WASHINGTON, D.C.-(Ammoland.com)- In April of 2021 AmmoLand News obtained a leak from the ATF showing that the Bureau was monitoring people’s firearm transactions that MIGHT commit a crime in the future. Using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) the ATF kept tabs on over 1,000 American citizens. These law-abiding Americans have not committed any crime and are not under investigation. These are people the ATF or FBI believe are at risk of committing a crime in the future.
Gun rights activists have long worried the government would target law-abiding gun owners using NICS. It worried Gun Owners of America to the point they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The goal of the FOIA was to determine how many Americans the ATF and FBI are tracking.
“It’s outrageous that our government is spying on law-abiding gun owners, who have committed no crimes,” GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt told AmmoLand News. “Congress needs to rein in the ATF and put a stop to this immediately.” “This is like the movie Minority Report, where the government targets those who might commit a crime. There are multiple problems with what the ATF is doing here, but let me use an analogy that even anti-gun Leftists should comprehend. What would they have said if the Trump administration had spied on illegal aliens who might vote in an election? Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer would have been calling for impeachment hearings.”
The FOIA found that in May of 2020, the ATF was monitoring the firearms purchases of 525 people using NICS. That number has exploded to 826 individuals as of April 2021. The current trend is to monitor more instead of less law-abiding Americans. If this trend continues the ATF will be monitoring every American who ever legally purchased a firearm using a NICS background check.
The same FOIA also revealed the number of firearms purchases monitored by the FBI dropped in the corresponding period. In May of 2020, the FBI was watching 255 people’s purchases through NICS. That number dropped to 241. The drop can be attributed to the outlier month of June 2020 where the Bureau deleted 35 people from its search. Excluding that one month, the FBI also increased the number of Americans it is monitoring. None of the documents provided in the FOIA explains the drop in people monitored by the FBI for June 2020.
These totals (from May 2020 to April 2021) put the number of law-abiding Americans monitored by the federal government for practicing their Second Amendment right at over 1,000 people. The FOIA did not explain why the FBI and the ATF have chosen to monitor these gun owners. GOA and AmmoLand News both have vowed to keep digging until we uncover the truth.
AmmoLand News has reached out to the FBI and the ATF in an attempt to get clarity on who the people being monitored are and why the government has chosen to watch them. So far, the government has not responded to AmmoLand’s request for comment.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.