This website has long argued that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is a profoundly corrupt organization. Like Randy Newman’s take on short people, the ATF’s got no reason to live. Nothing they do couldn’t be done by some other federal agency. You want to cut $1.5b dollars per year from the U.S. federal budget? Disband the ATF. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Even better, it would stop the ATF from growing. Which is something the Agency’s been desperate to do since birth. Thankfully, the NRA’s thrown cold water on the ATF’s insatiable lust for life. But never underestimate the low animal cunning of a bureaucratic organization hell bent on expansion (i.e. all of them). To wit: here’s how the ATF use the eTrace “crime gun” system to claim more of your tax money . . .
The scam comes to us from the same font of felony finger pointing that revealed the Gunwalker scandal (sending guns to Mexican drug cartels to stop people sending guns to Mexican drug cartels): cleanupatf.org.
It involves the ATF’s eTrace system: a database of information on guns used in crimes available to law enforcement agencies around the word. Well, not really. Yes to around the world (notice the globe in the logo), not so much to “used in crimes.” For example, if the police recover a stolen gun, the ATF enters the info in the eTrace system, even if it wasn’t used in a crime.
As Wikipedia points out, the ATF used to make this clear: “In 2002, ATF reported, ‘A crime gun trace alone does not mean that an FFL or firearm purchaser has committed an unlawful act.'” This disclaimer has disappeared from their publications.
Because massaging the numbers is the ATF’s raison d’etre. You may recall the ATF’s claims that “90 percent of guns used in crimes in Mexico were purchased in America” stat. In fact, 90 percent of the guns submitted for trace were American. The number traced was just 17 percent of the total number of guns confiscated by the Mexicans.
The media and Congress bought the ATF’s entirely misleading stat hook, line and stinker. In fact, the resulting brouhaha led to the first significant increase in the ATF’s funding since the agency began, including four new offices.
Back to eTrace. From the horse’s mouth:
Data manipulation is our business and business is good. One of ATF’s strategies to get more of your money is to say “look at all these traces” – we need more money, more people, more managers. The data is also used to implement agendas. Look at this evil firearm. This model was traced 437 times in 10 years. No explanation of how many gazillion traces were conducted in the same time frame, no context of how it compares to other types traced, and no research of the traces to confirm or refute the actual use in a violent crime.
Mangling the truth to gain power and prestige is not without its consequences. The Washington Post used eTrace to vilify several Washington area gun shops. And what gun dealer needs this kind of shit on their doorstep?
Too many bureaucrats have no understanding of the way the tracing system was supposed to work. If a dealer has more ‘crime gun’ traces than other local dealers, he must be doing something wrong. Of course, it may just mean that he is a high volume dealer, and nothing else. Or, it may mean that he has been in business for many more years than the other dealers, and would naturally have more traces. Nevertheless, certain narrow bureaucratic minds see only the high number of traces, and decide that the FFL should be put out of business.
And by bureaucrats, that means the ATF itself, of course.
Well, guess what….. Every “Gunwalker” gun traced (through eTrace) from Mexico, or anywhere else, is a “crime gun” sale which will be permanently recorded by the eTrace system against the first selling dealer, and tabulated at the National Tracing Center. With enough ‘crime gun’ sale traces, the FFL will be targeted for extra scrutiny during ATF annual inspections. This practice is documented in ATF publications and is an automated process through eTrace at the National Tracing Center. It’s highly unlikely that the automated system could or would be suspended by ATF Supervisor Voth – that would skew the statistics!
This is what happens when you have too much government. Bureaucrats jostle for power and influence, and the public pays the price. Oh and two U.S. federal agents, and dozens of Mexican civilians, have died at the hands of drug thugs wielding guns enabled by the ATF. The ATF lies, people die. And that’s the truth.