The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is supposed to be the go-to agency for keeping guns out of the wrong hands. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. They’ll tell you all about how awesome they are, I’m sure.

Unfortunately, they’re not quite as good at their jobs as they might like for some folks to believe.

While their high-profile screw-ups are the stuff of legend, this is one that is probably far more common and far less talked about.

 Pennsylvania man awaits sentencing after pleading guilty Thursday to charges that he bought and sold guns and gun parts that had been stolen from a federal disposal facility.

Richard Adam Schreiber, 38, of Everett, pleaded guilty to five federal counts related to the thefts by a contract security guard at the National Firearms and Ammunition Destruction Branch in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

His attorney, Dan Kiss, said in an email that Schreiber “has accepted responsibility for his actions in this matter by his plea today.”

The former guard, Christopher Lee Yates, is serving a lengthy federal sentence. Yates told investigators he would arrive at work early and take guns, gun parts and ammunition that had been seized during criminal investigations or were retired by federal agencies, authorities said.

The investigation began when a firearm was seized in Philadelphia with conflicting serial numbers, including one linked to the federal firearms destruction facility.

Prosecutors said agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seized 101 firearms, 1,352 slides and 123,000 rounds of ammunition from Schreiber. They also recovered 28 firearms, including three machine guns, from people who bought them from Schreiber.

Now, let me ask you this: If the ATF can’t keep guns out of criminal hands that were in one of their secure facilities, then what hope is there of keeping guns out of criminal hands in general?

The truth is, you can’t. Guns will always end up in criminal hands, like how water always finds the low spots. You can do whatever you want to try and stop it, but you’re just spitting in the wind and everyone knows it.

Meanwhile, legislators continue to try and push the idea that you can somehow prevent criminals from getting guns with just one more law, just one new rule that will suddenly change everything. That’s not how it works and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see it.

The truth of the matter is these rules make it harder on law-abiding criminals and, maybe, drive up the costs for the most dangerous criminals. That’s it. That’s the best-case scenario for gun control rules.

If you believe you can somehow disarm people and make guns disappear forever, just remember this story. Remember that even the ATF couldn’t stop federal firearms from ending up in criminal hands. A whole lot of bad guys were armed from the ATF’s stocks of firearms for destruction. If they can’t keep their own house in order, then how in the hell are they going to do anything to keep anyone else’s safe and sound?