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.


Top 10 Things To NOT Do If You Are Arrested

This post is excerpted from a post by attorney Justin McShane, of The McShane Law Firm. Attorney McShane was co-author of the 1st version of the book “Pennsylvania Gun Law – Armed And Educated”. 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.

1. Don’t Talk

Do not say a word to the officer. You have a right to remain silent – take advantage of it. The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to SHUT UP, so do so! I cannot stress to you the importance of this rule. Do not talk! Do not attempt to convince the officer of your innocence. Everyone is innocent, no one should be arrested and no one should be in jail and that is all the officer hears all day every day. He/she does not care generally whether you are innocent or guilty and there is nothing that he/she can do at this point. Most times, when people speak to officers they say something that makes their situation far worse. Keep your mouth shut; there will be plenty of time to talk later.

2. Don’t Run

I said above to listen to the officer and follow his/her instructions. If you run, the police can add additional charges such as fleeing and attempting to elude (if in a car) or resisting arrest or escape, if not. But if the case goes to trial, then the Government may be able to get a special Jury instruction which would be read to the Jury called “consciousness of guilt” whereby the Jury is told basically “guilty people run, innocent people don’t”. Also, police become highly suspicious that someone running has a weapon and may be quick to draw their weapon.

3. Never Resist Arrest

Perhaps the most important thing not to do is touch the police officer at all! Follow what the officer says. Fight your case, not the officer. You will lose a fight against an officer. Many people attempt to bump the officer or swat an officer’s hands away. This often becomes over-reported by the officer and the swatting becomes hitting which falls under the assault statutes and now a minor misdemeanor arrest becomes a FELONY.

4. Don’t Believe the Police – They LIE

It is perfectly legal for the police to lie to get you to make an admission. In fact they are trained to lie to you to get the confession. It is called the Reid Technique where you lie about having witnesses or video tape or fingerprints or DNA. The police frequently separate two friends and tell one the other one “ratted” him/her out (i.e., told on you). Because of the lie, the other friend now rats the first friend out. Police and detectives also state that “it will be easier” to talk now…LIES!!! DON’T BELIEVE THE LIES! It will only be easier for the police to prove their case!

5. No Searching

Do not allow the police to search anywhere! If the police officer asks, they do not have the right to search and must have your consent. If you are asked make sure you proclaim to any witnesses that “You (the police) do not have consent to search.” If they perform the search anyway, that evidence may be thrown out later. Also, if you consent to a search, the officers may find something that you had no idea you or someone else had placed there, i.e., marijuana left by a friend. The 4th Amendment gives you the right to no unreasonable search and seizures. If the police want to search your home or car, have your attorney tell them to get a search warrant.

6. Don’t Look At Places Where You Don’t Want Police to Search

Police are trained to watch you and react to you. They know that you are nervous and scared and many people look to the areas that they don’t want the police to search. Do not react to the search and do not answer any questions. LOOK DOWN AND KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!!!

7. Do Not Talk Smack to the Police

I don’t care if you have been wrongly arrested and the true culprit is standing in front of you. Don’t talk smack! Police hear all day that my dad is the Governor’s Assistant’s Intern and I will have your badge for this! Cops have a lot of discretion in the upcoming charges brought and how it all develops in the system. Police can add charges, change a misdemeanor to a felony, and will even talk to the prosecutor that is ultimately prosecuting you.

8. If Police Come to Your Home, Do not Let Them In and Do Not Step Outside Your Home

If the police are confident you have committed a felony, they are coming in anyway, because they generally don’t need an arrest warrant. Make it clear to the police by stating: “No you may not come in”, or “I am comfortable talking right here”, or “You need a search warrant to enter my home.” If they return, your attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself in should that be necessary and you will spend no time in jail between the hearings.

9. If You Are Outside Your Home and Arrested, Do Not Accept an Offer to Go Back In Your Home for Anything

The officer may say to you, how about you go inside and change, freshen up, talk to your wife, husband, get a jacket, or provide you with any other reason. The police will graciously escort you in and then tear your home apart searching through it. Also, do not let them secure your car. Your car is fine. Remember they are lying to you. They don’t give two hoots if you are really cold or if you need to talk to your wife or husband.

10. Don’t say a word

It’s incredible how many people feel that they can convince the officer, the booking officer or a detective (if your case reaches that stature) that they are not guilty. THESE PEOPLE DON’T MAKE THE DECISIONS. They have no affect on guilty or not guilty. Wait to speak to your lawyer! The courts and juries in particular give enormous weight to “confessions” during this stage. A suspect is almost NEVER released after being arrested.

Follow these ten simple rules religiously and many of your rights will remain intact after being arrested. I don’t care how nervous, scared, high or drunk you are, THESE RULES ARE VERY IMPORTANT, and will help you tremendously in the short and long run.

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