Appropriate ATF action

Most of the time the gun blogs and the gun rights community screams “bloody murder” when the ATF is mentioned. Sometimes I believe such claims are literally true.

While I am of the opinion that the ATF should not exist that is not a political reality. But it may be possible their behavior can be changed such that the very worst behavior is reserved for those that are more deserving. True criminals that use firearms and explosives to harm others or destroy property should be punished and the ATF does have that task in it’s charter. Changing their behavior can come about by “whacking them about the head and shoulders with a stick” via legislative action and criticism in public opinion. I wholehearted support such action on many occasions.

But there are occasions where the ATF and Federal prosecutors treat a situation appropriately. And if you want someone or an organization to change their behavior it is just as important to use the “carrot” as the “stick”. If they know there is nothing they can do to “make us like them” there is no point in trying. And they are our servants so they do have some motivation for pleasing us.

This is one of those cases where they should be given a “carrot”:

A Belgrade man was sentenced in federal court in Helena Thursday to two years probation for failing to register a silencer on his rifle with federal authorities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Brandyn Dean Stanbary, 33, had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of willful failure to supply information, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a prepared statement. Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell also ordered Stanbary to pay a $25 fine.

Gun owners are required under the National Firearms Act to register silencers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, providing their name and address, along with the name of the manufacturer and serial number of the silencer, and pay a registration tax.

After they found the gun, Belgrade police contacted ATF, which verified that Stanbary did have a silencer and had not provided ATF with the required information.

Stanbary “later admitted that he willfully failed to supply the required information regarding his shortened rifle and silencer to the ATF,” according to the statement.

While I am of the opinion that firearm should no more be taxed that churches or free speech it is, still, the law as it currently stands. As such the guy did fail to abide by the law but apparently without intent to cause others any harm. He is guilty of a crime where the only victim is the U.S. government which didn’t receive it’s $200 in taxes for the suppressor. The legal costs, the probation and the $25 fine seem appropriate to me under the circumstances.

Thank you ATF and Federal judicial system for doing the right thing.

8 thoughts on “Appropriate ATF action

  1. Really? Enforcing a law that shouldn’t even exist is doing the right thing?

    Oh, and this is a felony, correct? So in addition to the sentence and fine, he’s now barred from owning firearms for the rest of his life. For a victimless crime.

    Doesn’t sound very appropriate to me.

  2. Repealing or even ignoring the law at this time is not a political reality. He owes the tax.

    No. It’s not a felony. It’s a misdemeanor. 26 USC 7203. Additional clues that it was a misdemeanor and not the enhance felony version of the same law are here.

    He is out his legal fees, many sleepless nights, the tax, his time, a $25 fine, and he is on probation.

  3. I can’t see that the right thing was done. Obeying illegitimate laws may be the practical thing to do, and it may keep one out of trouble, but enforcing such law is never the “right” thing. It may be a reality that the law will be enforced, but it is a reality that people kill other people, doesn’t make it right.

    I can’t argue against the pragmatism of obeying that law, but I cannot accept that illegitimate law enforced by an illegitimate agency is “right”.

  4. There are far too many laws that fit the definitions above to simply ignore or refuse to follow them.

    What about speed limits, parking restrictions, etc.?

    And from what I can find, there is no RIGHT to a suppressor, as much as most of us hope that there is!

    Because it attaches to a firearm, which we do have a RIGHT to, does not automatically envelop it in that same right. The laws on suppressors are stupid, and the “tax” is even stupider, but it remains the law. IF enough of us wanted it changed, it would happen.

  5. I was sort a cop (Forest Ranger) for a while and one thing I noticed in that time was that there are cops who really don’t much like being exposed to potential danger. They’d much rather confront a senior couple camping in the “wrong” place or a family with some “illegal” fireworks than the biker gang with a roaring bonfire, half-naked women, drugs and carrying firearms.

    I suspect that a lot of ATF agents (I know none) are in this group. Why risk confronting some potentially truly dangerous guys on some Muslim compound when you can attack a church or arrest some otherwise law-abiding guy who happens to own something some know-nothings in a legislature have declared “taboo?”

  6. “…And from what I can find, there is no RIGHT to a suppressor,…”

    You’re looking at the Constitution the wrong way… The document doesn’t grant people rights. It starts with the pre-supposition that ALL rights are inherent to the people.
    The question isn’t: “Do we have the right to a suppressor?”
    The question is: “Where has the government been granted the power to restrict them?”

  7. Good answers. I’m sure Joe’s point is that at least the AFT in this case is acting more like a legitimate tax authority than the jack-booted thugs they’ve been known to be in the past. He did start out saying they shouldn’t exist, after all. Sure beats attacking the residence in force and starting a shootout. So I guess we’ve made some “progress” (the sort of “progress” we hear about when some tin-horn, thuggish dictatorship only murdered a thousand people this years, when last year they murdered fifteen hundred). But it is progress of a sort. The danger of course is that if they’re going to start acting more civil, then they might end up sustaining their existence longer that would have otherwise. So long as don’t get overly complacent or tolerant toward them, we’ll be OK. Certainly it is worth knowing the bad apples from the not-so-bad apples within the bureau, when it comes time to prosecute.

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