Once upon a time, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) decided that there was an “Iron River” of guns flowing from Bob’s Gun Store to Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel. Although the idea was literally fantastic, the ATF saw itself as a solution to the problem of its own imagination. So they secured $160 million in federal funding and began creating the trade that it was paid to combat (go figure), eventually putting guns into the hands of the criminals who used them to murder a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent (oops). Emboldened by their initial “success,” the ATF decided to create a long gun registry for sales of two or more magazine-fed rifles at 8500 gun dealers operating along America’s southern border.
At first, it was an “emergency” 90-day measure. As the registry gained favor (within the Agency if nowhere else), it became a one-year “temporary” registry. By the time the ATF submitted the regulation to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final approval, it was a one-year “trial” program, with a baked-in option to renew.
Just in case the registry’s opponents got their shit together, the ATF truncated the normal 90-day review period to three weeks. And made it run over Christmas. Actually, that’s not exactly it, as gunleaders.com discovered (and clued me in via email) . . .
I checked on their statutory authority on the emergency designation, and the salient difference here is that this is not (yet) a regulation. It is an Information Collection Request (ICR). The CFR contains provisions for emergency actions which they tried to use here. That’s how they get away with less than 90 days. Perfectly legal.
The fact that the registry was clearly unconstitutional was neither here nor there. At least not for the ATF.
How the OMB saw it is another matter; one shrouded in mystery. Even before the public consultation period expired, the regulation disappeared. Those of a tin-foil-hat-wearing persuasion (i.e. me) postulated that the growing scandal surrounding the Project Gunrunner interdiction effort led to the OMB’s decision to shove the registry application into a back drawer.
Yesterday night—Friday night being the best time to release “bad” news for any self-respecting PR person—the Washington Post reported that the White House has directed the OMB to place the long gun registry into semi-permanent limbo. And get this: it’s all because of salmonilla. In other words, the Prez’s newfound love of eliminating bureaucracy.
Meg Reilly, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, said the decision follows President Obama’s directive to curb excessive regulation and “is consistent with the president’s call for more transparency and opportunities for public participation in his recent executive order.”
Sure. I believe that. In fact, well done that man! Speaking of salmon, let’s keep going! Let’s gut the ATF like a fish.
Does the ATF need to actually chase (never mind fund and create) illegal gun sales? Do they need an SRT (Special Response Team) to bust down doors and arrest gun smugglers? Think of all the paperwork THAT entails. Nope. Just put the agency back inside the IRS and let them provide tips for all the other law enforcement agencies.
It’s a thought. Meanwhile, will the Washington Post PLEASE stop kissing the ATF’s ass? It was curious at first. By now their sycophancy is sickening. Note to editors: grow a pair and get on top of this Gunwalker scandal. Anything less is an affront to your organization’s history and ethics. Such as they were.