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View Full Version : Is ATF Trace Information Confidential?


halifax
08-19-2010, 12:05 PM
Got two traces last month for the same customer. He is still a customer and I was wondering if it's OK to talk to him about this. Anyone know.

(My calls to ATF have not been returned yet. That is why I'm asking here.)

jtmkinsd
08-19-2010, 12:10 PM
You have no legal obligation to remain silent.

halifax
08-19-2010, 2:33 PM
OK, I'll see how it goes the next time we converse.

kemasa
08-19-2010, 2:54 PM
I am not sure if there are any restrictions, but I would strongly suggest that you refrain from talking to your customer. If there is an on-going investigation, talking to the customer could cause issues. You really don't want to get involved in the middle of it, nor do you want law enforcement to think that you have anything to do with it.

If you get in contact with the BATF and they say that it is ok to talk to the person, that would be different, but I seriously doubt that they would say that since it would be difficult to talk to the investigators involved. Also, it might be from some local law enforcement.

Just because you can talk about it, doesn't mean that you should.

jtmkinsd
08-19-2010, 5:33 PM
I wouldn't say anything either, unless it was a good friend or long-time customer

halifax
08-19-2010, 6:02 PM
If the agency that initiated the trace suspects the buyer of wrong doing, wouldn't they want to stop it by notifying the dealer?

If the trace was for non-criminal activities and the buyer wasn't suspected of anything, is the dealer free to sell again to the same completely legal individual?

Sure would be nice to know since I'd hate to deny someone their "civil rights"

TRICKSTER
08-19-2010, 6:17 PM
Say nothing, if he comes in to buy something else, treat it just like you normally would. If BATF doesn't want him to buy any more firearms, he will be denied and will have to contact them to find out why.
Remember, curiosity killed the cat.

jtmkinsd
08-19-2010, 7:08 PM
I have only had a handful of traces on firearms/buyers/sellers (yes they could be looking at one, two, or all three of those items) I have chosen to only tell two individuals about the trace after getting it (long time friends). One already knew ATF was looking at him for something minor, the other never heard a peep...The reason I normally don't tell people is if I tell them, they know exactly as much as I do about it...but the questions would start spilling out of them like crazy, and all I could do is say "I don't know"

kemasa
08-20-2010, 10:36 AM
I would not even tell a long time friend, you don't want to get involved as an accessory or be viewed as that.

The problem is that local law enforcement can contact the BATF and request that a firearm be traced, so the BATF might not care about it at all. Yes, in that case local law enforcement should want to do something, but often it can take a long time to make a case, plus it might be a minor part of a major investigation. Such warning could cause the case to fall apart.

If the agency that initiated the trace suspects the buyer of wrong doing, wouldn't they want to stop it by notifying the dealer?

No. They might want to investigate and get more information. Typically they want to get the top people, not the minor players.

If the trace was for non-criminal activities and the buyer wasn't suspected of anything, is the dealer free to sell again to the same completely legal individual?

Well, I would have to say maybe yes. You have no idea of the reasons. It could be criminal in nature, but until the person is charged, there is nothing illegal about their buying a firearm. If you believe that illegal activity is going on, then you should not sell to the person. A trace tells you nothing. If the person still has the firearms, then there are a few strange reasons why the firearm might be traced, such as being stolen from the manufacturer, distributor or at least having that be claimed.

The person might have illegally sold the firearm in CA (not through a dealer) or sold it legally out of state and the people he sold them to did something wrong, but that your customer did nothing wrong.


Sure would be nice to know since I'd hate to deny someone their "civil rights"

Yep, but that is not the way the system works.

jtmkinsd
08-20-2010, 2:30 PM
Lot of supposition in your response. Simply put there's nothing in the law (simply telling someone a trace was done on a firearm they purchased) which forbids me or anyone from telling them. If LE wanted it to be confidential they would most probably show up and say so. THEN you would be hindering an investigation by telling anyone.

kemasa
08-20-2010, 2:53 PM
Just because it is not illegal doesn't mean that it is a good thing to do.

Do you really want law enforcement coming to you and asking why to talked to the person? Yeah, you have done nothing illegal, but getting the police annoyed at you just does not make sense especially when you get nothing out of it.

What do you have to gain by telling the person? In fact, talking to the person could cause more problems because they might say something that you really don't want to hear and don't want to get in the middle of.

It is just one of those common sense things and common sense says to not say anything.

halifax
08-20-2010, 2:53 PM
Nothing will be said. New transfer will proceed.

kemasa
08-20-2010, 2:54 PM
That is the correct thing to do.