ATF, Local Group Try Common Sense Approach to 'Gun Crime'

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

We’ve written a lot about the ATF over the years. Little of it has been good, in part because the ATF hasn’t done anything worth writing positively about.


After all, we’ve seen their abuses over the last few years and how they’re clearly overstepping their authority knowing good and well that absolutely nothing will happen to them.

But fair is fair. If the ATF gets something right, or at least starts looking like they might get something right, I should acknowledge that fact.

And, it seems that they’re might be getting something right.

Bluegrass Crime Stoppers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced a unique partnership Wednesday, one that’s aimed towards taking illegal guns off Lexington’s streets.

The partnership is the first between a Crime Stoppers organization and the ATF, a federal agency. Both agencies are offering cash payouts in exchange for information that leads to an arrest and seizure of a firearm used in a crime, or the arrest of someone in possession of a stolen gun. “For this program to be successful, we need the community’s support,” said ATF special agent in charge Shawn Morrow said. “You can contribute to public safety by providing information.”

Bluegrass Crime Stoppers contributed $15,000 towards the fund while the ATF contributed $10,000.

Cash payouts will be in the amount of $2,000 to $1,000 from each agency. If the tip leads to the seizure of multiple guns, an extra $500 bonus will be attached.

Now, there are issues with this effort, but not necessarily on the part of the ATF for once.

The big one is that a lot of criminals have stolen guns, but those firearms won’t show up in databases as stolen. That means a lot of people may know someone has a stolen gun and report them, only to find out they’re not getting anything because the serial number wasn’t specifically reported stolen.


I get why a lot of gun owners don’t want to give serial numbers to law enforcement when their guns get stolen, but it also means you’re never getting that gun back.

Where I have to give credit to the ATF is, for once, having enough sense to actually try to go after bad guys rather than making life difficult for law-abiding citizens.

In particular, going after armed criminals.

It’s a novel approach for the ATF, which is usually just harassing law-abiding gun owners, FFL holders, or entrapping people to commit crimes so they can shoot someone’s dog.

This looks like trying to do real police work for a change.

Clearly, someone must have suggested this to the ATF because it doesn’t look like the kind of thing anyone who has been with the bureau more than 15 minutes would think up. Still, it’s a solid plan and the kind of program I hope to see rolled out nationally in the near future.

I’d like to see the ATF be our allies in combatting gun-related crime. This is a step toward that goal. It just remains to be seen whether the bureau has any inclination toward taking any other steps that way.

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