Critics of the way federal agencies in Montana handled a recent raid on a company that recycles brass for ammunition are calling for an investigation.
Government officials have declined to respond to allegations that armed officers with weapons drawn locked up USA Brass employees, confiscated their cell phones and otherwise violated their rights.
The incident in Bozeman, Mont., drew little attention from media.
To protect against lead contamination, USA Brass had installed filters and added training. The company had passed a subsequent inspection before officers from the Environmental Protection Agency and FBI arrived, apparently with guns drawn.
The story has spread on the Internet among bloggers and Second Amendment advocates. A blog called Defensive Handguns described the raid this way: "Obama's storm troopers raided USA Brass in Bozeman."
And at Firearms Talk was the comment:"More excuses to go after the ammunition in one way or another."
Popular gun rights writer David Codrea noted at noted in his Examiner.com blog that he "warned back in 2009 that Obama's pick to head the [federal job safety] agency, David Michaels, was strongly anti-gun and committed to using regulatory schemes to get his way."
Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, is asking Montana Attorney General Tim Fox to look into the issue.
"Tim, given the heavy-handed application of federal force by BLM currently unfolding in Nevada, I believe it is imperative that Montana assert some accountability for the application of federal police, or police-like, force in Montana," he told Fox.
He explained that although USA Brass "had been subject to some civil enforcement action for workplace safety by OSHA, the company had completely remedied any such problems and had been given a clean bill of health by OSHA."
So the "raid" apparently was unrelated, Marbut said.
"Because a warrant was served on USA Brass, anyone would wonder if there were some particularly egregious activity going on there, and what the federal foreknowledge of that activity might be. Because of the overwhelming armed force used by federal officials to mount this raid, that suggests expected resistance or some sort of ongoing, violent criminal conduct at USA Brass. Your investigation should disclose whether or not these suppositions, spawned by the tactics of the raid, are correct or incorrect. This, in turn, should offer some perspective about whether or not the level of force and intimidation used was warranted," Marbut wrote.
He explained there were reports of federal employees rounding up and sequestering employees, confiscating their cell phones and more.
"Since these employees of USA Brass were not free to leave, I believe this detention qualifies as an arrest under current case law. It would be helpful for you to examine whether sufficient justification for this mass arrest was present," Marbut said.
He said the confiscation of cell phones suggested some efforts by federal agents "to prevent any recording of what they did."
He wondered, why would that be?
And why would "most or all of the raid personnel" be armed?
Marbut noted that some have explained the event as an "audit," but then the question is why it escalated into "a full-blown, armed raid."
Fox did not respond to a WND request for comment after the same questions, submitted to the U.S. attorney for Montana, generated no response.
"I hope you will also look at what role the Gallatin County sheriffs office may have played, or not played, in the federal raid at USA Brass, Marbut said. "More specifically, was the GCSO looking out for the welfare of the people of Gallatin County, or was the GCSO simply aiding and facilitating the operation of federal entities and federal personnel?"
His earlier request to Michael W. Cotter, the U.S. attorney for Montana, for answers to the same questions, generated no response, he told WND.
Cotter's office declined to comment to WND.
In a dispatch to MSSA supporters, Marbut explained: "Upon OSHA's first visit, I'm told, USA Brass managers didn't kneel quickly enough to OSHA inspectors and offended them by not being subserviently cooperative. So, the subsequent raid by EPA, FBI and others was conducted to teach them a lesson about federal power and proper cooperation."
Marbut compared the raid to the federal government's heavy-handed seizure of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's cattle.
"And, I see no reason to put up with it. None! What is known about the Bozeman raid presents more questions than it answers. I put those questions in a polite letter to the U.S. Attorney for Montana and asked him to look into it. He has not responded. I assume my very polite request went into his round file."
Marbut and the Montana Shooting Sports Association have been in the headlines in recent years over their challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the Commerce Clause, which allows the federal government to regulate just about anything, whether it has an impact on interstate commerce or not.
The Supreme Court refused to hear their arguments, however, leaving the status quo.