In a republic, accountability is indispensable. In a dictatorship, it is impermissible.
Ryan Horsley of Twin Falls, Idaho can testify from first-hand experience that the Regime ruling us is seeking to criminalize citizen efforts to hold its agents accountable for their misconduct.
Mr. Horsley is manager of Red's Trading Post in Twin Falls, the Gem State's oldest gun store. The family-owned business is in good repute with both customers and local law enforcement agencies: Horsley pointed out to Pro Libertate that "Our clients include police officers both locally and from around the state. And we're on very good terms with [Twin Falls County] Sheriff [Wayne] Tousley."
Despite the fact that he's not an anti-government radical -- he is chairman of the local planning and zoning board, and sits on the local draft board, as well -- Horsley seems to be an upstanding and respectable person who is making an honest living providing a genuinely indispensable public service: Putting firearms in the hands of the citizenry.
A year ago the squalid extortion ring called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- a branch of the Leviathan that exists without so much of an echo of a whisper of a hint of constitutional legitimacy, for the sole purpose of providing secure, albeit socially useless, employment for reprobates, criminals, and degenerates -- attempted to shut down Red's. Claiming that the store had committed numerous "willful" violations of federal paperwork regulations, the ATF revoked the store's federal firearms license.
This tactic has been used by the ATF to drive tens of thousands of federally licensed firearms dealers out of business, most of them succumbing to the financial pressures of battling tax-funded bureaucratic parasites. The same method was used to shut down another gun dealer in Twin Falls.
Ryan Horsley and his mother, Terry, outside their-family owned gun shop in Twin Falls, Idaho.
But Horsley -- a telegenic, articulate, and determined individual -- decided to fight back, both in court and through a direct outreach to the public. Accordingly, he created a very well-stocked and accessible blog to publicize the plight of his business, networked with like-minded activists, and sued the ATF. He secured a preliminary injunction in March 2007 from federal Judge Edward Lodge that permitted his store to continue operating until the case came to trial.
The two-day trial took place on March 4-5, and testimony confirmed what honest observers of the case had long known: The "willful" paperwork violations committed by Horsley and his associates were ridiculously trivial. For example, ATF inspector John Hansen gravely testified that of 970 sales records reviewed by the ATF at Red's, some 150 had errors. On cross-examination, Hansen grudgingly admitted that most of those "errors" consisted of "would-be gun purchasers putting a `Y' or an `N' to indicate yes or no answers to a required questionnaire," according to an Idaho Statesman account.
Once again: This supposed infraction accounts for "most" of the paperwork errors found by the ATF, and on this basis the agency affected to find the business in "willful" violation of federal firearms laws.
The agency claims that inspectors found 10 firearms sold by Red's for which no proper accounting had been made. Bear in mind, however, that Judge Lodge, in granting Horsley's injunction, made a finding of fact that the ATF had practiced exceptionally shoddy bookkeeping. Lodge also ruled that allowing the shop to remain open posed no danger to the public. It's doubtful that a federal judge would have made such a ruling had any plausible evidence existed that it had displayed culpable negligence in permitting firearms to fall into the hands of the criminal element (apart, that is, from government employees who purchased weapons there).
The ATF has been conducting its jihad against Red's since 2000. It claims to have found a handful of violations in 2000 and 2005; however, inspections in 2001 and 2007 failed to turn up any problems -- and this certainly wasn't for a lack of looking. Horsley notes that his store had a 99.6% success rate for the ATF audit in 2005, which isn't the kind of score they would have achieved if they had been flagrantly violating federal requirements.
Horsley also pointed out to Pro Libertate that "Every time the ATF sends someone here to conduct an inspection, I've called Sheriff Tousley, with whom I've had a very friendly and cooperative relationship. But the ATF, as far as I know, never paid the Sheriff the courtesy of letting him know when they're here. Sheriff Tousley had told me more than once that this really frustrates him, because he is the chief law enforcement officer in the County."
My kind of store -- if it sold precious metals and used books, I would never leave: Alas, Blue Lakes Sporting Goods in Twin Falls was driven out of business by the execrable ATF a few years ago.
On the strength of Judge Lodge's favorable findings in 2007, and the solid case his side presented in court, Horsley is confident that the final ruling -- which is due sometime in early Summer -- will be favorable. This would be something akin to a miracle, given the agency's track record in shutting down honest gun dealers and the tactics it has used to avoid congressional oversight.
"We've spent about $200,000 in fighting the ATF, and I don't know how many hours of our time we've invested in this fight as well," Horsley told me. "Most FFLs in this position simply can't hold out as long. When I went into this I thought this was a misunderstanding that would be quickly cleared up. It wasn't until I started talking with people experienced in these issues that I learned that the ATF almost always succeeds in shutting down targeted firearms dealers."
"They've spent about $3 million in an effort to revoke a $300 federal firearms license," Horsley continued. "That means we, along with other taxpayers, have been footing the bill to have this agency try to put me out of business. And they immediately worked to cut off our representation in Congress: Whenever Rep. [Mike] Crapo, or [Senators] Kempthorne and Craig made an inquiry about my case, the ATF stiff-armed them, telling them that there was an `investigation' underway, and so they couldn't reply to any information requests."
The harassment Horsley's business has endured from the ATF inspired Idaho's Senate delegation, as well as Louisiana Republican Senator John Vitter, to place "holds" on the nomination of acting ATF Director Michael "Maximum Mike" Sullivan, a self-enraptured federal prosecutor from Massachusetts whose disdain for the Constitution is roughly equal to his zeal for civilian disarmament.
Given the fact that Horsley had the financial and political means to confront the ATF, it should surprise nobody to learn that the agency decided, over a year ago, to treat Ryan as a "threat" -- not just a suspected violator of arcane federal regulations, mind you, but a threat. This explains a fascinating ex parte meeting that took place immediately after the second day of the federal trial.
"During the second day of the trial, there were about a dozen ATF employees in attendance, and federal `Court Security' personnel at the back of the courtroom," Horsley recalls. "After the hearing ended, my attorney and I were told to meet in a small room with a couple of federal attorneys and one of the `Court Security' people."
The latter was an individual named David A. Meyer, identified by his business card as a "Judicial Security Inspector" for the US Marshals Service office in Boise.
"Meyer took out a huge, thick file with my name on it," Horsley recalled. "It had all kinds of papers in it, including photographs of me and print-outs from my blog. Meyer told me that he had come to the hearing `for the protection of the ATF.' He went on to tell us about this new law that just went into effect -- the Court Security Improvement Act -- that covers judges, prosecutors, witnesses in federal trials, and other federal officials. He told us that under that new act we could be arrested if we threaten or give out the personal contact information on ATF personnel."
Horsley told Meyer that he had made a point of calling the Sheriff "every time the ATF paid me a visit." The Marshal replied (by Horsley's account) that he was "aware of this," and that "I've not found anything" to suggest that Horsley had threatened or "intimidated" any federal official.
This didn't stop Meyer from making an utterly gratuitous threat of his own, of course, telling Horsley the following (once again, by the gun dealer's account): "Under this law you can be arrested, and I have no problem coming down to Twin Falls and arresting you."
Bear in mind that Meyer, by threatening to use armed force to kidnap Horsley under the color of supposed law, was committing one crime and threatening to commit a second. The crime he committed was assault -- defined in Title 18, Chapter 9 of the Idaho Criminal Code as the "intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent."
By his own admission, Meyer had no evidence that Ryan Horsley had ever committed a criminal act of any kind. Yet Meyer was threatening to commit violent acts against Horsley should the gun dealer exercise his constitutionally protected right to criticize the ATF, should one of the agency's gun-grabbers, chair-moisteners or paper-defacers feel "intimidated" or "threatened" by something Horsley published.
The crime Meyer threatened to commit was false imprisonment as part of the same illegal act of retaliation. Title 18, Chapter 29 of the Idaho Criminal Code defines "false imprisonment" as "the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another." Those convicted of that offense are subject to a $5,000 fine, a one-year jail sentence, or both.
(Continues after break.)
Da Boyz are jus' havin some fun: Gee, guys, are you sure you're safe, given that there are several armed feds surrounding one unarmed guy, whose hands are cuffed behind his back and his head being ground into the concrete? The college student needlessly subjected to criminal assault by these polyester-clad revenue hogs from the ATF was seized as a "suspicious person" because he was wearing a ninja costume as part of a campus activity. It was his misfortune that the ATF was conducting a "Project Safe Neighborhoods" event at the same facility, and the sight of a harmless prankster was too much for these guys -- impotent windsocks, every one of 'em -- to resist.
Furthermore, Meyer indicated designs on either committing or abetting similar crimes against other law-abiding citizens elsewhere in the United States. In his conversation with Horsley, Meyer made mention of Dave Codrea, who publishes an invaluable blog entitled The War on Guns, and another group he referred to as "those ... Jews."
Yes, that's how he described Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and their chief spokesman, Aaron Zelman, who resides in Hartford, Wisconsin.
In the fashion of a Mafia underboss delivering an extortion threat, Meyer told Horsley that he might want to "pass along" the warning to Codrea and Zelman.
Because those two men are who they are, Codrea and Zelman have have told Meyer what they think of his threats. Zelman's letter is particularly plangent.
Meyer strongly hinted that bloggers like Ryan Horsley and David Codrea might be subject to prosecution in the event that remarks posted on comment threads are construed as threatening or "intimidating" by federal officials covered under the Court Security Improvement Act. As Codrea pointed out in his letter to Meyer, most genuinely alarming comments are posted anonymously. And given that federal agents have dutifully monitored Codrea's blog and Horsley's website, it's hardly unreasonable to speculate that tax-feeders of that kind could be responsible for at least some of those comments.
Would it be tidy if Meyer or somebody of his ilk were to arrest a gun rights blogger on the basis of a comment planted by the same fed who carries out the arrest?
In presenting the account of the meeting between Horsley and Meyer, I've relied entirely on Horsley's version of events. That's because when I called Meyer to get his side of the story, he told me: "The conversation I had with him isn't for publication. You'll have to call the Marshals Service public affairs office in Washington, D.C. to find out anything more about it."
Yeah, it's a bummer when the victims can shoot back, isn't it? Inept, bucket-headed Berserkers in the ATF's employ are repelled by the Branch Davidians on the morning of February 28, 1993. Four of the assailants were killed -- some by friendly fire, others as a result of the righteous use of lethal force by the Davidians. Five innocent Davidians were murdered by the ATF for defending their home and religious sanctuary from the agency's illegal assault. On April 19, the Feds celebrated the anniversary of the Nazi assault on the Warsaw Ghetto by incinerating scores of innocent people inside the Mt. Carmel retreat.
That wouldn't be helpful, of course, since (as far as I know) nobody in the Imperial Capital was present during the conversation in question.
Our lives are becoming utterly transparent to the Regime. At the same time, the official dealings of the Regime's enforcers are becoming increasingly opaque. It is as if the Regime had erected an immense one-way mirror permitting them to keep us under surveillance, while withholding from public scrutiny not only the private lives but the official conduct of its enforcers.
A self-important functionary like David Meyer can receive an obese dossier on a harmless, law-abiding gun dealer and use it to threaten to imprison him. But if, heaven fofend, one of us were to publish Meyer's home address or photograph in a way that caused his widdle heart to quivver, he and his colleagues in official crime claim the right to imprison the person responsible for distributing the samizdat in question.
It's been said that the difference between a republic and a "People's Republic" is akin to that separating a chair from an electric chair. The degenerate system under which we live has no noticeable resemblance to the constitutional republic proposed in 1787, but a very strong kinship to the "People's Republic" of East Germany -- another state in which government informants were rife, tree-devouring dossiers on private citizens common, and officious ex-Nazi law enforcement officers shared David Meyer's disdainful opinion of "those Jews."
Dum spiro, pugno!