Metal store

Arizona gun store owner outraged by ATF agent photographing gun sales records with his phone

The owner of an Arizona gun shop wants to know why an ATF inspector, whom he filmed, took numerous photos of his sales on his personal phone.

Dave Nagel, owner of Black Metal Firearms, based in Mesa, Ariz., said Pamela Scott, an inspector of tobacco, firearms and explosives operations, conducted the suspicious review of his company’s records. business at the end of last year.

Ms Scott told him she had seen some mistakes he thought were minor and appeared to be finishing her review at some point, he said. But that’s when things went wrong.

Ms. Scott and her assistant began taking pictures of the store’s acquisition and dispensation (A&D) books. This is a detailed log of all guns sold at the store and the identity of the buyers.

Mr Nagel said the ATF’s actions were unusual because inspectors who visited his store in the past had never done so.

“We noticed she was taking pictures of everything,” Nagel told The Washington Times. “And once we started seeing her taking pictures of everything, we asked her what it was about.”

He recalls: “She said, ‘It’s part of my investigation.’ We said, ‘Looks like you’re doing a registry because you’re taking pictures of everybody’s name.’ »

Ms Scott denied she was doing this, Mr Nagel said. “That would be illegal,” she told him, referring to federal law prohibiting the ATF from creating and maintaining a database of U.S. civilian firearms possession.

He said on previous ATF visits, it was not unusual for the inspector to take photos of single pages if a specific entry was at issue.

“Previously, whenever there was a clerical error or something glaring, we noticed that they took a picture of the error,” Nagel said, calling such discrepancies “usually minor things. “.

“There’s a block that says ‘parish/borough/county’, and most people will write ‘USA’ because they see ‘country’ and not ‘county’,” he said. “So we have to get them to fix that. It’s little little things like that that add up to clerical errors. But over the course of 4,000 entries, it’s common to have an error or two here and there. And for documentation purposes, we thought nothing of it.

But he said this particular visit was very different.

“At that point, because we noticed she was copying every page of the book, and we started recording it,” he said. “They definitely had some sort of database system open at some point, but I don’t know if they were checking or coming in.”

According to Mr. Nagel, once the audit was completed in February, they looked at clerical errors and any issues that Ms. Scott had asked to be corrected.

“I’m not going to say we haven’t had clerical errors. We have corrected these clerical errors. Every mistake we had in there was corrected before he left,” he said.

According to Mr. Nagel, the only issue she was unwilling to give up involved two clients with active concealed carry permits who presented expired permits.

“And in the end she said she was going to revoke our license, so we went and got a lawyer to help us try to keep our license. And beyond that, it’s been a long wait,” he said. said Mr. Nagel, who had never failed an ATF inspection in his seven years in business.

“[Ms. Scott] is retired now, but we started hearing right after our audit how many other stores she visited, and almost everyone she met, she also revoked their license,” he said .

The ATF declined to comment on the inspection of Black Metal Firearms, whose video of the ATF’s examination has gone viral.

Mr. Nagel’s attorney, Derek Debus, said he had spoken to other federal firearms license holders in the area who had expressed concerns about the conduct of this particular investigator.

“She is somewhat known in the area as the Angel of Death. She is extremely picky with technical violations and will flag people for violations which will then be reversed,” Debus said. “She recommends dismissal in the vast majority of investigations. She is quite well known in the local community.

“We are unable to comment on a specific investigation or inspection; however, ATF’s inspection procedures are clearly explained in the industry operations manual,” said Erik Longnecker, an ATF spokesperson. “Copies may be retained where there is a legal basis, for example, when documenting violations.”

Mr. Debus retorted: “The only difference between what she did in this case and the routine infractions that ATF industry operations inspectors do is that she made herself take.

“It is known in the legal community that ATF inspectors engage in these types of practices only to speed things up and ensure that they can work from their desks rather than in the shop floor as they are supposed to. But it happens to have been caught on video,” he said.

According to the publication The Recharger.

“If a printout of the licensee’s inventory is used, the [inspector] will retain only pages or entries that document a violation,” the ATF manual said. “All other pages must be returned to Licensee. [Inspectors] are not permitted to remove a Licensee’s records (or copies of records) from the Licensed Premises solely for convenience or for other reasons lacking a legal basis. »

“If a printout of the licensee’s inventory is used, the [inspector] will retain only pages or entries that document a violation,” the ATF manual states.

Mr. Debus expressed concern about what happens to newspaper photographs.

“With these digital photographs being cataloged on his personal cellphone, not even his work cellphone which is the subject of public records and freedom of information requests – but his personal cellphone is extremely concerning. , because what information was taken? When, if ever, will it be returned?” He asked.