FBI Carried Out Warrantless Monitoring On Man Who Posted Guns For Sale On Facebook

A Texas man who posted on Facebook that he was selling his own guns was placed under warrantless surveillance by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF investigated the man, found no evidence, yet gave his information to the FBI to monitor him for at least six months.

fbi carried out warrantless monitoring on man who posted guns for sale on facebook
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive personnel in a file image. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

According to internal documents reviewed by The Epoch Times, two ATF special agents interviewed the Hispanic man who admitted to “advertising” his personal firearms for sale on Facebook. He stated that he had a “habit” of purchasing new guns, tinkering with them, losing interest, and subsequently selling them. The man told the agents that he never made a profit.

I kept waiting for the part where ATF identified something illegal, and it never came,” Eric Olson, a lawyer for Gun Owners of America (GOA) told The Epoch Times. GOA obtained the records through its ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the ATF and FBI. This production is more heavily redacted than the previous ten, with entire pages covered in black.

They are monitoring this guy for doing what millions of other hobbyists do—selling part of their personal collection. That’s not a crime, but apparently ATF doesn’t like people turning over their guns at a high rate,” Mr. Olson said.

Secret ATF–FBI Program

ATF spokesman Erik Longnecker confirmed to The Epoch Times that the man who used Facebook was placed under FBI daily monitoring in 2021 for “suspected violations” of federal laws against straw purchasing and dealing guns without a license.

This revelation is part of an ongoing, exclusive series about the unearthed program between the ATF and FBI using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to monitor individuals for mere “potential” violations of the law. NICS is a database of individuals prohibited from purchasing firearms due to felony convictions, drug use, domestic violence, and other disqualifications.

Every suspect that the ATF submits to the FBI’s “NICS Monitoring Services” is put on a daily, manual check for firearm sales for 30 to 180 days, with the option to renew surveillance unlimited times. A spokeswoman for the FBI said the NICS section declined to comment on whether the man is still being monitored.

Facebook and Guns

The redacted records given to GOA do not specify how ATF initially became interested in the suspect, leaving uncertainty about whether the Facebook posts triggered the investigation. When asked if Facebook tips off the agency about gun posts, the ATF spokesman declined to comment.

The Facebook policy allows licensed gun stores and online dealers to sell firearms and ammunition on their platform, provided they comply with all applicable laws and regulations. However, the Meta-owned company prohibits the sale or trade of firearms and ammunition between private individuals. “It doesn’t make it a crime simply because Facebook doesn’t allow it,” Mr. Olson observed.

Facebook did not respond to inquiries about whether it provides posts related to gun sales to federal law enforcement and how it enforces its firearms policies.

Read more here...

Authored by Emily Miller via The Epoch Times July 26th 2023