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January 11, 2008

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On Government and Accountability

In 1987, former Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan and six other defendants were brought to trial in a New York City court for fraud. When the jury cleared everyone of all charges, Donovan famously asked: "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"

The answer, which he well knew, was none. He had been screwed by the government, and that was the end of it. That is but one type of screwing that the government administers when it has a mind to. Another one was visited on a gunmaker friend of mine last year.

He held a license to manufacture, and in the past, BATFE had sent him a new license automatically and all he had to do was pay them. Last year, for whatever reason, they didn't, and no one at the shop thought to call and ask for a renewal. They learned about it when the Bureau informed them that their license to manufacture had expired, and that they were to cease and desist operation. They could have simply sent him a renewal with a note to pay better attention in future; but that is not the government way.

And so my friend shut down for a month, which was the amount of time the BATFE made him dance until he got his new license. And that 30 days cost him $760,000. He was never fined; no judgment was levied against him; there was no official penalty. But he is still three-quarters of a million dollars poorer and so are his dozen or so employees, who had no part in any of this.

To which office does he go to his money back? Probably the same one Ray Donovan went to for his reputation. He could conceivably go to court and sue the BATFE, but that would cost him even more in money and time.

Just another episode in this land of government of the people, by the people, for the people.


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Del in Kansas

He probably paid for some bureaucrat's screw up. but never forget that most gov employees are liberals and loath guns. The military is an exception. I work for the US Postal service. Out of several hundred employees at the processing plant (where I work) I am the only NRA member.


So wait a minute, this guy fails to make sure he is licensed to do business, and then is surprised when there are consequences for that failure. Isn't it HIS responsibility to make sure he is legally running the business, just like a bar owner makes damn well sure that he's got a valid liquor license. If you are going to rely on licenses and governmental agencies to administer them, don't be surprised if they don't cut breaks such as the letter to "be a little more careful in the future." That is an extermely slippery slope for any public entity because, of course, the next person wants a break too. I'm guessing your friend won't soon be forgetting to renew his licenses

Dr. Ralph

So Dan, which branch of big brother do you work for? That of by and for crap makes me want to puke... There is no denying it, America is on the verge of becoming the land of the formerly free. The less rural we are, the more people are growing up in cities and have never spent a single day in the woods communing with nature and getting a taste of what life was for millions of years. Everything now is all don't forget your quarterly payments to the Infernal Revenue Service or they will have to fine you for your incompetence. But when they don't get their paperwork out guess who pays? BIG BROTHER'S RIGHT, HE'S ALWAYS RIGHT, AND EVEN WHEN HE'S WRONG HE'S RIGHT AND DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT SUEING BECAUSE YOU WILL LOSE AND THE ONLY ONE'S WHO EVER GET AWARDED LAWYERS FEES ARE GOVERNMENT ENTITIES AND THEIR LEGAL AIDS MAKE A THOUSAND DOLLARS AN HOUR...


An unfortunate story to be sure, but that doesn't mean that it isn't still has responsibility to make sure his paperwork is up to date. If I had a business that was worth that much every month I would make damn sure I had my t's crossed and my i's dotted all the time. I certainly wouldn't trust a bureaucrat to remember for me.


Dr. Ralph
You should read "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross. I think you and most of us that participate in this blog site would really enjoy reading it. I have only seen it in hard cover and I am sure your local library can help you locate a copy of it. Let's just say the people no longer are going to stand for the BATF B.S. any more.


Unfortunitly the BATF does all it can to entrap the unwary. From undercover agents at the gun shows to midnight raids on unsuspecting homes who they think are breaking the law. And if they are not bad enough we have the every one suing the firearm manufactures for totally unrelated things. I want to know how you can sue a company if some one uses your product against some one else. Does that mean I can sue Ford or GM if a drunk driver kills some one.


Its now "people of the government, by the government, for the government".


A firearms manufacturer, in the USA, this day and age...

"no one at the shop thought to call and ask for a renewal".

Jeeze, he must think he's living in 1908 rather than 2008.
In today's liberal environment, I figure a manufacturer would be pestering for a renewal, 90 days out because you never know if the BATFE would even comply with renewing the license, so why let it get down to that last day, week, month?!?!

The 2A is slipping away too quickly nowadays, each of us has to keep our t's crossed and i's dotted because there are droves of bureaucrats just waiting for any little slip-up to send us down the tube.

Steve C

Mr. Petzal,

Does your business friend share the same victim mentality as you do about this?

Running a business requires paying attention to the little details like a license to operate. To say this guy “lost” $750K is the nothing more than raging narcissism; everything would be fine if the government cut him a little slack and didn’t enforce the law. Sure. And how many million/billions does that cost tax payers.

As opposed to Ray Donovan, your friend was in the wrong based on the information you provided. He has no business asking anyone who he should go to in order to collect his money. He can find that in the nearest mirror.

Clay Cooper

Face it folks, if the IRS can’t get you they will send the BATF in for some trunked up charge! Remember Ruby Ridge? They even had a F4 fighter fly over to take pictures. Is a barrel been cut to 15 ½ inches worth sending in the GOON SQUAD getting someone killed? HELL NO! They go there for one thing and one thing only, search and destroy! I have no doubt what so ever that I myself and one other Law Enforcement Officer with a cool head could have gone and done what was needed to do including that Wacko in Waco! When I was assisting Law Enforcement as “Second Man” (the equivalent of an Auxiliary Officer without arrest authority), I never had to use force and my 45 never cleared leather and I never went out of my way to harass someone.


"We have allowed our nation to be over taxed and over regulated and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed with us for what were putting up with."

- Ron Paul

Clay Cooper

When I walked into Checker auto in Goodyear AZ, a cop pulled in after another truck. The driver knew he had a broken tail light and that what he is there for. The cop said, because I stopped you, I must give you a ticket! I told the Gentleman to take it to court and I’ll testify, the Cop changed his mind when he found out my affiliation was with Law Enforcement. Excuse me for ranting, but this topic brings up some memories that make me mad as HELL!

Catch’Ya shooters later, I’m going to get my truck loaded to go deer hunting tomorrow!

Clay Cooper

One more thing, if I was the BATF Agent, I would have given him a warning and telling him to pay closer attention next time. Expedited his renewal because he is already in the system. Just a matter of processing it and collecting the money! I wonder how many BATF’s are on the take to shake down someone’s competition???


I tried making the same arguement when i got ticketed for forgetting to renew my license plate, appearantly it was my mistake.

BTW I am not feeling to sorry for a guy who makes $760,000 a month. I bet he will probally survive. Maybe that isn't the point, but still I could work 20 years and not see that much money.

Since I am on a roll, Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan was vindicated on all charges the courts make that a matter of Public Record. What else you want them to do mail a letter? As a tax payer how would you feel if you had gotten a letter from your Govt. stating that OJ was inocent?

Blue Ox

Yea, that's our government, eating our tax dollars, 'working' for us. A steaming pile if I ever seen one.

RJ Arena

I think that there is something missing in this discussion, just how about how the anti's would jump on this if he had been given slack and something had gone wrong, for example- a manufacturing defect, and during the lawsuit it was found out that his license had expired, Can you imagine Dave, how much your friend would have lost then? Maybe everything. I agree that it is our responsibility to cross the 't's and dot the 'i's. Now could the government try to process his paperwork a little quicker, move it to the top of the list, yes they should have.


While I'm no big fan of the BATFE, I think your pal should share some of the responsibility! They (BATFE) could have shut him down completely, refused to renew his license and charged him with whatever crimes they deemed necessary!


Ralph the Rifleman

This is AMERICA where free enterprize has made us a very wealthy nation with a high standard of living.Our government should be helping company owners that have a good record of manufacturing, in this case a firearms company, which I assume had a good record? At any rate this is not about guns it's about what the government has the power to do! Would any of you be "offended" if this were a license issue over baby food formula? In this owner's case, it is obvious that the BATF dropped the ball and the owner, and his employees, paid the price.
By the way, if this man can generate 3/4 of a million dollars of income per month;GOOD for him, for the last time I checked this is a AMERICA land of opportunity!
Also, thanks to the BATF, the IRS lost revenue in taxes for that month he had to shut down his business.
Yea, I take Dave's view on this issue the government needs to prioritize real issues and not harass* company owners that are following the laws.
Sorry folks, we need to hold government responsible for these pompous actions.
That's my 10cents worth.



"Pompous actions!"

1. The Gov't could have filed charges on this person because he had manufactured firearms without a license. They didn't!
2. This person KNEW he had to have an FFL to pursue this line of manufacture. HE allowed it to lapse!
3. Just like your state notifies you 2-3 months before your driver's license expires, the "only" thing the Gov't should be "required" to do is mail a "renewal notice"!
4. Your statement is just another liberal case of trying to make the Gov't responsible for "us" instead of U.S.!!!!
5. If I owned a "plant" that generated that kind of revenue and required a "license", SOMEBODY would be in charge of being sure the "license" DID NOT expire!

Let's quit making the Gov't the scapegoat for everything and take these responsibilities ourselves!!

R-t-R, I'm not angry with you, just another point of view!


Ralph the Rifleman

I hear ya my friend;Anger is not part of my Freedom of speech,either.
My main issue I take in this case is the BATF, as Dave states, had "automatically" sent the renewal to this man then stopped they, the BATF, had established this record keeping system that was acceptable to both parties.I think they should have maybe warned him but kept the business flowing for good PR reasons if for anything else.
And frankly, I don't wish to see another Ruby ridge or Waco, either;All things seem to start out innocent enough then it can go down the toilet in quick order.


This may not make me popular, but I don't buy this argument that the founders would be suprised by what the country has become.

We as nation decided early on to have a strong central governmnent. Hence the abandonment of the Articles of Confederation, which gave the federal government little power and virtually no revenue stream, and the adoption of the Constitution which allowed for a stronger central government.

In addition, during Washington's administration Jefferson resigned his cabinet post and left the government because Washington decided to follow Hamilton's lead and strengthen the role the Federal government played in managing the economy.

Finally, to those who think that the government was more libertarian minded in the past. I don't buy this argument either. Practically the first action the government took after winning independence was mustering troops to crush the Whiskey Rebellion and force the rural settlers to quit skirting the tax system.

I am not saying I agree with everything the government does, I am just saying that I don't believe the founders necessarilly had a different plan in mind.



Once the BATFE realized the license renewal had not been recieved, due to the fact that it was a "firearms manufacturing" facility, maybe a phone call or a knock on the door to say, "Hey, your FFL expired on mm/dd/yyyy and has not been renewed! By the way, you need to stop production until your FFL has been renewed and/or reissued!"
My point, R-t-R, is where do we stop blaming the Gov't and start taking responsibilities for our own actions.


Ralph the Rifleman

I understand your point, and BATF could probably have signed a waiver until the renewal was complete.
Personal responsibilty is a big issue we need to be aware of, too, and the government officials need to be aware of their responsibilites when enforcing laws as well.
Who hold our officials accountable if people don't take a stand when better communication on both parties could have avoided a meal of sour grapes for this business owner?
A people government needs to be TRUSTED by the people!


Im with ya Bubba. I think he should take some responsibility, however the GOV should have given him some kind of notice. He could fight it and maybe win but how many millions would it cost him? The GOV would just throw our money at it till it went away!!


How many people do yall know that trust the United States Government? Myself I have afew trust issues with them. Notice I said THEM.

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