A trio of federal law enforcement agencies have reportedly worked together to strip dozens of Americans of their gun rights through secretive plea agreements and a form not authorized by Congress.
The FBI, Secret Service, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement stripped at least 60 people of their right to firearms between 2011 and 2019, according to The Washington Examiner. In at least one case, the FBI and Secret Service worked with a federal prosecutor to pressure a defendant into signing his gun rights away as a condition for a legal agreement.
“Dear Agent [redacted], You will find enclosed the NICS firearm form which has been signed by my client and his doctor. This is being provided in compliance with [redacted] plea agreement. Yours sincerely,” an attorney’s letter to a Secret Service agent on June 10, 2019, said according to the Examiner.
The letter was obtained by the gun rights group Gun Owners of America through a Freedom of Information Act request. It’s unclear what the defendant was charged with or why the FBI and Secret Service were involved. The case number on the letter was redacted.
The form that effectively strips signatories of their gun rights registers them in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System and labels them as a “danger” to themselves. It also says they lack the “mental capacity adequately to contract” their lives, according to the Examiner.
“There’s a bit of a contradiction,” attorney Gilbert Ambler, who specializes in firearms law, told the Examiner. “They’re having you agree you’re incompetent. If you’re incompetent, how is that a binding agreement?”
Republicans in the House have said that reports of federal law enforcement pressuring Americans to give up their gun rights warrants investigation. Lawmakers say that such pressure appears to be unconstitutional.
“Americans can’t simply sign their constitutional rights away, even to the FBI,” Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) said in December. “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.”
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Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, made similar comments last year.
“We’ve said all along we’re going to do investigations in a way that’s consistent with the Constitution,” said Jordan. “We’re going to do them aggressively. And there is nothing off the table when it comes to getting the facts and the truth for the American people on all these issues that fall under the broad category of politics at the DOJ.”