Justice Department FOIA Response on Permanent Entry to NICS Ignores Key Requests

Attorney General Merrick Garland and ATF Director Steve Dettelbach participate in a propaganda session to exploit images of violence victims and manipulate public demand for more citizen disarmament. (The United States Department of Justice/Facebook)

“The FBI has completed its search for records subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that are responsive to your request,” Section Chief Michael G. Seidel of the Bureau’s Record/Information Dissemination Section, Information Management Division wrote to this correspondent in an April 15 response to my Codrea v. Department of Justice complaint. “The enclosed 229 pages of records were determined to be responsive to your subject and were previously processed and released.”

The complaint was filed, as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News reported, because the FBI had failed to produce records requested in July of last year regarding a commitment by Hunter Biden to  “consent to a permanent entry in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System such that he will be denied via NICS if he attempts to legally purchase another firearm” as part of an abortive plea deal.

Signing a form and ceding rights is not a statutorily authorized way of designating a citizen a “prohibited person.” Since Congress didn’t authorize it, the FOIA request attempted to discern how DOJ could legitimately claim such authority by asking for:

  • All records regarding the phrase “consent to a permanent entry in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System”
  • Records regarding the authority of the Department of Justice to allow and/or require individuals to consent to “permanent entry” in the NICS system to deny firearms purchases; and
  • Records regarding the ability/authority of those persons who have consented to “permanent entry” in NICS to remove themselves from NICS.

In a joint status report filed in late March, the Department admitted, “Based on the additional information provided by Plaintiff, the FBI expects to produce approximately 350 pages by mid-April.”

That document production is embedded below, containing the “Self-Submission Form” and redacted communications, completed forms, and investigation reports. And while the reports show the signatories’ conduct and statements were threatening and bizarre, and indicated fantasies of violence and revenge (and conversely, they even included a “thank you for disarming me and saving me from myself” letter), none of it by itself rises to the level of having been convicted of a crime or committed an act that would mandate their permanent disability by law.

If you have someone threatening to shoot up schools or hijack planes, or kill people, as some of the reports indicate, those are all prosecutable, and the proper remedy would be to charge them, try, them, convict them, and remove them from access to victims. Especially when the Department knows from its own studies that dangerous criminals rarely go through NICS to get their guns.

But that requires effort, resources, and due process for the accused. It’s inarguable that coercing them into signing a form is the easier way to chalk up a “success.” That the public is in no less danger does not seem to be a factor, and in a perverse way, more violent crime is a known motivator for the public to demand more government controls.

What all those pages in the FOIA response did not do is provide what was being asked for.

“Although your request is in litigation, we are required by law to provide you the following information,” Seidel continued, relating how to appeal the production if “not satisfied” and direction on how to request “dispute resolution services.”

It looks like the litigation will proceed.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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