Tell us all your AR-15 purchasers

Via email from Ry:


This is an interesting way to have your guns registered—the police just ask. What would the public response be if they were asking about Koran, “Heather Has Two Mommies”, or “Earth in the Balance” sales?

Update: Via Joe Waldron’s GOAL Post 2011-11:

Earlier this week most, if not all, firearms dealers in Washington received a letter from the Washington State Patrol asking for data on ALL AR-15s (and clones) and AR-15 lower receivers sold or purchased by the dealers over the past nine months. The information sought was reportedly requested pursuant to an investigation of a stolen AR-15.

Apparently the ATF (who has jurisdiction over tracing stolen firearms) was not consulted by the WSP before they initiated their query. It would appear the WSP request FAR EXCEEDED their authority to seek such information. It typically would take a subpoena to gain access to such a broad sweep of transaction records. And that would have to be signed by a judge, after presentation of sufficient probable cause.

It is my understanding most dealers politely declined to comply, as was their right. The Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation jumped right into this issue. Meanwhile, in addition to ATF asking questions (of the WSP), several state legislators want to know what’s going on.

BATFE has broad legal authority to examine firearm dealers’ records.

Local law enforcement has much more limited authority in cases like this. I suspect this was simple overreach by an over-zealous and perhaps inexperienced WSP detective. At least I hope that’s what it was. Eternal vigilance remains the price of liberty!


21 thoughts on “Tell us all your AR-15 purchasers

  1. So uh, can’t the detective just ask if you have sold an AR-15 made by X company with a X length barrel and xxxx serial number? He wants all AR-15 sales?

    Its like he’s not even trying to cover up his blatant attempt to record purchases.

  2. There are several things that get to me about this letter.

    First of all, the only serial numbered part is the lower. If the person with the missing rifle knew what the serial number was, the police could do their job in a much less intrusive way by asking FFL’s if they’ve seen that s/n, and asking them (preferably nicely) to check their records over an appropriate timeframe. I’m sure most would be happy to comply.

    Without that information, it is really not helpful at all–there are too many guns changing hands all over the state.
    For that matter, the gun in question could easily have been disposed of at a dealer in pretty much any state in the U.S., or to a private party without any kind of paperwork. And timeframe is pretty critical–letting too much time elapse increases the odds of the bad guy being able to claim, with little chance of rebuttal, “I had no idea, I bought it from some dude I met at the gun club & got a sweet deal.” For that matter, it could well be true. A lot can happen in 8 months. Unless they have information that leads them to suspect that it is within a given geographic area (in which case, why send it out to the entire state? Talk about a dragnet…), they will just get a massive list of names. Those names will be of no help to anyone for crime-solving purposes unless they already have a list of likely suspects, in which case it might be better to ask “has anyone from this list bought or sold an AR-15 in such-and-such timeframe?”

    I hesitate to find an ulterior motive here–I think it’s more likely a case of shoddy lazy police work. But I don’t entirely trust the WSP either–they have brought in a bunch of people on more or less bogus gun charges in the past, and have proven to be rather firearm unfriendly. Let’s just say it will be interesting to see what kind of legislative proposals come out of Olympia in the next few months…

  3. I also wonder what they have in mind for those who tell them where to stick it. Could they be testing the waters for something?

  4. She seems to like this general method — see this report about a hit & run with a left-behind car bumper as The Clue.

    She was an investigator into some pretty awful corruption at McNeil Island prison.

    This really seems like “come back with a subpoena” stuff — does the State of Washington license gun stores? If so, there’s something of an implied threat in this.

  5. It is called a “fishing expedition,” and for good reason. You can deny the IRS permission to conduct a fishing expedition. You certainly should be able to deny a Washington State policeman the same permission.

    If “Captain Micheal Dahl” actually wrote this, he should know enough about the law to know at least that much. However, given the information on Google, “Sgts pay,” and other things Google turns up, I doubt the legitimacy of the order.


  6. Meh. It’s not a warrant. It’d take a one way trip into the shredder.

  7. Don’t the police have better things to do than harass law abiding citizens?




    No they really don’t.

  8. Considering that the letter has no notary stamp on it, it “certifies” nothing; and considering that it is neither a warrant nor a subpoena, my response (if I gave one at all) would probably have the words “piss” and “off” somewhere in it…

  9. Dealing with WSP, is just like dealing with most stuff in the state of Washington, East vs West. I doubt I would ever see a letter like that here out of the Spokane office for numerous reasons.

    -The only people that might do it live in Spokane, and those who would aren’t in the business of selling firearms anyway.

    -The people outside Spokane would roll in pissed off wanting the officer canned.

    -The WSP officers I’ve dealt with in Spokane have all been gun friendly when I’ve had to deal with them. (Ask me in person sometime if you want to know how friendly).

    This happened in the Peoples Republic of Puget Sound, and is one of the many reasons I packed up and moved East. Yeah there’s a couple douche bags in every office, out here though they tend to not mess with gun owners.

    If I was the shop owner, the response would have Foxtrot Oscar somewhere within. If the shop did turn the information over I would most certainly never do business there again and would ensure everyone I knew would not go there as well.

  10. Is “F.O.A.D.” an acceptable response?

    I want to get a rubber stamp of the above made, for just such occasions.

  11. Frustrating to have to fight every little government bureaucrat over citizens rights vs police power all the time. These folks are SUPPOSED to be protecting citizens rights. Fire ’em.

  12. Frustrating to have to fight every little government bureaucrat over citizens rights vs police power all the time. These folks are SUPPOSED to be protecting citizens rights. Fire ’em.

  13. If they don’t have a serial # and manufacturer, then then can’t run a trace. If they don’t have a serial # and manufacturer, then can can’t recover a “stolen” weapon. If they don’t have a serial # and manufacturer then there is no stolen weapon.

    This appears to be the shoddiest, most inept form of police work…or maybe they are jus’ tryin’ to prove Cletus bought an AR when he sez he dint cuz someone saw Cletus with an AR and he claims it wuz jus’ an umbrella..

    BTW, my last trace request was a total FUBAR because a LEO in MS wrote down the wrong serial number in their records and then couldn’t find the firearm when he did inventory and reported it stolen and then accused my customer of receiving a stolen firearm.

  14. This isn’t about a stolen AR-15. This is either an inexperienced Detective trying to be cool and impress his way on a task force/gain favor of a supervisor, or “someone somewhere told someone that someone that is a felon” purchased an AR15, and the local police are trying to get to the bottom of it. This is CLEARLY an anti-gun LEO that thinks he is smarter than the gun toting working class. I’m all about using lying as a tool to illicit information, but if you’re going to do it…learn your f***ing tradecraft, man!

  15. Given the name at the upper left of the letter head (and what an appropriate placement, from what this Southerner can gather), I’d have to at least wonder. It seems difficult to believe one could make detective or captain with such a poor grasp of the law.

  16. I emailed my state reps and senator about this and received this response:

    Here is the response from WSP. I will request that any information gathered will not be kept in a data base anywhere.

    Senator Jerome Delvin
    8th Legislative District

    —–Original Message—–
    From: ***** [mailto:*****]
    Sent: Monday, March 21, 2011 12:34 PM
    To: Klippert, Rep. Brad; Delvin, Sen. Jerome
    Subject: Re: Constituent: Overly broad police request tantamount to gun registration

    Rep. Klippert/Senator Delvin,

    This was a request to dealers as an investigatory technique for this one case. We were merely requesting cooperation for this information on locating a stolen AR15. (I agree that wasn’t as clear as it could have been, I apologize for that).

    Recipients are under no obligation to send anything. We are simply asking.

    Please assure your constituent there is no intent behind this request other than to solve this very concerning case.

    Please let me know if you’d like more.

  17. Good on you(as my Aussie friends say), Jason for writing to your local Rep. That is what I do and it gets results.

    When I worked in radio for a very short time. I learned that every call you would get was proof that 2000 people were listening. How that number came about I don’t know. But I have always felt that our politicians react the same way. This one letter definitely represents a couple of thousand (depends on where you live) people who are really pissed/happy.

  18. What an appalling story! What day & age do we live in? Who is John Galt?

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