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http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-in-national/exclusive-report-documents-indicate-atf-fbi-allowed-indiana-crime-gun-sales

Documents indicate ATF, FBI allowed Indiana ‘crime gun’ sales

David Codrea
September 5, 2011

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has acknowledged an Indiana dealer’s cooperation in conducting straw purchases at the direction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Exclusive documents obtained by Gun Rights Examiner show the dealer cooperated with ATF by selling guns to straw purchasers, and that bureau management later asserted these guns were being traced to crimes.

From the confidential source providing the documents:

The dealer…was sent a "demand letter," based on the number of traces to him, which was retracted after his attorney pointed out they resulted from his cooperation with ATF. (Strangely, he got two voicemails from two different ATF people, both saying they were the head of the tracing operation).

Some of the straw men turned out to have felony convictions, the agents called the FBI background check system and fixed it so the transactions would be approved, something which may also have happened in Phoenix. (The attorney wasn't clear as to whether the guns were actually delivered to the gangs).

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has acknowledged an Indiana dealer’s cooperation in conducting straw purchases at the direction of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Exclusive documents obtained by Gun Rights Examiner show the dealer cooperated with ATF by selling guns to straw purchasers, and that bureau management later asserted these guns were being traced to crimes.

From the confidential source providing the documents:

The dealer…was sent a "demand letter," based on the number of traces to him, which was retracted after his attorney pointed out they resulted from his cooperation with ATF. (Strangely, he got two voicemails from two different ATF people, both saying they were the head of the tracing operation).

Some of the straw men turned out to have felony convictions, the agents called the FBI background check system and fixed it so the transactions would be approved, something which may also have happened in Phoenix. (The attorney wasn't clear as to whether the guns were actually delivered to the gangs).


If the guns did not make it to criminal end users, why the demand for the reporting requirement was made remains unexplained: A demand letter, dated February 14, 2011 and signed by Charles J. Houser, Chief, National Tracing Center Division, informed the dealer he was required to provide acquisition and disposition information on firearms obtained from non-licensees, as well as to provide quarterly reports, based on ATF’s assessment that the dealer “had an unusually high number of traces of new crime guns with a relatively short ‘time-to-crime’…”

In a response dated March 10, 2011, attorney Brent R. Weil of Kightlinger and Gray, LLP, informed Houser:

Specifically, my client participated with and cooperated in certain law enforcement operations  during 2009/2010 at the behest of ATFE enforcement officers from the Evansville, Indiana office (Agent Kevin Whittaker) and in the course of doing so, followed their instructions regarding the completion of certain transactions and the delivery of firearms to purchasers who did not clear the standard NICS [National Instant Check System] background check and were suspected of being involved in the purchase and transportation of handguns out of state despite passing NICS’s background checks.

In order to verify ATF claims, Weil requested they “be given a list of the ‘ten or more crime guns with a “time-to-crime: of three years or less’ so that we can  satisfy ourselves that we are not being improperly included in this program because of our cooperation with and/or involvement with ATFE enforcement activities.”

The response letter resulted in a voice mail from Houser to Weil on March 15, 2011, ignoring his request for the list of guns, but promising:

If…that count is composed of firearms that were, where your client was working in conjunction with ATF, we will get your client removed entirely from the program.”

That same day, another voice mail was received, this time from Brenda Bennett, also identifying herself as “Chief of the National Tracing Center,” who informed Weil:

I have verified the information in the letter. I talked to law enforcement and they confirmed what he had to say. Therefore, he is being removed from the demand list.

See the sidebar slideshow accompanying this article for screen captures of all documents referred to in this column.  At the very least, as with “Project Gunwalker,” they indicate straw purchased guns ended up in crime traces, something those directing surveillance were well aware of.  It also indicates the FBI and ATF were once again involved with allowing transactions rejected by NICS to proceed, indicating this practice could be more widespread than has been previously documented, and not confined to Southwest border operations.

It’s fair to ask at this point what Robert J. Browning knows about this. He’s the Special Agent In Charge (SAC) of the Columbus Field Division, which directs Indiana and Ohio field offices.  Also worth questioning: Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, specifically about what he has directed and approved that has any bearing on “crime guns” making their way to the street following law enforcement firearm transfer approvals to straw purchasers within his jurisdicition.

It’s also fair to ask if it seems credible that such similar operations would develop independently in the Southwest (“Project Gunwalker”) and the Midwest (“Project Gangwalker’?), without authorization from and oversight coordination by Main Justice.

Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars has advocated opening “a second front” to complement House Oversight Committee investigations, and this column has been a consistent advocate for appointment of a truly independent special investigator, as well as for individual state attorneys general determining if multiple felony violations of their state laws, committed jointly by two or more persons, have been perpetrated.  What seems clear is none of this will happen unless gun owners create such an uproar that their demands cannot be ignored—by timid political wind riders who don’t wish to get involved, by an arrogant, stonewalling administration, and by their protectors/abettors in the mainstream press.

UPDATE: Vanderboegh adds some important considerations.


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