GOP Montana congressman cries foul over gun store raid by heavily-armed ATF and IRS agents

June 20, 2023
Ben Marquis

Two mainstays of President Joe Biden's tenure in office thus far are his incessant effort to empower and expand the Internal Revenue Service and to crack down on Second Amendment rights through proposed gun bans and regulations imposed and enforced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

It appears that those two efforts have now been comingled amid reports that heavily-armed ATF and IRS agents conducted a raid on a Montana gun store owner last week, according to the Western Journal.

The incident sparked furious recriminations and serious questions from the Republican member of Congress who represents the gun store owner who suspects he was specifically targeted and harassed by the administration over his profession as a licensed dealer who sells firearms, including semiautomatic so-called "assault weapons," to the general public.

Biden "weaponizing federal agencies to target and harass" American citizens

On June 14, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) issued a statement that said, "I’m incredibly disturbed by initial reports that the IRS and ATF closed Highwood Creek Outfitters without any warning today."

"This is yet another example of the Biden Administration weaponizing federal agencies to target and harass hardworking Americans. We cannot allow Biden to continue expanding these agencies to infringe on our liberties," he added.

The congressman referenced a similar incident in Georgia in March, as reported at that time by local Fox affiliate WAGA-TV, in which 16 armed ATF agents from across the country raided Adventure Outdoor in Cobb County, the largest gun retailer in the Southeast, in order to conduct a "surprise audit" of the store.

That incident prompted an outcry from GOP congressional representatives in the state, who labeled the incident as "suspicious" and "intimidation" and questioned why it was deemed necessary to send so many armed agents, particularly from out of state, to conduct a purportedly routine audit of the store's merchandise and records.

"A pattern of intimidation and harassment"

Just two days after his initial statement, Rep. Rosendale issued a press release on June 16 to announce that he had sent a letter to the heads of the ATF and IRS that demanded answers for the heavily-armed raid of the gun store in his district.

"The raid that took place at Highwood Creek Outfitters is outrageous," Rosendale said. "Under Director Dettelbach’s leadership of the ATF, a pattern of intimidation and harassment against hardworking Americans has emerged -- Montanans will not tolerate these political witch hunts. I remind both Director Dettelbach and Commissioner Werfel that Congress has the power of the purse, and I will ensure that funding for these agencies is not weaponized against the American people."

In the letter sent to ATF Director Steven Dettelbach and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, the congressman again referenced the similar incident in Georgia and wrote, "This pattern appears to be orchestrated directly from the White House as evident by the “fact sheet” released by the Biden Administration, where they detail their plans to hassle mom-and-pop gun shops over minor record keeping and paperwork discrepancies."

Why did the IRS allegedly confiscate the store's 4473 gun purchase forms?

As for the IRS participation in the raid, Rosendale said, "I learned that the IRS confiscated all the 4473 forms from the store. This means that the sensitive personal information of any customer ever to purchase a firearm at Highwood Creek Outfitters is now in the hands of the IRS."

"These background check forms include no financial information, and there is no discernable reason why the IRS would need these forms. The IRS
committed an egregious breach of privacy for Montana’s gun owners, and I am outraged that the agents involved showed no regard for federal law," he continued, and noted that "There is no circumstance in which 4473’s would be necessary in an investigation spearheaded by the IRS."

The congressman went on to demand that both the ATF and IRS "cease conducting these Soviet-style intimidation raids" and put forward a number of pertinent questions that he demanded answers to within a matter of days.

Whether either agency deigns to answer the Montana representative's questions, at least absent a subpoena or threat of contempt, is something that remains to be seen, but one thing that does appear to have become clear is the willingness of President Biden to make full use of a literally weaponized IRS to support the equally weaponized ATF in harassing and intimidating licensed firearms dealers who support the Second Amendment rights of the American people.

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