What is contained in this article is entirely anecdotal and I have no substantive proof of anything written here. I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am a realist. I have unintentionally collected this information over the last six or seven years. To me, it adds up to the ATF creating a database of who is buying what firearm.
– In 2007, I had a chat with a very nice elderly couple, owners of a small gun store. They told me that during an ATF audit, the agents had scanned or otherwise made copies of 4473s (Firearms Transaction Record). I thought to myself, “Maybe they were just confused.” I mentioned it on a gun forum and was told that it couldn’t possibly be true.
– When I worked (briefly) at a gun store later that year, it was part of my job to scan 4473s into a computer. I asked where they were going, and a manager told me that they went to corporate, and then on to ATF.
– Last year, I was sitting at home when my doorbell rang. Two polite and professional ATF agents informed me that the number of firearms I had purchased from 2007 to 2010 did not match my income. I was disappointed to learn that this fact did not come with some sort of prize or award, but suddenly wondered how they knew what I had purchased. They knew of 5 AR receivers transferred to me on one 4473 (in 2010), for which no background check had been performed. I told them that those receivers, along with most of the firearms I had transferred to me during that time, were provided for free by manufacturers for T&E purposes, and told them about my blog.
When later I asked the FFL about that transaction record, they told me that the ATF had audited their records but didn’t appear to have copied any information – although that is literally the only way they could have known about those five receivers or even the transaction itself. The receivers came from two different manufacturers, and the only time they appeared together was on that 4473, which is supposed to be only retrieved by the ATF if there is a need to trace a specific transaction (and there was no need to trace that transaction). Federal law prohibits their doing so.
– A friend was recounting an ATF audit at his gun store, and mentioned that the agents were copying information from 4473s.
What does this mean?
I think that ATF Industry Operations agents are using the excuse of auditing the quality of FFL recordkeeping to create a database of firearm owners – or at the very least transferees of certain types of firearms. This is, in essence, a defenestration of the law.