Las Vegas Bump Stock FOIA Claims ATF Not Allowed to Examine Weapons

That seems like quite the “however,” especially considering they've since gone on to push for a rules change.

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- ATF was “not allowed to physically examine the interior of the weapons” recovered from the Las Vegas shooter’s hotel room, a new Freedom of Information Act production by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reveals. The baffling revelation appears on page 335 of a response sent to attorney Stephen Stamboulieh as part of an ongoing production of documents responding to his FOIA request.

This leads to another problem for those intending to challenge any finalized rule ATF issues on banning “bump stock”-type devices.

“ATF did not disclose that they had not examined the firearms prior to promulgating the rule,” firearms designer and Historic Arms, LLC President Len Savage notes. “And now that the comment period is closed should they go forward with this rule under the Administrative Procedure Act that information can not be used in a court challenge because it was not submitted prior to closing of comments.

“DOJ is manipulating the APA to make sure that information will NOT be used to shoot down the rule,” Savage concludes. “Does ATF prosecute its firearms cases like it promulgates rules, without ever looking at the evidence? ATF is currently attempting to criminalize an industry and a large swath of the population and NEVER looked at any evidence? They claim they were ‘not allowed'? By whom?”

AmmoLand Shooting Sports News reported on the initial document production in April when Stamboulieh received a CD with 777 pages in four volumes within days of filing his request. Compare that to the response to an identical request by the Federal Bureau of Investigation: The Bureau essentially told him they didn’t keep the kinds of records he was asking for and didn’t have to give them to him if they did. And if he didn’t like it, he could appeal.

“Tons of stuff here,” Stamboulieh notes. “Some of it is a repeat of the previous production. There are also industry communications in here as well (NSSF, etc.) back and forth with ATF.”

Document releases provided to date include:

Obviously “tons of stuff” is not hyperbole and much of it goes far afield of the original request. How some of it can be used to the benefit of gun owners remains to be seen. Much of it is probably of interest to the technically-minded and/or to lawyers, but some also offers more general insights into the players and machinations occurring behind the scenes.

For instance, in the June production, we find a Firearms Industry Associations “Open Discussion of Regulation and Policy Notes” recap, where NRA and NSSF, among others, offer views on a variety of “policy areas and legislation.” If nothing else, it gives a feel for what is being signaled as accepted and some of the priorities being pushed outside of public scrutiny.

The May production includes a letter to President Trump complaining about an approval process for silencers taking 14 months. The March production includes information more directly related to the request, press release remarks on the Las Vegas shootings drafted for the Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s San Francisco Field Division sent to the Deputy Assistant Director of ATF Field Operations – West for review.

And then there’s the “not allowed to inspect” revelation from the July production. Without further information, that’s unbelievable. And we’re just now finding this out only because of a FOIA action? Without apparently even knowing what was used, how could ATF then turn around and upend established rules for any reasons that aren’t political?

I’ve just scratched the surface on these documents and have not had time to even skim everything, let alone read, comprehend and analyze it. What you find that interests you, if anything, is for you to decide.

“This information demonstrates the agency’s interaction with various groups and needs to be public,” Stamboulieh said. “This release further shows how little even the ATF knows about the firearms involved in the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay incident and how the ATF’s attempt at redefining a bump stock as a machinegun will likely fail without legislative intervention.”

However, Stamboulieh commends the ATF for producing the documents at issue without necessity of litigation. In re the FBI’s recent denial of the FOIA appeal for documents from the Mandalay Bay shooting, he said he would be “filing suit shortly for those documents.”

In related developments, the Air Force agreed to pay costs and attorney fees for the lawsuit Stamboulieh filed in order to compel compliance with a Freedom of Information Act request for Texas church shooter court-martial records.


About David Codrea:David Codrea

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

  • 54 thoughts on “Las Vegas Bump Stock FOIA Claims ATF Not Allowed to Examine Weapons

    1. One, someone told the BATF that they couldn’t examine the evidence??? That someone(s) had to be EXTREMELY high up, like presidential aide high up. Secondly, the only released the information AFTER the comment section was closed??? This seriously stinks. Stick like fish that been left out in the hot sun for a week stink.

    2. Typically, Prosecutorial Jurisdiction defers to Local Law Enforcement. State Investigative Bureaus come next in the hierarchy, then FBI, ATF, and other Federal units. If that was the case in the Mandalay Bay shooting, then the Sheriff’s or Police Departments set the restrictions on any other investigation parameters that were employed. They can choose to listen too, solicited and unsolicited impressions/advice, and also the extent of examination of collected evidence. This really isn’t a surprise, but there should have been some serious questioning of ATF’s proposed Bump Stock Administrative changes before that plan was put in motion. If the weapons used had modified trigger groups and fire control components, then the addition of the Bump Stock to the weapon was an unnecessary addition performed by the owner/gunsmith he may have used. A serious legal challenge needs to be made and ballistic testing performed to determine whether or not, that this was the case. Without such, the existence and addition of Bump Stock components was moot, if the weapon was already modified to enable Fully Automatic function. I’d like to know if a State appointed Judiciary reviewed the FOIA requests or whether the refusal to extend that courtesy to the Federal Bureaus was denied at the local level. Without such information, adding Bump Stocks as the causative factor behind the perpetrator’s high rate of fire, is unknown and an unproven theory.
      1

    3. The only thing you run into with firing with a bump stock as you might have a hiccup with around where you have to clear your round(s) and return to firing. You can put a belt-fed upper on an AR and run belt after belt with a bump stock. Firing with a bump stock does not make you tired. You hands cramping may slow you down. Your palms getting sweaty and losing your grip on your forward handguard may throw you off. But getting tired? I have burned up over 500 rounds consecutively and the only time I slowed down was changing mags. Overall rate of fire remained the same.

    4. It’s not much of a strain for a thinking mind to redefine nearly every major newsworthy killing incident in this country. There is almost always enough holes in the “official” explanation to suspect, and with reason, a governmental cover-up. The Vegas mass shooting is certainly no exception; there are far too many unanswered questions here.

      The problem I see is that it’s human nature to take the path of least resistance and so most citizens, if concerned at all, choose to accept the “official” explanation. This course of action (or inaction as it were) is a self-preservation reaction inherent to most living things. For most, it’s just too much to believe our own government would knowingly lie and mislead its citizens.

      Every politician, and every higher-level government official knows of this human factor, and depends upon it to spin whatever explanation they wish; knowing full well that there will be some who scream “conspiracy”, some who shake their heads in disbelief, but most will go along with it, simply because it’s easiest to believe that which has been “officially” explained.

      Unfortunately, until humans evolve to the point where most have an inherent willingness to scream “conspiracy” at these officials, we-the-people are doomed to continue as the human mushrooms that the government (including the unofficial branch of the government – the media) believes we are; they will continue keeping us in the dark and feeding us (their) bullshit.

      All of these firearms-related incidents have at least one commonality. With every tragic mass shooting the 2nd Amendment takes more fire (pun intended) from the left-thinking liberal “progressive” minds. More recently, the left has attacked the oldest civil rights organization in the Country – simply because its primary efforts revolve around preserving the 2nd Amendment. As it would seem, the left is gaining ground in their misguided deeds. I pray their gain is only temporary, but I fear it is not.

      If we ever lose the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the entire Constitution will become worth no more than the parchment on which it was written. A tyrannical government can then do what it wants to silence those who would scream “conspiracy”.

      God, help us, everyone.

      1. Having followed the ‘Sandy Hoax’ school shooting since it happened, I am dumbfounded at how sloppy that entire operation was. Pictures of children, supposedly killed, Broadway actors involved top to bottom, no childrens funerals or processions, 6 FBI cars on the scene within minutes, etc. And 45 days later, Many states enact ‘assault weapons’ bans. All, with the exact same wording.
        Wow, what a co incidence. I used to visit a great gun store in CT that was closed 3 days after the ‘incident’ because they sold the gun. Personally carried out by Eric Holder. Seems one of their book of ATF forms had a misspelled name. Shut them down…………………..

        1. Aww shadddup. Conspiracy nut. It did happen, unfortunately.
          You are not helping Gun Rights by being a looney tune.

          1. One need not be a conspiracy nut to see the instances where the Feds or local police made a mess of the investigation, thus lending credence to those people who tend to mistrust everything that the government does. It is because of shoddy police work that many conspiracy theories get started. Sandy Hook was one of them.
            That being said, it is never a bad thing to look more closely at what the government does, and try to find out if we are being lied to. The 9-11 WTC bombing and Pentagon building bombing, while they obviously happened, was investigated in such a slipshod way, that it lent fuel to the fire of conspiracy. The fact is that there are still many questions that remain unanswered, or at least answered with unbelievable statements. I know that most are familiar with the questions so I won’t bother to go into them, in detail.
            It does make sense to hold the government to accountability when it comes to a major event, such as a mass school shooting, or a bombing of a major U.S. city. And to demand answers to any unresolved questions that remain after the investigation is completed. Remember in Waco, how the ATF claimed that they did not fire any flammable rounds into the compound? Then a few years later, they had to retract that statement and say that they had in fact fired one or two rounds of tear gas, which could have caused a fire. When the Feds do things like that, it makes even the most ardent supporters of the government to ask some very hard questions.
            I have seen the list of alleged discrepancies about the Sandy Hook shooting. While I have not tried to confirm them, since it doesn’t really matter to me, some of the questions raised are, at the least, thought provoking. And those who do try to confirm some of these kinds of things are actually performing a needed service, in that they force the investigators to be certain that they do a good job by the numbers, when something like this does happen. Because we know, in the future some mass casualty event will happen.

    5. Where is the common sense? Rambo with a .50 BMG could not have shot down hill 390 yards into a crowd with 10 minutes of random gun fire and taken out over 600 people. Any witness, and there were a lot saying there were more than one shooter was ignored, the supposed shooter is dead, and police had it all figured out before the bodies were cold. Then there is the recording of the shooting made by the taxi driver. All phones were taken by police and wiped clean. Bump stock?! All you supposed experts know you don’t need a bump stock to rock a semi auto rifle and a bump stock won’t shoot a constant rate of fire. There was the Security Guard who decided to drive to Mexico. You don’t drive nowhere with a leg wound as he was suppose to have. People of Earth I have no idea of why but I do know it didn’t happen the way LV Police were made to tell it

    6. Whenever those dogs refuse a FOIA demand the signer of the refusal letter needs to be threatened with a lawsuit. Qualified immunity doesn’t apply when a government official is willfully violating the law, When reminded of this fact they often have a change of heart.

    7. @ Bjarky,

      It’s obvious you are familiar with federal investigations. Your assertion fails to address many things…ATF flew their experts to LV and they were there next morning but were refused access. ATF did not receive the firearms from FBI until May (long after ATF began it’s rule making process under the APA). ATF to date has not released any report of technical examination (by you called them “qualified professional armorers”).

      I stand by my statement as it is a fact, not an opinion. The fact remains that DOJ/ATF went forward prior to examining any evidence.

      Ask yourself dear Bjarky why would the FBI not send the firearms to ATF Firearms Technology Branch in WV for 6 months? (especially given the context and the rulemaking?

      Why would ATF choose not to generate a “Report of Technical Examination” (ATF form 3311.2) Bjarky? I can tell you from experience working around federal investigations that the only reason is to prevent it from being released in discovery in some court case or by FOIA.

      But somehow Bjarky, I think you already knew all of this…

      Len Savage
      Historic Arms LLC
      Franklin, GA

    8. I don’t know how many readers were alive when the GCA 68 was passed but I was. It was nothing more than a “Knee Jerk” law passed due to the death of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The congress had to do something, even if wrong, to quite the media and certain segments of the public. Since the DEMOCRATS controlled the 1968 congress they passed this mess called the 1968 GCA. It was hastily written and passed since they were trying to avoid any more criticism because of the mess in Vietnam caused by LBJ and McNamara’s screw ups. As with most of the hastily written laws it was a joke from the first word. As with the 1934 gun law it is time to correct their wrong. The problem is the DEMOCRATS have never done anything to correct their mistakes. The AFT should be abolished or at least reined in A LOT.

      1. Sidetracking everyone, well almost everyone away from the real people whom killed them by making about crazies with easy gun access.

      2. And as a percentage of seats held, more REPUBLICANS voted for the GCA 68 than Democrats did.
        The same as with those other mid to late 60’s abortions known as the Civil Rights Act of 64 and the Immigration Act of 65.

        Both parties are evil and want you dead.

        1. @Chris, Yes, both parties corrupt the Constitutional system debated, designed and deeded by the founding fathers. It is long past time for parties to be banned. Lobbyists, too!

    9. The key words in the response are that “on scene ATF personnel” weren’t allowed to inspect them. That doesn’t mean lab techs (qualified professional armorers) didn”t go over every inch of them. Anybody familiar with conducting an investigation and maintaining the chain of custody for evidence knows that field personnel only secure weapons. Doing more than that could jeopardize the case as it would allow an allegation of mishandling.

    10. You don’t need to see the innards.

      Make darn sure firearm is unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
      Close bolt, click safety off.
      Squeeze and hold trigger to dry fire.
      Holding trigger, pull bolt open and release.
      If the hammer falls/striker is released/bolt closes to dry fire again, the firearm is automatic. If it remains cocked, it’s semiauto.

      Easy-peasy.

      1. If Iwere there as ATF or any other agency investigating I damn sure DO want to, “see the innards”! What if there was a drop-in, binary type trigger of some type installed in there? Squeeze the trigger a shot is fired, release the trigger a shot is fired and on and on and on….

      2. OMG! You have common sense and know something about firearms, contrary to the Feds and LEOs! But when they are allowed to change the definitions of words at their whim, you can’t win.

      3. this entire cluster-fuck was a sham done by the obama/clinton letter agencys. NOTHING THAT HAS BEEN RELEASED BY THE JUST US DEPARTMENT HOLDS WATER. there was a different story every day, the fbi said one thing the lvpd said another. all bullshit. helicopters with airliner transponders ,multiple radar contacts scrubed by the government.temporarly “missing”helos gone at night and back the next day scrubed clean.. this entire story stinks of the central intel agency…

      1. This is worse than anyone wants to believe. The Mandalay Bay shooting was a false-flag attack, pure and simple. As was the Parkland school shooting – as was the Sandy Hook shooting – as was the (insert recent mass shooting here) shooting. Each of these had things in common. The “shooter” was a nobody who was killed for his efforts or – as in the Parkland HS shooting – quickly swept under a convenient rug. There was no plausible reason for the shooting, it had to be “explained” to us afterward. Almost before the last spent case hit the ground a politician called for stricter gun control – even in the case of the Boston Marathon bombing!
        All this leads me to a very uncomfortable conclusion: We – the American people – are at war with our own government. Over the course of the last 227 years we’ve been conditioned to accept whatever insult, affront, ridicule or rudeness they chose to throw at us. Only when we chose to wear the “deplorable” label as a Title did we finally show enough spine to actually worry our elite “betters.” And we obviously do worry them now since these false-flag attacks have increased.in frequency as well as intensity.
        But this is not the time to rest on our accomplishments – it is the time to counterattack! I tried boxing when I was a young man and I learned quickly that once I’d staggered an opponent I had to press my advantage and finish him off! As some military commander once said, “The battle is won by he who is firstest with the mostest!” His grammar may have been lacking but his reasoning was sound.

        1. @Oldfart: Right, right, right, right and right to the end. Enter the Knowledge:The Rules of Don’t Get Sucker Punched or How I’m Nobody’s Fool by Dr. Strangelove.

        1. American, I see this comment on too many occasions. Don’t know what they put in the water in the cities around the country and especially on the coasts but it seems to inhibit rational thought. Even red states have an ugly blue stain around population centers. Unfortunately the population centers control the vote as they have greater numbers which is why democrats actively pursue the votes in those areas and largely ignore rural areas.

    11. Another matter all screwed up by the feds. All the secretive hush, hush surrounding this tragedy says the government is not on our side even though they are paid by us. Something is wrong with this picture and I hope someone gets to the bottom of it.

      1. Unfortunately Tomcat, we keep expecting some “government official” to come to the bottom of all this while it’s government officials who are responsible for it. In the end it will have to be some private citizen who can muster the balls to bring that second set of government officials to the end of a rope – and most of us are so busy taking care of our families that we can’t – or won’t make that final, fateful step. On that rare occasion when one of us actually does step across the line, the vast majority of “Patriots” fall all over each other in a rush to disassociate ourselves from him.

        Let’s face it guys, we’ve been thoroughly castrated by fast cars, pizza, cheap beer and Sunday football! Few of us even know how to tie a noose!

    12. “We work for the government. We’re not required to answer to the people.” – – quote from various state and federal employees over a period of a 45 year career in criminal “justice” professions. And, We The People are astonished when we learn of corruption in government agencies??
      [W3]

    13. The whole event and the ensuing “investigation” stinks to high heaven. Local Law enforcement is always suspicious, and rightly so, of any involvement with BATFE or FBI. Good for the local LEOs to not let the corrupt Feds have the evidence so they could “analyze” it as they saw fit.

    14. I’m surprised that the ATF produced anything at all. Look how the DOJ is slow walking records to congress on the Trump-Russia thing. It seems private individuals, like this attorney and people at Judicial Watch, are the only ones getting anything back out of the government.

    15. I agree wwith ‘Trumped.’ I’ve never fired belt fed weapons, but I’ve fired all kinds of other fully auto weapons, as well as bump firing semi auto weapons.
      I can tell the difference hands down! Unfortunately, the average uneducated American doesnt know, and they believe the BS the fake news outlets shove down their unsuspecting throats.
      BOHICA Baby!!

      1. Yup, listen to the audio tape, his rate of fire slows after the first mag, by his 3rd he is getting almost to tired for the bump stock to work.

        1. The only thing you run into with firing with a bump stock as you might have a hiccup with around where you have to clear your round(s) and return to firing. You can put a belt-fed upper on an AR and run belt after belt with a bump stock. Firing with a bump stock does not make you tired. You hands cramping may slow you down. Your palms getting sweaty and losing your grip on your forward handguard may throw you off. But getting tired? I have burned up over 500 rounds consecutively and the only time I slowed down was changing mags. Overall rate of fire remained the same.

    16. Amazing how quickly the reporting on this shooting went dark. The last thing I saw was the police standing in a stair well a floor above the shooter waiting for the gunfire to stop. Brave cops on display there.

    17. so what you’re saying is that some sheet metal could have been the real criminal here instead of bump stocks… but that’s not politically palatable because certain uses of sheet metal are already illegal, and pointing that out won’t get another thing banned.

    18. Being that this is an investigation into inanimate objects, there should be no question about open and full disclosure to both parties, that being the government, ( and whatever alphabet agencies need to be involved) and attorney Stamboulieh and his team.

      It is obvious that at the very instant that once either side doesn’t play nice that THAT is where the major problem begins and THAT is where, We, the people need to look to start the investigation, indictment and prosecution of those working against full and open disclosure to all parties in this matter. Anything less reeks of criminal activity and wrongdoing.

      Being that this is over inanimate objects and there is no suspect to bring the trial, there should be no Cloak and Dagger involved whatsoever.

      If it goes past this point, then willful neglect or statutory duties emerges, oaths of offices are violated and failure to fully dislose information then turns into criminal intent. We, the People have yet to face another government scandal in the long heavy cloud of corruption and deceitful practices that we have been experiencing over the last 15 to 20 years and in some matters even far longer dating all the way back to the 1903 Dick Act.

      It’s time for, We, the People across the country to start contacting our elected officials, demanding they immediately step into this matter and demand full and OPEN disclosure being that this is all about inanimate objects and will not meet the test of criminal procedure in open court and this investigation will not lead any type of prosecution. Therefore there was no room for any excuse for any failure to openly disclose all points in this matter.

      Could it be that we need to make the portal for draining the Swamp a bit larger? Perhaps build yet another Federal Prison for those in government that choose to hide truth from We the People?

      It appears that I will be contacting yet again my congressman and my senator in regards to this matter demanding that they intervene and set the stage to keep things open and even keel with the hopes of preventing yet more corruption and scandal by what appears to be criminal activityby government actors in our society, which WILL meet the test of criminal procedure in open court.

      The pin on the grenade has been pulled. Let’s see who’s going to put the pin back into the grenade and keep things, “proper”, rather than fumble the grenade and make a big mess?

    19. Wow. This is fascinating news. 100% of the people I know in person who have fired or been around belt red machine guns all say the sounds coming from vegas were a belt fed, not some stupid rusty shackleford bump stock. I also wonder if the supposed shooter was working for the feds and making some sort of gun deal with antifa or isis types and it is being covered up.

      Why is so much being withheld about this case?

        1. Sadly, he makes a valid and strong point about collusion with the Feds on some level. Examine some of the arms deals that have been exposed over the years. I mean, the initially clandestime ones. Iran COntra is one that broke wide open, shortly after a C 130 loaded with small arms for some rebel forces was downed near Lago Nicaragua back in 1986….. a Mister Hassenfus was taken captive. He was one of, or the, surviving crew of that plane. The Hilliarious Incident in Bengahzi where one of our Ambassadors was killed with three other US personnel seems, upon slightluy closer examination to have been a cover for an arms runing scheme if similar sort. The heinous scandal known as Fast and Furious was an operation to provide arms to a mexican drug cartel to promote that selected one to the top of the heap of other similar cartels. It had the added side bonus of feeding the media and politicians’ lies about “crime guns” “recovered” at crime scenes in Mexico being provided by straw buyers form US retail gun stores, thus providing some “justification” for more gun control laws, one of which was enacted and remains in place.

          Now, consider how Fed and local governments have repeatedly orderd law enforcement to stand down, stand there and watch whilst doing nothing, as rampant and violent rioting, protesting, burning, looting, violent assaults, continued in several major cities across the nation in the past few years…. with NO consequences for the public “servants” who stood and watched, and at times even brought charges against the victims as antifa, occupy, perptrated their destruction in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Charlottesville, Berkeley, Portland at least three times, Seattle at least twice, and now you stand there and tell me this is impossible?

          False flag ops have been a signficant MO of governments for a long time. Remember the Maine? One of the early Biggies. Before that was the “battle” at Fort Sumpter, deliberately provoked by Lincoln as “cause of action” to “justify” the War of Northern Aggression. Fort Sumpter had been under the control and use of the State of South Carolina but was overtaken by Northern forces to use as a FOB for the vessels enforcing the illegal blockade of southern ship traffic. The locals simply decided to take back their own property. The whole thing was staged to look like what it was not. All in the name of promoting the selected political agenda.

          Seems our servants have been our masters for far too long, and we are just now beginning to realise the shoe has been put on the wrong foot. BATF have been one of the most evil and corrupt institutions since it was begun. And not one of the four “classes of goods” it is charged to regulate and manage are legitimately the business of our Federal Government. Disband the entire agency, and press charges against the legion of minions that have been doing wrong for generations.

          1. Good points. Not to mention Operation PATCON from the 90s and its links to the OKC bombing. For anyone who doubts what we are discussing i would urge you to Google Jesse trentadue – but once you go down that rabbit hole you can never come back. And of course codrea and Mike broke and kept alive the fast and furious scandal.

            We know PATCON existed in the 90s, and I believe there is a Muslim version of it being run now in America. I wonder if the vegas shooting was an operation gone bad just like the OKC bombing was.

        2. The guy had over $30,000 worth of firearms in his hotel room seems to me he could as easily purchased a legal full auto lower or internals. Something is definitely off.

    20. Wow. This is fascinating news. 100% of the people I know in person who have fired or been around belt red machine guns all say the sounds coming from vegas were a belt fed, not some stupid rusty shackleford bump stock. I also wonder if the supposed shooter was working for the feds and making some sort of gun deal with antifa or isis types and it is being covered up.

      Why is much being withheld about this case?

    21. Hmmm… refusal of evidentiary FIOA requests is not suspicious at all !? Establishment of these evidentiary matters by subpoenas are nolonger valid in this nation. The USA appears to be more than 50% compromised on the federal level and beyond in many states. Surprising but not!

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