The ATF’S Conundrum

by
posted on June 22, 2022
Frank Miniter

Like so many federal agencies in these hyper-politicized times, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has a dilemma.

No doubt they are staffed with a lot of good people with important jobs to do—I have met and interviewed a bunch of impressive ATF agents for articles for various publications and books—but, at the same time, the ATF is an agency that has too often been used by administrations for political goals.

Once the ATF was actually a part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—now there’s a negative association—but today they are an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ also oversees another law-enforcement agency that has too often acted politically lately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI’s adventures into presidential politics and more have gotten a lot of national attention lately, but officials attempting to use the ATF for political advantage (see “The ATF Shouldn’t Be Political” on p. 22) have also generated controversy. 

The ATF’s “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal, a once-secret “crime-fighting” operation in which the ATF told gun-store owners to allow known bad guys to buy as many guns as they wanted, blew up in congressional hearings about a decade ago after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was likely killed with a gun the ATF allowed to be bought illegally. As the Obama administration used executive privilege to keep a lot about this scandal from the public, and the DOJ massively redacted (blacked out) large portions of revealed documents, there is still much we don’t know about that insane operation. The ATF also oversaw and made big mistakes in the explosive Ruby Ridge and Waco catastrophes in the 1990s. These, however, are merely the most-famous mistakes made by this law-enforcement agency. 

For a more-recent example, see p. 16 (“The ATF Moves to Unilaterally Define What a Gun Is”), in which we take a closer look at how this law-enforcement agency is trying to rewrite laws—a task that the U.S. Constitution specifically reserves for the U.S. Congress. 

Or consider that, last year, President Joe Biden (D) nominated a gun-control group employee, David Chipman, to be the director of the ATF. And that, as this was going to print, after Chipman couldn’t get enough votes in the U.S. Senate, Biden had nominated another gun-control advocate, former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, to run the ATF (for more on this, see “A Gun-Control Activist Should Not Run the ATF,” p. 56). These are open and hostile attempts to politicize a law-enforcement agency that oversees gun stores and manufacturers.

Meanwhile, President Biden has repeatedly told us that gun stores and manufacturers are responsible for the recent surge in violent crime. This claim, of course, isn’t just provably untrue—after all, gun sales went up for decades as violent-crime rates largely fell—but it also has to be creating friction in the important relationships ATF agents have with employees at gun stores and manufacturers.

When politics, such as the dishonest rhetoric we hear from President Biden, attempts to divide law-abiding gun owners and dealers from law enforcement, we have a conundrum that isn’t helpful to making America a safer nation. But this is where the Biden administration has taken us. 

Latest

hollywood.jpg
hollywood.jpg

Hollywood Gets It Wrong, Again

Reality tells a different story than Hollywood on Armed Citizens.

A Look At Some Of What To Expect In 2023

This year, we will push to expand constitutional carry, right-to-carry laws and fight the gun control groups' continued attempts to use the financial sector to effectively get the restrictions they can't get through legislatures. And this is just the beginning of what we will do!

The Politically Incorrect Truth About America's Rifle

For the truth on America's rifle, America's 1st Freedom spoke to the attorney who wrote the book on it.

Gun-Control Groups Present a Demand List to Biden

A long list of gun-control groups recently signed a letter telling President Biden that his gun-control actions are not enough. In his upcoming State of the Union Address, they want him to agree to much more.

Gun Skills: Shooting from Retreat

Shooting at a stationary target doesn't represent a defensive situation; it's important to "get off the X." But even when we do, we often forget rearward motion as an option.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory DS Prodigy

The DS Prodigy provides the same magazine capacity as most striker-fired polymer pistols; however, it also provides the familiarity–and much-better trigger–of the 1911.

Interests



Get the best of America's 1st Freedom delivered to your inbox.