The entire pro-gun community is aware of Mayor Bloomberg of New York City’s lawsuit against licensed FFLs – the lawsuit that was a result of his sending private investigators to their stores to break the law and then try and sue them for it.
You may or may not know that as of right now, there is basically one last shop standing that is refusing to give into the bullying by Mayor Bloomberg and his cronies. Adventure Outdoors is still fighting the original lawsuit, as well as having filed a counter-suit, suing Mayor Bloomberg for defamation.
The ATF throwing Adventure Outdoors under the bus pertains to the original case, which is still being fought in court. Earlier in the year, Adventure Outdoors had subpoenaed three BATFE agents to be deposed in regards to the case pending against Adventure Outdoors. After the initial subpoenas were withdrawn, the BATFE “agreed” to allow the agents to be deposed in written question – now BATFE is going back on that agreement and has filed motions to exempt the agents from their written depositions.
For the particulars, you can read the entire motion as filed by BATFE in pdf format, pay special attention to page 8 of 20, where the lawyers for ATF say the following:
In evaluating the burden to ATF, the Court should consider the “cumulative” impact on ATF, i.e., the likelihood that ATF would be burdened with request for deposition testimony in other cases.
Slightly further down that same page, you find this:
ATF properly determined that the burdens to ATF from having the ATF employees respond to written questions outweighs any benefit to Adventure Outdoors.
Essentially, ATF is saying to Adventure Outdoors (and all FFLs in general) that our time is more important that your livelihood. Because that’s what we’re talking about here – the method that the owners and employees of this gun shop use to put food on the table is at stake, but ATF thinks that the cost of losing two special agents for a day “outweighs any benefit to Adventure Outdoors”.
That would be bad enough in and of itself – but to add more wood to the fire, Adventure Outdoors isn’t just any old gun shop. According to sources, Adventure Outdoors has on at least 11 different occasions gone above and beyond the letter of the law, and gone out of their way to work with and provide ATF with information on possible straw purchases. AO could have just refused the sale, and simply obeyed the letter of the law – but instead they have gone beyond their legal commitment and actively aided the ATF in the past. So now when all Adventure Outdoors wants to do is depose ATF agents and get factual statements out of them, ATF doesn’t have the time to testify. It sends a bad message to FFLs – ATF is basically saying that “even if you help us, we’re still not going to lift a finger to help you”.
The “cherry on the sundae” ultimately is that Mayor Bloomberg has been trashing the ATF in his press conferences – saying that “ATF needs assistance from the City of New York…to monitor or supervise Adventure Outdoors in its sale of firearms”, implying that ATF can’t do its job. Being deposed by Adventure Outdoors would have given ATF an opportunity to do a couple of things: 1) Defend themselves from Bloomberg’s baseless accusations, and 2) establish some good credit with FFLs.
With regards to number 2, it’s no secret that there are lot of people who feel like the ATF is out to get law-abiding dealers with ticky-tac violations and legal harassment techniques. By refusing to allow their special agents to be deposed, ATF is sending another bad message to the law-abiding firearms dealers: “Even if you help us, we’re not going to help you.” Adventure Outdoors had in the past gone above and beyond their legal obligation and assisted ATF, and this is the “thanks” they receive.
With behavior like this, it’s no wonder that more and more, FFLs and gun owners are assuming that the ATF isn’t interested in enforcing the law, but rather in shutting down licensees across the country. That’s essentially what’s at stake here for Adventure Outdoors – their business and livelihood. I don’t run a gun shop – but if I did, I’d think twice about going above and beyond to help them. I’d stick to the letter of the law, stay perfectly legal, but I wouldn’t do any extra work to help out ATF. Not if this is how they treat law-abiding firearms dealers.