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News & Editorials

Letter from John Ross' Attorney to Director of BATF

We spoke to Mr. Jeffries to ascertain the validity of this letter. It is real, and he told that their preference for this letter is wide distribution. ~~ KABA

TELEPHONE: (336) 282-6024

30 June, 2000

Honorable Bradley A. Buckles, Director
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
United States Department of the Treasury
650 Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20226

Re: Mr. John Ross
St. Louis, Missouri

Dear Mr. Buckles:

I represent Mr. John Ross of St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Ross is an investment broker and financial adviser with a respected investment firm in St. Louis. He has degrees in English and Economics from Amherst College. Mr. Ross is very active in community and public affairs. He is the grandson of President Harry Truman's press secretary, Charles Ross, and was himself the Democratic Party candidate for the United States House of Representatives from the Second District of Missouri in 1998. In short, Mr. Ross is an upstanding and productive member of his community.

Mr. Ross has had a lifelong interest in firearms and is both a Federal Firearms Licensee and a Special Occupational Taxpayer under the National Firearms Act. Of central importance to the purpose of this letter is the fact that Mr. Ross is also the author of Unintended Consequences, a highly popular novel about the trials and tribulations of legal gun owners and dealers in the United States. Although the book is manifestly a work of fiction, it accurately depicts documented historical events in the long and sordid history of misconduct by personnel of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The book is in its fifth hardcover printing with some 50,000 copies in circulation and has become enormously popular among the gun owners of the United States. Because the book is highly critical of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, it appears that some in your agency have undertaken to suppress it and to intimidate its author.

Honorable Bradley A. Buckles - page two

For example, in 1997 the book's publisher became aware that individuals purporting to be BATF agents had threatened vendors of the book in at least three different states with "problems" if they did not cease their sales of the book. A full-page ad in Shotgun News offering a $10,000 reward for the identity of these individuals put a stop to that particular business.

Now we have learned that in late May of this year agents from your St. Louis field office have engaged in an official effort to enlist Mrs. Ross, who is amicably separated from her husband as an informant against her husband. On or about May 24 2000, at about 7:30 a.m. two agents approached Mrs. Ross on the street while she was walking her dog, identified themselves by displaying their BATF credentials, and proceeded to inquire what she thought about her husband's book. When she was noncommittal the agents terminated the conversation and departed. This contact had been preceded in previous weeks by pretext telephone calls to Mrs. Ross, by what were undoubtedly your agents, in an attempt to draw her out about her husband's book. An agent, using the pseudonym of Peter Nettleson, and pretending to be a great fan of Unintended Consequences, sought Mrs. Ross's agreement that the book was, in fact, "a manual for the murder of federal agents." [1]

I note in passing that best-selling author Tom Clancy in recent books has murdered a Director of the FBI, the President of the United States, the entire Congress, the Supreme Court, the entire cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a few lesser functionaries. I presume he has not thereby become subject to investigation by your literary critics.

1. As an experienced federal prosecutor I am fully aware of what is going on here. Disgruntled former spouses are a prime source of intelligence for law enforcement, having as they frequently do both a strong bias against the subject of the investigation and the proximity and intimacy to know many things not available to others. A structured approach such as this required, according to your manuals, formal agency approval. It required the investment of time and effort in setting up the approach: determining Mrs. Ross's new address, learning her new telephone number, physical surveillance to determine her routine so that she could be approached in a way that she could not simply shut the door and where there would be less risk of confirming witnesses, the use of a female agent to lessen any apprehension at being approached publicly by strangers, etc.

Honorable Bradley A. Buckles - page three

What kind of people are you? Is there no honor within the ranks of your agency? It has long been clear, from repeated court decisions and congressional committee reports, that your agents have no familiarity with the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth
Amendments to the United States Constitution. Now it appears that they have not even been introduced to the very first Article of the Bill of Rights.

I am writing to express our outrage about this conduct and to formally demand that your agency cease and desist from this
unconstitutional abuse of power. I am contemporaneously making formal Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act demands upon BATF for the records and files pertaining to Mr. Ross, his book, and these events.

By copies of this letter I am requesting the Inspector General of the Treasury Department to formally investigate this unlawful
conduct and the Attorney General to investigate to determine whether Mr. Ross's civil rights are being violated by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Sincerely yours,

James H. Jeffries, III

cc: Attorney General of the United States
Inspector General, Department of the Treasury

Mr. Jeffries is a retired U.S. Dept. of Justice lawyer, retired colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, and currently practices firearms law in Greensboro, NC. He is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law, former Note Editor for its Journal, and a Life Member of the North Carolina Rifle And Pistol Association.


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In our inner cities, where firearms are outlawed, only outlaws are armed. When our "philosopher kings" sit back and do nothing, this is the tyranny and terror of "gun control." —CHARLTON HESTON

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