Giffords: The gun lobby controls ATF

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Of all the three-letter agencies, none quite stir the ire of the gun rights crowd quite like the ATF. After all, this is the agency that can unilaterally decide something you spent thousands of dollars on is now suddenly illegal. They’ve already done that with things like bump stocks, which didn’t cost thousands of dollars but weren’t exactly handed out as free swag, either.

Yet would you believe that our side controls the ATF?

That’s what a report from Giffords tries to claim.

The American gun industry has effectively “captured” the law enforcement agency charged with regulating it, according to a new report from the Giffords Law Center recommending a host of changes at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The report comes just two days after Steve Dettelbach, a former federal prosecutor in Ohio, was sworn in as the ATF’s first permanent director in seven years. Dettelbach became just the second Senate-confirmed director in the agency’s history this month, overcoming gun industry opposition to win confirmation.

The report argues that gun industry groups, most prominently the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), influence the understaffed and underfunded agency’s policymaking and effectively turn the agency’s leadership into advocates for the gun industry within the Justice Department.

“For years, the gun industry, led by NSSF has developed an exceptionally cozy relationship with ATF, a relationship that has enabled the industry to exert tremendous influence over the agency,” the report’s author, Giffords’ Lindsay Nichols, writes. “This influence benefits the industry, but has undermined ATF’s ability to do its job: to protect public safety from gun violence by enforcing the laws regarding firearms and firearm sales.”

What I can’t help but notice is that this is Giffords, the same organization that employed and supported former ATF agent David Chipman’s nomination to helm the ATF.

He was bounced because, well, he was a terrible choice.

Now, though, there’s this huge problem where the NSSF is supposedly able to influence the ATF? Yeah, there’s absolutely no chance of sour grapes there, right?

Had Chipman been confirmed, though, Giffords would have run rampant influencing the organization while the NSSF would have been shut out, and that would have been fine, of course. After all, they are good and pure while the NSSF is evil and vile because they represent the gun industry.

Never you mind that we’ve seen numerous instances where groups like Gifford are clearly influencing policy without any pro-gun group having any input at all. That, of course, is fine. It’s the NSSF getting to provide any input that’s the problem.

Of course, let’s also remember that the ATF is still hostile toward the firearm industry. They still pulled up and declared bump stocks illegal despite knowing full well that they don’t turn firearms into machine guns and don’t even get me started on pistol braces.

Does Giffords honestly think the ATF is in the gun industry’s pocket?

Next, they’ll try to tell us that the media is too partial to pro-gun ideas. Truly, we live in the upside-down.

Further, they’re ignoring that Dettlebach isn’t exactly one of ours, either.

The truth is that Giffords is probably more salty that their guy didn’t get in so they can’t insure that the NSSF is shut out of the conversation, despite the industry clearly having a stake in things.