Thu. Jul 11th, 2024

FBI used secret powers to strip more Americans of their gun rights, documents reveal

EXCLUSIVE — The FBI has secretly stripped eight more people of their rights to own, use, or purchase firearms , according to internal FBI documents obtained by the Washington Examiner.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and over a dozen GOP members of Congress in October demanded that the FBI and Justice Department hand over proof that the FBI is no longer waiving people’s gun rights with internal forms, which the Daily Caller uncovered in September had been signed by 15 people. Now, the Washington Examiner has obtained eight heavily redacted signed forms — indicating a more widespread bureau effort than previously known to target the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

“Americans can’t simply sign their constitutional rights away, even to the FBI,” Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX), who signed the October letter, told the Washington Examiner. “As Republicans enter a House majority, we must use our investigative power to put a check on federal agencies who have proven to be eager and willing to crack down on Americans’ right to keep and bear arms.”

Screenshot/one FBI form obtained by the Washington Examiner

Through the forms, the FBI asked signatories to identify as a “danger” to themselves or others or lacking the “mental capacity adequately to contract or manage” their lives. The forms were presented by the FBI to people at their homes and in other undisclosed locations beginning in at least 2016 and until December 2019, when the FBI claims it was discontinued.

While two of the new eight forms have redacted dates for when they were signed, the other six are dated between March 2018 and April 2019.

The signed forms were obtained by Gun Owners of America, a firearms rights group, as part of its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the bureau to compel the disclosure of records. They were then shared with the Washington Examiner.

Second Amendment attorneys, as well as GOA, said the existence of the forms, which register signatories into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, leaves unanswered legal questions.

This includes the question of whether the form is legal in the first place — given that it did not move through the process mandated under federal law for government agencies to receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget before obtaining information from the public.

It also remains unclear how the FBI’s usage of the NICS forms aligns with the Gun Control Act of 1968, which outlines how someone may be barred from owning guns if he or she is “adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution.”

But the act does not say people can rule themselves unfit to own firearms.

“The act is clear, and it says ‘adjudicated,'” John Harris, a lawyer who directs the Tennessee Firearms Association, told the Washington Examiner.

Like the NICS forms previously reported on, the latest batch obtained by the Washington Examiner does not list the names of signatories. The prior forms were accompanied by documents showing that the FBI used them in Massachusetts , Michigan, and Maine.

But it is unclear where the eight new forms were signed.

It is also unclear what sort of background the people who signed the eight forms had. The forms reported on prior included records showing that signatories were those who allegedly made violent threats in person, in online chat rooms, and on social media.

“While the initial reports were alarming enough, as GOA dug deeper, things just kept getting worse,” Erich Pratt, senior vice president of GOA, told the Washington Examiner. “We thank Ms. Greene and all the members who joined her in demanding answers for this damning breach of the public trust, and we look forward to assisting in any possible way as investigations into this matter develop in Congress.”

The existence of more signed forms could further compel House Republicans, who will have a chamber majority, to investigate the FBI’s usage of them in the next Congress. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is poised to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in September that he was planning oversight in connection to the forms and other alleged bureau issues.

“This is part of the political nature of the Justice Department,” Jordan said at the time. “Next Congress, we are definitely looking into the whole political nature.”

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) sponsored a resolution in November that would demand that Attorney General Merrick Garland provide records on the FBI forms. However, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee rejected that measure on Wednesday, the Washington Examiner reported.

The vote occurred during a hearing in which committee members debated a bill sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) called the Preventing Suicide Through Voluntary Firearm Purchase Delay Act.

Jayapal’s bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO), John Curtis (R-UT), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), would legally permit people to add themselves to the NICS database — thereby forfeiting their rights to own, use, or buy firearms.

The bill demonstrates the glaring problem with the FBI previously obtaining signatures on its forms since lawmakers are essentially recognizing there needs to be congressional approval to engage in what the FBI already did, according to Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs at GOA.

“The FBI just made something up and began implementing it,” Johnston said. “It has deprived these people of their rights by some made-up unconstitutional process.”

The FBI declined a request for comment. cited

‘Deep State mentality’: Secret Service, ICE secretly coordinated with FBI to strip gun rights, emails show

EXCLUSIVE — The Secret Service and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement secretly coordinated with the FBI to strip U.S. citizens of their rights to own, use, or even buy firearms, according to internal emails obtained by the Washington Examiner.

Behind closed doors and without congressional approval, the FBI has stripped gun rights from at least 23 people with internal forms, the Washington Examiner reported. However, Secret Service and ICE, two agencies under the Department of Homeland Security, have also quietly used these same forms, emails show.

The emails were first obtained by the firearms rights group Gun Owners of America amid its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI and shared with the Washington Examiner. They demonstrate a more widespread effort than was previously known by the federal government to use the forms, which the Daily Caller revealed in September had been presented between 2016 and 2019 by FBI agents to people at their homes in Maine, Michigan, and Massachusetts, as well as in other undisclosed locations.Signatories were registered with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System and asked to declare that they were a “danger” to themselves or other people or lacking the “mental capacity adequately to contract” their lives. Many of the people targeted by the FBI in the past had reportedly made violent threats on social media, in chat rooms, and in person, internal records show.

“Good evening [redacted],” a Secret Service employee wrote to an FBI employee on March 30, 2018. “Attached is a NICS self-submission form for [redacted] (DOB: [redacted].”

“His USSS case number is 127-679-0044105,” the email continued, noting it was sent from a supervisory protective intelligence research specialist. “If you have any questions, please let me know. Thank you.”

The email was attached with a form intended to waive the gun rights of the signatory, records show. The Washington Examiner was unable to verify the date that the form was signed.

Separately, an email from June 4, 2018, also sheds light on the Secret Service’s usage of the form. A Secret Service employee wrote to an FBI employee: “Can you please enter [redacted] into NICS and advise me when it has been entered. Thank you.”

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) told the Washington Examiner he wants to know if more federal agencies have used the NICS forms. The congressman put forth a resolution in November, which Democrats rejected on Wednesday, that would request Attorney General Merrick Garland turn over documents in connection to the forms.

“It’s just really, really concerning,” said Clyde.

“Is Veterans Affairs using this form to try and get veterans to self-report and deny themselves their Second Amendment right?” he asked. “That needs to be discovered. We need to investigate that. In the majority, I think it becomes a valid question and a valid investigation, and I think we need to spotlight that.”

The other set of emails obtained by the Washington Examiner pertains to ICE, an agency tasked with protecting the border and stopping illegal immigration.

On March 26, 2019, an undisclosed ICE employee wrote to a NICS liaison specialist, “Please see attached signed form.”

In response, the specialist wrote back 10 minutes later, “Entered,” to which the ICE employee said, “Awesome!”

Ken Cuccinelli, who was a top DHS official under former President Donald Trump, told the Washington Examiner he finds it “shocking” that ICE appears to have used the FBI forms. This is because ICE and the FBI have different areas of focus, he said.

“It certainly suggests to me that a certain type of agent is talking across the federal spectrum,” said Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia. “They were doing it when they had to know their leadership would have opposed it. It really speaks to the rogue nature of the ‘Deep State’ mentality.”

The revelation that more agencies had involvement with the NICS forms comes after the Washington Examiner reported that the FBI stripped eight more people of their gun rights between March 2018 and April 2019. There has never been any indication that ICE used the forms. However, prior emails obtained by the Daily Caller indicated that the Secret Service obtained NICS forms from an FBI employee.

Those emails also indicated that the Social Security Administration had obtained NICS forms from an FBI employee.

It is unclear how the FBI identified all of the signatories, though some forms include investigative records detailing federal investigations. The FBI has claimed usage of the form was discontinued in 2019.

“It might not be surprising in the Biden administration, but it’s pretty obviously shocking under a Trump administration,” Cuccinelli said.

The existence of the signed forms leaves a variety of unanswered legal questions, according to Second Amendment attorneys. Notably, the document itself did not move through a process required under federal law for government agencies to receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget before obtaining information from the public.

House Republicans have told the Washington Examiner they will investigate the FBI over the NICS forms next Congress. In October, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and over a dozen members urged FBI Director Christopher Wray and Garland to provide evidence that the FBI is no longer using the forms.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is poised to become chairman of the influential House Judiciary Committee, said on Saturday that “nothing is off the table,” including subpoenas, in terms of investigating the FBI over the forms.

“We may need to figure out who OK’d this program,” Jordan told the Washington Examiner. “Who, in fact, were the agents going out actually implementing this program? Because we may need to talk to them to figure out how this all got started.”

“How did they decide which people to go after?” Jordan asked.

The FBI’s secret usage of the NICS forms has grown increasingly relevant in the halls of Congress. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and other members are looking to pass legislation granting a pathway for people to waive their gun rights and add themselves to the NICS database.

Jordan and other members, including Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, have said the legislative push is evidence that the FBI acted inappropriately. This is because it shows the bureau actually needed congressional approval to strip people’s gun rights with the forms, they say.

“What we’re looking at is evidence that the FBI went off on their own and wrote the bill and implemented the bill that you are trying to pass here today, or did pass, and will try to pass on the floor,” said Massie on Wednesday.

Story by Gabe Kaminsky