The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' agents "are the biggest damn liars. I'm definitely being framed," said Lamplugh, 51, in a telephone interview yesterday.
He described his wife as upset but himself as relieved that the investigation that led to the government's 50-page indictment was finally over.
"My guilt or innocence will be tried by 12 Americans," he said. "I put my faith in the jury."
An egg-shaped man who can talk in a stream-of-consciousness blur for hours at a pop, Lamplugh claims to be the largest gun-show promoter in the United States. A Vietnam veteran, he is president of Borderline Gun Collectors Association, which counts 70,000 gun dealers as members. He also belongs to the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation.
In other words, he said, he is "a well-known gun guy." And that, in his mind, explains why he was "targeted" last year by the ATF, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
"The raid was nothing but a fishing expedition to get the names of gun dealers," Lamplugh said in a wandering four-hour interview at his home in April. "They just want a future hit list."
Robert F. Graham, assistant special agent in charge of 70 ATF agents in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia, angrily denied those charges.
"That is absolutely incorrect," he said. "We are not picking on Mr. Lamplugh. I can't even tell you how many shows he puts on. It really makes my blood boil to hear some nut and liar say that stuff."
"That stuff" includes the accusations Lamplugh has made in the conservative and mainstream media about the raid on his rural Tioga County home. (His son's Bradford County home was raided the same day.)
The accusations range from an ATF agent stomping to death one of Lamplugh's kittens and threatening to put Lamplugh's wife "in jail with a bunch of lesbians" to agents waving machine guns in Lamplugh's face and smashing his furniture.
Lamplugh's version has made him famous among militia groups and right- wingers across America. His picture has been on the cover of their magazines, he has been a guest on G. Gordon Liddy's radio show four times, and the NRA has used his story to illustrate what they called "atrocities committed by jack-booted government thugs."
That was the remark that prompted former President Bush to resign from the NRA. Yesterday, Lamplugh called that epithet "a nice name" for the ATF.
Lamplugh's notoriety has meant "a lot of grief" for the bureau, conceded Graham, who recently spoke out in an interview against Lamplugh's "outrageous claims."
In the April interview, Lamplugh could barely contain his contempt for the ATF. With militia-style fervor, he accused its agents of harassing private citizens and of systematically taking away their guns.
"They came all dressed up in ninja suits," he said, describing how 16 federal agents "burst through" the front and back doors of his house at 8:25 a.m. on May 25, 1994. He said they yelled profanities and threats and waved their guns around.
Graham countered that there were only five ATF agents, two IRS agents and three state troopers, and that they had proper identification and search warrants.
The raid was carried out "in a very low-profile method," and the agents ''conducted themselves in a professional manner," said Graham, adding that no force was used, no threats were made, and no guns were waved around. In fact, he said, it was Lamplugh who was "defiant, belligerent and verbally abusive."
The agents said they confiscated 61 guns and other personal property listed in the search warrant. Lamplugh complained that a lot of other stuff was taken, including jewelry, birth certificates, medical and veterinary records, old report cards belonging to his four sons, and car and tractor warranty and insurance papers. The ATF has denied that.
Then there's the accusation that an agent crushed a kitten.
"I've never seen anything so vicious in my entire life," Lamplugh said.
Graham said he knows the agent in question.
"She's an animal-rights activist who has pets of her own. She won't even eat meat," said Graham, who called Lamplugh a "male chauvinist" for singling out the only female agent involved in the raid.
Lamplugh paints himself differently. He said that the Oklahoma City bombing horrified him and that he considered the people responsible "monsters" and ''nuts."
"We ought to take these monsters and give them a lethal injection," he said, or put them in jail "and let them to do them what they did to Jeffrey Dahmer."
Although guns are his life, he describes himself as a peacemaker who would like nothing more than to "be a part of possibly bridging this gap between the government and the people."
It is a gap he knows well, but his rhetoric is not about bridges.
"Don't get me wrong," he said. "I'm bitter as hell against the government, but I'm not a mad dog. I deplore violence. I absolutely deplore violence.
"And if that building (the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City) had only housed the agents who were in my home, I would not be pleased if one was killed."
On the other hand, he said after a pause: "If you punched one in the nose and broke his nose, I would applaud it."
Lamplugh first learned about guns from his grandfather at age 6 or 7. He raised his sons the same way.
"I'd take them hunting and let them experience the weather, the kill," he said. "I'd hand them a man's rifle and a double-barreled shotgun and let them know how much velocity and kick it had and let them see the actual kill."
Two of his sons do not hunt, and that's fine with Lamplugh, who no longer hunts small game. He said he did not believe in killing animals unless he planned to eat them.
Hunting brings up the subject of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which Lamplugh refers to as the "stinking, lying game commission" and accuses of ''having big bucks cross their palms." He calls the IRS "the scummiest organization on earth" and the state police "gestapo people."
A native of Twin Oaks, Delaware County, Lamplugh has lived on his scenic mountaintop since 1981. A graduate of Chichester High School, he was "a wise guy as a kid."
"During the 60's," he said, "being a wise guy was the thing to do. I am a good person now."
He shows off a carton full of honorary citations and plaques given to his association for its charity work and donations. Among the recipients were New York Minor Hockey, the American Cancer Society, Vietnam veterans groups, and the Rotary Club.
"Just 'cause we're hunters," he said, "don't make us killers."