Arizona Gun Store Owner Outraged That ATF Agent Photographed Firearms Sales Records With Phone

An Arizona gun store owner wants to know why an ATF inspector, whom he captured on video, took numerous photos of his sales records on his personal phone.

Dave Nagel, owner of Mesa, Arizona-based Black Metal Firearms, says Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Industry Operations Inspector Pamela Scott conducted the suspicious examination of his company’s records on end of last year.

Ms. Scott told him that she saw some errors that he thought were minor and that he seemed to be finishing his review at one point, he said. But that’s when things went wrong.

Mrs. Scott and her assistant began taking pictures of the store’s Acquisitions and Dispensations (A&D) books. It is a detailed record of all weapons sold at the store and the identities of the purchasers.

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

“We realized that he was taking photos of everything,” Nagel told The Washington Times. “And once we started seeing her taking photos of everything, we asked her what it was about.”

He recalled: “She said, ‘It’s within the scope of my investigation.’ We said, ‘It looks like you’re making a record because you’re taking photos of everyone’s name.’”

Ms. Scott denied that she was doing this, Mr. Nagel said. “That would be illegal,” she told him, he said, referring to the federal law that prohibits the ATF from creating and maintaining a database of gun ownership by US civilians.

He said that on previous AFT visits, it was not unusual for the inspector to take photos of isolated pages if a specific entry was in question.

“Previously, whenever there was a clerical error or something noticeable, we found that they would take a photo of the error,” Nagel said, calling such discrepancies “usually minor things.”

“There’s a block that says ‘parish/district/county,’ and most people write ‘USA.’ because they see ‘country’ and not ‘county,’” she said. “So we have to get them to fix that. It’s 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 don’t think about any of that.”

But he said this particular visit was very different.

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

According to Mr. Nagel, after the audit was completed in February, they reviewed the clerical errors and all the issues that Ms. Scott had asked to be corrected.

“I am not going to say that we did not have administrative errors. We fix those administrative errors. All the bugs we had there were fixed before she left,” she said.

According to Mr. Nagel, the one issue he didn’t want to pass up was two customers with active concealed carry permits who submitted expired permits.

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

“[Ms. Scott] it’s retired now, but we started hearing right after our audit how many other stores you’ve visited, and almost everyone you’ve visited has also been having their license revoked,” he said.

The ATF declined to comment on the inspection of Black Metal Firearms, whose video of the ATF review went viral.

Nagel’s attorney, Derek Debus, said he has spoken with other federal firearms licensees in the region who have raised concerns about the conduct of that particular investigator.

“She is colloquially known in the area as the angel of death. She is extremely meticulous about technical violations and will report people for violations that are then reversed,” said Mr. Debus. “She recommends revocation in the vast majority of investigations. She is quite well known in the local community.”

“We cannot comment on any specific investigation or inspection; however, ATF inspection procedures are clearly explained in the Industry Operations Manual,” said Erik Longnecker, an ATF spokesman. “Copies may be withheld when there is a legal basis, for example, when violations are documented.”

Mr. Debus responded, “The only difference between what she did in this case and the routine rule breaking by ATF industry operations inspectors is that she got caught.”

“It’s been known in the legal community that ATF inspectors are doing this kind of thing just to speed things up and get them… to work from their office instead of in the shop like they’re supposed to. But it turned out it was caught on video,” he said.

The manual, which was obtained through a 2019 Freedom of Information Act Request by US gun owners, says inspectors can only take copies of a gun dealer’s documents from the facility. if they are used to document violations, according to The Recharge publication.

“If a hard copy of the license holder’s inventory is used, the [inspector] will retain only those pages or entries that document a violation,” the ATF manual says. “All other pages will be returned to the license holder. [Inspectors] are not authorized to remove a licensee’s records (or copies of records) from licensed facilities solely for convenience or other reasons that have no legal basis.”

“If a hard copy of the license holder’s inventory is used, the [inspector] will retain only those pages or entries that document a violation,” the ATF manual says.

Mr. Debus expressed concern about what happens to the photographs in the records.

“With these digital photos that are cataloged on your personal cell phone, not even your work cell phone which is subject to public records requests and Freedom of Information Act requests, but your personal cell phone is extremely concerning, because? what information was taken? When, if ever, is it going to be returned? she asked.

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