In this column, A1F Daily trains its watchdog eye on “The Trace,” Michael Bloomberg’s new anti-“gun news” site.
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, The Trace published perhaps its most meaningless piece yet—one that took great pains to prove that illegal gun dealers were selling guns illegally.
To prove that point, “5 Cases That Show How Unlicensed Dealers Have Sold Guns By The Hundreds” highlighted mostly unlicensed dealers who sold guns by the dozens. The Trace did uncover one David “Big Dave” Lewisbey, a 24-year-old who was buying duffel bags full of guns in Indiana and selling them to Chicago gangbangers … charmingly, without a Federal Firearms License (FFL), or conducting any background checks.
“Big Dave” was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Likewise, the other illegal gun dealers were also all convicted and sentenced to prison terms for engaging in the business of selling guns without an FFL and/or lying to ATF agents about it. They’ve already been convicted of engaging in the business of selling guns. They all went to prison. Will Hillary’s plan make them even more illegal?
About them, The Trace’s subhead says, “Hillary Clinton’s gun platform would treat such high-volume sellers as ‘engaged in the business’—and use an executive action to make them part of the background check system.”
Wait … for the purpose of what, exactly? They’ve already been convicted of engaging in the business of selling guns. They all went to prison. Will Hillary’s plan make their actions evenmore illegal?
Apparently, even The Trace was confused and asked for clarification. But “Clinton’s campaign declined to give The Trace more details on how exactly her proposal would help investigators identify high-volume sellers.” This, from the self-described “most transparent person in public life.”
But Hillary is on the campaign trail, and can’t be bothered with details. Fortunately, information revealing what she has in store for licensed gun dealers is plentiful—if you know where to look.
We just received a draft of David Hardy’s excellent feature on his visit to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library for the December issue of America’s 1st Freedom magazine. Poring over reams of internal administration documents, Hardy uncovered a string of illuminating memos on Clinton gun-control strategies and goals. One of the administration’s targets was what they called “kitchen table gun dealers”—FFL holders engaged in the legal business of buying and selling guns on a small scale, often out of their home. These small dealers already had to pay federal licensing fees and keep records of their transactions, but that wasn’t enough for the Clinton administration: They wanted to drive as many of them out of business as possible.
To accomplish that, they raised the fee for a three-year FFL from $30 to $200 ($90 for a renewal), and they required FFLs to prove that they were following local zoning laws. This required them to apply for variances to run a business out of their home, which equated to notifying (and asking permission from) their neighbors to apply for an FFL. They also had to agree to allow ATF to inspect their business premises, which was often their home, 24/7.
Clinton’s scheme was a smashing success: The number of FFLs nationwide fell from 286,000 to 144,000 in just three years. But in addition to slashing their numbers, these FFL holders were also required to turn their records over to the ATF when they ceased business. ATF’s Tracing Center expanded capacity to mine this massive treasure trove of gun owner data.
My father was an FFL holder in the 1980s. Having lost his real estate agency after a heart attack, he turned to his lifelong love of firearms and hunting to make a living—primarily performing gunsmith work on bird guns in a small shed in back of the house. His extensive knowledge of guns led to his being hired by a local pawn shop to handle its firearms business, including being responsible for all record keeping—and dealing with the ATF. Back then, ATF was infamous for its incessant inspections, and for turning paperwork errors into criminal prosecutions. My father dreaded their visits.
Last year, I received word through family that a woman from ATF had called, wanting to talk to my father. She didn’t leave any details, so I was very curious when, after a couple attempts to return the call, she reached me in the office about 7 p.m. Mountain Time:
“Hi, you called inquiring about my father, Chance Turner.”Fortunately, information revealing what (Hillary Clinton) has in store for licensed gun dealers is plentiful—if you know where to look.
“Yes, is he available to speak to me?”
“Well, no, he passed away in 1987. Can I ask what this is in regard to?”
“Do you have access to his business records?”
“Oh no. My mother passed in 2010, and they weren’t in her things. I’m sure those are long gone. Can I ask again what this is about?”
“We just needed to talk to him about something.”
Pause. “Are you tracing a crime gun, and my dad’s name turned up?”
Another pause. “Well, any transaction he was involved in was more than 25 years ago. Sorry, I don’t think I can be of much help.”
I didn’t ask for details. We exchanged pleasantries and ended the call politely. She was just doing her job—which consisted of going back through the 25-year-old records of a pawn shop in a small town in northeastern Oklahoma, calling the descendants of a long-deceased FFL holder to see if they had any records that might help them solve a crime. After dinner.
I don’t see how this plan could possibly fail.
So this is the value of that treasure trove of records collected from the 142,000 FFL holders. How effective at solving crimes could it be? Visit ATF’s website and you can find spreadsheets listing the totals of traces, types, calibers, ages of possessors, etc.
But ATF tellingly does NOT list the number of homicides and other violent crimes solved by this bureaucracy. That’s because the percentage of violent offenders convicted due to evidence produced by all this activity is dismal. As Dad might have said, “Wood chips are flying, but no trees are falling.”
Can Hillary be indicted (figuratively) for the actions of Bill’s administration? For that, let’s let Hillary speak for herself: “There are a lot of ways for us to have constitutional, legal gun restrictions. My husband did. He passed the Brady Bill, and he eliminated assault weapons for 10 years. So we’re gonna take them on. We took them on in the ’90s. We’re gonna take them on again.”
Maybe Hillary is transparent, after all: Gun owners can sure see right through her.