Why the police should not be allowed to investigate themselves

Recently, the ATF conducted an intimidation and harassment campaign against gun owners and prospective gun purchasers at several Virginia gun shows.  They had a very visible presence at the show, followed certain attendees around on the floor, illegally obtained the personal information of purchasers they found "suspicious" and used that information to conduct home visits, asking family members (and in some cases neighbors!) whether they "knew that so-and-so was at a gun show buying a gun".

You'll be reassured to know that the BATFE's assistant director of field operations, Michael Bouchard, has conducted an internal investigation and determined that "his agents broke no laws and violated no one's civil rights".  I know I'm comforted that "his boys" didn't do anything wrong:

"Our internal review has shown no evidence of misconduct or any concerns reflecting negatively on the integrity of our agents or our [other law enforcement agency] partners," Bouchard said.

"I listened to the allegations of racial profiling that were leveled against ATF and I can assure you they have no basis in fact," Bouchard said. "Our focus is on disrupting criminal activity without regard to the race [or] gender of those who appear to be engaged in unlawful acts."

Bouchard is probably not aware that civil rights can be violated without engaging in racial discrimination.  For example, gun ownership is a civil right.  But regardless, Bouchard's defense of his agents appears to be factually challenged:

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, numerous individuals claiming to be eye-witnesses or victims accused agents of targeting women, African-Americans and, in particular, African-American women for special scrutiny.

"If a woman showed up at my table, she was surrounded by law enforcement," said John White, a former law enforcement officer who now works as a gun dealer. "Every woman that makes a purchase, every woman who comes to my table to buy a gun was automatically [treated as] a 'straw purchaser.'"

Sure sounds like racial and sexual discrimination to me.  Go ahead, read the whole thing.  Freemarket News has another account, and points to an audio recording from JPFO.  A similar program in Pittsburgh has police knocking on doors a week after the show and requesting to see the purchased gun -- an illegal search if I've ever heard of one.

The full transcript of testimony from Annette Gelles, John White, and James Lalime is worth reading, too.  More details on the hearings are available from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

This entry was published Sun Mar 12 11:12:04 CST 2006 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2006-03-12 11:12:04.0. [Tweet]

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