ATF back to its old tricks

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The ATF has never been particularly popular with gun enthusiasts. What started as a revenue collection agency has since become one of the most militarized law enforcement agencies in the nation. This militarization hasn’t worked out well for a number of people throughout the years.


After all, names like Ruby Ridge and Waco are burned into the psyche of American gun owners for a very good reason.

At the heart of all of that were ATF raids, often raids that weren’t really needed.

And it seems the ATF is back to its old tricks.

During the 30 years that have passed since ATF’s botched raid in Waco, Texas, which led to the deaths of 82 civilians — including 28 children — and four federal agents, the agency appears to have forgotten that when it picks fights for no reason and uses excessive force, law-abiding Americans pay with their lives.

A story published last week — much to everyone’s horror — revealed that the ATF has started raiding again. It will only be a matter of time before another tragedy occurs and more innocent lives are lost.

ATF agents wearing tactical gear and bearing AR-15s raided the Oklahoma home of Russell Fincher, a 52-year-old high school history teacher, “kitchen table” gun dealer and Baptist minister.

Fincher, it should be noted, invited the ATF into his home when they called him prior to their raid. He offered no resistance, as you’d expect from a clergyman, but ATF agents hit his home like he was Southeast Oklahoma’s next bin Laden.

Anyone who has ever taken doors that were defended by more than a cooperative pastor and his terrified 13-year-old boy realizes that this is serious business. Raids rely upon surprise, speed and violence of action — not exactly the tactics that were needed at Fincher’s modest Tuskahoma home.

The ATF isn’t the only federal agency to cowboy up and start raiding. The Biden-Harris administration recently weaponized the IRS too, turning it into another well-armed paramilitary force, which like ATF answers only to the president. The two agencies have even started raiding together.

Last month, a joint IRS/ATF tactical team raided Highwood Creek Outfitters in Great Falls, Montana. ATF agents were prohibited from seizing the gun shop’s 4473s, so the IRS agents took them. They seized thousands of the forms, which prompted Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen to express concern over the seizure, asking “What the hell does the IRS need with 4473s?” By now he likely realizes they were all handed over to the ATF. Thankfully, no one was killed or wounded during the raid, but how long can that last?


Now, we talked about High Creek Outfitters last month. It was insane that the IRS took that paperwork when there was absolutely no reason for them to do so.

Moreover, there was no reason for the ATF to raid Fincher’s home, especially since he was willing to let them in and told them so.

Raids have their place in law enforcement. Let’s understand that, and I have no doubt there are times the ATF will need to raid a place.

The problem is that this same ATF doesn’t have those opportunities all that much because most of what they do is look at gun stores and paperwork discrepancies. So, my guess is that they do these raids because they feel the need to justify the equipment and the training expenses, so they kick off unneeded raids, then tell any congressional members watching them that they conducted X number of raids so of course they need the gear.

It’s not because they do.

And the problem, as noted above, is that raids can go sideways. Look at the deaths of Amir Lock and Breonna Taylor, for example. Both were killed when police conducted a no-knock raid on people who were innocent.

Raids are always dangerous. They should be relegated for times when there’s no other choice, rather than busting into a pastor and FFL holder’s home after he told the ATF to just come on over.

Ruby Ridge and Waco are more than raids that went sideways. They’re cultural touchstones that erode faith in federal law enforcement. No one should delude themselves to think it’ll go any better when someone else gets killed because of the ATF.


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