VIDEO: ATF shows up out of the blue to "check" for straw buy

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Many of us know “that guy.”

By that, I mean the guy who gets a little flush because he had a good bonus or some other slight financial windfall and then makes multiple trips to the gun store to pick up the firearms he’s lusted after for years.


They don’t hear from the ATF, though, for the most part. Why would they? Buying guns isn’t illegal as a general rule.

Yet for one man, his buying spree led to a knock on his door.

The homeowner was alerted there were trespassers on his property by motion detectors outside his front door. A live video feed from his doorbell camera showed three armed men wearing tactical vests, t-shirts and jeans. Two appeared to be ATF agents. The third was a Delaware State Police trooper. None wore body cameras.

The homeowner, who did not want his name used in this story, is a small businessman – a law abiding citizen who even ATF acknowledged had done nothing wrong. He went to his front door hesitantly. He left his doorbell camera running to record the encounter.

The homeowner confronted the three men before they reached the door. “Can I help you?” he asked, stepping onto the porch.

The older ATF agent told him they were assigned to a task force investigating straw purchases. A straw purchase – a federal felony – occurs when someone buys a firearm on behalf of another person, who is unable to legally purchase a firearm themselves.

The agent said they were verifying that people who bought multiple firearms still had the guns in their possession. The homeowner had bought seven firearms since January 2022.

He asked the men for identification, which the agents and trooper produced. They admitted they did not have a search warrant. The doorbell camera recorded what happened next.

The SAF post is lacking the video, unfortunately.


Luckily, the YouTube channel Legally Armed America got a copy as well and posted it.

Now, I don’t need to tell any of you that this is problematic. The ATF just showing up at your door wanting to confirm that you still had the guns you bought? I’m sorry, but that’s out of line.

For one thing, we keep being told there’s no gun registry, that the records are held at the gun store and that no registry-like thing exists.

Yet these three show up on this dude’s door asking about guns he lawfully purchased. There was no probable cause to even question the man in the first place. As Legally Armed America notes, this isn’t exactly a guy who lives in the hood where you might potentially find a straw buyer.

So why did the ATF show up?

Well, it seems no one can give anyone an answer.

The Resident Agent in Charge of ATF’s Wilmington, Delaware field office did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

Similarly, public information officers at both ATF’s Baltimore Field Division and Washington D.C. headquarters did not return calls or emails seeking comment. This lack of accountability is certainly nothing new for the ATF.

Delaware State Police was also unwilling to discuss this investigation.

Neither Delaware State Police PIO supervisor Sgt. India Sturgis nor Superintendent Col. Melissa Zebley were willing to be interviewed for this story.

As the SAF notes, the Delaware State Police aren’t known for respecting the Second Amendment themselves, having illegally kept a list of gun owners despite state law calling for records to be destroyed after 60 days.


Then we have the ATF, of course, which has long been antagonistic toward lawful gun ownership.

Yet this goes a lot farther than I ever expected even the ATF to go.

This was a law-abiding gun owner who the ATF had no probable cause to question beyond having bought a number of firearms in the course of the year. They showed up wearing tactical vests as seen in the video, and basically demand to see any of the firearms.

Then they leave after the resident shows one of the guns.

So not only was it invasive, but it also wasn’t remotely comprehensive. That’s suggestive of the fact that it wasn’t really about straw buys. Otherwise, why leave after being shown one firearm out of seven purchased?

Nothing about this sits well, nor should it.

The ATF is harassing lawful gun buyers by showing up at their homes with about as much subtlety as a tactical nuke and demanding they show they still possess guns? Everything about this stinks.

The fact that officials won’t respond to requests for comment isn’t making it smell any better, either.

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