Conservative activist James O’Keefe sued the FBI on Thursday for putting him on a watchlist that prohibits him from lawfully purchasing a firearm.
O’Keefe, who runs Project Veritas, said he discovered he was barred when he tried to buy a gun on July 26 in New York. The store ran a background check and his name was flagged, and his purchase was denied. Further inquiries revealed that the FBI had identified O’Keefe as a convicted felon, which means he does not have the right to own a gun.
But the law pertaining to criminal felonies is only applicable to those who have served more than one year in prison, O’Keefe argued in his lawsuit.
O’Keefe was arrested in 2010 after he entered a federal building in New Orleans under “false pretenses.”
He and members of his undercover crew were disguised as phone repairmen.
O’Keefe was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service, and he was charged a $1,500 fine.
“Mr. O’Keefe has never been convicted by any court anywhere of any crime punishable by more than a year of imprisonment,” O’Keefe’s attorney, Jered Ede, wrote in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.
“Simply put, the FBI’s placement of Mr. O’Keefe on the NICS deny list for felons is wholly and unequivocally improper and based on demonstrably false information. Notably, the FBI has not disclosed to Mr. O’Keefe what information it is relying on to place Mr. O’Keefe on its watchlist.”
Even the owner of the gun store O’Keefe visited admitted that the FBI’s rejection was “retaliatory” in nature.
“They don’t like you,” the owner said. “You’re in the newspaper business, man.”