Why the ATF can't be trusted to be nonpartisan

Why the ATF can't be trusted to be nonpartisan
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The ATF is the law enforcement agency with a purview over the firearm industry. They enforce regulations at pretty much all levels of the legal trade of firearms in this country.


And they’re not particularly loved for it.

After all, their history of jackboot tactics isn’t exactly going to make anyone in the gun community warm-up to the agency.

Yet should we develop trust with them? After all, aren’t they just law enforcement officers trying to do their jobs?

Not really. You see, they’re not just federal agents trying to do a tough job. The agency itself is heavily biased and more than willing to pick a side in the debate over gun control.

On May 17, the Department of Justice announced the release of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives publication titled the National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA). The report is the result of the Biden-Harris Administration’s April 2021 “Initial Actions to Address the Gun Violence,” which called for the creation of “an annual report on firearms trafficking.” The May 17 release is the first volume in a planned four-volume series.

Those who appreciate Second Amendment rights will be less enthused by portions of the document devoted to touting ATF’s recent controversial regulatory moves and the frequent editorializing.

The “acknowledgements” section of the NFCTA explains, “The heart of this project is a unique partnership between ATF and members of academic institutions.” The document then goes on to list those who “contributed immeasurably” to the report. This list includes such longtime gun control advocates/researchers as Anthony Braga, Philip J. Cook, and Garen J. Wintemute. Also included is Alaina De Biasi of the California Firearm Violence Research Center (that state’s taxpayer-funded gun control propaganda outfit).

Braga and Cook have both advocated for the imposition of severe gun control measures. In a December 2000 working paper titled “Gun Control,” the pair promoted a prohibitive federal tax on guns and ammunition. Acknowledging that such a tax would price lower-income individuals out of exercising their rights, the researchers wrote, “we recognize that this tax is repressive, and will be particularly burdensome on poorer people who want a gun.” Braga and Cook also endorsed federal legislation to criminalize the private transfer of firearms and contended that the government should advance “devices to personalize guns,” commonly understood as so-called “smart gun” technology.

The researchers looked favorably on the use of frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers as a form of leverage to secure acquiescence to state gun control measures. In endorsing public policy by lawfare, the two recalled events in one state, noting, “the plaintiff’s lawyers were successful in improving the terms of political trade by changing the status quo, and the result, while still quite moderate, went farther to control guns than otherwise would have been possible.” The paper also endorsed state gun rationing schemes.


That’s right, the ATF went to noted gun control zealots to get their input. There’s no mention of pro-gun voices being there to provide balance, either.

In other words, the ATF itself has chosen to pick a side of the debate, and it’s not ours.

They’re not interested in preserving our rights, only expanding gun regulations in such a way as to broaden the agency’s power and funding. They’re not remotely interested in what you have to say or your opinions as to how your rights should work.

No, they went to those who routinely call for curtailing those rights as a matter of course.

I encourage you to go and read the whole thing because there’s a lot more there. The entire fiasco is heavily anti-gun, and likely that way for a reason. After all, let’s look at who the ATF went to for input.

Look, I don’t have an issue with going to activists to get their take on something. That’s often a valuable source of input. But when you only get help on your report from just one side of the debate, it’s clear that you’re not remotely interested in being a neutral party.

When the ATF wonders why they’re not getting cooperation from the gun community on various things, this is what they’ll need to remember. They’ll need to look at this nonsense and remember that this is of their own making.

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