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I get home last night and my wife tells me, "You have a message on the machine from a Special Agent from the ATF." At first I think she's kidding around, but sure enough there was. I return his call and he is tracking down the chain of ownership of a Beretta 96 I bought April 2002. I advised him that I didn't have the records at home, but am 99.99% sure I'll have some info at my office. He said the weapon had been confiscated at the border in Texas. I told him I'd check my records first thing in the morning and give him a call.

Got to work and called him first thing this morning. I had the info of the person I sold it to & FFL to whom it was shipped. I gave him FFL's pertinent info and what contact info I had for the buyer. He asked me the typical way I sell items. I advised typically through Gunbroker and occasionally via various forums. He was very polite, professional, and thanked me for the information. He asked if he could call back if he needed any clarification or correction of the info I provided. I told him that would be no problem.

I'd imagine most everyone keeps records of their sales, but this is why you should if you do not! Even within my state(SC), a private transaction of SC residents does not require an FFL to do the transfer. Of the occasional time I've sold something within SC, I still get a signed bill-of-sale and copies of their drivers license. Thus far this is the first time I've had something come up in all the years I've bought and sold firearms.

CSTripp
 

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Just a reminder - EVERY word you uttered to the agent can be used against you, regardless of your intent. (Martha Stewart went to jail for saying something NOT UNDER OATH to a LEO which in itself was not strictly a legal matter). My advice - if you choose to co-operate, keep your statements short, to the point and carefully worded. Some (important) people I know now won't say ANYTHING to a LEO without a lawyer involved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
kansas_plainsman said:
Just a reminder - EVERY word you uttered to the agent can be used against you, regardless of your intent. (Martha Stewart went to jail for saying something NOT UNDER OATH to a LEO which in itself was not strictly a legal matter). My advice - if you choose to co-operate, keep your statements short, to the point and carefully worded. Some (important) people I know now won't say ANYTHING to a LEO without a lawyer involved.
I believe I did just that.
 

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No, CS, you didn't. I know you were just giving him basic information, but they WILL take the path of least resistance, and if anything you told them can be made to fit some scenario they have, then you could have already told them too much.

Kansas Plainsman is right. And I'll go further.....if they contact you again, you need to seriously consider retaining an attorney and only speak to the agent through your lawyer. You've just got to be careful what you say to any agent, federal, city, state, or otherwise.
 

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I moved this thread up from Firearm Sales as I thought it should have more attention that it'd probably get down there.

Steelheart
 

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This is at least the second thread here that advocates an attorney for ANY discussion of ANY sort with the Police. So far, we've had a self-serving tape provided by an attorney as proof. How about some examples of case law, not hearsay? BATFE has the right, under law, to trace firearms found in the possession of felons, or confiscated under law. Refusing to provide that basic information in a timely manner, and an automatic interposing of an attorney will certainly keep you "out of trouble" for the specific questions. However, it will cost you money every time, and surely infer upon you a heightened level of suspiscion from the authority asking the question. Do you want BATFE sniffing around your ev ery move, or the IRS or the local police? "Lawyering up" on every occaision is going to guarantee that. A certain amount of common sense will save you much more money, and scrutiny. Then again, a mis-step from your lawyer can land you in much worse trouble than anything that you could stumble into, with zero recourse.
 

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Everyone needs to do what they feel is "the right thing." Under the circumstances of the sale as outlined by CSTripp, I would answer the agent's questions. But, the others have made valid points. For those so inclined, I would think a letter of immunity from prosecution would serve both masters -- protecting yourself and assisting the BATFE in nabbing a BG.
 

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CSTripp... I think you did everything right~Receipts~Correspondence~FFL transfer~Retained sales info in a safe place~Your clear of that Firearm...<:)) Its a good reminder to the rest of us to get that Bill-Of-Sale, and store it away for a LONG Time...!!! Your A$$ was covered Tripp... Good Job...<:))
I myself keep a File Folder in the Safe of Total History on each of My GUNS...
 

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I think CSTripp did the correct thing when he spoke with the BATFE agent. Based on his initial entry he provided the information requested and answered some basic questions. Given the resources of the BATFE the agent would have been able to find much of this on his own. CST cooperated and now the agent can follow the trail downstream. This level of cooperation with authorities is necessary for society to exist and is required by law. The only thing he would have accomplished by lawyering up would have been increased scrutiny from the agent. Nothing makes a cop more suspicious than a person requesting legal counsel for such a simple request. It immediately makes them think you have something to hide, and since they had his name and number they had a place to start looking. If he didn't find anything he could call his buddy at the IRS and have them start nosing around, etc, etc.

While forums are a good place to exchange information they have issues. Nothing occurs in real time and we get no immediate feedback to what we write. Some of us interpreted his actions as reasonable cooperation with authorities while others read a confession to illegal arms deals. The long and short of it is he avoided a world of trouble by giving the BATFE somewhere else to look for the BG at the cost of some time and a phone call. The agent is grateful for an interaction with John Q. Public that didn't give him an ulcer and he's that much closer to finding the guilty party and being able to close the case.
 

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Examine how Martha Stewart was handled. At the time I was 'up' on what she told an LEO; at the moment all I can remember is that it was not under oath, and was not particularly material to a crime - even so she was jailed for the specific charge of 'lying' to an LEO. You may not like Stewart (I don't) but it was clear that her incorrect response could have been a simple lapse of memory and/or a misunderstanding.

Now it's true that celebs get special treatment both for the better and sometimes for the worse - but it's an example of how far away from 'the policeman is your friend' we've come these days. Sad. I grew up believing that the vast majority of officers are trustworthy - now you have to worry not only about the good intentions of the officer standing in front of you, but the officer's supervisor who might have other ideas.
 

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Sorry guys, I just don't agree. "Lawyering up" is something that the media and police make sound like you're hiding something, when you are just exercising your valid, legal right to representation. The agent is approaching you and you have absolutely no idea what he is after or what his agenda is, you only have what he has told you, which can be true or misleading.....remember, they don't have to be honest and up front with you, and if you're the target of their investigation, they most likely won't be, at least at first.

JR, I think your scenario is backward at best - if anybody is going to screw up what they say to the feds, it's the person being interviewed, NOT your attorney. It's very plain that we, as people, do way too much talking and elaborating when in this kind of situation, just like in the aftermath of a shooting. Do you have anything to hide in that situation? No, you don't, but if you are smart, you respectfully tell the agent/officer that you will need to have your lawyer present before you give him anything more than your name, address, and your drivers license/CHL permit. Otherwise, you could end up doing some amount of time behind bars for something you didn't do - just like in this case.

Just my opinion.
 

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First off this was not the aftermath of a shooting, it was a handgun recovered hundreds of miles from where he lives. The agent had his name, had his telephone number and knew he possessed the weapon at some point in time. Now, let's shake this down. The agent wants to know how the weapon got from A to B. He knows CSTripp possessed it sometime after it was manufactured but before it was recovered, that's where the trail ends. He calls CSTripp and asks his questions. CSTripp opts not to talk to the agent and instead refers him to his lawyer. Now the agent's investigation has reached a standstill and his only recourse is to investigate CSTripp to try to find the answers the hard way. Assuming, like you are, the agent is just trying to bust CSTripp in the first place do you think he'd have a problem massaging evidence and going to a judge? With the judges we have today do you think he'd have to massage the evidence before going to the judge? Then, like the Grateful Dead sing, "You got a warrant, I guess your gonna come in." Even if the agent isn't as crooked as a dog's hind leg the trail ends at CSTripp's doorstep. I'll say it again he took the only action that makes sense. Give the agent what he asked for so he goes looking elsewhere.
 

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Well the milk's done spilled about it now so what have we all learned? This is one of those tough questions and I don't think there is any right or wrong answer to this. Do you cooperate with the police on this matter or don't you? Here's what I would have done: After the agent contacted me and I honestly told them I didn't have the information on me but I would call him back after I find my files, I would be on the phone with my attorney and ask him if it's okay if I give that information to the agent. Especially if you did a legal sale through an FFL, and honestly if you went through an FFL that FFL should have done a nics check and it's already flagged as the next owner. He was probably just confirming that at one time you owned the gun. So Basically he was giving you a pop quiz to see if you were shady or not. If the attorney says it okay to give him some information, then go ahead and do it. You can even have him there coaching you, and he can give you a signal that it's time to end the call. At no time he can deny you a right to an attorney, and since you did nothing wrong, the sale was legal, there is not much they can hammer you with. I don't know if the attorney has to announce his presence or not that's for an attorney to answer, but what the agent doesn't know can't hurt him on the other end of the phone line. Personally I believe some of us here are a little paranoid when it comes to the ATF, some of it not without merit. But I think the tin foil hats started to leach something into our brains here, and we to introduce some introduce a little common sense or a close approximation of it.
 

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While the average person may be induced to say something by a nefarious LEO, unless the attornet that you engage is proficient in the field involved, there's no guarantee that his advice will be correct. How many of us actually find attorney's who are cognizant of local, state, and federal gun laws? Who are also successful criminal attorneys? Not many. Face it, your local attorney isn't likely to be any more versed in gun law than you. Should he give you less than stellar advice, the court will not reverse itself unless the advice was given with malice.

Recent case, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Subject was stopped by an Anne Arundel County Police Officer for traffic. When asked if he had a gun in the car, his reply was in the affirmative. Upon inspection of the VOLUNTEERED gun, a shotgun, the officer determined to his satisfaction that it was a "sawed-off shotgun" with a barrel of less than 18". Gun was seized, person was arrested. Attorney called and case taken. In court, the attorney chose to attack the manner in which the weapon was seized, and stated that the weapon was factory manufactured with that length barrel (Maverick Arms), and that the factory was responsible for it's legality. Cop measure the barrel in front of the court, and came up with 18". The man was found guilty, the weapon was destroyed, and a fine and suspended jail time were awarded.

The father came to me about the judgement. I was able to provide him with a copy of the law, which states that shotgun barrels may not be shorter than 18", without licensing as an SBR. That was 18", the length that the AA Co. cop measured in the court-room. I also provided the appropriate method, as used by BATFE, to determine barrel length of a shotgun. The AA co cop hadn't used that measure, and was over 1/2" too short.

This was a "criminal attorney", who advised the people that he was conversant in gun law litigation and representation. Yet, he never challenged the method used to determine the actual length of the factory-manufactured barrel, nor the fact that the measurement reached, even done incorrectly, violated no state, local, or federal law. He also advised the father to "let it be", as an appeal "wouldn't change anything".

My point stands. Unless you have chosen an attorney practiced in gun laws, and successful in that practice, you may as well rely on the plumber.

I am a Court-certified expert witness for the federal courts on firearms. I actually get to SEE just how attorneys "understand" gun law, and the regulations involving firearms. It's not a pretty picture.

Again, if you wish to retain an attorney to advise you on gun-related topics, be sure to have deep pockets, or an abiding love for your fellow man (or cell-mate). :D :D
 

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The key is if you are set on retaining an attorney make sure he/she is extremely well-versed on firearms laws. The simple way to do this is to contact either a CCW permit instructor or NRA firearms instructor. They will know an attorney that can handle such a situation properly. You can also contact the NRA directly and they will point you in the right direction.
 

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infidel.... hit it right, the way our system works is to our benefit, as long as a good, sound, legitimate answer is forthcoming you are just a step in the investigation, not the center of the investigation. don't give the dem's a reason to further regulate gun control, we got a pretty good system, lets not give them a reason to change it.
 

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I know this is getting stale and that so many are getting ball-shy with beaurocratic games but JR is, as most of you are at different levels, right on much of this I think. Support and work with law enforcement unless and until you question and/or are concerned about something you have or haven't done. And feel free to really doubt yourself, but when you are truly confident, be a good citizen immediately. Otherwise you should seek expert advice and address any issues ASAP; you are STILL being a good citizen. And, frankly, most attorneys are not expert enough to counsel and represent you in such matters competently. At best these will recognize and admit it (but you should dig), they may just study while they hit you with billable-hours as YOU coach THEM, and at the other end of the spectrum they may misrepresent you whilst they antagonize officials in your good name.

Another source btw is your NRA state affiliate organization, i.e. "YourState" Rifle & Pistol Ass'n -- chances are they have a newsletter and a couple of gun-oriented lawyers advertising there...

Alden
 

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I can almost guarantee you that if you ask the NRA affiliate office what you should do, they would tell you probably without hesitation to retain an attorney.

I definitely see the point of just giving them information, especially if you are just being asked information that leads them to a real problem. But you very likely would not know absolutely for sure if you were being asked to help, or if you were their focus. Just be careful if this ever happens to you.
 
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