WASHINGTON, D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- According to an ATF document leaked to AmmoLand News, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) can legally obtain information from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for civil or criminal enforcement.
The monitoring of NICS isn’t for prohibited people. It is for monitoring people that are not prohibited from buying a firearm, but the ATF suspects MIGHT be committing a crime in the future. Someone buying too many guns in the ATF’s or FBI’s eyes could be placed on the list. The person being monitored will NOT be notified of the surveillance. The object of the monitoring is to “catch people who are committing straw purchases or similar crimes.”
According to 28CFR 25.9, NICS keeps some records from a transaction for ten years. This information includes the date/time of the sale and the FFL information. The FBI destroys personal information from those still open requests (no denied/approved) within 90 days. Our sources inside the FBI report the data is deleted on day 88. If the sale is approved, the information will be destroyed within 24 hours of the NICS request being returned. The FBI will keep the records of a denied sale forever. The ATF is notified of every denied sale, and those records are kept in the ATF NICS Referral (ANR) database for the ATF to follow up.
The ATF employee that initiates a NICS Audit Log Request must list all legal violations they suspect the target is committing. They also must provide “detailed information about why” the suspect is under investigation. Even though the form is not an affidavit, the ATF employee must write it like they are writing an affidavit. The requestor must email the form to the ATF NICS Representative.
The ATF NICS Representative will review the request and decide to approve or deny the monitoring of NICS information on the target. They will then forward the information to the NICS Section Liaison Specialist, whose only job is to forward the request to the NICS Legal Analysis Team (LAT) for review.
The LAT will approve the request and set up the monitoring/surveillance on the citizen.
The document says the requestor can be a “Special Agent, Industry Operations Investigator (IOI), Intelligence Research Specialist, Intelligence Analyst, etc.” The NICS monitoring is only supposed to be used for civil or criminal enforcement. IOIs are strictly prohibited from doing either enforcement activity. They are not on the law enforcement side of the ATF. They are on the industry side of the agency. If an IOI suspects a criminal or civil violation, the investigator is supposed to fill out a “Suspicious Activities Report.”
The IOI will then notify the ATF’s Gun Crime Intelligence Center or state or local law enforcement. The IOI does not investigate crimes. It is unclear why they would need NICS monitoring capabilities as that falls outside anything that they would need to complete their job. The ATF is strictly prohibited from using the annual inspection as a cover for a criminal or civil investigation.
The job of the IOIs is to make sure all the FFL’s paperwork is in order and to answer any questions they may have for the ATF. The IOIs being listed as an authorized requestor group could signify that some in the ATF do not realize that the ATF is made up of a regulatory side and a law enforcement division. It also could be an oversight of the person writing the document.
Gun Owners of America has been given the document and is filing a freedom of information act (FOIA) to get more information about those being monitored by the ATF through NICS.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.
Leaked Document Shows ATF Spying on Gun Buyers Through NICS is written by John Crump for www.ammoland.com