Sensenbrenner Wants to Shut Down the ATF

September 18th, 2014

So, we've got a proposal on the table [pdf] to break up the ATF and fold its responsibilities into other law-enforcement agencies. The idea is to give the FBI authority to enforce firearms regulations while giving the alcohol/tobacco stuff over to the DEA.

I'd love to see it happen. Homer Cummings' little post-Prohibition revenue collection agency has grown into the arbiter of our firearms laws, and it would be a gross understatement to say they've done a horrendous job of it.

This is the agency that funneled guns across the border to Mexico in the Fast & Furious operation, who distributed swag to their agents emblazoned with "ATF: Always Think Forfeiture," and who were responsible for the debacles at Ruby Ridge and Waco.

Then there's the problem of their "whites only" Good Ol' Boys Roundup, which lasted more than a decade before being shut down.

Beyond the abuses lies the issue of gross incompetence.  They're charged with maintaining a registry of ~130,000 machine guns straight, but they've admitted an error rate of at least 50% in the NFRTR.

So, yes, I'd rather see the FBI running things. They're an older, larger organization run by professionals. They're the very antithesis of the ATF's go-getter cowboy culture–one that has resulted in serious catastrophes.

The funny thing? The idea of folding the ATF into the FBI has come up several times over the years. John Conyers proposed a bill after Ruby Ridge and Waco that even got support from Al Gore. The reaction from many ATF agents was favorable. They'd get better support and a much better working environment. It also wouldn't hurt to have the same organization handling compliance and enforcement of firearms laws.

There will always be regulation on firearms. If it's to be done, I'd rather have the FBI doing it.

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to pass under the current administration. One of the President's few successful actions after Sandy Hook was appointing a permanent director for the ATF, and he's not going to be keen on dismantling the organization.

If things change in 2016, this would be worth bringing up.

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