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U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “Feds Confiscate Guns in Flathead Valley With 30 Vehicles, Three Tanks, and Helicopter, the Montana Daily Gazette reports. “Heretofore ignored by the legacy press and mainstream media, in February, federal authorities invaded a neighborhood in the Flathead Valley with militarized police and terrorized its occupants with what appears to be Waco-level tyrannical overreach.”
That’s certainly a newsworthy claim. And ensuing allegations of armored vehicles, over 100 agents, officers breaching the residence with a concussion grenade after the suspect had reportedly surrendered peacefully, and an operation prompted by the accusations of a “former girlfriend” that he was dangerous, all have the makings of a major story. Why wouldn’t this be all over the news?
Unfortunately, while long on descriptions of what is being alleged to have happened, the story is short on details by which others can follow up and validate. That has led some readers to speculate why there are no verifying links to arrest records and court filings.
We’re not told the name of the suspect reportedly taken into custody, nor even which federal agencies were involved. What we have instead is an “Editor’s Note”:
[The Montana Daily Gazette stands by the veracity of this report from a field reporter and we believe the Legacy Press has been intimidated into silence by the federal government. Names have been changed to protect the innocent]
We are, however, reminded:
“According to the Constitution, federal operators may not engage in law enforcement activities without the permission of the local county sheriff, something that is often overlooked and ignored, which is the case here.”
We’re also told the suspect “was eventually transported to the Flathead County jail [and] was released three days later on his own recognizance.”
The Sheriff’s Office was the first place to start, and hoping for a written public reply, I asked them to make a statement via Twitter:
“Since your department is named in this report, and since the assessment of its accuracy is of significant public interest, will you please issue a statement of your involvement and the facts as you understand them?”
That was met with several days of silence, so I followed it up with a phone call to the department. I was informed that an email had been circulated internally instructing personnel to refer all inquiries to “the U.S. County Attorney.” The person I spoke with also let slip that the story had “inaccuracies.”
That at least meant they were aware of the story and that something happened.
Since there is a County Attorney and a U.S. Attorney, I contacted the feds next, starting with the Missoula Field Office since it is geographically the closest one. I was informed the public information officer works out of the Billings office, so I called there and had to leave a voicemail message. Shortly thereafter, I received a callback and asked the officer if they had prepared a public statement. She informed me that, per Department of Justice policy, she could neither confirm nor deny anything responsive to my questions about ongoing investigations.
That at least suggests there is an investigation and that it’s ongoing, but confirms nothing.
I also left a voicemail with the County Attorney. As of this writing, I have not heard back but will update this post if I do.
Seemingly related is a story that did make the news, but one that paints a very different picture. From the Flathead Beacon:
“A 52-year-old Hungry Horse man was arrested with drugs and more than two-dozen stolen firearms on Wednesday … SWAT teams from Kalispell and Flathead County were mobilized.” Is this what we’re talking about? If so, which account is true? Are we talking about a victim or a villain? Or is that an unrelated story? By the government withholding information, all people can do is speculate.
CORRECTION: The above paragraphs have been struck out because they are irrelevant to this story. While both raids occurred in early February, the Hungry Horse report is from a year earlier. I regret the error.
In today’s highly charged environment, with justifiable fears of gun confiscations, “red flag laws,” and the like being enforced against gun owners who have committed no crimes, it should be in the interests of all parties to be transparent with charges and counterclaims. That much can be done without jeopardizing cases. Instead, a climate of fear is made inevitable by remaining closed-lipped, and that only makes everything more dangerous for everyone.
UPDATE 03/29/2021: I spoke Monday with the Flathead County Attorney’s Office and was advised they first learned of the raid at a March 19 2021 meeting attended by a representative of Senator Steve Daines’ office, who had learned of it from the Montana Daily Gazette article. This was a federal operation and the County Attorney’s Office was not apprised of it in advance. Information shared at that meeting was that the suspect had around 15 warrants for his arrest, and the scale of force used was not nearly as significant as had been reported.
About 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. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.