State Representative Justin Humphrey from District 19 in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma, has called for a thorough investigation into allegations of constitutional and civil rights violations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
The allegations were brought forward by 52-year-old high school history teacher, Baptist pastor, and part-time gun dealer, Russell Fincher. Mr. Fincher claims that ATF agents employed intimidation tactics and coercion to force him into surrendering his federal firearms license.
Fincher has been a Federal Firearm License (FFL) holder for three years and has mostly dealt with firearms at gun shows.
Fincher claims the ordeal began with a seemingly innocuous call from the ATF in April, asking for permission to inspect his home-based gun business. Fincher willingly agreed and welcomed two ATF inspectors. The inspectors photographed some of Fincher’s 4473 forms with their cell phones, a practice Fincher later discovered is illegal but reportedly common.
According to a report from Lee Williams of The Gun Writer, on June 16, 2023, as Fincher and his son were preparing for a gun show in Tulsa, they were unexpectedly confronted by a massive show of force.
Seven vehicles carrying a dozen ATF agents, armed with AR-15s and dressed in tactical gear, raided Fincher’s home in Clayton. This intimidating display culminated in Fincher being handcuffed on his deck while surrounded by agents. The presence of armed agents and their aggressive behavior left 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 terminate his federal firearms license. They presented him with pre-prepared termination documents and coerced him at “gunpoint” into signing them, using the threat of further action against him and his firearms-dealing acquaintances.
A Colt Commander, five Glocks, and a pristine AK — a Polytech Pre-ban machined under-folder — worth thousands of dollars were among the firearms the ATF loaded up as soon as Fincher surrendered his Federal Firearm License.
“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.”
The agents’ actions resembled extortion rather than a legitimate law enforcement search. Furthermore, one agent’s statement, “Tell your firearms buddies we are coming for them,” constituted an unlawful threat and an abuse of authority.
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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 called ATF Special Agent Theodore Mongell to ask him why he had invaded Fincher’s home and taken his firearms.
“I can’t answer any questions,” Mongell said. “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.”
State Representative Justin Humphrey, upon receiving Fincher’s report, took immediate action to address the ATF misconduct.
On Wednesday, Rep. Humphrey forwarded the report to relevant Oklahoma authorities, including Attorney General Gentner Drummond, Pushmataha County Sheriff B.J. Hedgecock, and Governor Kevin J. Stitt. He called for a thorough investigation into the potential violations of state and federal laws, as well as the infringement upon Fincher’s constitutional rights.
According to Humphrey’s Facebook page, he was contacted by Russell Fincher, who lives and owns a firearms business in Clayton, who said his home had been raided by about a dozen ATF agents who coerced him at gunpoint into signing pre-prepared paperwork to terminate his federal firearms license. Fincher said his 13-year-old son was present during the raid.”
“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.
The investigation prompted by Rep. Humphrey’s report should focus on several key areas to uncover the truth and ensure justice:
- Abuse of authority: Determine whether ATF agents abused their law enforcement powers to coerce and extort Fincher into terminating his federal firearms license.
- Threats against firearms dealers: Investigate the agents’ alleged threats against firearms dealers in Oklahoma, which would constitute a violation of their rights and an abuse of authority.