When the agent finally looked up at Dean, he began without ceremony to interrogate him. “You've included income from all sources?” the agent asked.
“What about interest from the savings account at...” the agent hesitated and consulted his notes before continuing, “...at Bank of America?”
Dean paused to consider his answer just as his brother-in-law advised the night before. “That account was closed during the preceding year,” he responded.
“You have a record of that?”
Dean shrugged. “No.”
The agent scribbled a note and muttered, almost to himself, “We'll come back to that later.”
The agent looked up and scowled as though Dean had breached some protocol. “Hmph,” was all he said and returned to the papers.
The audit continued for another half hour with the agent asking for confirmation of mundane entries until he reached one that seemed to interest him the most. Pushing the other papers aside, he sat back, took off he glasses, and cleaned them as though a dirty lens might interfere with seeing guilt in the eyes of his prey. With his glasses back in their proper place, he leaned forward and glared at Dean. “Tell me about this charitable donation.”
“Which one?” Dean asked.
“You donated several... ah, guns to an organization...” another pause to consult the form, “...named the South Coast Militia.”
The two men spent the next half hour reviewing the inventory of weapons and accessories that Dean had donated to the South Coast Militia. Dean had come prepared with documentation describing each weapon and its value. They haggled another hour over the amount of the donation that Dean had claimed on his tax form, but he had halved the value of each item. The agent threatened to contest each but set the matter aside for later. Like a cat that had become bored toying with its catch, the agent was ready to pounce.
“Several items that you donated to the South Coast Militia are missing from their 'armory'.” He spat the word “armory” as though it tasted foul in his mouth. “Namely,” he continued reading from a list, “a 9mm Glock pistol, serial number...”
“Yes,” Dean interrupted, “that and an Armorlite Bushmaster. They've been issued to me.”
“Yes, issued,” the agent sneered almost gleeful in anticipation of cornering the criminal sitting across the desk from him. “The pistol and the assault rifle...”
“Semi-automatic rifle,” Dean interrupted. “Let's be precise.”
“Please don't interrupt,” the agent scowled. “I'm asking the questions.”
“No, sir,” Dean responded. “You're making statements of fact that aren't true.”
The agent cleaned his glasses again while Dean waited, forcing himself not to smile.
“So, these weren't really donations,” the agent accused brandishing his glasses like the finger of justice.
“Of course, they were donated,” Dean explained. “Two of the weapons that I donated were then issued to me by the militia.”
“You keep them in your home.”
“Is that a question?”
“No, that is a statement of fact.”
Dean paused before responding. “How do you know that?”
Triumph spread across the agent's face. “The ATF visited your home this morning and confiscated them,” he announced, “while you were waiting in my outer office.”
“They broke into my home?”
“They had a duly issued search warrant.”
The agent smiled at Dean's obvious discomfort. “You are going to be charged with committing a tax fraud,” the agent continued. “Also, your militia will be named as a co-conspirator.”
Dean's head spun and he took several deep breaths to regain control.
“Also,” the agent added, “I understand that the ATF is going to charge you with violations of the Arms Trade Treaty and it seems that you have several clips that exceed federal limits on the number of rounds a weapon may fire without reloading.”
By the time the agent stopped to take a breath, Dean was smiling.
“You think this is funny?” the agent demanded.
“No, not at all,” Dean responded with mock submission. “I was simply reflecting on how many factual errors you have made thus far. You obviously don't know anything about pistols, revolvers, shotguns, or rifles. You confuse clips and magazines...”
“That's not my job,” the agent protested.
“Obviously, I know that,” Dean answered. “However, I wasn't aware that the IRS was supposed to shill for the ATF,” he added and continued to laugh.
“You won't be laughing when you're taken into custody,” the agent averred.
Dean shrugged. “My attorney is ready,” Dean said. “I'm not the first militiaman your agency has harassed. Several cases have already been tried in other states. You've lost most.”
“We're challenging those,” the agent retorted. “And,” he added, “the Constitutionality of laws restricting the number of rounds you can load into a weapon has already been established.”
“Yes, but those restrictions only apply to individual citizens,” Dean countered. “I'm a member of a militia and the law is moot on that point.”
The agent buried his nose in the paperwork like a man diving for a foxhole and muttered, “As I said, that's not my job.”
Dean smiled in response.
The phone rang and the agent listened a moment then said, “Send him in.” Turning to Dean, he said, “An agent from the ATF is here now. You may wait outside while we confer.”
Dean passed the incoming agent who smiled though he seemed uncomfortable as they passed at the doorway. “Please take a seat in the reception area,” he said. “I'll be with you momentarily.”
The ATF agent watched until Dean was seated, then closed the door and stood across the desk from the IRS agent. “I thought that you said he had illegal weapons,” he began. “We didn't find any.”
“He claimed that the weapons had been donated,” the IRS agent responded. “They shouldn't be at his home. He's obviously lied on his filing.”
“That's an IRS matter,” the ATF agent replied. “There's nothing illegal about the weapons themselves.”
“But, what about the clips...”
“The things that hold the bullets...”
“Oh, the magazines,” the ATF agent brightened. “Yes, we confiscated those, but his wife claimed that they were issued to him by the South Coast Militia.”
“Yes, so what?”
“If he can show proof of that, the property will be returned.”
“As a member of a duly organized militia, he's not forbidden to have them.”
“How can that be?”
“It's an omission in the law,” the ATF agent explained. “We've asked Congress to amend it, but it's not certain that enough anti-gun supporters are going to be reelected and they can't get the new bill passed before the next elections.”
“Isn't there a chance that the next session of Congress has more Democrats, and they'll be able to rein in the Second Amendment after the elections?” the IRS agent asked.
The ATF agent looked at his IRS counterpart with sadness in his eyes. “No,” he answered. “The Democrats are retiring from office in droves to avoid the scandals that are plaguing Washington these days. Most of their resources are going to protect the President.”
“Why? He isn't up for reelection.”
“True, but he has all the money. He's been fund raising almost daily since his last election. You'd think he was up for reelection.”
“What's he going to do with it?”
“Well,” the ATF agent speculated, “it puts him in control of the party. Maybe he thinks he can control the nation that way.”
The two agents lapsed into silence as though they had spent their energy on matters beyond their pay grade.
“Well,” the IRS agent said to renew the conversation, “what do we do with Mr. Walters?”
The ATF agent tipped his head to one side looking confused.
“Mr. Walters,” the IRS agent repeated with a tip of his head in the direction of the office where Dean waited.
“Oh,” the ATF man responded and shrugged his shoulders. “There's nothing I can do. We didn't find any violations. I can hang onto his high-capacity magazines just to annoy him, but he'll probably just get new ones. It's cheaper than a court battle to get them back. Do you have anything on him?”
The IRS agent made a moue and echoed the other agent's shrug. “I can ding him in a few places on the value of his donations. They're all reasonable and if he contested them, he could win. However, like your case, the cost of challenging us in court would cost more than the few dollars he would save on taxes. You think he'd fight just on principle?”
The ATF agent considered the idea a few moments before answering. “You can't be sure with these people,” he concluded. “They are a principled lot.”
“So are we,” the IRS agent responded and the two bureaucrats shared a hearty laugh.