This is Talkin’ to America. I’m your host, Aaron Zelman.
Our guest today is Len Savage. Len first was on our program November
1, 2005 talking about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and
Explosives, and he is back again today. Some things have happened since
November and you can consider this program an update. You and JPFO were
noted in a CRS report. This is also known as the Congressional Research
Service of October 5th, and I think maybe we should tell people what
that report is about and what has been going on since then.
Len: Great, and a pleasure to be here. The CRS report basically put
in writing for Congress in a memorandum that verifies what JPFO and
I knew along, and that is ATF did not have any testing procedures, and
I don’t think the impact of that memorandum has been fully impacted
yet, because every case prior to the Wren case which happened in November,
which was also after that report, weren’t running with any procedures
and could make it up as they went along and could manufacturer evidence.
Nobody would ask any questions, and nobody has even looked into the
previous cases and how many people now are sitting in prison because
the ATF manufactured evidence against them.
Aaron: Are you sure our government would do something that dastardly?
Len: Well, I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it
with my own eyes. I have personally experienced it. US Vs Wren
was a case that happened last November. I was a technical advisor for
the Defense and supposed to testify as an expert witness in the case.
About midway through the trial, there seemed to be a little bit of pandemonium
going on and the outcome of that was that the government dismissed all
the firearm charges against Mr. Wren if Mr. Wren would accept a plea-bargain
of one count of mail fraud and one count of a false statement to an
ATF officer, and I think they said they would recommend the sentence
of $100 fine and six month probation, and being 60 years old, he took
the deal or spend another half million dollars to continue the fight.
That is the problem. You are worn down financially. It was just a very
interesting trial and I think in the future its importance will play
out. What was important more than anything is that the judge finally
picked up on the fact that the ATF added a conversion device and had
altered the evidence to make it go full auto. She told them that they
could test the evidence in front of the jury but only if they remove
the conversion device and they were embarrassed by this, and that is
when all things kind of fell apart there in that trial. The ATF since
then has certainly let me know that they didn’t appreciate my
presence at the trial and more recently has sent me some paperwork that
would be termed interesting to say the least, possibly threatening.
Aaron: Before we get to the paperwork Len, let’s just spend one
more moment or so on the government’s attitude towards even its
own prosecutor during the trial when they realized that they were going
Len: Oh goodness, yes. Out in the hallway when this ruckus was
raised, I was sitting on a bench and the U.S. prosecutor, Mr. Jonathan
Gasser, came walking by and he got on his cellphone as they are allowed
to have cellphones in the federal buildings and just a very interesting
conversation, even with the “I don’t care, I don’t
care”. He kept repeating “You can have this position. I
am only temporary anyway. I am only acting”. Then he hangs up
and he looks at me, "That was the U.S. Attorney General, Alberto
Gonzalez, chewing me out for offering Mr. Wren such a deal!" and
stormed off and I just stood there openmouthed. I couldn’t believe
it. The Attorney General of the United States was actually monitoring
this one little lowly trial and what the ATF was doing and was upset
because the U.S. attorney pretty well figured out something fraudulent
was going on and pulled the plug on those charges, is what it appeared
to me. I can’t tell by trying to read all the spin what happened
after the trial. Something happened that was very interesting that a
cabinet-level individual would be monitoring such a trial that shouldn’t
Aaron: That is fascinating. You were going to mention some letters
that you received from ATF in the last month or so. Do you want to tell
people about their arbitrary and capricious approach to doing business?
Len: We now have some things documented that I would like to share
with you. #1 We now know, and it is in writing, that the ATF is above
the law. We have always asserted that they acted that way, but now they
assert that they are. On April 4th an assistant director wrote me a
piece of correspondence and specifically stated that the employees of
the ATF are statutorily exempted from having to follow the NFA or GCA.
Aaron: Explain to people what the NFA/GCA is?
Len: The NFA is the National Firearms Act and the GCA is the
Gun Control Act of 1968. For the most part, these are the two statutes
that the ATF assists for. Their existence is only required because of
these two statutes and that is their sole purpose in life, to define
whether or not things are under the purview of the NFA or GCA.
What this means is that an employee of the ATF could turn around and
send you through the U.S. mail a machine gun. No paperwork, no nothing,
and say, “Mr. Zelman we have now declared this not to be a machine
gun. We would like you to have this. We would like you to possess this.
This isn’t even a firearm. This is off the books, off the record,
and it all yours, alright?” Then they could come back later and
say “what are you doing possessing that? You know possession of
that is against the law. We want to prosecute you”. If you said,
“hey wait a minute” and that they illegally transferred
it to you, then no, no, you could be prosecuted for illegal possession.
This is something that the government has given to you and put in your
possession the first time.
They threatened me with it and again they documented and I couldn’t
believe it. They gave me the item and said "You know this item
is against the law and needs to be registered and if you don’t
do it, you need to abandon it and we can prosecute you," after
they gave me the item, but I said "well, didn’t you violate
the law by illegally transferring it?" "Oh no, we are statutorily
exempted. We can’t be in violation of these two statutes."
They pointed out and cited the verse in the law that that is it.
It is even more arbitrary when the most recent article in SWAT
Magazine Boot the BATF
which was about your efforts and mine, and in particular, the DVD, BATFE
Fails the Test. When that happened, the government seemed to
be rather upset at that and immediately after that went to print, I
received three letters in succession, all dated the same date, all negative,
and I won’t even go into the technical aspects of the letters
and they were technically wrong, but there are some things involved
in this paperwork that on its face is far more intriguing and far more
valuable than the technical things that the ATF got wrong. I thought
it was rather interesting that basically a week after they received
their copy, I received these three nasty letters all dated the same
day. It has been a tough time.
Aaron: You have all these letters from the BATF saying, well,
we have changed our mind, just because we told you could do something
nine months ago, we have now decided to change our mind. I assume that
you did not ask for the reconsideration and I assume that the Firearms
Tech Branch does not normally do this or is this something new.
Len: Yes, the reconsideration letter, one of the three. "Upon
reconsideration they have decided to revoke a previous classification".
No this isn’t something that you normally get. I have never received
one before. We had an item and actually an accessory that my company
had designed over a year ago. We had submitted it because we wanted
to be lawful for the tech branch to verify that this was compliant and
not under the purview of the National Firearms Act or the Gun Control
Act of 1968. They sent the item back to me and told me that it was not
a firearm, it was not a machine gun, it did not contain the frame of
a firearm nor did it contain the frame of a machine gun. It was nothing,
it was parts, it was an accessory.My company started to go into production
of these and sold a few units. Nine months later after being threatened
by Mr. Nixon for showing up at the Wren case, I get this letter stating
that upon reconsideration, they didn’t say why they would go back
and reconsider something, the motivation for the reconsideration I think
is really fascinating.
They claimed to always be underbudgeted and behind on everything, and
yet they had so much time on their hands they could just go perusing
the files and say, you know what, I am going to reconsider this one,
or was there something a little bit more nefarious involved like maybe
a little retribution. Maybe they wanted to send a clear message to the
industry of don’t ever show up in a federal courthouse and tell
us that we have made a mistake in our testing, and I think they wanted
to send that message loud and clear to the industry and have. So they
have gone back on their word, and even though we have it in writing
that it is nothing, it is not a firearm. They now say, no, nope, this
is a machine gun, these are all going to have to be registered, these
are all illegal, and it was done just to create financial harm and to
teach me a lesson for speaking out against them.
Aaron: This is Talkin to America. Our guest today is Len Savage
and we are talking about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
and Explosive, otherwise known as the Bureau of Arbitrary Technical
Findings and Edicts, and today we are definitely talking about some
edicts from the government criminals at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms and Explosives. Could you give us a little more information
or insight into the terms that they were used in characteristics and
features of the weapon, actually the nonweapon that you are talking
about, and also what you think that portends for all the guns in American
when the BATF is talking about characteristics and features?
Len; Yes sir, that is very important because they got caught fudging
tests, so they no longer test any submissions at the Firearms Technology
Branch. Now they are evaluating them on their design characteristics
and features, and the features and the characteristics and stuff pointing
out and saying, this is what makes this a machine gun.
We have a big problem because almost every firearm has the same characteristics
and features that they are calling out. It is very scary because they
are setting a precedent here that down the road; the Ruger 1022 is going
to be discovered to have the design characteristics and features, you
know, it can take a high capacity mag. It can be made to do this. You
can put this stock on it. You can make it look, you know, this is all
Haven’t we heard this before? Didn’t this expire? It sounds
to me like the ATF has taken it upon themselves through reinterpretation
of existing regulations to basically litigate. I mean they are making
law through reinterpretation. They are short-circuiting Congress and
the President, and decided you know, that Clinton Gun Ban we had, the
assault weapons ban, well, we want to bring it back but we don’t
want to be troubled with that bothersome thing in Congress and votes
and President’s signature. Let’s just reinterpret what we
do and go right back to where we were anyway and that seems to be the
case. When you start talking about features and characteristics, you
are not talking science, you are talking appearances, and it is a very
slippery slope as we know.
Aaron: The previous ban really was based simply on cosmetics as most
people know or else they should know. Well giving all this flip-flopping
by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, how is
the jury going to figure it out when this finally goes to trial and
all these people who have been erroneously put in jail because of the
actions of the government criminals, how is the jury going to figure
all this out?
Len: First of all, that is a great question. What the jury is
going to see is a man in a three-piece suit who says he has been working
for the government for decades come out and gives a bunch of technical-sounding
stuff, it is so many millimeters long, it is so many millimeters wide,
shoots a 762 x whatever millimeter cartridge, but there is no way for
them to know whether this man is a real expert, whether this man is
a high school dropout. They are not going to know any different.
Here is a question for you. If in 9 months the ATF can’t figure
out whether something is or isn’t even a firearm or is or isn’t
a machine gun, in 9 months if they can’t figure it out, how in
the world is the jury going to figure it out? If the regulations are
so vague that the government’s own experts cannot discern them,
then aren’t they unconstitutionally vague and overly broad? If
their own experts can’t figure it out, there is no way a jury
with a finite amount of time to figure this out is going to be able
I see a toenail hold for striking down of the Gun Control Act of 1968
and the National Firearms Act in 1934 through the ATF’s handling
of the regulations. Regulations are interpretations of the law and this
is very strange because the ATF can say, okay, we are going to create
this regulation for this law that Congress wrote and the President signed,
and they seem to think that they can go back and reinterpret these and
reinterpret these, and just short-circuit Congress, and they can’t.
You are not allowed to do that and there is a constitutional mechanism
to prevent that, and that is if it is unconstitutionally vague or overly
broad. Well, they have now documented the fact that they, the expert’s
expert of the United States of America, the government, on one day says
that no, this is unequivocally our answer for this item and then 9-10
months later says no, no we are taking the opposing point of view now
and citing the same reasons in both letters, so they have just proven
beyond a shadow of a doubt that even they cannot discern the regulations.
Aaron: You mention Congress, but I guess the question is, this is really
based on your own gut feeling, do you think gun owners have any friends
in Congress, because you know some effort has been made to bring all
this information to certain individuals in the U.S. Congress, the Jim
Sensenbrenner crowd, and actually some Congress people who are quite
decent and yet nothing is happening, nothing is getting done as of yet,
so do we really have any friends in Congress?
Len: A very few unfortunately. We have those that when they
want our vote, they will be there come election time. We have Phil Gingry
who has stayed on top of this now for 2 to 2-1/2 years and has introduced
HR1603 with the fairness and firearms testing act. He can’t get
anywhere but he has hung in there and so has Senator Chamblis here in
Georgia who has tried to do everything he can to get this moving in
a direction or something is going to be done. The oversight committee
in the house that oversees the ATF, Crime Terrorism and Homeland Security,
rather fitting, the ATF seems to be able to do all three.
Aaron: Birds of a feather flock together.
Len: Well, they seem to be timid. They seem to be afraid of the ATF.
Ms. Stucco who gave me the same letter telling me that they are statutorily
exempted from having to follow the laws that they are enforcing told
the Congress that she was seeking to induce voluntary compliance. She
just testified at the end of March and then four days later sent me
a letter stating that I was not allowed to call the ATF. I had lost
my phone privileges, my fax privileges, and my email privileges because
they are upset that I had submitted 30 different products since 2002
and I guess I had used up all my minutes per se’. I am not quite
sure that they have the authority to do that, but that is what they
have told me. I am not allowed to contact them anymore. It is interesting.
It is going to be a situation to see whether or not Congress comes to
the rescue or not, but except for a very few voices, nobody is jumping
to our aid.
Aaron: Well I can’t say that I am surprised. It appears that
some of your rights have been violated more than just Second Amendment
Len: This is no longer a Second Amendment issue. This is a First
Amendment issue. The Federal Law Enforcement Agency is now openly hostile
with me. I sought redress to grievance. I pointed out something that
I felt that they were doing wrong.
I first brought it up at the ATF, they didn’t like that idea,
and then brought it up with members of Congress and tried to raise awareness
so that we could rectify it. Now that agency to the ATFE is openly hostile
towards me and the ATF has used the power of the United States Government
to deny me my property. This has cost me very conservatively in just
lost contracts alone $450,000. We are approaching the half million dollar
mark that this has cost me since last August. Members of that agency
have used the color of authority, their badge, to exact revenge and
punishment. There have been attempts to set me up and entrap me. Certainly,
attempts to just rewrite history and say now we are going to reclassify
this so that we can’t sell this anymore, so that we can cost you
dollars and cents to send a clear message to anybody else thinking of
seeking redress to grievance with this particular agency.
What I am astounded by is that members of Congress have been watching
this and I know of other organizations that were also close to members
in Congress. I will say their name, the NRA. These members of Congress
wanted me to talk to these people. These people don’t even take
Aaron: Len, when you say these people, who are these people?
Len: Specifically, the federal liaison of the NRA, Jason Ouimet.
He has been given copies of these letters that say "Look, there
you go, there is proof that even they can’t discern the regulations.
You know, we need your help in Congress to convey this." He won’t
take my phone calls anymore and said that they are not interested in
that, and I just can’t help but get the feeling because it is
not their kind of firearm or because it is not about a sporting clays
or hunting, and it is because is about firearms technology and issues
that are pretty dry for them, they are just not interested.
I was just dumbfounded because the NRA is supposed to be fighting for
gun rights but it seems almost as if they are fighting to keep their
foe alive because it has become a symbiotic relationship where they
both need the money. The ATF needs the NRA so that they can raise the
drumbeat in Congress to raise their budget, and the NRA needs the ATF
so that they can raise the drumbeat with their donations, and that each
one kind of mutually needs the other one to survive. So, that is my
take on it.
Aaron: You are not alone. Other people have also told me the same thing.
I guess the other fair question to ask from my perspective is it appears
that you have associated with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms
Ownership that you have been even more abused by BATF. Is that a fair
assumption or am I pushing the envelope?
Len: No, I would say that is a pretty fair assumption. Only one time
had the current Chief of Firearms Technology Branch ever brought up
your name. They have told me many times how dare I express my opinion
on your website and that I was threatening them by speaking my opinion
on various websites, and only once could they utter JPFO. They couldn’t
even say the full name. It seemed to really bother them to even speak
it, so yes, they know it. They seem to be afraid to even speak your
name and I for the life of me can’t understand why, unless of
course they are anti-Semitic in some way.
Aaron: Well, they will have to tell us that, won’t they or they
can deny it. What are the dangers you see to regular Americans, not
just gun makers or gun owners, based on the experience you are now having,
and some of the changes now in interpretation and the way they are trying
to manipulate the law and the regulations.
Len: It is a very dangerous precedent. They have circumvented
our system and new laws are supposed to go through Congress, be signed
by the President, making checks and balances along the way, and this
dangerous reinterpretation, what is to keep them from reinterpreting
You have to wonder whether other agencies within the government aren’t
watching with morbid curiosity to see if they actually get away with
this. Why would you need to go through Congress and get a new law when
you can just rewrite it and reinterpret it to suit your needs. It is
extremely dangerous and it doesn’t just apply to gun makers or
Here is just a wild what-if. You are walking in a grocery store and
you walk in front of somebody pushing a cart and a traffic cop who happens
to be in the grocery store gives you a ticket for J-walking. "I
have reinterpreted the law, that is to prevent you from getting harmed
and you are not supposed to cross in front of traffic, and even though
this isn’t real traffic, since this was traffic and she had a
load, I am going to give you the ticket anyway because that is how I
am reinterpreting the law." Pretty scare stuff. That is a ridiculous
example but that is basically what the ATF is saying now. "Even
though this is meant to be out in the street and with motor vehicles,
I am not going to apply this here because I am allowed to."
Nobody says that they are allowed to. I can’t find anywhere in
the law that states that they even have the authority to reclassify.
It is only says they have the power to classify. It doesn’t say
anything about doing it again, but you know, they just assert that authority.
They take it and to quote them they “will let the courts figure
out whether or not they really have that authority”.
Aaron: Well Len I want to thank you very much for being with us today.
This has been Talkin’ to America. I have been your host, Aaron
Zelman. Our guest has been Len Savage, and remember if you won’t
defend your rights, don’t complain when you lose them.
Opinions expressed on this program do not necessarily reflect those
of JPFO.org or its members. Talkin’ to America is a production