Activist and reporter Andrew Sheets has exposed an illegal pawn list that he obtained via Florida Sunshine laws that allow citizens to obtain public records. For several weeks now, Sheets and Ammoland have been reporting on what appears to be clear violations of Florida law in Charlotte County under the supervision of Sheriff Bill Prummell. Now, he’s put forth an affidavit calling out other agencies after going to the State Attorney’s Office and demanding that they prosecute the criminal actions of the sheriff’s office.
The affidavit, dated October 25, 2019, states that his complaint goes beyond Sheriff Prummel and against Sarasota Sherriff Tom Knight and the North Port Police for “illegally having a list of gun owners” that they “illegally obtained from the pawn finder list.”
According to Florida statute 790.335:
790.335 Prohibition of registration of firearms; electronic records.—
(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that:
4. Law-abiding firearm owners whose names have been illegally recorded in a list, record, or registry are entitled to redress.
(b) The Legislature intends through the provisions of this section to:
2. Protect the privacy rights of law-abiding firearm owners.
(3) EXCEPTIONS.—The provisions of this section shall not apply to:
(d) Firearm records that must be retained by firearm dealers under federal law, including copies of such records transmitted to law enforcement agencies. However, no state governmental agency or local government, special district, or other political subdivision or official, agent, or employee of such state or other governmental entity or any other person, private or public, shall accumulate, compile, computerize, or otherwise collect or convert such written records into any form of list, registry, or database for any purpose.
(e)1. Records kept pursuant to the recordkeeping provisions of s. 790.065; however, nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the public release or inspection of records that are made confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) by s. 790.065(4)(a).
As Guns in the News reported:
Pawnbrokers are required to enter information on firearms transactions into the FINDER system. The system transmits the serial number of the firearm along with the make and model to the local sheriffs’ department to make sure that the person pawning the gun, did not steal it. A bug in the system also transmitted the names and addresses of the transfers to local law enforcement. The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department used the information to create a list of gun owners.
While the initial discovery exposed the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department, according to Ammoland, this corruption extends to other departments throughout state. According to reporter Andrew Sheets, who helped uncover this abusive tyranny, there are emails from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department detailing how the department shares this information with other law enforcement agencies.
The North Port Police Department and the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office have both been implicated in the abuse scandal.
According to Sheets, the sheriff’s department had no problem emailing him a completely unredacted list of pawn shop transactions via email. Ammoland points out that this file contains not only information about the firearm, but also the names of the person pawning the gun, putting them at risk of robbery and violating their privacy rights.
Florida law lays this out clearly, specifically pointing out why these lists are illegal. Not only do they have the potential for abuse by law enforcement agencies but they also put gun owners at risk by making them targets of robbery.
“A list, record, or registry of legally owned firearms or law-abiding firearm owners is not a law enforcement tool and can become an instrument for profiling, harassing, or abusing law-abiding citizens based on their choice to own a firearm and exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Further, such a list, record, or registry has the potential to fall into the wrong hands and become a shopping list for thieves,” the law states.
The law even states that such a list is not a good tool in the fight against terrorism.
Also, according to the law, those whose names end up on these illegal lists are entitled to redress which means everyone on those lists may come back and sue these departments and win.
According to the report, the list “glitch” is being blamed on poor programming and the IT company who maintains the FINDER system has since remedied this situation. While this may be a legitimate excuse, the Free Thought Project has spoken with gun store owners — who wish to remain anonymous — who were approached by law enforcement agencies in the past and asked to secretly turn over this information, knowing full well that it was illegal. They were even offered money. Our sources say they denied the offer.
The good news is that even though the Charles County State’s Attorney’s office found that the police departments did not violate the law with the list, because of the media exposure generated by Ammoland and Florida Carry, State Attorney Amira Fox’s office has now opened an investigation into the origin and background of the failure of the FINDER system.
The hubris of the law enforcement system exhibited by investigating themselves and finding they did nothing wrong in this obvious abuse is palpable. However, it should come as no surprise. Just last month, TFTP reported on a police officer in Florida who threatened to carry out mass shootings — twice — and he faced no charges and was not red flagged. Law enforcement in Florida is notorious for corruption.
Sadly, Islamic terror-tied State Attorney Amira Fox is more interested in not getting involved than doing her job, much like demonstrated in the Deanna Williams case.
Local news outlets have reported that her office is investigating. Here are a couple of references to those reports.
Yet, Fox’s office wrote to Sheets stating that there was no investigation going on.
Matthew Patterson, Director of State and Local Affairs for Gun Owners of America, stands behind Florida Carry and their concerns.
“Gun Owners of America share the concerns brought to light by Florida Carry, Inc. over the blatant mishandling and abuse of this data by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Bill Prummell, in clear violation of Florida Statute,” Patterson told AmmoLand. “This is not only unlawful and unethical but also demonstrates that law enforcement and other government agencies are more than willing to use data and information on gun owners to make a working registry, even if that means breaking the law themselves.”
“This is a prime example of why Gun Owners of America is against any system that collects and stores information on gun owners, including Universal Background Checks. It is unknown whether other sheriffs’ agencies in Florida are maintaining similar records; however, we at Gun Owners of America stand behind Florida Carry, Inc. in their calls for an investigation into these illegal activities.”
Sheets joined me on my radio show, Setting Brushfires, to lay out the documentation of the crimes committed against Floridians by the sheriff’s office and the subsequent ignoring of the violations of law by the State Attorney’s Office.
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