September 25, 2023
Second Amendment Supporters Can Make A Major Montana Gain

U.S.A. — Two of Montana’s top elected officials—U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and Congressman Matt Rosendale—are demanding explanations from the Internal Revenue Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for a June 14 raid by heavily-armed IRS agents at a popular gun shop in Great Falls during which those agents seized boxes full of 4473 forms.

Firearms retailer Tom VanHoose, owner of Highwood Creek Outfitters, took his case to the airwaves by appearing on Fox News with Jesse Watters. VanHoose, who has operated the store for 13 years, said he arrived at work that morning and was immediately met by 20 heavily-armed IRS agents who shut his store down for the entire day. Knudsen called it a “gross over-reaction.”

AmmoLand News spoke with Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who confirmed his office is looking into the case. So far, he is not getting any answers from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

AmmoLand attempted to contact ATF offices in Montana, but only heard recorded messages.

In an interview with Newsmax, Rosendale bluntly stated, “This is storm trooper type activity.”

Rosendale was even more direct in a letter he sent to ATF Director Steve Dettelbach and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel two days after the raid.

“While we wait to hear more details and rational behind this raid,” Rosendale wrote, “given the positions of the Biden Administration this raid appears to be an attempt to intimidate firearms dealers and owners. This is particularly worrying given that it comes just weeks the ATF closed a gun store in Cobb County, Georgia without any advance warning. A pattern of intimidation and harassment seems to be emerging under Director Dettelbach’s leadership of the ATF. This pattern appears to be orchestrated directly from the White House as evident by the ‘fact sheet’ released by the Biden Administration, where they detail their plans to hassle mom-and-pop gun shops over minor record keeping and paperwork discrepancies.”

In a statement posted on his website, Rosendale had this to add:

“The raid that took place at Highwood Creek Outfitters is outrageous. Under Director Dettelbach’s leadership of the ATF, a pattern of intimidation and harassment against hardworking Americans has emerged – Montanans will not tolerate these political witch hunts. I remind both Director Dettelbach and Commissioner Werfel that Congress has the power of the purse, and I will ensure that funding for these agencies is not weaponized against the American people.”

In a letter sent specifically to Werfel, Sen. Daines said Highwood Creek customers “are rightfully concerned” about their private information “potentially collected by your agents.” He wants prompt answers to these questions:

  1. What was the scope of the search warrant you used to gain access to the store?
  2. Were ATF Form 4473’s seized as part of the investigation? If so, what do your agencies intend to do with the information they contain?
  3. What communication, if any, did you have with local and state law enforcement prior to the events of June 14th?
  4. Will you commit to sharing pertinent information and updates regarding your investigation, where appropriate, with local law enforcement and the community moving forward?

Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter, inundated with inquiries about the raid—about which he had no advance warning—posted a video on Facebook to provide his perspective.

VanHoose said the IRS agents took more than 20 boxes full of ATF Form 4473 documents, which are supposed to be only possessed by gun dealers and the ATF. Van Hoose said via telephone a local ATF agent was present and initially tried to prevent the documents from being taken, but he was apparently overruled.

VanHoose told Fox News’ Watters, “We’ve been under surveillance for two years and nobody seems to know why.”

He said local law enforcement “doesn’t have a clue” why his shop has been under this degree of surveillance, which seems to substantiate remarks by Sheriff Slaughter in his video. The gun retailer also told Watters—and AmmoLand News—he has been contacted by at least two other gun dealers who had faced the same kind of investigation and both said it cost them “a half-million dollars” in legal fees to fight back.

“If they can’t put me out of business because I didn’t do anything wrong,” VanHoose told Watters, “they’re sure as heck gonna bankrupt me.”

Looking over the horizon at a mountain of legal costs, VanHoose has scheduled a rally at his shop on Saturday, July 1, with the theme of “Stand Up or Bend Over.” He is having “SUBO” bumper stickers printed for handouts, and the rally could draw national attention. Already, one other gun dealer from Arizona is apparently planning to travel to Great Falls for the event.

In addition, VanHoose has launched a fund-raising effort at

Questions have been raised in recent days about the IRS regarding its armament. As reported by, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has introduced legislation to disarm the agency. Her proposal quickly garnered the support of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

In a prepared statement, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb wondered, “Why has the IRS spent millions of dollars on weapons and ammunition since the start of the coronavirus pandemic three years ago? According to a published report, the agency spent $2.3 million on ammunition, another $1.2 million on ballistic shields, $243,000 on body armor, nearly $475,000 on Smith & Wesson rifles and $463,000 on Beretta tactical shotguns.”

AG Knudsen told AmmoLand that none of the IRS agents involved in the June 14 raid apparently came from Montana. VanHoose said they came from “three other states” at least.

But the question on a lot of minds in Montana right now is why they came at all. VanHoose said if the IRS or anyone else had questions about his business, they could have called, visited or sent a letter. Instead, the agency mounted a high-profile raid, causing VanHoose to observe, “The firepower…if it had gone upside down, the potential damage to civilians on the streets here.”

“It was just stupid,” he said.

About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.Dave Workman

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