I thought I would give you an up-date on my raid. First, I’m not in jail, nor have I been charged with any crime. Everything that can be written has been written at this time.[JWR Adds: For example, see the discussions at the AR15.com Forums, at LibertyPost.org, 1911Forum.com, et cetera. ]
In retrospect, there are some things I should have done, but that I didn’t. (I pooh-poohed some of your preparedness ideas, shame on me. Learn from my mistakes.)
1) Did not stash my extra arms and ammo, and now I don’t have them.
2) Should not have been as cooperative as I was, and it was little.
3) Did not have code words ready with wife when I called her.
4) Did not have my files in order, PGP or other software.
5) Thought it would never happen to me.
6) Did not have a bug out bag. My wife thought I was crazy, but now she wants them.
7) Did not heed the five warning signs that I got. All [my friends] thought that I was paranoid. Had I took action on those warnings, they [the BATFE] would have got nothing.
- Richard Celata, Owner of KT Ordnance
JWR Replies: Despite a half dozen letters from readers, I refrained to posing or commenting about this case until now. I waited until I had the time to do some background research and until I got an e-mail directly from the owner of the company. KT Ordnance was formerly an advertiser on SurvivalBlog, and a member of his family is still a SurvivalBlog advertiser. I have not read anything thusfar that would indicate that Richard Celata violated any law, or any BATFE ruling, or any "ATF Letter" guidance. Nor do I have any evidence that Richard is lunatic, a radical, a racist, or an anti-Semite. (Far be it, he is in fact a member of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.) Nor have I heard that he has any criminal record. In short, the general consensus is that he was a law-abiding guy that played by the rules, but was nonetheless the recipient of the wrath of the ATF.
For the BATFE to set the "80% Complete" standard for receivers to remain outside of Federal jurisdiction and then to later seize the inventory of a businessman that abided by the letter of their own reiterated standard in my estimation smacks of arbitrary and capricious enforcement, with possibly political motivation. I try to keep the content of SurvivalBlog apolitical and nonpartisan, in part because we have an international readership. (Our readers in France have no more interest in political affairs in the U.S. any more than our U.S. readers have an interest in politics in France.) However, in this instance where Mr. Celata's letter specifically addresses the preparedness aspects of his situation, I think that it is appropriate for posting. OBTW, I don't plan to post any follow-ups to this letter, since the facts and conjecture regarding the case itself are already well trodden ground. Mr. Celata will get his day in court. If justice is still available to him there, then I trust that he will prevail.
BTW I don't intend this post to foster any paranoia. However, I do think that it is prudent for anyone that stocks up logistically to leave a minimal paper/electronic trail. If you are not yet accessing the Internet with Anonymizer or StealthSurfer, you should be!