The Gunwalker scandal continues apace. As you’d hope, considering that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive stands accused of encouraging U.S. gun stores to sell firearms to Mexican drug thugs. A policy that armed the criminals who shot and killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Customs and Immigration Enforcement Agent Jamie Zapata. But in the non-rush to judgement, it’s important to remember that the ATF is a fundamentally corrupt organization that poses a significant danger to our Second Amendment rights. Day in and day out. Which is why . . .
It’s disheartening to see the summary of the House Appropriations’ “mini-bus” bill which provides 2012 funding for our friends at the ATF:
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – The legislation contains $1.2 billion for the ATF, which is an increase of $39 million above last year’s level. The bill also includes long-standing funding prohibitions related to firearms privacy and records.
That’s a lot of money for a rogue agency whose work overlaps every city, country, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agency extent. An agency that thought it was a good idea to enable gun smugglers who purchased some 2000 weapons from U.S. gun stores in a ten-month period. And helped an unknown quantity of illegal weapons to flow from Tampa to Honduras. And let a grenade maker and machine gun converter (caught red-handed with hundreds of explosive devices) walk back into Mexico. Amongst other things.
Ah, but at least Congress has reaffirmed those “long-standing prohibitions related to firearms privacy and records.” That’ll keep the ATF muzzled (so to speak). Not so fast, Mr. Bond. Let’s take a closer look at the ATF’s “limitations” via our friends at the National Rifle Association . . .
One of the most important ways that Congress has protected the Second Amendment is through a number of general provisions included in various appropriations bills. Many of these provisions have been included in the bills for many years—some of the provisions go back almost three decades. This conference report is no exception, as it contains 12 provisions that strengthen the Second Amendment and protect the American people. Specifically, the conference report makes PERMANENT the following protections:
– Firearms Database/National Gun Registry Prohibition. No funds may be used to create, maintain or administer a database of firearms owners or their firearms. This prohibition has been in place since Fiscal Year 1979, and prevents the federal government from establishing a national gun registry.
– Former Firearms Dealers Information Retrieval Prohibition. No funds may be used to electronically retrieve personally identifying information gathered by federal firearms licensees. The provision prohibits the creation of a gun registry from dealers’ records that are required by law to be surrendered to the federal government when a dealer goes out of business. This provision has been included since FY 1997.
Ahem. Starving the ATF of funds for an activity is not the same as prohibiting that activity. Hang on; all of the ATF’s registration activities are already prohibited by law. Google-Fu this from Section 106 of The Firearms Protection Act of 1986:
(i) Prohibition Relating To Establishment of Registration Systems With Respect to Firearms. – No department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States may –
(1) require that any record or portion thereof generated by the system established under this section be recorded at or
transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or political subdivision thereof; or
(2) use the system established under this section to establish any system for the registration of firearms, firearm owners, or firearm transactions or dispositions, except with respect to persons, prohibited by section 922(g) or (n) of title 18, United States Code, or State law, from receiving a firearm.
The ATF violates these provisions in at least six different ways: their new mandatory multiple rifle sales report (currently hung-up in the courts), the existing multiple handgun sales mandate, the Bureau’s practice of data capturing transaction records copied from dealers during annual inspections, the current record of firearm traces through eTrace (many having nothing to do with crime), the stockpiling of out-of-business dealer records and the registration of NFA items (machine guns, silencers, etc.)
In fact, the ATF has already implemented partial firearms registration. Only two steps remain for ATF to implement full firearms registration in the United States: 1) require ALL firearms sales/transfers to go through a dealer (a proposal currently finding favor in the gun control community through their “Fix Gun Checks” campaign) and 2) require dealers to report all sales to ATF (or ATF will simply copy the dealers records during each annual inspection and enter the transactions into their databases).
So how is it that the NRA is trumpeting Second Amendment safeguards which the ATF is ignoring in both spirit and practical procedure? Did both the ATF and the NRA somehow forget that federal law both specifically and generally prohibits federal firearms registration schemes? Don’t get me started on state and local firearms registration (listed here).
Suffice it to say, the ATF is in violation of federal law. Again. Still. In fact, it’s time for the NRA and American gun owners to realize that the ATF is the single greatest danger to our gun rights. The fact that the Bureau placed U.S. citizens in harm’s way in Operation Fast and Furious is no aberration. It is an abomination. [h/t to Ike for intel]