Kind Of Shocking That They Sought An Indictment

I subscribe to press releases from various BATFE Field Divisions. I got one from the Chicago Field Division yesterday that kind of shocked me.

They actually sought an indictment against someone for lying on the Form 4473 and facilitating a straw purchase.

Matthew D. Krueger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Hanna N. DeCicco (age 22) of Milwaukee with Making a False Statement to a Federal Firearms Dealer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(a)(6) and 924(a)(2) on July 10, 2019.

DeCicco is charged with one count of being a straw purchaser of firearm. She knowningly made a false and fictitious that she was the actual buyer of the firearm, when in fact, she was acquiring the firearm for someone else. DeCicco faces a maximum of ten years of imprisonment, three years of supervised released, and a $250,000 fine. 

This case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals responsible for violent crimes in our neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods’ strategy brings together all levels of law enforcement and community resources to reduce violent crime and improve the quality of life in all our neighborhoods.

Do you know how rare something like that actually is? It is usually near the bottom of a Federal prosecutor’s agenda. At least it was during the Obama years.

This NPR report from 2015 noted that straw buyers were rarely prosecuted.

Many licensed gun dealers are concerned that straw purchasers are rarely prosecuted, says Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“The law says that somebody could go to jail for up to 10 years and face a fine of up to $250,000. Why that doesn’t happen more often is a question for, you know, the federal judiciary and the Department of Justice,” Keane says.

Bouchard, who retired from the ATF in 2007, admits charging straw buyers falls towards the bottom of federal prosecutors’ priority lists. He says the cases are difficult to win and resources are limited.

However, that has started to change as the Trump Administration has decided not to ignore those crimes. In the last year of the Obama Administration, only 111 people were charged with false statements on the Form 4473. By contrast, in the first seven months of FY 2019, the Department of Justice had already charge 167 people with making false statements.

The number is still low in comparison to the other Federal prosecutions involving weapons but it is on the rise. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with going after straw purchasers.

As an aside, Ms. DeCicco needs to clean her Facebook page up. An Assistant US Attorney is going to love this comment from December.

Somebody’s gonna take these games to far & end up gettin popped.

ATF Or AEF? Trump Budget Proposes A Realignment Of Agency

“Senior administration officials” have told the New York Times that the Trump Administration plans to strip out the tobacco and alcohol enforcement roles from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. These functions would be returned to the Treasury Department as BATFE has ignored cigarette smuggling and bootlegging in favor “fighting violent crime”.

Under the Trump administration’s plan, the Treasury Department would inherit the authority to investigate tobacco and alcohol smuggling. The A.T.F. would need a new name. One possibility: the Bureau of Arson, Explosives and Firearms, or A.E.F.

The move would resolve a bureaucratic split that has existed for years. Treasury collects the taxes on cigarettes and liquor, but A.T.F. investigates efforts to evade those taxes.

The change is included in a draft of President Trump’s coming budget proposal, according to two senior administration officials. The plan envisions hiring roughly two dozen Treasury agents, plus auditors and support staff, the officials said. Congress would have to pass a law to reorganize the agencies.

The officials who discussed the proposal did so on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it in draft form. Though budget plans can change, the officials said the A.T.F. language has remained in place through multiple revisions.

Spokespersons for BATFE and the Treasury Department did not respond to requests for comments.

A quick check of CleanUpATF.org shows no comments on the proposed change.

I’m sure this proposal will be the source of some speculation at this coming week’s SHOT Show. If I pick up anything juicy or earth-shattering, I’ll share it here as an update.

H/T Stephen Wenger’s DUF list

Big News On Fight For Carry On Corps Of Engineers’ Lakes And Recreational Areas

Back in 2014, the US District Court for the District of Idaho issued an injunction that prevented the US Army Corps of Engineers from banning functional firearms in campgrounds and on lakes. Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s opinion in Morris v. USACE stated that the prohibition was a substantial burden on the exercise of the Second Amendment. The case was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the government.

Fast forward to today and a different administration. The Mountain States Legal Foundation who represents Elizabeth Nesbitt (formerly Morris) and Al Baker in their case just learned that the DOJ lawyers have submitted an emergency motion stating that they plan to revise the policy and codify the win at the District Court level. If this does become the case, this is a great win for the Second Amendment and its practice on federally-regulated lands.

MSLF just released this statement a few hours ago on the case.

DENVER, CO. An Idaho woman who is barred from carrying a functional firearm for self-defense when she visits vast federal recreational facilities today learned of the Trump administration’s intention to codify her victory before an Idaho federal district court, which ruled the federal government agency’s ban on firearms violates the Second Amendment, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Elizabeth E. Nesbitt of Nez Perce County is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, regularly carries a concealed weapon, and often seeks to recreate on lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Because Corps of Engineers regulations ban functional firearms, even while camped in tents, Ms. Nesbitt is subject to criminal prosecution if she attempts to exercise her Second Amendment rights. Alan C. Baker, a firearms instructor and resident of Idaho’s Latah County, is a co-plaintiff in the suit, which was filed in August of 2013 in Idaho federal district court. The Corps of Engineers did not reply to requests from the attorney for Ms. Nesbitt and Mr. Baker, Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), seeking an exemption from its firearm ban, a ban that has not changed since the landmark Heller ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States.

“On the eve of oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit in Seattle, federal lawyers filed an emergency motion stating their clients’ intention to ‘reconsider[] the firearms policy,’ which the panel granted moments ago,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation. “We are pleased the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will at last comply with the Constitution.”

The Corps of Engineers operates public parks and recreational facilities at water resource development projects under the control of the Department of the Army and thus is the nation’s largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation. It administers 422 lake and river projects in 43 states, spanning 12 million acres, encompassing 55,000 miles of shoreline and 4,500 miles of trails, and including 90,000 campsites and 3,400 boat launch ramps. Waters under its control constitute 33 percent of all U.S. freshwater fishing.

Ms. Nesbitt was issued an emergency license by the Nez Perce County Sheriff to carry a concealed handgun in 2012 due to threats and physical attacks against her by a former neighbor. She regularly carries a handgun for self-defense. She uses Corps-administered public lands near the Snake River in Lewiston, Idaho, to boat with friends, regularly walks the Corps-administered paths in the area with her dog and/or her family, and must travel across Corps-administered public lands to reach Hells Gate State Park.

Mr. Baker is a NRA-Certified Home Firearm Safety, Personal Protection In The Home, Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun Instructor, is a Utah Concealed Firearms Instructor, is licensed to carry a concealed handgun in Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Arizona and regularly carries a handgun for self-defense. A life-long outdoorsman, he regularly recreates on Corps-managed lands in Idaho, including Dworshak Dam and Reservoir on the North Fork Clearwater River.

More news on the case can be found here.

Quote Of The Day

The Quote of the Day comes from the White House website that has been revamped with the change of administrations. The Trump Administration explicitly considers citizen self-defense as part of law enforcement.


Supporting law enforcement means supporting our citizens’ ability to protect themselves. We will uphold Americans’ Second Amendment rights at every level of our judicial system.

What a change a few days make.

I Think Tom Might Be Correct – We Need An Asst AG For The Second Amendment

Tom Gresham made the suggestion on his show Sunday that the Trump Department of Justice should have a special Assistant Attorney General for the protection of the Second Amendment. He referenced how DOJ sent armies of lawyers to the South after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Heller and McDonald decisions confirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms and that right applies in the states. However, the current DOJ is doing nothing to protect that individual civil right.

I think Tom is on to something.

Having just read of the latest attack on the Second Amendment and the gun culture coming out of New Jersey, I think this is doubly true. An ostensibly anti-suicide bill would create onerous requirements on gun ranges that would force them to close. As the 7th Circuit decided in the Ezell v. Chicago, gun ranges are an essential part of the Second Amendment.

From the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs:

The bills as presently written would require the owner or operator of every range and gun club to verify that every range user has an FID card, NJ carry permit, or pistol purchase permit, along with government-issued photo ID, every time that person uses the range. That is an impossible burden for most ranges to meet – most ranges are unstaffed or staffed sporadically by volunteers. Few ranges have staff during all operating hours. NO SHOOTING ACTIVITY COULD OCCUR ON ANY RANGE THAT IS NOT STAFFED TO VERIFY CREDENTIALS.

The bills as presently written would also prevent you from using your own firearms on a range unless the range first verifies your credentials, every time you use the range, and bans all temporary transfer on a range unless the range verifies the credentials of both the transferor and transferee. THIS IMPACTS A HUGE SWATH OF SECOND AMENDMENT ACTIVITY, INCLUDING TRAINING, COMPETITION, TARGET PRACTICE, OPEN HOUSES, RANGE GUESTS, HUNTER EDUCATION, WOMEN’S EVENTS, ETC. (see below for detailed examples).

I think of the ranges that I have open to me in western North Carolina. The indoor ranges are staffed and could meet the requirements of such a bill. However, the NC Wildlife Resources Range at Cold Mountain (yes, that Cold Mountain) and the ranges in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests are neither staffed nor have Range Safety Officers. These free and/or inexpensive places to shoot would have to be shut down.

Sebastian is correct when he concluded:

This would essentially close every club in New Jersey. It would make it impossible to bring new shooters into the sports, since they would essentially need to apply for and receive an FID card before they could even try it out. This would destroy the shooting culture in New Jersey, and that’s exactly what it’s intended to do. Suicide prevention is a ruse. Christie has shown a willingness to veto legislation like this, and will probably continue to do so as long as he’s in office, but it’s going to be hell to pay if Christie is replaced with an anti-gun Democrat.

 If you live in New Jersey, I suggest that you do as the ANJRPC says and contact your legislators. As to the idea of a special Assistant Attorney General for the Second Amendment, I’m not sure how to contact the incoming Trump Administration directly. However, you could send the suggestion to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) at his Senate offices.