Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice on this matter, retain a licensed, competent attorney in your relevant jurisdiction.

On July 20, 2022 two ATF agents and a Delaware State Trooper showed up at the front door of a Delaware man with the intent of conducting a surprise inspection of the homeowner’s firearms. The homeowner’s Ring doorbell camera captured the entire event. Click on the video link below to watch the incident unfold.

I am pissed off and you should be too that this was allowed to occur. Were the agents belligerent to the homeowner? No. They were cordial to the homeowner. Were they intimidating to the homeowner? Hell yes! All three were wearing body armor and sidearms. The primary agent conversed with the homeowner, while the other agent and state trooper stayed back and kept their distance.

(A sidebar to this incident is that a Washington Post reporter attempted to interview the ATF district office and the Delaware State Police headquarters and neither group provided comment.)

Here is where I have an issue with what they did.

First, they show up unannounced. Fine. Not one, but three agents, showed up unannounced wearing body armor and sidearms. What is the probability that knocking unannounced will have the homeowner answer the door with a personal firearm in his hand for which they need body armor protection? Pretty low. Why three agents? If you are only conducting a cordial conversation, why three agents? Wouldn’t one agent have sufficed? This is purely for intimidation. In fact, in a post-incident interview, the homeowner said he felt threatened and did not know what do to. (More on that later.)

Second, they have a list of his guns on a piece of paper, seven guns total. Where did they get that list? There is not supposed to be a government gun list. It is true that if multiple guns are purchased at one time, which is considered within a single 24-hour period, that does trigger additional paperwork, known as Form 3310, for FFLs (like me). A copy of Form 3310 must be sent to the ATF and another copy must be sent to law enforcement, whoever has law enforcement jurisdiction where the purchaser lives. But did this homeowner purchase all seven guns at one time? Probably not, because then he would have to answer to an even more intimating governing body than the ATF…his wife!

Third, they are conducting a search for straw purchases, a purchase of a firearm by someone legally entitled to purchase firearms for someone who is not legally entitled to purchase firearms. So, what if he doesn’t have all seven guns in his home at that moment of the surprise inspection? What if one of the guns is stowed on his boat moored in a slip at one of Delaware’s many beach towns? What if one of his guns is in his wife’s purse and she is running an errand? The point is that by pointing to guns listed on a sheet of paper is not going to determine if this homeowner was a straw purchaser. But in addition to that, straw purchases are more prevalent in the hood, where higher percentages of citizens live who are not legally entitled to own guns. Don’t give me any of that “I’m being racist shit”! Facts are facts! Take a look at the neighborhood background of this video. Does it look like this guy lives in the hood? No, he lives in what appears to be a nice suburban neighborhood.

Fourth, and most importantly, they completely violated his 4th Amendment rights to no unreasonable search and seizures by asking if they can see his gun. They showed up unannounced, wearing sidearms and body armor WITHOUT a warrant. If they were really seeking out straw purchases, they would have showed up with a warrant. Instead, they attempted casual conversation in an attempt to get him to disclose information about his guns without triggering 4th Amendment protections and their need for a warrant. He was too intimidated to even think of calling his attorney. He felt threatened. Some legal eagle out there may argue that no 4th Amendment violation occurred because the primary agent and the homeowner were having a casual conversation, known as a “knock and talk”, and as such the homeowner was not afforded any 4th Amendment protection. I say bullshit! If three agents wearing sidearms and body armor knocked on your door, would you believe that that the ensuing conversation is going to be just casual? No. If three agents show up at my door wearing body armor and sidearms, I expect the conversation to be hostile and for me to be placed in handcuffs the moment I set foot out the door. Had he known the law, he would have told them to fuck off and come back with a warrant.

And this brings me to the point about this blog. Everyday, law-abiding gun owners get taken to the proverbial cleaners by the justice system, particularly with the Biden administration’s pit bulls in the DOJ, FBI and ATF. The justice system takes advantage of these people because they do not know the law and their rights. If you are a gun owner, You NEED to know your rights, and execute those rights when appropriate. So, here are the Amendments which more aptly benefit law-abiding gun owners:

4th Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment, protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. The Fourth Amendment, however, is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law. The Fourth Amendment indicates a warrant is needed to search persons and property. These three agents had no probable cause or they would have had a warrant. They only had serial numbers of seven guns on a piece of paper.

5th Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Fifth Amendment creates a number of rights relevant to both criminal and civil legal proceedings. In criminal cases (which is how you will be charged if you use your gun in self-defense), the Fifth Amendment guarantees the right to a grand jury, forbids “double jeopardy” and protects against self-incrimination. This is your right to “SHUT UP”! So do so. If you are ever arrested for using your gun in self-defense, STFU! and let your attorney do your talking for you. In this situation and countless like it, agents and LEOs deliberately speak casually so as not to trigger a defendant’s defense mechanism of self-incrimination. This primary agent spoke conversationally and even suggested they have a job to do so as to get the homeowner to offer up information.

6th Amendment

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, the right to face your accusers, and the nature of the charges and evidence against you. This is your right to lawyer up! Learn it and do so. If you are ever arrested for using your gun in self-defense, tell the investigators that you want to cooperate fully but not without an attorney. In other words…lawyer up.

So, bottom line, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS and use them! Stop burying your head in the sand. Remember, if you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any.