Reno: Rift Between ATF, US Attorney Keeps Illegal Guns on the Streets

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports weapons are not being taken from people who failed background checks because there aren't any ATF agents in the Reno field office to perform such confiscations.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety found at least 36 people who lied or supplied false information on forms when they purchased a gun. They sent letters to the ATF office to inform federal agents of the violations, but the letters went unanswered.

Since September 2011, the Reno US Attorney’s office has refused to prosecute cases filed by the Reno ATF. As a result, most of the agents have transferred. Those agents are needed to seize weapons purchased by people who fail background checks.

Those found to have lied during their background check could also face federal charges for providing false information or for being a felon in possession of a firearm. But even if there were agents to investigate any criminal wrongdoing in these cases, the US Attorney’s office is not accepting cases from the Reno ATF.

Chief Patrick Conmay, head of the records and technology division, said he would continue to send letters to the ATF per their policy. The ATF San Francisco Field Office is in charge of the Reno ATF office and said they were looking into it, but referred questions to ATF headquarters in Washington, DC.

The letters are also sent to local law enforcement, and Washoe County Assistant Sheriff Marshall Emerson confirmed to the RGJ they have received the letters, but do not take action.

“The only time we retrieve weapons is if there is a court order and the judge wants us to take possession or if it’s related to a warrant in an underlying crime,” he said. “But federal law is the responsibility of the federal authorities.”

Three Congressmen, including Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), have demanded answers from the US Attorney’s office, the ATF office, head of the ATF, and Attorney General Eric Holder. No one has responded to their requests. 


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