Red’s manager Ryan Horsley
Federal authorities have agreed to tell a judge in Idaho that the “threat” from a gun-shop manager they had complained of probably wasn’t anything significant, the manager has told WND.
According to a statement released by Ryan Horsley, manager of Red’s Trading Post of Twin Falls, Idaho, his lawyers and lawyers with the U.S. Attorney’s office met and “agreed to neutralize” the complaint that had been submitted by inspectors for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“Although an apology would be nice, this will suffice,” Horsley said. “We are pleased with this decision and with the response that we have received from supporters across the nation who have been following this case.”
The gun shop and the BATFE have been disputing for six years already over the store’s license to sell firearms, with regulators using rules infractions such as a missing poster to attack Red’s business operations.
WND documented earlier how the store appears to be caught up in a new campaign for gun control, focusing on the elimination of retail outlets through technical rules infractions.
Then the agency went to court with a report that its inspectors “suspended” their work at the store recently because of the “threat to the inspectors’ safety created by Ryan Horsley, the Manager of Red’s.
It appears he was posting a report of the inspectors’ visit to his store on his webblog.
“There is still no court date in sight because of all of the attempts of the AFT to get the judge to terminate our injunction (to continue in business) that was granted,” Horsley said. “I am assuming that the audits will continue but as I was pointing out in my now infamous blog that the scrutiny has dramatically increased, where as in our 2005 audit we had one inspector that covered five years worth of paperwork. In the last audit they flew in two inspectors and an area supervisor to cover 21/2 weeks of paperwork.”
He said the agreement was “kind of like a breath of fresh air at this point.”
The latest controversy had developed during the federal agency’s visit to his store on July 17. He updated his blog, which he’s been using to chronicle for readers his encounters with the federal bureaucracy, with the facts of the visit.
“AFT Area Supervisor Linda Young came in today from Spokane, Washington (567.72 miles; 9 hour drive) along with Industry Operations Inspectors Calvin Pavey and Mike Gorewicz from Portland, Oregon (570.96 miles; 9 hour drive) at around 9:45am. They showed up in a rented newer model Chrsyler … [it] appears they are staying at Best America Suites, which I have to compliment them on their taste, that is a very nice hotel for this area,” he wrote.
He went on to describe how the inspectors were looking through the store’s books and one of the store’s supporters arrived with a camera and started taking some photos.
“We had been recording the audit because of some of the statements that Linda Young had made in the past,” he wrote.
The inspectors, however, suddenly left, and within days, the federal agency’s version arrived in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.
“[The federal agency] notifies the court than an inspection of Red’s Trading Post … was initiated on July 17, 2007. The inspection was suspended due to the threat to the inspectors’ safety created by Ryan Horsley, the Manager of Red’s,” the court filing said.
The filing documented how some unidentified person had taken pictures of the inspectors at work.
“At about this time, Supervisor Young’s assistant from the Spokane office contacted her and advised that Mr. Horsley had updated his internet blog (http://redstradingpost.blogspot.com/) to include the information that ATF, and Supervisor Young personally, was at the store conducting an inspection,” the filing said. So Young contacted others.
“The Director of Industry Operations, Richard Van Loan, agreed with Supervisor Young’s assessment that the photographing of the rental car used by ATF personnel, coupled with the instantaneous posting on the internet of ATF’s presence … posed a credible threat to their safety and was designed to harass and intimidate,” the court filing said.
The court filing noted two other times when the inspectors had been photographed, including once by a news team.
“My point was to show the excess spending of the ATF,” Horsley said, citing the assignment of three employees to investigate a couple weeks’ worth of sales.
Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America told WND that as recently as 15 or 20 years ago, there were 250,000 licensed gun dealers in the United States. The federal government confirms there are only about 108,000 now.
The saga with Red’s began when the ATF inspection in 2000 discovered various paperwork violations, Horsley said, just shortly after he arrived to take over the store, mistakes such as a customer failing to write down the county in which he lived.
In 2001, “they couldn’t find any violations,” he told WND. A few other minor problems were found later, including a failure to put up a poster.
“I wasn’t alarmed because this agent … had told us we were one of the best small gun shops he’d ever seen,” Horsley told WND.
Then early in 2006, “We get a letter that ‘We’re [ATF] revoking your license,'” Horsley said. “I just came unglued. I couldn’t believe it.”
After an expensive appeal process within ATF, he ended up with the same result, and sought out a lawyer for the federal court challenge, a challenge which now is pending.