“With minimal work it could be converted to a machine gun,” Crenshaw said.
Brad Martin is furious about the loss of money, for sure, but also in what he now thinks as a loss of his time and the use of government agents to seize toy guns.
“All this manpower, all this time, all this taxpayer money, [it is] wasting my time and my profitability,” Martin said. “[Just] to seize 30 toy guns!”
Ben Martin disagrees that the toy guns could ever be considered dangerous.
“To say these are readily convertible to machine guns is absolutely preposterous,” he said. “The round wouldn’t go into the firing chamber and even if the firing pin did strike the primer the gun would basically blow up in your face.”
BATFE said it also seized the toys because they are missing the blaze orange tips required on all imported toy guns.
The Martins said they’ve received shipments before from Taiwan that were missing the orange tips and were simply asked by customs agents to drive up to Tacoma and paint the tips orange themselves. They are wondering why it is an issue now.
Posted on February 20, 2010
This is from last year but I just thought the information was good enough to print again.
The Myth of 90 Percent: While 90 percent of the guns traced to the U.S. actually originated in the United States, the percent traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent of the total number of guns reaching Mexico.
You’ve heard this shocking “fact” before — on TV and radio, in newspapers, on the Internet and from the highest politicians in the land: 90 percent of the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the United States.
— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City.
— CBS newsman Bob Schieffer referred to it while interviewing Obama.
— California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at a Senate hearing: “It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors … come from the United States.”
— William Hoover, assistant director for field operations at the BATFE, testified in the House of Representatives that “there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States.”
There’s just one problem with the 90 percent “statistic” and it’s a big one:
It’s just not true.
In fact, it’s not even close. The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S.
What’s true, an BATFE spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency’s assistant director, “is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.”
But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.
“Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market,” Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.
A Look at the Numbers
In 2007-2008, according to BATFE Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the BATFE for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced — and of those, 90 percent — 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover — were found to have come from the U.S.
But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.
In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.
So, if not from the U.S., where do they come from? There are a variety of sources:
— The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.
— Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.
– South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.
— Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.
— The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.
— Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of America’s cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.
‘These Don’t Come From El Paso‘
Ed Head, a firearms instructor in Arizona who spent 24 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, recently displayed an array of weapons considered “assault rifles” that are similar to those recovered in Mexico, but are unavailable for sale in the U.S.
“These kinds of guns — the auto versions of these guns — they are not coming from El Paso,” he said. “They are coming from other sources. They are brought in from Guatemala. They are brought in from places like China. They are being diverted from the military. But you don’t get these guns from the U.S.“
Some guns, he said, “are legitimately shipped to the government of Mexico, by Colt, for example, in the United States. They are approved by the U.S. government for use by the Mexican military service. The guns end up in Mexico that way — the fully auto versions — they are not smuggled in across the river.”
Many of the fully automatic weapons that have been seized in Mexico cannot be found in the U.S., but they are not uncommon in the Third World.
The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years — but those grenades and the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are unavailable in U.S. gun shops. The ones used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in South Korea. Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.
“Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semi-automatic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Boatloads of Weapons
So why would the Mexican drug cartels, which last year grossed between $17 billion and $38 billion, bother buying single-shot rifles, and force thousands of unknown “straw” buyers in the U.S. through a government background check, when they can buy boatloads of fully automatic M-16s and assault rifles from China, Israel or South Africa?
Alberto Islas, a security consultant who advises the Mexican government, says the drug cartels are using the Guatemalan border to move black market weapons. Some are left over from the Central American wars the United States helped fight; others, like the grenades and launchers, are South Korean, Israeli and Spanish. Some were legally supplied to the Mexican government; others were sold by corrupt military officers or officials.
The exaggeration of United States “responsibility” for the lawlessness in Mexico extends even beyond the “90-percent” falsehood — and some Second Amendment activists believe it’s designed to promote more restrictive gun-control laws in the U.S.
In a remarkable claim, Auturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., said Mexico seizes 2,000 guns a day from the United States — 730,000 a year. That’s a far cry from the official statistic from the Mexican attorney general’s office, which says Mexico seized 29,000 weapons in all of 2007 and 2008.
Chris Cox, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, blames the media and anti-gun politicians in the U.S. for misrepresenting where Mexican weapons come from.
“Reporter after politician after news anchor just disregards the truth on this,” Cox said. “The numbers are intentionally used to weaken the Second Amendment.”
“The predominant source of guns in Mexico is Central and South America. You also have Russian, Chinese and Israeli guns. It’s estimated that over 100,000 soldiers deserted the army to work for the drug cartels, and that ignores all the police. How many of them took their weapons with them?”
Posted on September 25, 2009
One Man’s Thoughts Has Moved To
You can read this article at:
Thank You, Vytautas
Posted on August 5, 2009
Administration support for a dangerous international treaty shows its disdain for the Constitution and America’s law-abiding gun owners.
America’s 1st Freedom. August 2009
By Dave Kopel
The Obama administration’s offensive against the Second Amendment has begun.
As was predicted, the strategy uses international law to create a foundation for repressive and extreme gun control. The mechanism is an international treaty, the “Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials.”
If the plan succeeds, police sales of confiscated firearms would be prohibited, and anyone who reloads ammunition at home would need a federal license. In addition, the treaty would create an international law requirement that almost every American firearm owner be licensed as if he were a manufacturer.
Founded in 1948, the Organization of American States (OAS) includes all of the independent nations of the Western Hemisphere. (Cuba’s participation has been suspended since 1962.) In 1997, President Clinton signed a gun control treaty, which had been negotiated by OAS. Subsequently, neither he nor President George W. Bush sent the treaty to the United States Senate for ratification.
The treaty is commonly known as “CIFTA,” for its Spanish acronym,Convención Interamericana Contra La Fabricación Y El Tráfico Ilícitos De Armas De Fuego, Municiones, Explosivos Y Otros Materiales Relacionados. The document is called a “convention” rather than a “treaty” because “convention” is a term of art for a multilateral treaty created by a multinational organization.
At the OAS meeting in April 2009, President Obama said that he would send CIFTA to the U.S. Senate and urge ratification. The White House claimed that the convention was merely an expression of international goodwill, and that it had been negotiated with the participation of the National Rifle Association.
Both statements were false.
In the United States, it is common for police and sheriffs’ departments to sell confiscated firearms to federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs). The FFLs then resell the guns to lawful consumers. Of course, when any FFL sells a gun to a customer, the sale must be approved by the National Instant Check System, or its state equivalent.
Police and sheriff sales of confiscated guns would be outlawed by CIFTA which mandates: “State Parties shall adopt the necessary measures to ensure that all firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials seized, confiscated, or forfeited as the result of illicit manufacturing or trafficking do not fall into the hands of private individuals or businesses through auction, sale, or other disposal.”
Another target of CIFTA is reloading. The millions of Americans who reload include competitive target shooters, hunters, trainers who want to craft milder ammunition for beginners and many other hobbyists who enjoy making things themselves and saving money. Due to the present shortage of ammunition, more and more people are taking up reloading—so many that reloading equipment manufacturers are having difficulty keeping their products in stock.
Reloading is entirely lawful in every state, and no state requires a specific permit for those reloading ammunition. CIFTA, however, declares that “illicit manufacturing” is the “manufacture or assembly of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials” that takes place without “a license from a competent governmental authority of the State Party where the manufacture or assembly takes place.”
Thus, either the federal government or all 50 state governments would have to enact legislation to impose reloading licenses, and to define unlicensed reloading as crime. According to Article IV of CIFTA, “State Parties that have not yet done so shall adopt the necessary legislative or other measures to establish as criminal offenses under their domestic law the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) charges $10 per year for a license to manufacture most ammunition. Also under existing law, the premises of firearms and ammunition manufacturers may be inspected without notice once per year by the BATFE, and an unlimited number of times in cases involving a criminal investigation. Thus, anyone who reloads ammunition would be taxed and subject to home inspection by the federal government.
Reloaders are not the only ones who would be required to have a manufacturing license. So would every company or individual that makes any part of a firearm or an accessory. In fact, so would almost every firearm owner in the nation.
CIFTA Article I requires licensing for the manufacture of “other related materials.” These are defined as “any component, part, or replacement part of a firearm, or an accessory which can be attached to a firearm.”
That definition straightforwardly includes all spare firearm parts. It also includes accessories that are attached to firearms, such as scopes, ammunition magazines, sights, recoil pads, bipods and slings.
Current U.S. law requires a license to manufacture a firearm, with a “firearm” being defined as the receiver—no federal license is needed to make other parts of a firearm, such as barrels or stocks.
But CIFTA’s plain language requires federal licensing of the manufacturers and sellers of barrels, stocks, screws, springs and everything else that is used to make firearms.
Likewise, the manufacture of all accessories—such as scopes, sights, lasers, slings, bipods and so on—would have to be licensed.
In the United States, the manufacture of a firearm or ammunition for one’s personal use does not require a license, since the licensing requirements apply to persons who “engage in the business” by engaging in repeated transactions for profit. (18 U.S. Code sect. 923(a).) Yet CIFTA would require licensing for everyone.
Many, perhaps most, firearm owners occasionally tinker with their guns. They might replace a worn-out spring, or install a better barrel. Or they might add accessories such as a scope, a laser aiming device, a recoil pad or a sling. All of these simple activities would require a government license. The CIFTA definition of “Illicit manufacturing” is “the manufactureor assembly of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.” (Emphasis added.)
Even if putting an attachment on a firearm were not considered in itself to be “assembly,” the addition of most components necessarily requires some assembly; for example, scope rings consist of several pieces that must be assembled. Replacing one grip with another requires, at the least, the use of screws.
Because the definition of “manufacturing” is so broad, nearly all gun owners would eventually be required to obtain a manufacturing license.
CIFTA mandates that “State Parties that have not yet done so shall adopt the necessary legislative or other measures to establish as criminal offenses under their domestic law the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials … the criminal offenses established pursuant to the foregoing paragraph shall include participation in, association or conspiracy to commit, attempts to commit, and aiding, abetting, facilitating, and counseling the commission of said offenses.”
Yet the preamble of CIFTA says: “this Convention does not commit State Parties to enact legislation or regulations pertaining to firearms ownership, possession, or trade of a wholly domestic character.”
Does the preamble negate the comprehensive licensing system that CIFTA demands? Not really. The exemptions are for “ownership, possession, or trade.” There is no exemption for “manufacturing.” As detailed above, “manufacturing” is defined broadly enough as to include the home manufacture of ammunition, as well as repair of one’s own firearm, or assembling an accessory for attachment to one’s firearm.
Notably, even if CIFTA were read so that the “does not commit” language also pertained to manufacturing, there is nothing that prevents a state party from choosing to enact manufacturing regulations.
The nations that have ratified CIFTA so far have not necessarily fully implemented the literal requirements of language regarding firearms and related material manufacturing. It is hardly unusual for nations to make a show of ratifying a treaty, but then do little to carry out the treaty’s requirements. However, in a culture such as the United States, with a strong commitment to the rule of law, CIFTA might have greater practical effect.
If ratified by the Senate, CIFTA would become the law of the land. Would the BATFE then be empowered to write regulations implementing the convention—without waiting for Congress to pass a new statute?
If a treaty is “self-executing,” then it is an independent source of authority for domestic regulations. By traditional views of international law, CIFTA is not self-executing, since its language anticipates that ratifying governments will have to enact future laws to comply with CIFTA.
On the other hand, CIFTA does not explicitly declare itself to be non-self-executing. Harold Koh, who has been nominated as legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State, has challenged the doctrine of “so-called self-executing treaties” and argues that the Supreme Court decisions creating the doctrine are incorrect. (100 Yale Law Journal, pages 2360-61, 2383-84; see also 35 University of California at Davis Law Review, page 1111 n. 114; 35 Houston Law Review, page 666.)
Rather, Koh writes, legislatures “should ratify treaties with a presumption that they are self-executing.” Further, domestic courts should “construe domestic statutes consistently with international law” and “should employ international human rights norms to guide interpretation of domestic constitutional norms.” (106 Yale Law Journal, page 2658 n. 297.) As detailed in last month’s issue of America’s 1st Freedom, Koh considers stringent gun control to be a very important international human right (July 2009, p. 32).
In Koh’s view, even when Congress has not created a statute to implement a treaty, courts should recognize a right of private plaintiffs to bring lawsuits under the treaty. (100 Yale Law Journal, pages 2383-84.) Thus, Koh and his allies could argue that Senate ratification of CIFTA trumps the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which outlaws abusive lawsuits against gun manufacturers and stores.
Suppose that the Senate, when ratifying CIFTA, added specific reservations declaring that CIFTA is not self-executing, that CIFTA authorizes no additional regulations and that CIFTA does not authorize any new lawsuits. The United States executive branch, under Koh’s guidance, might ignore the reservations. When the Senate added a reservation to another treaty, Koh wrote, “Many scholars question persuasively whether the United States declaration has either domestic or international legal effect.” (111 Harvard Law Review, pages 1828-29 n. 24.)
Ultimately, the question of whether BATFE can promulgate regulations under CIFTA might be decided in court cases. One way for a court to resolve the issue would be to acknowledge that federal statutes already authorized regulation of manufacturing, and that CIFTA, as the latter-enacted law, simply expanded the definition of manufacturing so that the licensing requirement now applies to persons who are not engaged in the firearm business, and to manufacture or assembly of firearms attachments and spare parts.
It is not hard to foresee Obama-appointed federal judges upholding massive new BATFE gun control regulations, especially when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the State Department’s top legal adviser (Harold Koh) insist to the courts that the expanded federal regulations are necessary for the United States to comply with its international law obligations.
CIFTA does not specifically require gun registration. But once you impose manufacturing licenses, registration comes along for the ride. Existing federal regulations for manufacturers of firearms and ammunition require that manufacturers keep records of all products they produce, and these records must be available for government inspection.
Thus, those who reload ammunition would have to keep records of every round they made, and gun owners would have to keep a record of everything they “assembled” (e.g., putting a scope on a rifle). These records would then be open to BATFE inspection.
Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., (formerly a gun criminal for the terrorist group The Black Panthers), introduced H.R. 45, to set up a national licensing and registration system for handguns and for self-loading long guns. As implemented under the direction of President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and State Department legal adviser Koh, CIFTA could go even further—it also covers ammunition reloading as well as long guns that are not semi-automatic.
Further, CIFTA could be used to impose national licensing, registration and taxation of gun owners without members of Congress having to cast a vote that explicitly creates such laws. Indeed, because treaties need to be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, yet need no approval from the House of Representatives, the House could be cut out of the law-making process altogether.