ATF

ATF Promotes Fireworks Safety

It’s all fun and games until someone loses a finger… Then it’s just fun.

It’s that time of year again.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is urging people to celebrate a safe Independence Day when it comes to fireworks. Handling illegal fireworks can lead to severe injuries or even death.

We want everyone to be able to safely enjoy the upcoming holiday,” said St. Paul Field Division Special Agent in Charge Kurt Thielhorn. “Pay close attention to the fireworks you are purchasing. Make sure that they are consumer-grade fireworks from a reputable dealer, and because laws vary from city to city, state to state, be sure you are following state and local regulations.

ATF works with the Consumer Products Safety Commission to prevent trafficking of fireworks and illegal explosive devices, such as M-80s, M-100s, quarter sticks, cherry bombs and silver salutes, as they are commonly referred. While these devices are sometimes confused with fireworks, they are not lawful for use by non-licensed consumers.

When considering whether a firework is legal, a key thing to look for is generic or non-labeled packaging and/or poor quality construction,” Thielhorn continued. “Illegal explosive devices meet neither safety nor quality standards of legally manufactured consumer fireworks. Friction, heat, or impact can cause these devices to unintentionally explode.”

ATF and its partners are committed to preventing fireworks related tragedies and are on the lookout for criminal elements attempting to taint legitimate business activities of fireworks industry members. The public is urged to report the use or sale of illegal fireworks or explosive devices by calling the toll-free ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662). The illegal manufacture, sale, transfer, receipt or transportation of explosive devices can result in federal felony and misdemeanor charges.

More information on ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov. Also, seek out state laws and local government ordinances for further rules and regulations related to fireworks.

Chicago Man Faces Federal Charges for Shooting ATF Agent

Ernesto Godinez, 27, of Chicago, was charged in connection with the shooting of an ATF Agent engaged in his official duties. A federal criminal complaint charges him with assault of a Federal Officer with a dangerous and deadly weapon.

Godinez made an initial court appearance today before United States Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez, who ordered him detained until a detention hearing on Thursday, May 17th at 11:00 am.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Celinez Nunez, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; and Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Substantial assistance in the investigation of and search for Godinez was provided by the United States Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Illinois State Police, and several other local police departments.

The officials noted that the investigation continues.

“Violent assaults on law enforcement agents working to make the community safer will not be tolerated,” remarked U.S. Attorney Lausch. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to holding such offenders accountable, as are our local, state, and Federal law enforcement partners, whose tireless investigation to identify and locate the defendant after the shooting made this prosecution possible.”   Continue reading

Las Vegas Man Charged with Selling Hundreds of Firearms Without a License

Welcome to Las VegasA Las Vegas man who allegedly sold hundreds of firearms without a license, some of which were subsequently used in crimes, was charged in federal court today, announced U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada.

Sylvester Mitchell, 47, made his initial appearance in court before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen. He was charged by a federal criminal complaint with one count of dealing in firearms without a license. The charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison. A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, 2018.

As alleged in the criminal complaint that was unsealed today, Mitchell purchased approximately 438 firearms between January 2004 and November 2017. Of those firearms, approximately 42 were subsequently recovered and found to have been illegally possessed, used in a crime, or suspected to have been used in a crime. Those firearms were recovered in Southern California, Nevada, and Mexico. Two of the most recent recoveries were from homicide scenes in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the course of 2017, Mitchell purchased 199 firearms for a total cost of $58,942.

The complaint alleges that Mitchell, who did not have a license to sell firearms, placed several advertisements offering firearms for sale on Backpage.com. ATF records showed a pattern of Mitchell purchasing new firearms from Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) on a weekly basis and that he went to multiple FFLs on the same day. In some instances, he purchased firearms from FFLs and posted the firearms for sale on Backpage.com a few days or weeks later. It further alleges that between June 1, 2017 and September 14, 2017, law enforcement conducted multiple undercover firearms purchases from Mitchell based on his Backpage.com advertisements. Among the purchases was an AR-15 rifle.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that the defendant has committed a crime, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Burton is prosecuting the case.

DOJ Moves to Classify Bump Stocks as Machine Guns

Ruling would make tens of thousands of overnight felons, despite previous ruling that there is no legal means of regulating the firearm accessories.

Yesterday, AG Jeff Sessions issued the first step toward a new round of gun control through a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that would classify bumpstock-equipped firearms as NFA-regulated machine guns.

Although it has not yet been published in the Federal Register for the required public comment period (which will, inevitably, be disregarded by the administration), the text of the NPRM is available online.  Those interested can discuss the existing and proposed bumpstock legislation on the GunLink forums.

Sessions said, “today the Department of Justice is publishing for public comment a proposed rulemaking that would define ‘machinegun’ to include bump stock-type devices under federal law—effectively banning them. After the senseless attack in Las Vegas, this proposed rule is a critical step in our effort to reduce the threat of gun violence that is in keeping with the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress.”

The text of the relevant portions of the NPRM are shown below, from pages 53-55, along with images of those pages.

This NPRM shows a blatant disregard for Second Amendment protections, as well as a fundamental ignorance of how the devices work. Shortly after the NFA rules went into effect, attorneys for the United States argued before the Supreme Court that “The Second Amendment protects only the ownership of military-type weapons appropriate for use in an organized militia,” while (incorrectly) stating that a short-barreled shotgun does not meet that definition.

Further, the mechanism of how bumpstocks work DOES require one manipulation of the the trigger per shot fired. A user cannot simply pull the trigger and achieve continuous fire, as they would with a machine gun. Subsequent shots are achieved by manipulating the trigger with the support hand by pulling the trigger forward into the trigger finger instead of the traditional method of pulling the trigger rearward with the trigger finger.

Once this NPRM is published for public comment, it is important to file your comments to oppose this disturbing piece of legislation.

Relevant portions of the NPRM:    Continue reading

United States Attorney Annonces Charges Against More than Two Dozen Felons in Law Enforcement Surge to Reduce Violent Crime

Several Charged in a Conspiracy with Stealing Nearly One-Hundred Firearms from Licensed Dealers in Kentucky

United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman announced that the Louisville Federal Grand Jury returned 21 felony indictments charging 23 individuals this week with multiple counts, including firearms violations, possession and distribution of scheduled drugs as well as the filing of an additional criminal complaint of two Tennessee residents charged in a conspiracy of stealing nearly one-hundred firearms from dealers licensed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“These arrests are yet another significant deposit on our promise to reduce violence in this Commonwealth,” stated United States Attorney Coleman. “Working together with our law enforcement partners, we will not concede one block of our city to drug traffickers, gang members, or, as we demonstrated today, felons with firearms. Stay tuned.”

U.S. Attorney Coleman was joined in today’s announcement by the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Wine, ATF Special Agent in Charge Stuart Lowery, and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, who stood shoulder to shoulder with numerous prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office, in a committed effort and shared partnership to reduce violent crime. These charges were developed through an ongoing partnership of multiple law enforcement agencies to maximize penalties for the most violent repeat offenders.

This week, Kashma Floyd Dardy, Jr. of Nashville, Tennessee, and Marvin Dale Johnson, of Madison Tennessee, were charged with conspiring and stealing firearms from licensed dealers located in Bowling Green and Owensboro, Kentucky. Dardy was charged with the burglary of Wheeler’s Fastway Gun and Pawn located at 4848 Scottsville Road in Bowling Green. Johnson was charged with the burglary of Wheeler’s as well as another burglary of Whittaker Guns, LLC, located at 6980 West Louisville Lane in Owensboro. According to the affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, firearms stolen from the dealers were recovered from both defendants.   Continue reading

ATF, Rock County Sheriff Host Educational Seminar in Response to FFL Burglary Uptick

Our town has experienced a number of smash-and-grab, vehicle-through-the-front-of-the-store firearm burglaries over the past year or two, so it was interesting to see this being addressed in at least some places.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, hosted an educational seminar for federal firearms licensees on February 15, at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville, WI. The seminar was set up in response to the rash of gun store burglaries that recently occurred in southwest Wisconsin.

Despite gun shop counter-talk, there are no federal laws requiring FFLs to secure their firearms, ATF’s industry operations investigators recommend a variety of measures to reduce the number of gun store burglaries. Licensees received information on ideal methods for securing their inventories including installation of alarm systems and other physical security measures, as well as best practices in record keeping to ensure a good record of inventory is in place.

“Partnering with firearms dealers is critical in order to prevent thefts and keep our communities safe,” said Director of Industry Operations Hans Hummel, who is responsible for regulatory operations of ATF’s Saint Paul Field Division. “We want licensees to be aware that there are low-cost solutions that can be implemented. Many burglaries can be prevented with just a few safeguards in place.”   Continue reading

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