Agents from the ATF and the Internal Revenue Service stormed a gun store in Montana armed to the teeth, seizing data of customers’ background checks. The IRS seized 4473 forms, which amounted to background check forms, but did not take any financial data, according to U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale (R-MT).
Tom Van Hoose, owner of Highwood Creek Outfitters, said that the agents showed up at his business right before opening time on a Wednesday. “At 7:30, I came in, and they pulled in behind me with 20 heavily armed agents,” Van Hoose recalled.
According to the owner’s interview with KRTV, his company has been under investigation by federal law enforcement for over two years. Nothing more specific than the fact that Van Hoose’s company was “reported” has been given to him.
“The fact that they think we make so much money as a gun business that they had to come investigate all the thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars whatever it is we supposedly absconded with, anybody that knows the margins in the gun business knows they’re not that high,” Van Hoose said.
Van Hoose continued by saying he thinks his company is being singled out for political reasons. He speculated that it was because of the negative attention the weapons we use receive in the media. Getting guns out of the hands of ordinary Americans appears to be a top priority for the present government.
On Friday, Rep. Rosendale visited the shop and revealed that the IRS had confiscated buyer records. “Tom informed me that these agents confiscated all the 4473 forms, none of which contain any financial information; instead, the IRS now has access to these forms with sensitive personal details of every customer who purchased a firearm from Highwood Creek Outfitters,” Rosendale wrote in a tweet Friday.
Rosendale demanded answers in a letter addressed to leaders of the Internal Revenue Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “These background check forms contain no financial information, and there is no discernable reason why the IRS would need these forms,” Rosendale wrote.
“The IRS committed an egregious breach of privacy for Montana’s gun owners and I am outraged that the agents involved showed no regard for federal law. Although there are still some murky details regarding the events at Highwood Creek Outfitters, there is still no circumstance in which 4473’s would be necessary in an investigation spearheaded by the IRS.”
The letter then called on the agencies to “cease conducting these Soviet-style intimidation raids.”
He asked the agencies to respond by June 23 to his list of further questions about the raid.
I met with Tom Vanhoose this morning after 20 armed IRS agents raided his store in Great Falls earlier this week.— Matt Rosendale (@RepRosendale) June 16, 2023
Tom informed me that these agents confiscated all the 4473 forms, none of which contain any financial information; instead, the IRS now has access to these forms… pic.twitter.com/HPFEgZedKI
In a statement to the Billlings Gazette, an IRS Criminal Investigation spokeswoman confirmed the raid, noting only that “IRS Criminal Investigation was on site as part of their official business.” When questioned, the ATF said to contact the IRS instead.