California Republican lawmaker Duncan Hunter blasted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for an unauthorized raid against a San Diego gun shop, demanding to know why the agency ignored a court injunction and took confidential customer lists during the operation.
Hunter spoke with Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson about an armed ATF sweep against Ares Armor earlier this month. Agents were looking for new plastic parts that could be used to build the AR-15 rifle — classified as an “assault rifle” under California and federal law.
Although the store’s owners secured a temporary restraining order against ATF agents, the agency raided the shop at gunpoint just three days after the order was issued.
“The ATF then went to a different judge that liked them more and got that reversed, so they could then raid the company,” Hunter explained.
But the congressman was more worried by the ATF’s seizure of the store’s confidential list of customers, some of whom may have purchased the part the agency views as dangerous.
“We want to know what’s going to happen with this information,” Hunter said. “The ATF took all of these different customer lists, and my question to them is what are you going to do with them?”
“Are you going to be raiding people’s homes in San Diego now?” he continued. “I would say if you have everybody’s information you can write them a letter or an email. We don’t need ATF SWAT-type raids on people’s homes because they happen to buy something from this company. What are they going to use that information for?”
The lawmaker also worried the ATF could use the information to deliberately target political opponents. “When you combine this with the Lois Lerner, IRS kind of saga that’s going on, when you have government agencies that do in fact target specific groups and specific people, that’s what worries us here,” he explained.
Hunter sent a letter to the ATF last week to demand transparency, but isn’t confident his queries will be quickly answered.
“We aren’t necessarily expecting a response,” he said. “This’ll probably take some more pushing. Organizations like the ATF every now and then get kind of obstinate, and it’s up to us to go in there and get the answer.”
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