by: Allison Bricker
HOUSTON, TEXAS - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) agents are in the midst of fanning out across Texas in order to conduct house by house investigations into what the agency deems numerous “suspicious” firearms transactions and as a means to combat “narco-terrorism” along the U.S. /Mexican border.
In fact, the “suspicious” transaction searches are so loosely defined, that BATF agents ended up questioning a Houston area pastor who previously purchased two handguns for target practice, which is then flippantly chalked up as “hard to believe”. Additionally, interagency cooperation between the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the BATF have led to warrantless airplane surveillance of vehicles along the border.
After speaking to five offices within the agencies and being told by several agents they felt “uncomfortable” with my line of questioning, Special Agent, Public Information Officer Perot of the BATF, indicated that aerial surveillance does not require a warrant due to it taking place with the “public sphere” thereby meaning individuals should have no expectation of privacy.
perhaps even more alarming to Constitutionalists and civil libertarians than an “eye in the sky” with carte blanche authority to surveil, is the fact that the door to door firearms checks come at the behest of a foreign government. In 2008 alone, the Mexican government requested the BATF track down the original owner of 7,500 firearms used in drug crimes at American taxpayer expense.
“Ever turning up the heat on cartels, our law enforcement and military partners in the government of Mexico have been working more closely with the ATF by sharing information and intelligence,”
Kenneth Melson Acting Director BATF
Moreover, federal agents lament the tedious difficulty in conducting door to door firearm checks due to a current federal law prohibiting the use of a centralized database for gun owners. Alternatively, Mr. Eric Pratt of “Gun Owners of America” believes that a centralized database would only end up further infringing upon the inherent rights of law abiding gun owners. He goes on to state that criminals will still develop and expand avenues in order to arm themselves regardless of a behemoth centralized registry, just as they have after each previous “needed” addition to the nation’s gun laws. Further, by his analysis this is merely another attempt by federal authorities to scapegoat lawful gun owners when the actual issue border control, or lack thereof.
Source(s): Laredo, Texas Field Office of the DEA • Houston Field Division of the BATF • Houston Chronicle “Federal agents hunt for guns, one house at a time” published July 1, 2009 • Gun Owners of America