ATF Attempts to Silence Gun Owners of America

ATF Police Raid IMG ATFHQ Instagram
ATF Police Raid IMG ATFHQ Instagram

In 2021, AmmoLand News published leaked documents showing that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was using the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to monitor Americans without a warrant. In many cases, there was no evidence of wrongdoing; the monitoring was due to the affiliations of those being watched. The report led Gun Owners of America (GOA) to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for more information.

“In April of 2021, journalist John Crump reported that leaked ATF documents revealed the agency’s involvement in a covert, warrantless surveillance program of an untold number of law-abiding firearm purchasers, through daily monitoring of all firearm transactions that are processed through the NICS system,” GOA writes.

After a year of waiting and threats of lawsuits, the ATF would finally produce documents about the program. The documents in question would reference reasons for redactions, but the actual documentation lacked these redactions. GOA contacted the ATF to get the redacted versions of the documents to release to the public. That is when the ATF realized its error and demanded that the gun rights organization destroy all the documents it possessed.

The gun rights organization refused. The documents were released to the gun rights organization by the ATF. GOA did not acquire the documents through any illegal methods and felt it had every right to keep and use the documents to inform the public of the unlawful monitoring of Americans. The ATF would file for a protective order against the advocacy group to try to compel it to destroy the documents and provide affidavits attesting to the destruction of the files and agreeing never to talk about them.

This request is similar to what ATF’s lawyers tried to do to a reporter in the AutoKey Card case when AmmoLand News acquired a copy of the pre-sentencing report. In that case, my legal team, led by Stephen Stamboulieh and funded by GOA, filed a motion to intervene and got the ATF to back down and withdraw the motion. Mr. Stamboulieh once again has been tapped to fight against an ATF gag order, but this time, he was tapped by GOA.

GOA argues that the law is clear. It claims that since the documents were not gathered via illegal means by the organization, it has every right to keep them. GOA contends it is not obligated to help the ATF fix its mistake. The organization is willing to destroy any personal information, including social security numbers, but will not submit to a blanket destruction order. GOA claims the ATF is trying to cover up its covert surveillance program.

“Defendant may prefer that various details of its covert monitoring activities never see the light of day, its Motion for Protective Order seeks relief that conflicts with core First Amendment rights. Even in the best of scenarios, an agency’s request that a court order a FOIA requester destroy documents is an “‘extraordinary’ ask that should not be granted as a matter of course.” Such a request becomes even more suspicious when the government asks a court to command a nonprofit, public-interest organization, that has repeatedly engaged in quintessential press activity with regard to the very matter at issue, to destroy voluntarily disclosed government records of a warrantless surveillance program. The government’s ask here thus represents a request for a classic prior restraint that is subject to the strongest presumption of invalidity,” the brief reads.

The ATF claims it wants to protect the privacy of those it targets. GOA says it finds this claim ironic because the ATF’s program itself is violating the privacy rights of the monitoring targets. The organization wants to share the documents with Congress. It is possible that the Bureau seeks to prevent the documents from reaching the hands of those overseeing the agency.

“It is a sad and ironic twist that the ATF professes its desire to protect the privacy of gun owners, considering this case involves ATF’s covert surveillance program that for years has been spying on, invading the privacy of, and gathering private information about those very persons. It is more ironic still that ATF seeks to protect that information vis-à-vis Plaintiffs, nonprofit organizations whose mission is to protect and defend the rights (including the privacy) of gun owners against government infringement,” the brief reads.

GOA asked the court to prevent the ATF from infringing on the organization’s First Amendment Rights. It rejected the ATF’s assertion that releasing the documents was not in the public’s interest. AmmoLand News, for example, would use the documents to better understand the program and what groups are being monitored.

The ATF’s years-long battle to keep the program secret led many to ask, “What is the ATF trying to hide?”

ATF Attempts To Silence Gun Owners of America, 28 Opposition to MPO by AmmoLand Shooting Sports News on Scribd

About John Crump


John Crump

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Just another reason why GOA (and SAF, CCRKBA, and local gun rights orgs) deserve our support. And thanks John Crump for shining a light on this.


John Crump and GOA standing tall in the 2nd Amendment arena on behalf of WE, The People deserves our undying support as does the 2nd Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, National Association of Gun Rights, and all the other groups that are fighting the good fight in the courts, preventing the inevitable bloodshed that would surly follow should all fail.


No, they aren’t doing a damn thing that is effective, because if they were, the problem would have been solved long ago!! Don’t you get it yet, that the courts ARE the root of the problem?? How could it be explained any simpler and plainer for you??


atf needs to be disband and agents jailed at Guantanamo,bread and water rations
or just a rope and save us money

Last edited 4 months ago by swmft

Every agent should be tried for treason against the constitution and if convicted, shot.

no family member of an atf or fbi asshole should ever be able to hold a position of honor in tHe U.S.


I vote for the rope


The problem isnt the individual agents, necessarily- the problem is the organisation and the fact that they are empowered to MAKE LAW, not just enforce laws made by Congress. We’ve all heard the horror stories of gestapo-like actions of ATF agents- stomping on kittens, puppies and the like- fact or fiction(?).
Calls for peremptory execution or jailing of atf personnel is out of line and gives credence to the belief that gun-owners are blood-thirsty nut-jobs.
Or is THAT THE POINT, people?


“GOA contacted the ATF to get the redacted versions of the documents to release to the public.”
Ummm – why? Had they promptly released what the ATF gave them, documents that the organization obtained through legal means, the documents would already be in the public domain, and nobody would be able to suppress them.


Good point. I though the same thing when I was reading it.


But hopefully with SSNs and at least part of the names and addresses redacted. If I saw my given name and first initial of surname plus St. Louis listed, I’d feel justified in contacting GOA to determine if it was me. In fact, that is an excellent reason for GOA to retain an unredacted copy.


media outlet asks for public documents from government agency. government agency adherently releases documents proving they are illegally monitoring law-abiding citizens to media outlet. said government agency discovers they released incriminating documents proving they are illegally monitoring law-abiding citizens to media outlet. government agency ask a court to order the media outlet they gave the documents to to destroy the incriminating documents the government agency released. government agency wants to release redacted documents in an attempt to prevent law-abiding citizens form knowing they are illegally being monitored by government agency. section III on pg 7 nails the point to the… Read more »


This is all from the Beria School of Law: show me the man and I will show you the crime.

Rogue federal agents beget a rogue federal government. That is where we are. From the ATF to the BLM all the way through to the XYZ. Rogue federal agencies.

Knute Knute

I have my answer as to what the ATF is trying to hide. High treason, that’s what! IMO, OFC.
No wonder they act so desperate and scared.


“High” treason? Is there “low treason”? There is only ONE kind of treason in this country, defined in the US Constitution as “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.” (Article III, Section 3). No punishment is specified in the Constitution, specifically leaving that to the Congress..


Thank you Mr. Crump. You, et al, keep up the good fight.


What fight are you talking about here? All that I hear, is a few weak and muffled whimpers coming from a bunch of bed wetting little babies.


If I really am wrong, then why not show some proof of my being wrong?? Is that really so hard to do??

Knute Knute

Here, Jeff Cooper is agreeing with me that the feds are running scared… but he said this about 2 decades ago:
If they were that scared then, they must shit their pants daily now! Hey, do you suppose that’s where all the T.P. went during the corona years? 🙂


So … what’s the status on the redacted version and will it be published?


GOA should “out” atf assholes and publish their home addresses. Creat a searchable list just like they are ( unconstitutionally) doing to us.

NO ONE, particularly deep state operatives and government officials should be able to draw a taxpayer funded paycheck without a publicly available searchable REAL home address where they actually reside and can be contacted.

particularly these three letter assholes atf, fbi, doj that take joy and delight in violating the constitution and screwing over “their” fellow citizens.


The ATF protecting the privacy of those they are investigating is a complete lie and all they really want to do is cover thier asses so they don’t get sued even more than that already are . ATF = ALL TYRANTS AND FAGS

Knute Knute

I like these ones too:
CIA= Christians In Action
NSA= No Such Agency
and my personal favorite:
FBI= F****n Bunch of Idiots

Knute Knute

I like that one even better! 🙂


I get weekly fundraising letters from the GOA, I’m going to have to rethink and rebudget my contributions. I hate not being able to write a check for every request but bidenomic’s and the insleeinsanity has strained the Bigfoot budget. We have to help these Warriors. I’m giving until it hurts, now I need to figure out how to give more. Thanks, Mr. Crump another informative article.


My GOA donations are automatic monthly. Most of the time I send additional funds every month.


How about instead of giving until it hurts, doing something that helps? Expose the criminality of the legal system, now THAT would be a big help to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, well, except for the criminals who profit off of the crimes of the legal system, that is!!




I doubt that highly. They are just as ineffective as the NRA and all of the other milksop groups that are supposed to be pro 2A! It’s because if they really did a good job on the issues, they would put themselves out of business! Their easy stream of revenue would dry up, and then they’d have to find some other line of work! So you cannot and must not ever rely upon someone else to do your important work for you. Expose the criminality of the legal system, and then you will find your exit point from the Matrix!

Courageous Lion - Hear Me Roar - Jus Meum Tuebor

You can’t be normal and work for the ATF. When I wrote Sammy Used To Love Homegrown Green Beans it became oh so obvious. These people are PSYCHOPATHIC CONTROL FREAK PARASITES!


I was showing my newly retired neighbor a recent GOA mailer when he commented, “I would like to be a contributor to the GOA and a couple of other advocacy organizations but being on a fixed income I have to be more judicious with my spending now.” I told him to use your extra time to find one you can support and wish the others well. Of course, please remember the NRA is not one I would consider. It’s certainly a tough decision after reading an article like this. Why is it we hear anti groups like Brady, the most… Read more »


I’m very proud to be a GOA life member. When you’re on the ATF shit list to shut up and go away you’re doing everything right!


without killing me I will not be silenced I will always be LOUD and PROUD


This serves as yet one more example of how our Administrative State lives in an Orwellian world of double-mindedness. So, ATF wants to protect the privacy of citizens from their fellow citizens, and their lawyers, by the way and do so after conducting a baseless invasion of that same privacy. This is the kind of upside down, inside out non-think so prevalent in the cubicles of every federal building. The basis premise of the Progressive Movement is they must protect the public from itself by imposing state power. The progressives long ago gave up on the proposition that faith and… Read more »

American Patriot

It’s unfortunate these days you’re not really a good criminal unless you’re drawing a federal paycheck & your I.D. is stamped with a big “D” on it!


There is only one way to shut down all of this criminality, and it is to strike at its roots, which is the totally corrupted legal system!! It is the perverted legal system that lets the real criminals off of the hook time after time, while persecuting and jailing the innocent ones!!
I’ll bet that not even one man or woman who has read any of my papers exposing the crimes of the legal system here, have sent them on to anyone else! Why is that so?


Maybe because your drivel amounts to nothing more than “…a few weak and muffled whimpers coming from a bunch of bed wetting little babies.”


Well, if they’re NOT a bunch of weaklings cowering under their blankets, then WHY aren’t they doing something that is effective? Are they all waiting for someone else to do it for them? Can you answer my drivel there? What I write is ALWAYS based upon facts and logic, but it requires some real balls to use any of it, and it looks like you don’t have any. No one EVER comes back at me with anything other than an ad hominem attack (that means saying bad things about me personally) because that’s all they’ve got! No logic or facts… Read more »