State Rep. Demands Investigation Following Raid of Gun Dealer’s Home by ATF Agents in Tactical Gear with AR-15s

by J Pelkey
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The ATF, by design, is not a legislative body; it is an executive agency tasked with enforcing laws duly passed by Congress.

The ATF is not empowered to create policies nor is it empowered to reclassify law-abiding citizens as criminals.

State Representative Justin Humphrey, representing District 19 in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, is calling for a thorough investigation into allegations of constitutional and civil rights violations involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

These allegations have been raised by Russell Fincher, a 52-year-old high school history teacher, Baptist pastor, and part-time firearms dealer. Fincher claims that ATF agents resorted to intimidation and coercion in an effort to force him to surrender his federal firearms license.

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Fincher, who has held a Federal Firearm License (FFL) for three years and primarily engaged in firearm transactions at gun shows, claims that the ordeal started with a phone call from the ATF in April. They requested permission to inspect his home-based firearms business, to which Fincher consented willingly. Two ATF inspectors were welcomed, who proceeded to photograph certain 4473 forms using their mobile phones, a practice that Fincher later discovered is illegal but reportedly common.

On June 16, 2023, Lee Williams of The Gun Writer reported that while Russell Fincher and his son were preparing for a gun show in Tulsa, they were suddenly confronted by an overwhelming show of force.

A convoy of seven vehicles, carrying a dozen ATF agents clad in tactical gear and armed with AR-15s, unexpectedly descended upon Fincher’s residence in Clayton. This intimidating display culminated in Fincher being handcuffed on his own deck, surrounded by these agents. The presence of heavily armed agents and their aggressive conduct left both Fincher and his son traumatized.

“It was like the Trump raid. They called me out onto my deck and handcuffed me. My son was there and saw the whole thing. He’s 13 years old,” Fincher told Williams.

“They held me on the porch for about an hour. I was surrounded by agents. One by one, they yelled at me about what I was doing. In my mind I decided if they were going to beat me up over every little thing, I’m done. As soon as I said, ‘If you want my FFL, you can have it,’ one of the agents pulled out a piece of paper and said, ‘Well then sign here.’ He had made three copies in case I screwed one up. It was exactly what they wanted. I was shocked,” Fincher added.

During the raid, ATF agents pressured Fincher to renounce his federal firearms license. They handed him pre-drafted termination documents and effectively coerced him into signing them, leveraging the threat of further action against him and his associates involved in firearms dealing.

Upon Fincher’s surrender of his Federal Firearm License, the ATF promptly seized several firearms, including a Colt Commander, five Glocks, and a pristine AK – specifically, a Polytech Pre-ban machined under-folder – valued at thousands of dollars.

“They took more than 50 of my personal guns,” Fincher said. “I asked them why, and they said they were ‘evidence.’ I’d estimate they took $50,000 to $60,000 worth of guns.”

After the ATF SWAT team cleared Fincher’s home, they contacted the raid’s leader, Special Agent Theodore Mongell, and told him that it was “safe to come up.”

“You’re done. We have to shut you down,” Fincher recalls Mongell saying. “You tell all your FFL buddies we are coming for them. We are shutting the gun shows down.”

Screenshot / The Gun Writer
Screenshot / The Gun Writer

More from The Gun Writer:

After ATF’s SWAT team cleared Fincher’s home, they called the agent in charge of the raid — Special Agent Theodore Mongell — and told him it was “safe to come up.”

“You’re done. We have to shut you down,” Fincher recalls Mongell saying. “You tell all your FFL buddies we are coming for them. We are shutting the gun shows down.”

“One agent told me they hate home FFLs,” Fincher said. “He said if I wanted to sell a Browning shotgun to someone at a gun show with no paperwork, that’s no problem, but when I sell a Glock or an AR lower that’s a ‘gangbanger.’ I asked him where it said that in the regs. He said no gangbanger would be shooting people with a $2,000 Benelli. To me, that was one of the dumbest statements he could have made.”

Several agents accused Fincher of making too much money through his gun show sales. He told them at the last show he attended he only sold $75 worth of ammunition, but spent $1,200 on hotels, tables, gas and food.

“They said I was basically using my FFL to sell guns personally,” Fincher said. “They said I was going around the system, putting guns on the street that should not be.”

Fincher was told to load the firearms ATF didn’t want into the back of his pickup, which he later took to another FFL. Toward the end of the ordeal, Fincher asked Mongell about his guns they had seized.

“He told me, ‘If you’re willing to forfeit them, we can make a lot of this go away,’” Fincher said. “This sounds to me like a shakedown. They seized my guns as punitive damage. They knew how to get me, by taking all my guns. There was no rhyme nor reason to what they took. Honestly, they took the most expensive and rarest ones.”

Williams wrote that the Investigative Journalism Project at the Second Amendment Foundation reached out to ATF Special Agent Theodore Mongell to inquire about the reasons behind the intrusion into Fincher’s residence and the confiscation of his firearms.

Mongell responded, saying, “I can’t answer any questions. I’m not supposed to do that, per my agency. Actually, I’m not supposed to talk to anyone until I get approval from my higher ups. I have to verify who you are, take down your info and go through my agency.”

Upon receiving Fincher’s report, State Representative Justin Humphrey took prompt action to address the ATF’s misconduct.

On Wednesday, Rep. Humphrey forwarded the report to relevant Oklahoma authorities, which included Attorney General Gentner Drummond, Pushmataha County Sheriff B.J. Hedgecock, and Governor Kevin J. Stitt. He called for a thorough investigation into potential violations of both state and federal laws, as well as any infringement upon Fincher’s constitutional rights.

“If this report is true, and I have every reason to believe it is, then it would appear the ATF’s actions constitute a gross misuse and abuse of their federal police powers,” said Humphrey.

According to Rep. Humphreys, the investigation should encompass the following:

  • Whether ATF agents abused their law enforcement powers to coerce and extort Mr. Fincher into terminating his federal firearms license.
  • Whether agents issued threats against firearms dealers in Oklahoma.

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