ATF/Gun Show Testimony in Congress
Suzanne McComas, a licensed private investigator who has worked with the America's Most Wanted television program, was hired by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to gather information about ATF's Richmond operations. During her investigation, she learned that the agency had been conducting "residency checks" in at least one other U.S. city, but using different and "much more intimidating" tactics.
"At Pittsburgh, the Firearms Task Force there that's also headed by the ATF, instead of doing residency checks immediately, they're collecting the 4473 with the purchaser's address on it, then they go knock at the door about a week later and ask, 'Could we see the gun that you bought?'" McComas explained. "There's absolutely no process involved, there's no reason for them to do it. If you cannot produce the gun, they ask you for the sale paperwork. If you refuse to produce the paperwork they put you under arrest for a 'straw purchase.'"
Federal law requires licensed gun dealers to complete an ATF Form 4473 for each firearm sold through their business, in addition to any forms required by the state, county and/or city where they do business. Private sales between individuals, who are not engaged in the firearms trade as a business, are subject to no such federal recordkeeping requirements. Therefore a gun show purchaser could legally sell or even give the gun they purchased to someone else yet have no paperwork to meet the ATF's demand. McComas questioned not only the legality of the ATF tactics in Pittsburgh, but also the methodology.
"When I asked them what their criteria was for the people that they collected the 4473s on at the Pittsburgh show, the answer I got back was, 'If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's a duck. That's all we need,'" McComas continued. "Translation: Under 30 and black, period. That's all they were looking for. Anyone who meets those criteria, they're doing a follow-up on."