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‘Heavily Armed’ Agents from IRS, ATF Swoop in on Local Gun Shop

A Montana gun store owner is asking questions after a federal law enforcement operation that involved two agencies targeted his business. Tom Van Hoose, owner of Highwood Creek Outfitters in Great Falls, told KRTV-TV that 20 federal agents arrived at his store on Wednesday to carry out a detailed search of the premises. “At 7:30, I came in and they pulled in behind me with 20 heavily armed agents,” he told the station. Personnel of the Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms participated in the search, according to the Billings (Mont,) Gazette.
Van Hoose’s business was closed for trade nearly the entire day — with the comprehensive search of the Great Falls shop leaving only half an hour for Highwood Creek Outfitters to open for business. “I got 30 minutes of operating time in and made one $16 sale,” he told KRTV. Van Hoose suspects his business is being targeted for political purposes. “I can only assume that it’s because of the style of weapons that we have and the press that’s so against them.” AR-15 and AK-47 rifles are included in Highwood Creek Outfitters’ inventory, KRTV reported. “The current administration seems to be hell-bent on getting those guns out of the hands of average Americans,” Van Hoose told the station. Van Hoose told the station he has a good relationship with the ATF, a federal agency tasked with regulating trade in firearms. “We have a reputation of dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s because there’s so much legal fun to be had,” he said. “It’s just not worth doing things that are going to get you in trouble.” Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale criticized the federal agencies for their comprehensive search of the business. Van Hoose told KRTV his store has been a target of federal scrutiny and surveillance for two years. “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.” In an interview with Dan Zimmerman, managing editor of The Truth About Guns website, Van Hoose said the federal agents confiscated thousands of firearms transaction records from his store. Van Hoose told Zimmerman the records covered firearms sales he’s made since he opened the store 13 years ago. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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