By Mark Anderson
AFP National Writer
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TWIN FALLS, IDAHO — Red's Trading Post, Idaho's oldest still-operating gun store, has been in contact with key personnel at the U.S. Justice Department to call attention to what store co-owner Ryan Horsley calls a "tremendous waste of tax money" over the last two years stemming from an audit of his store by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, commonly known as the BATF, now the BATFE.
While the audit carried out by numerous out-of-state BATFE personnel has only uncovered a few minor clerical errors in that period of time, it has kept the store in court without resulting in a trial. The store has had to file legal statements to respond to this federal agency and the resulting legal fees hit $115,000 as of Sept. 25, when American Free Press interviewed Horsley for an update.
Since AFP first ran this story in issue No. 29/30 of 2007 — which reported that there's an apparent red-tape attack orchestrated nationally by the BATFE that nitpicks firearms dealers to death over clerical errors and exhausts their finances — Red's Trading Post has been minding the store and refusing to capitulate. Horsley wants concerned Americans to contact the Inspector General of the Department of Justice and register their opinions on the BATF's tactics.
On Sept. 17, a BATFE area supervisor, an inspector and two investigators came in from Washington state and spent all day at the store. Horsley, who has seen the agents pull up in expensive rental cars in past audits, noted: "Of all the files they looked through, they could only find one mistake and that was it." He also noted that eight different internet addresses with the letters "USDOJ" were detected monitoring the store's website and Horsley's blogs that he writes to keep customers and the greater public informed.
Horsley himself, by all accounts, is a respected member of the community who champions the Second Amendment and serves on local planning committees. His store has been run by his family for four generations.
He said the blog that received the most attention was the one in which he argued against the congressional confirmation of acting BATFE Director Michael Sullivan as its full-time director. Notably, Horsley called Sullivan's office for assistance and information regarding the audit. Sullivan's office assistant told Horsley someone would call him back. "They never did," Horsley said.
He also has been in touch with Small Business Administration National Ombudsman Nicholas Owens, who already has been contacted by Gunowners of America, the National Rifle Association and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership over this matter.
Owens reports back to Congress on abusive federal agencies that arbitrarily use their power to harass individuals who run businesses. Such reports have a bearing on federal funding for such agencies, said Horsley, who wants the funding for BATFE to be cut substantially.
Moreover, Horsley said that Twin Falls County Sheriff Wayne Tousley is becoming irritated over this matter. Since county sheriffs are the chief law enforcement officials under the Idaho Constitution, Tousley expects the BATFE to give him advance notice when they are coming to the county (Red's Trading Post is in the city of Twin Falls, in Twin Falls County). Tousley has asked for this courtesy but the BATFE will not extend it.
Horsley, whose efforts have been supported by Michigan rock guitarist/songwriter Ted Nugent, a noted hunting and firearms enthusiast, encourages citizens to contact DOJ Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. To do so, go to www.usdoj.gov/oig online. A phone contact there, the DOJ office for Freedom of Information Act requests, is 202-616-0646. A notation on that website states: "The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conducts independent investigations, audits, inspections, and special reviews of United States Department of Justice personnel and programs to detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct, and to promote integrity, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in Department of Justice operations."
The SBA National Ombudsman can be reached at (202) 401-2996.
To reach reporter Mark Anderson, email email@example.com