Good for US Representative Bill Sali (Idaho) for stopping the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from issuing Leatherman tool kits to agents with the motto: "Always Think Forfeiture.”
Sali learned of the issue after a constituent brought the purchase to his attention. ATF said the tools were to be used as part of its Asset Forfeiture Program, which provides training to federal, state and local law enforcement. But Sali said the “Always Think Forfeiture” motto engraved on agent tools sent the wrong message to law-abiding citizens.The ATF responded with a wonderfully weasely email to Sali's office:
“Americans have a right to keep and bear arms. We have a right to private property. But ATF, through its engraved motto, sends a message that these rights are secondary to the government’s apparent goal to 'always' seek forfeit of private property. Of course, we all want our law enforcement agencies to pursue and prosecute criminals fully. But I have a problem with a federal agency sending a message, even an unintended one, that law-abiding citizens will apparently 'always' be treated the same as criminals.” said Sali.
As part of training for ATF special agents and state and local task force officers, ATF purchased a number of Leatherman tool kits engraved with the words ‘ATF – Asset Forfeiture’ and ‘Always Think Forfeiture’ for distribution to the participants. These training aids were designed to increase awareness of the asset forfeiture concept so that persons who do not regularly employ the strategy as part of a criminal investigation might be reminded to consider it. [emphasis mine] We regret that ATF’s training initiative created a misperception. However, be assured that ATF’s Asset Forfeiture Program complies with Federal law and Department of Justice guidelines. As a result of the concerns brought to ATF’s attention by your constituents, we have halted the distribution of the training aids at issue.”How about inscribing Leathermans with the motto "Always Think Innocent Until Proven Guilty" so that ATF agents who do not regularly employ the strategy as part of a criminal investigation might be reminded to consider it? Link Reason Hit & Run
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.