By Lee Williams
Recent revelations that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was maintaining and possibly even digitizing a list of more than 1 billion firearm transactions stretching back for decades galvanized Martin Hyde into action.
Born an Englishman but a U.S. citizen since 2006, Hyde knew the danger such lists pose. He’d seen how they had been misused in England, Australia and elsewhere.
“When a government has a list of the people who own guns, it almost always leads to confiscation,” Hyde said. “When I saw this, I knew the ATF had to go – it has to be abolished or broken up. Besides, no one makes a better case for abolishing the ATF than the ATF.”
A successful businessman in Sarasota, Hyde is challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in Florida’s District-16 Republican primary. Buchanan did not respond to messages seeking comment for this story.
The news of the ATF’s most recent misdeeds added another layer to Hyde’s unique messaging, but the odds are against the former professional British soccer player. Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, has held public office since 2006, and has outspent every opponent who has crossed his path.
But for Hyde, the decision to primary the powerful incumbent was never about money, since he knew he would be outspent. It was about the Second Amendment, especially Buchanan’s vote on HR-8, the so-called Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which would nullify all state laws that allow private firearm sales.
“When I saw he was one of only eight Republicans to vote for HR-8, I knew I had to do something,” Hyde said. “I grew up in London without the right to keep and bear arms. Englishmen were never unarmed; we were disarmed by the government. Americans don’t understand what that’s like, thankfully. Our Second Amendment prohibits the government from disarming the people, and it needs to be protected – enshrined, if you will – and Vern’s vote on HR-8 could have taken a big chunk out of it.”
With an immigrant’s zeal, Hyde celebrates his newfound Second Amendment rights. He purchased an AR pistol and a SIG SAUER P320, and is a frequent shooter at several ranges. He picked up the fundamentals faster than most. Since he had never shot before, he had no bad habits. It was this enjoyment of his constitutional rights that led to his decision about the ATF.
“Why do we have a federal agency at contretemps with our rights? It makes no sense. When I am elected, I will do everything humanly possible to abolish the ATF,” Hyde said. “Look at their history: Ruby Ridge, Waco, Fast and Furious and now this list of a billion gun sales. In the business world, anyone with such a propensity to fail wouldn’t last six months.
“The ATF’s administrative duties could be scrapped or divided among other federal agencies. Do we really need armed federal agents on the lookout for unlicensed cigarette sellers or moonshiners? We don’t. I am sure I won’t be the only congressman who wants to scrap the ATF. However, before I can do anything, I need to get past Vern.”
Hyde’s take on the ATF is right, of course. Its leaders have always cared more about currying favor with politicians – especially the White House – and garnering good press than they do the constitutional rights of American citizens or even the sanctity of human life.
As a result, the Biden-Harris administration tried to weaponize the ATF by installing an ardent anti-gun activist, David Chipman, as director, until the gun-rights community balked and pressured the Senate to reject the toxic little man.
Hyde describes his campaign as “guerilla style.” His YouTube videos are powerful, plucky and at times hilarious. There’s a picture of him on the side of his campaign bus holding a “Let’s go Brandon” sign.
To run for office, he says in one of his videos, “You have to have a thick skin or you have to be thick. It’s not for everybody, but I’m having the best time of my life. The only thing that’s going to stop it is August 23, when we actually win, and when we send Buchanan back to his car dealership.”
Regardless of whether Hyde wins against the powerful incumbent, his campaign will continue to raise important Second Amendment issues that need to be addressed, such as his call to abolish the ATF. That itself is a public service. Buchanan, on the other hand, has always ran from his voting record, especially if guns are involved.
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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.