A Photo of the Capitol Building / Photo by Architect of the Capitol via Flickr

An Amish farmer is being investigated by the ATF for selling guns to his fellow Amish farmers as well as a few to some outsiders, now gun laws and religious freedoms are squaring off in the state of Pennsylvania and some interesting questions have been raised as a result. 

The Amish farmer, Reuben King, recently had his property raided by our favorite 3 letter government agency and they managed to take home more than a handful of rifles and various other firearms. King told a local media outlet after the raid that the firearms that were confiscated during the raid were all from his personal collection. 

The raid itself happened on King’s Lancaster property and the ATF agents were spotted looting his foundry. The foundry itself didn’t have anything to do with the gun sales but that is where the firearms were allegedly stored. It is not believed that King was arrested during the raid and he is currently back out on the street pending an investigation from the ATF. 

Ruben King is accused of selling firearms to not only his fellow Amish but to those outside of his local Amish community, King conducted all of these sales as private transfers which are void of any and all paperwork. This is where the problem lies, private transfers are not meant to be used to sell guns in high quantities unless you are lightening a hefty collection. It should also be said that the only reason King showed up on the ATF’s radar is because he was selling to outsiders, one of which was likely an ATF agent or informant. 

The issue that has been raised isn’t that King was selling to outsiders though, it was the sales he made to his fellow Amish that were the problem and this is where the religious liberty battle begins. 

Amish do not believe in having their photograph taken and this means that they can not normally buy guns as federal law mandates that you must present a photo ID when buying from a licensed firearms dealer. These Amish folk from King’s community turned to these private transfers in order to obtain their long guns for hunting. 

King, who spoke openly about his dealings with the media and authorities, said that the government had no rules regarding when being a private seller requires a license. To King’s credit he is correct, the ATF nor any federal agency issues guidelines for who needs to become a licensed dealer. The only guidelines that remotely comes close to this is the “general rule” that someone who is selling guns for the sake of profit needs to get a license. 

It is up to local authorities and the ATF to decide if Ruben King was selling these firearms for the sake of profit, but there are some questions that this case has opened up.

Should there be exemptions to the Photo ID requirement for the Amish? This would only make sense, the federal government is bound by the Constitution to not trample on the religious freedoms of those in the United States. It would seem as if the Photo ID requirement violated the 1st and 2nd Amendment rights of the Amish. 

Only time, or a massive legal battle can answer this question. For now though, let us know what you think in the comments below. 

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