U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- A Freedom of Information Act request was filed Wednesday with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regarding its Valentine’s Day social media solicitation inviting the public to provide “tips” on “former (or current) partner[s] involved in illegal gun activity.” The FOIA letter was sent by attorney Stephen Stamboulieh on my behalf.
Here’s the information I’m asking for:
“Mr. Codrea hereby requests all records related to the tweet and Facebook posting, including emails sent to the email address referenced in the tweet/Facebook post … and/or the web address … any phone calls made to the number referenced in the tweet/Facebook post and/or records of phone calls related to the post/tweet, all records related to the creating and/or approval of the tweet to be tweeted on the official ATF Twitter account and additionally related to the creating and/or approval of the abovementioned Facebook post, and records (including emails) within the ATF concerning the subject matter of the tweet/Facebook post.”
Why this information is in the public’s interest to know should be obvious.
As documented in my February AmmoLand report on this topic, what ATF describes as “fun” can be highly dangerous, and result in false reporting for revenge, and “swatting.” Who the hell approved that? It becomes especially problematic at a time when anti-gunners are screaming for, and enacting, so-called “red flag laws” to include “closing” the pejoratively termed “boyfriend loophole.”
There’s also the very real issue of ATF expending resources on this, particularly at a time when Chuck Schumer is out there crying crocodile tears about how the bureau is underfunded and needs more money. That’s so it can continue to compile an illegal database, pass new rules, reverse old ones, harass dealers out of existence, and reclassify/ban more guns and devices. And note none of that directly addresses the rising violence in urban areas exploited to gin up demand to heap more diktats on the “law-abiding.”
Further abuses are enabled with the Bureau’s anonymous snitch system that allows field offices to be contacted in English and 17 additional languages:
“ATF has partnered with reportit® to provide a simple to use mobile App that allows users to anonymously and confidentially submit tips … reportit®is not designed to track users of the system. If you choose to use the system to submit a tip, we are unable to track your device, track your location or track your identity in any other manner … No device information is collected by ATF as part of this service. Your identity is completely anonymous to reportit®and ATF and your tip is only identifiable via a unique ID that has no connection to the device.”
So what discourages people from deliberately trying to get the government to do their dirty work for them? At a time when ATF is manically trying to get so-called “ghost guns” banned, they’re soliciting ghost snitches?
That seems to hold the door wide open for bipolar one-night-stands who didn’t get flowers, and for drug dealers who want to get a rival noticed on fedgov radar. It does make you wonder what kind of person would have that app downloaded to their phone in the first place, and that leads to the questions of how much tax money has been spent on this, how many people have actually downloaded the app (has anyone who doesn’t work for ATF? Is it measured in the tens? The hundreds?), where is the highest concentration, and what have the results been in terms of successful arrests and prosecutions?
That’s not part of this action because FOIA requests, by law, are for document production, not for asking questions, and those would be more effectively put to Bureau honchos under oath by the House Oversight Committee. That’s provided Republicans don’t blow the midterms, regain the majority, and are then sufficiently motivated to play hardball for a change.
As is, we’ll have to wait to see what ATF’s response to this request is. We know from past actions there is official disdain for our efforts in particular, where we have been dismissed as “a tangled web of connections between a small cadre of firearms activists [with the motivation] to recover fees through largely unsuccessful FOIA litigation.” And we see that coming through again in ATF’s efforts to shut down our Hunter Biden gun inquiry — and talk about a candidate for the tip app!
We’ll continue because there is information about management-directed ATF abuses to be gleaned, because no one else is asking for it, and because even if we don’t get what we’re after, the stonewalling and resistance on the part of a government established “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity” are worth exposing.
The FOIA request follows:
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.