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News & Editorials

Kentucky Man Vows to Take on BATF over Questionable Raid

by J.J. Johnson
Sierra Times
with Angel Shamaya

Copyright 2001
Reprint permission granted upon request.

November 28, 2001

LANCASTER, KENTUCKY -- An automotive technician had his home raided by federal agents over a 35 year-old non-violent felony on Tuesday. After the 7-hour action by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms that cost the loss of all firearms and a computer hard drive, Charlie Puckett vows to fight back. "I will do whatever it takes to get my firearms back," he said.

At issue is the Constitutional guarantee against enforcement of ex-post facto laws. Puckett was convicted in Virginia back in 1966 after for a crime of petty theft -- stealing food from a grocery store. Some years later, that crime was upgraded to a felony based on the value of the theft being over $100. The Gun Control Act of 1968 stated that a convicted felon could not possess firearms, but this crime was not processed as a felony, and it happened two years before GCA '68 was signed into law. Puckett was 19 years of age when the incident took place.

"I was young then, and we were hungry", said Puckett. But somehow, someway, a 35-year-old, non-violent felony justified Puckett's home being ransacked by treasury agents, his property confiscated.

According to Robert Young, Special Agent in Charge for the BATF, a search warrant was served on Puckett for "suspicion of illegal firearms possession."  This is what they apparently told the local newspaper (and probably convinced Federal District Judge Todd, who signed the warrant). Don York, a spokesman for the BATF said that Puckett has never applied for a "restoration of rights'' with the BATF to allow to him to own firearms.

And it was never an issue -- for 35 years.

But the BATF failed to mention that Puckett -- who has never been charged with any crime since, married to the same woman for 33 years, and a father of two, with one grandchild -- had voted in every presidential election since 1968. "I even filled out the 4473 forms to purchase these firearms, and went through background checks," he told Sierra Times.

Convicted felons are also prohibited from voting, and background checks are supposed to catch them. Perhaps he never made it into the system because he was never convicted of a felony.

Puckett also stated that he has a Kentucky Concealed Carry Permit. "And they check it every week to make sure nothing new comes up on someone's record," he said. Puckett has worked as an automotive technician for all of his adult life.

The Take Down

According to Puckett, the incident began with a call from the BATF around 9:30 am. "They wanted to meet me in a neutral location to look at photos concerning the Steve Anderson case." Anderson was allegedly involved in a gunfight with two police officers in Bell County, Kentucky on October 14th of this year. Despite a $5,000 reward for capture, Anderson is still at large.

Puckett, insisting he has no ties to Anderson, agreed to meet at a local store to assist the BATF in their ongoing investigation of Anderson. Upon arrival, he made the mistake of taking federal agents at their word -- he was served with a federal search warrant instead. "From there, we got in their car and drove back to my place," said Puckett.

Reports say that between 35 and 50 federal agents (backed up by locals) took part in the search. The dress was fed-casual: no ski masks or helmets, but the body armor (with ATF logo) was on top of the shirts, sporting Glock .45's and at least two M-16 rifles at the ready. No snipers were spotted.

The agents spent about 7 hours in the Puckett home, while Charlie remained in his garage -- prevented from watching them rifle through his belongings. He was not harmed, nor was he handcuffed during the search. "I feel like a woman that has been raped and left to die," he said after they left. His wife remains emotionally distraught over the ordeal.

The Loot

The mystery about the Puckett search and seizure is not what was taken, but what was left behind. Puckett reports 5 weapons taken: Two bolt action (single shot) rifles, two side arms and 1 SKA semi-auto are now in BATF possession. But for a home that warranted up to 50 tax-supported, armed agents in body armor, the firearms belonging to Puckett's son were left behind.

The jewel of the Puckett raid seems to have been the hard drive from his computer. "But they won't find much there. I never leave sensitive information there. All of my contacts and other important information is kept off site and in a safe place," said the angry BATF victim.

The Fallout

No arrests were made. No charges have been filed. No court date has been set. "They just left," he said. Still, Puckett says he's not done with this matter in the least bit. He is throwing down the gauntlet. "My Questions are for the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the case: Are you going to prosecute this? Under what grounds? If you took an oath to follow the Constitution, this cannot be prosecuted due to the ex-post facto provision!"

Puckett said that he has found legal counsel and will be speaking with him on Wednesday. He also stated that he has a network of close associates who would assist in any legal costs. There is wide speculation that the raid on the Puckett home was merely a desperate attempt to glean any information on the whereabouts of Steve Anderson -- hence the hard drive seizure.

Puckett said he had plans to run for a seat in Kentucky's 34th congressional district. But after his bout with federal authorities, he has a different taste about working or associating with any federal authority. "First thing I'm going to do [Wednesday] morning is call that FBI contact and tell him we are done. I am never talking to them about anything again." He included a newly developed unwillingness to disclose any information about Steve Anderson, if such information ever came his way.

Puckett stated that he has worked with law enforcement before. According to Puckett, he helped local Danville police round-up 28 suspects back in 1997. "We also recovered a stolen police pistol," he said. But those days are over now. "I am breaking off all contact with federal law enforcement. I have lost all faith in this government."

Puckett also urges friends and associates from around the country to remain calm, and not to jump to any conclusions. "No need to do something stupid folks. You could be next."


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If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government that is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. JAMES MADISON

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