There's been some excitement over at SaysUncle's place. It seems one of his friends was raided by the BATFE. There was quite a bit of confusion on all sides, and as a result, it's useful to consider the sequence of events:
Scoot, the accused, breaks up with his ex.
The ex calls the police, telling them that Scoot has "machineguns".
The ATF get excited and conduct a raid. They forget to bring a search warrant, but get one a few hours later.
Searching the house, they don't find any machineguns.
They DO find lots of documentation about firearms, along with "assorted gun parts" and machine tools.
They don't find any machinegun parts, but they talk to Scoot's current girlfriend about how she "knows he was making machineguns, right?"
Finally, after all the dancing around, Scoot is apparantly charged with being a felon in possession.
We all know that being a felon in possession of a firearm is a big no-no, and that's the impression that will be left in most minds after reading this story... that is, that the BATFE is actively knocking on doors and searching homes looking for violent criminals in possession of firearms. Perhaps not quite door-to-door but not far off and only a tip away. Very scary for the violent criminals illegally possessing firearms.
But that's not what really happened.
What really happened was that someone was living their life, to all my knowledge peacefully, and because someone they married got angry, the government will now ruin their life.
The BATFE did not arrive because Scoot had committed a violent crime; nor because he was planning one; nor because he was enabling others to commit violent crimes. They showed up because an ex-wife wanted to ruin his life, and was willing to tell lies (or, at best, speak in ignorance) in order to accomplish her goal.
They showed up without a warrant -- probably just a few minutes after she said "machineguns". They couldn't wait even two hours to get a warrant before sticking their own fancy guns in Scoot's face on the word of an angry ex-wife.
When they didn't find machineguns, they went digging. They tried to accuse him of making machineguns, but apparantly couldn't make that stick either. Finally they settled on felon-in-possession; unfortunately that part of the story appears to be accurate. Scoot seems to be a convicted felon, a fact that a law enforcement officer should be able to determine readily enough. It seems likely to stick because it seems to be true... but it's important to remember that it was the last thing on the list.
I don't know the man, and I don't know if he could be trusted with a gun. I do know that this isn't about his criminal history, or any of his actions relating to firearms, or any real and immediate threat posed to public safety. It's about a failed relationship and a woman willing to hurt a man she once loved.
The government isn't anything more than a weapon in her hand.