Daniel O’Kelly – ATF Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow


Part 2 of 2.     Click here if you missed Part 1.

 Daniel O’Kelly spent 23 years as an Agent and Supervisor in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Proof of his rich expertise is he was selected as one of the writers of the new and improved ATF Curriculum still in use today.


AWC Inc.: How do the employees of the ATF view firearms, and the people who carry or own guns?

Dan O’Kelly: “Great question. The truth is you might be surprised. There is a good percentage of ATF people who are pro-gun rights. I know many who are gun collectors, and even some who are NRA members. A large percentage of Agents are former cops, and to my experience they are generally in favor of private gun ownership.”

On the other hand, there are those who are anti-gun, and who equate gun ownership with crime. Since ATF is the federal “gun police” agency, it gets a lot of pressure from Capitol Hill and the White House to make rulings and regulations which restrict firearms. For many of those near the top, they have no choice but to support that agenda or sabotage their career. And in many cases, that agenda flows downhill.

It was always easy to tell who was anti-gun. Those in ATF who are gun-knowledgeable and pro-gun are commonly referred to by their anti-gun co-workers as a ‘Gunstroke.’ That term was used with varying degrees of malice to indicate you’re one of those weirdos who ‘likes to stroke guns’. That of course was all forgotten about when one of the anti-gunners needed you to identify something for them about which they had no clue.


Photo: BATFE Headquarters. Washington, D.C.

AWC Inc.: How do you think the public should view the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives?

Dan O’Kelly: “People obviously have the right to think what they want. But let me supply some ammo here for taking an informed position. Some gun owners and dealers have a steamy hatred for the ATF. If you ask them why, it’s because of something they read or heard which supposedly happened to someone else. And, just like there are pro-gun citizens who don’t believe there should be any limits on guns, there are those in ATF who don’t believe in any gun rights. No one can deny there have been occasional abuses, but that is not something limited to just that agency. As a staunch gun rights advocate, I personally know hundreds of great people among ATF’s ranks.

A great many firearms dealers will tell you they haven’t been inspected by ATF in years, if ever, and if so, they’ve had no issues during their encounters. After I retired from ATF, I spent two years working for the corporate office of the largest firearm retailer in the world. That company, which sells a half-million firearms a year, has a great relationship with ATF.

If you read these accounts objectively, many of the people who hate ATF are angry about something the law will not allow them to manufacture or own. The law which prevents what they want wasn’t written by ATF. Just like the cop didn’t install the traffic light you just ran, although he’s writing you the ticket.

I’ll agree that ATF has contradicted themselves on several issues, and has made some rulings which do not stand up to logic, and we at the IFSA have gone on the record in Federal Court to point out some of those contradictions in an effort to get ATF to correct them. However, ATF has also ruled on several things which many gun owners seem surprisingly pleased about, such as exploding targets, “80% receiver blanks” possessed with completion jigs, the so-called “solvent traps”, etc…

When you see inside the gun industry, and talk with the people from the companies who manufacture firearms, and others like AWC which make upper receivers, lower receivers, and other related products, most of them would tell us they have no real problem with the ATF. They understand it is just a matter of people doing their jobs. They acknowledge there has to be someone enforcing the gun laws.

You need to understand…

It is the leadership at ATF Headquarters who constantly gets contacted by Capitol Hill and the White House. It is those in power in Washington D.C. who are not gun-friendly. President Clinton and even more so, President Obama have proven themselves to be anything but gun-friendly. There is always some new anti-gun initiative coming along.

The ATF is not in a position to argue with the President or Congress. They must do what they are told. Unfortunately, the ATF are the ones who get hated most for it when it’s not even them who is thinking up these anti-gun legislations.

I’ve said it many times before, the ATF people are so busy in their jobs, they don’t possibly have time to dream up new anti-gun laws.”


Photo: Surveillance video of Dylann Roof entering church. Released by Charleston, SC Police.


AWC Inc.: Final question, after the recent Dylann Roof church shootings in Charleston, we knew President Obama would seize the moment for advancing his anti-gun legacy. But now, other politicians who seemed to have been equipped with silencers, are acting like it’s safe to come out again and talk up the need for more gun control. What do you see happening here as it pertains to the ATF?

Daniel O’Kelly: “I’d ask them what it is that they want to prevent, which is not already illegal?

Like always, the President will use the ATF as a political tool for his anti-gun agenda. This kid’s act of shooting up a church is deplorable in itself, but like every mass shooting, it serves to further hinder the rights of the law abiding. Anti-gunners use tragedy as a new angle to do what they have wanted to do all along.

I expect them to try another gun grab as before. And of course they will tell the ATF what to do.

Anti-gunners betray their own foolishness by trying to legislate compliance. Have you seen the businesses with a “No Guns Allowed” sign on the door? Hilarious. Now the people who comply with rules will be unarmed. The fool inside who placed the sign is now even more vulnerable. The person who complies with rules is not the problem.

Let me close wrap up with a personal favorite…

In joining the ATF, during my panel interview with 3 senior officials, one of questions they asked me was, ‘What do you think of gun control?’ I said, ‘Sir, if you can prove to me you’ve gotten all of the other guns, then I will give you mine. But, that ship sailed 200 years ago.’ Surprisingly, they later told me that realistic answer was one of the reasons I was hired.

There are an estimated 290 million guns in the U.S. Let’s say for illustration that they are all outlawed, and as many as 95% have been turned in or confiscated. I don’t believe that you could ever get to that high a percentage point, but even if you did, you would still have over 14 million guns in circulation. But now, 95% of the American population is unarmed and defenseless against the people who don’t care what the laws say and who didn’t turn in theirs. Therefore, gun control is not even a realistic concept anymore from where I sit. You either bear Arms, or are vulnerable to those who do.”


AWC Inc.: Agreed. Well said Sir. Thank you. To learn more about Daniel O’Kelly’s  International Firearm Specialist Academy, visit http://www.GunLearn.com.

Eyes on Iowa: Blind People Getting Gun Permits


Photo: Des Moines Register

You are the receiver of bad news Mr. President. Iowa is a state expanding gun rights. But there’s one issue in the Hawkeye State with really strong opposing views:

Iowa Blind people getting gun permits.

Like the Second Amendment, this is a firearms fight where both sides are loaded with opinions. The right to bear Arms with failing eyes is another battle of fear vs. comfort disguised as a “public safety” issue. Let’s put the personal ammunition and agendas aside for a moment.

If you look at it legally and objectively in Iowa and across America, blind people getting gun permits to acquire or carry is a no-brainer, just like #2A…

Legally blind and totally blind Americans are permitted to own firearms under the Gun Control Act of 1968 and other federal laws. However, states such as South Carolina and Nebraska require proof of vision to obtain a weapons permit. Minnesota and Missouri are among those requiring passing a live firearms test, shooting and hitting a target. States applying different treatment to blind people getting gun permits seem to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Then there’s Iowa.


Blind people getting gun permits is happening because Iowa places no restrictions on the visually impaired. Period.

The number of Iowa blind people getting gun permits is not collected data. But the new Iowa gun rights granted in 2011 were the trigger making it possible for the visually impaired to legally carry firearms in public. Required gun safety training to carry in public in Iowa can be done through an online course. No discrimination.

Iowa gun laws do not permit sheriffs to deny gun carry rights to citizens based on physical ability. A loophole can give sheriffs power to deny blind people getting gun permits. But they have to show probable cause the person will use the gun in a way which would endanger themselves or others. Therefore, this gets holstered because everyone can see it would be easy to appeal and win.

Views on Iowa Blind People Getting Gun Permits    

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads we can’t deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing.” – Sgt. Jana Abens, Polk County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.

“I’m not an expert in vision. At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.” – John LeClere, Delaware County Sheriff

“I think it’s perfectly within the realm of possibility and within our rights that a blind person can safely carry a weapon if he or she decide they want to do that.” – Michael Barber, blind Iowan.

“If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive.” – Warren Wethington, Cedar County Sheriff.

Sheriff Wethington demonstrated for the Des Moines Register newspaper how blind people can be specially trained to shoot guns. He’s not only willing to do it, he is doing it. The sheriff has a legally blind daughter who plans to get a permit to carry firearms when she turns 21 about two years from now.


It’s ironic how people with vision just can’t see the reality of guns.

We live in an unpredictable world. Police can’t be everywhere. Calling 9-1-1 can’t deliver instantaneous protection. And only a few very rich folks can afford personal bodyguards. Firearms are the equalizing solution.

Consider criminals who seek soft targets. A blind person getting off a bus regularly is an easy mark for punks and bullies. That person has a Constitutional Right AND a need to bear Arms. Think of burglars scouting neighborhood homes for profit, or a quick score to feed a drug habit. The blind homeowner wouldn’t be a total sitting duck if he or she were a gun owner.

Americans have the right and need to own and carry guns. They have the right and need to defend themselves and their property. They have the right and need to have and feel safety and freedom.

The world we live in is a crazy place. It’s true for people with 20/20 vision. Try to see how scary it might be to navigate for someone visually impaired. If you can do this, you will see it’s not just Constitutional Rights that make blind people getting gun permits a no-brainer.

A gun may not give blind people an upper hand in a time of need, but it does give them the fighting chance they deserve.

Pope Francis Frank Talk on Firearms


Well Father’s Day 2015 is over. We waited on this opportunity knowing we might possibly act like a buzz kill. We waited until now that is. Pope Francis delivered a pretty frank Father’s Day talk on firearms. We thought you might want to know about it…especially if you happen consider yourself a Christian.

In bearing Arms, we have the blessing of the Founding Fathers of America, and the Second Amendment. But we sure don’t have the blessing of the Holy Father, leader of the Catholic Church.

The 79-year old Jesuit from Buenos Aires, Argentina was on a two-day visit to the city of Turin, Italy. It was there he addressed a rally of thousands of young people gathered just to hear him speak. For whatever reason, the Pope chose this audience, at this particular time, to deliver his most critical public comments on the firearms industry since he was elected during the second day of the Papal Conclave on March 13, 2013.

“It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?” asked Pope Francis. The young audience responded to his question by cheering him with applause.

He also said those who make money through the gun industry, and those people who choose to support it with their money were hypocritical. He told the young people, “duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.” Pope Francis added, “If you trust only men you have lost.”


In all fairness, the pontiff’s harsh criticism was not just gunning for those who have an interest in the firearms industry. He shared his thoughts on the Holocaust, calling it by the Hebrew term, “Tragedy of the Shoah.”

Pope Francis was also up in arms building upon his past finger pointing at world leaders during World War I and World War II. “The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, and also the Christians, and also the Roma, also the homosexuals, everybody,” he said. “Why didn’t they bomb (the railway lines)?”

A few days prior to this talk in Turin, Pope Francis pulled the trigger on another political issue. He blamed human activity for climate change, and advocated for measures to solve the problem of global warming.

Back in April, he labeled the 100-year old massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians, “the first genocide of the 20th Century.” In reaction to those comments, the government in Turkey responded by recalling its ambassador to the Vatican.

The Pope Francis Frank Talk on Firearms is a reminder he would obviously like all of us to not exercise our right to bear Arms. Instead, he would like us to turn in our guns and “turn the other cheek.” As the saying goes, that might happen when “Hell Freezes Over.”

James Madison “Father of the Constitution”


Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s not waste time debating whether or not size matters. Instead, let us set our sights on Founding Father, James Madison. He was a small man in size. Yet, he was and still is a giant figure in American history, and gun rights.

James Madison got the title “Father of the Constitution” and become the 4th President of the United States by coming up BIG. 

American Pharoah just won horse racing’s Triple Crown. Jockey-sized Founding Father, James Madison, would have been big enough (or small enough) to ride him. Madison stood just 5-feet 4-inches tall, and weighed less than 100 pounds.

In addition to being the smallest Founding Father and U.S. President, he was also soft-spoken. His nickname was a non-intimidating, “Jemmy.” Regardless, what he lacked in size and machismo, Madison made up for in smarts, effort, political savvy, and a patriotic spirit.


Photo: Madison’s Montpelier Estate in Virginia.

James Madison was born in 1751 to large plantation owners in Orange County, Virginia. He was the oldest of twelve children. He went on to become a student of history and government, Hebrew, philosophy, and more. He graduated from The College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). He also studied law and was well-read in it, but never wanted a law degree.

Eventually, Madison inherited the large estate in Virginia known as Montpelier. He was a slave owner with more than a hundred slaves working on the plantation. It was said by a former slave of his that Madison never hit any of them or ever allowed such treatment.

In 1775, he was commissioned as Colonel of the Orange County Militia. Considered too small to bear Arms and serve in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, he ultimately used politics as his pathway to fight for liberty against the British.


James Madison was very close friends with fellow Virginia statesman, Thomas Jefferson. Eight years older, Jefferson made Madison his protégé and they remained political allies. The two wild and crazy guys actually got arrested together once for taking a Sunday carriage ride. Even one of the bedrooms at Jefferson’s Monticello was named, “Mr. Madison’s Room.”

Early in life, Madison earned valuable experience for framing the U.S. Constitution. When he was just 25 years old, he helped greatly in drafting the State of Virginia’s constitution in 1776. He was a leader in the Virginia Assembly, and also served as a member of the Continental Congress.

James Madison was a power delegate impressing the assembly during the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. He was a major contributor in writing the infamous Federalist essays with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. Thus, he played a central role in the Constitution of the United States being ratified.

Even though he was a president, James Madison is best known for his work as a legislative workhorse member of Congress. His name remains alive today at the heart of the gun debate in America. This is because Madison is recognized as the champion and author of the Bill of Rights and its loved and hated Second Amendment:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Later in his life, Madison humbly resisted the credit for being crowned “Father of the Constitution,” the most important legal document in our nation’s history. He said the U.S. Constitution was not “the off-spring of a single brain,” but “the work of many heads and many hands.”

James Madison’s leadership also helped to form the development of Democratic-Republican Party, or Jeffersonian Party as it was also known. Madison served as Secretary of State for President Thomas Jefferson. In this position, he oversaw the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon and France. This doubled the size of our country.


As the 4th President of the United States from 1809-1817, James Madison succeeded Thomas Jefferson and continued with his agenda out of loyalty. Unfortunately, his presidency was marred by the War of 1812, and the British setting fire to the White House and U.S. Capitol. Still, he was narrowly re-elected to a second term. The job you didn’t want was being Madison’s Vice-President. Both of his died in office.

His wife, Dolley Payne Todd Madison, was the toast of Washington, DC, and may actually have been more popular than her husband. She crafted the role of the nation’s First Lady, having done practice run appearances for President Jefferson, whose wife had died.

James Madison was the last remaining Founding Father when he passed away in 1836. He was 85. A note opened after his death in 1836, may have showed his true love of country. In it he wrote, “The advice nearest to my heart and deepest in my convictions is that the Union of the States be cherished and perpetuated.”

Have you seen the new Founding Father patch from AWC Inc.? We couldn’t get one to James Madison in time. But you can still get one in time for Father’s Day 2015.