ATF agent

The left gets its panties in a bunch whenever the right uses the term “jack-booted thugs.” They think the expression reveals right-wing paranoia against an inherently beneficent government. Insurrectionism, domestic terrorism, etc. But seriously, the ATF are a bunch of jack-booted thugs. Click here to check out the “controversies” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) has inflicted on taxpayers; from the murders at WACO to the Fast and Furious anti-gun smuggling gun smuggling operation. And now the ATF are bitching that they can’t enforce the FBI’s NICS background check deal because they’re understaffed . . .

The nation’s gun enforcement agency lacks the capacity to adequately track the outcomes of thousands of investigations involving improperly purchased firearms, a government review concluded.

Although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives considers the cases a “top priority,” the agency “does not have readily available data to track and monitor the timeliness” of inquiries involving suspects who were allowed to buy guns after background checks initially failed to flag the buyers as ineligible because of past criminal records, mental illness or other prohibited conditions, the Government Accountability Office found.

At the same time, the GAO found that ATF’s staffing is at its lowest level in nearly a decade. There are 2,399 ATF special agents — the fewest since 2005. Personnel concerns extend to a growing number of veteran agents who are near or now eligible for retirement, according to the report.

That’s the best news of the day! Thank you usatoday.com. And thank you NRA for twisting Congress’ collective arm to limit funding to the ATF since Ronald Reagan elevated the IRS division to federal agency status.

The plain truth is that NICS is security theater, nothing more, nothing less. Its impact on reducing firearms-related crime is negligible. Researcher John Lott got into a major pissing match with mediamatters.org on that subject.

Suffice it to say, Lott quotes a 2010 U.S. Department Justice-funded study that concludes that the system has a 93 percent false positive rate (defended on his website here).

America should ditch NICS – it’s a cumbersome, expensive, ineffective system that’s a clear violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution that creates an illegal federal gun registry (the form 4473). We should also send the ATF back to the minor leagues (if not disband it entirely).

As for the ATF’s staffing problems, I’ll quote my old high school pal’s favorite expression: my heart pumps piss for them. Just sayin’ . . .

71 Responses to ATF Lacks Staff to Chase NICS Denials

  1. Maybe if they spend less on SWAT gear and armored vehicles. They seemed to have enough staff to raid Ares Armor well enough…

  2. And yet, some how, some way, the ATF found the resources to participate in the investigation and prosecution of a good man and lawful firearms owner, hounding him all the way to the Supreme Court and transforming him into a felon for purchasing and selling a firearm to another lawful firearms owner.

    Sooo….is the ATF’s real problem a matter of resources, or of priorities? You decide.

    • I am pretty sure that the prosecution was handled entirely by the DOJ, not the ATF. AS with any police agency, ATF can forward charges to the DOJ but lacks the means or authority to prosecute anything.

      • I knew somebody would leap to ATF’s defense, or at least jump at the chance to say something, anything, just to seem relevant.

        That’s why I specifically wrote “participate” and “investigation”, which nobody can deny, knowing someone like you would seize on the prosecution part. Nobody said ATF itself led the prosecution and nobody can say that a police agency is not a participant in a criminal prosecution, let alone the investigation. Sooo…..try again.

        • ATF is masterful that way. Since Waco they’ve been playing a lot of “Let’s You Punch Him in the Nose.” Mostly because their incompetent bumbling would only trash their cases before they ever got off the ground.

  3. It’s a little bit of both Jonathan- Houston.
    There are some very good people at ATF, but there are also the guys who are just really big butt heads

    • Wrong. Resources are always limited and demands on them are practically unlimited. Such is life and the situation facing every individual and organization no matter the mission or purpose. Limited resources, being the natural state, can’t then be regarded as any kind of special case or excuse. It just is what is.

      All of success, therefore, depends on how well one ranks those competing priorities and executes on them, relative to one’s acknowledged scarce resources. ATF, like much of government and most “law enforcement” agencies, consists primarily of do-nothings and evil doers. But in fairness, I’ll concede there may be some decent, not yet corrupted, good guys in the mix somewhere.

      Perhaps what the ATF needs is actually fewer resources: purge all of the thugs with badges, and quit corrupting the few good guys and misdirecting their efforts.

    • NO “Good people” – any self respecting citizen – would be in the employ of the ATF (or deal drugs, act as a pimp, engage in child smuggling, engage in the porn business, wear a brown shirt w/sam brown belt). Strictly a bush league thug operation.

      There are black/white lines of what is civil and appropriate in life.

      • We should not be too eager to paint with a black-brush every employee of a given agency. I’m not prepared to hazard a guess as to the number of ATF employees with an attitude problem; is it: 1%? 10%? 50%? 75%? I just don’t know. Those honorable employees who leave a rogue agency serve by depriving the agency of their services and detracting from its reputation as a suitable career choice. Those honorable employees who stay at a rogue agency serve a more important role in overtly or covertly reforming the agency; e.g., the F&F whistleblowers. Painting all employees of the ATF with an indiscriminate black-brush merely fosters an us-vs.-them mentality where – for those who are honorable – it should not exist.

  4. Jack- boots each and every one.

    When was the last time a citizen said ” We got trouble. Better call the ATF”?

  5. The percentage is 93%, not 99%. Or more accurately, 93% of denials (which accounted for ~1% of the total checks in the period analyzed) are “not referred to the field or overturned”.

      • I also think saying the report says there is a 93% false positive rate is inaccurate. The report, accurately quoted by notalima, says 93% are “not referred to the field or overturned”. It all depends on your definition of false positive and requires an evaluation of the ATF and US attorney referral guidelines. The report never makes a conclusion that there is a 93% false positive rate. Others have done that when reading it.

  6. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people on ‘the left’ who use the term jack-booted thugs, they just tend to use it against the DEA instead of ATF…

  7. I’m pretty sure I learned the phrase ‘jack-boot[ed thugs]’ from my leftist pals back in college. It’s a phrase that’s been used by many groups harkening their perceived oppression, to those under Nazi rule in Europe, or an Orwellian dystopia. It’s not exclusively the domain of the right-wing to use it. Just sayin’.

  8. “The ATF… My heart pumps piss for them.”

    I like the cut of your jib, Mr. Farago. Bravo.

      • Better, split the department. The tax division (on guns, alcohol, cigarettes) would go back to the IRS, and the remainder of its “law enforcement” functions to the FBI.

        • Ignoring the reality that the IRS is a rogue agency that abuses MOST American (rather than a few) and should be burned at the stake. If you are not following the ongoing IRS/ Lois Lerner saga you should read up.

          Perhaps give to the CDC or National Aquarium instead.

    • Hmmmm…..after reading that article it seems as though the ATF being separate by itself allows congress the flexibility to penalize and better micro-manage (and thus hinder) its operation. This oversight has caused the ATF to be understaffed and less capable. This all sounds good to me.

      If the ATF was melded into the huge FBI then the ATF operations could possibly be less hobbled and more rogue due to less oversight.

      I’m thinking that the best coarse is just to try to keep the ATF isolated and keep reducing its funds.
      Just keep making it less and less effective as an organization and more as a hangout for fat, lazy, stupid bureaucrats. Micro manage the operations so that the NFA checks get down to an instant 10 minute check and starve the rest of the organization.

      The article says 50% of ATF employees will retie within 4 years. Perfect! Have congress reduce their budget to keep those retired positions from being refilled.

  9. Disband the ATF? Turn over its responsibilities to the FBI? That sounds like impeaching Obama to get Joe Biden as president.

  10. “America should ditch NICS – it’s a cumbersome, expensive, ineffective system that’s a clear violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution that creates an illegal federal gun registry…”

    Another reason to live in Idaho – if you have a concealed weapons license, there is no NICS check requirement when you buy a gun at an FFL dealer. You still have to fill out the form, but the dealer only has to check your CWL and record the info on the form. The way Idaho figures it, if you have a CWL you have already passed a far more extensive background check than the NICS system. And as long as you keep the CWL, no phone calls/delays/false positives, etc. Gun dealers at gun shows LOVE people with CWLs – it speeds up the transaction, since there is no wait for the automated system to make up its feeble electronic brain.

    And there is no electronic note into the system each time you buy a gun. I am sure this gives the Bloomberg Mommies hissy fits just thinking about it.

    • Government waste on full blatant display.
      Checked for your permit then checked for every sale. NFA item? Check you again. Check, check, check, check, check.
      Repeated redundancy for a system that doesnt work in the first place.
      Maybe if they just checked a couple more times?
      Good for Idaho at least removing one redundant layer.

    • Same in Iowa. I’ve bought at shows, off of the internet, and in a shop; the 3 experiences were about the same.

    • Same in Nevada. Have a CCW, no NICS check (and no associated ‘fee’ that is charged in Clark County for the NICS check)

      And, at $25 per transaction (at least what is charged in Clark County) the original costs for my CCW have paid for themselves many times over.

    • That is the sort of thing I wouldn’t broadcast. I know I know, sounds paranoid, but Bloomberg and company love that sort of thing – come and spend a few billion to get that law “fixed”. Take it from someone who lives in Colorado. The only thing politicians love more than happy voters is big dollar donors.

    • Sounds a lot like “If only the government just tattooed our number on our arms, it would be more swift than demanding ‘Papers, please!’ each time they want to violate our liberty.”

      And they have you thinking this is a good thing? My God. Has it really gone this far?

    • Agencies can sieze property without annoying Due Process distractions if playing with drugs. Helps out with the donut fund.

  11. “jack-booted thugs” is just a metaphor invoking a type of footwear not in general use by U.S. agencies, but it does invoke dark and malevolent imagery. Personally, I like “Storm Troopers” better for our clad-all-in-black State-owned and operated thugs.

    Wayne La Pierre used the term “jack-booted thugs” some years ago and got a storm of criticism, including President George W. Bush resigning his Lifetime Membership in the NRA. More recently, Ted Nugent has used it on NRA Radio:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2011/09/16/nugent-invokes-jack-booted-thugs-communist-trai/181238

    BTW- I was previously advised it is “Waco”, not “WACO”, because it is the name of a Town, not an anagram.

  12. Deregulate SBS, SBR, and suppressors, fire a ton of paper pushers and record keepers, hire some more cops.

  13. From the Wikipedia entry on jackboot….

    In the United States in October 1993, the National Rifle Association (NRA) ran a 4-page add in the center of its American Rifleman magazine, the first page of which showed goose-stepping, jackbooted legs under the question, “What’s the First Step to a Police State?”[9] Two years later, the NRA’s executive vice-president, Wayne LaPierre, sparked controversy when he referred to federal agents as “jackbooted government thugs” in an NRA fund-raising letter.[10]

  14. Where’s the $ going? If you read their newsletters all they have to brag about in ops is assistance with FBI or DEA investigations and arrests. https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USATF/subscriber/new?

    They can’t do Form 4 Stamp issuances ’cause all their $ is spent on a website that the same ATF people have been working on since 1996.

    Feels like “throttling” the ATF doesn’t want to appear to infringe but (as in ice-‘curling’) they are out front sweeping as hard as they can to steer/control speed without touching.

  15. Jonathan- Houston, I get your point, and I could hae explained better, lol. By little bit of both I had an opinion similar to yours. I do belies that ATF should have a SWAT team, but that it shouldn’t be used for the hootenanny that SWAT teams are used for these days.
    When it comes too an overhaul I’m afraid the decision is typically between bad and worse.

  16. ATF Lacks Staff to Chase NICS Denials

    Good. Anyone can get denied for a lot of ridiculous reasons. The fewer staff they have the better – also the more money the tax payer has in their pocket they can put back into the economy rather than in the pockets of people providing services the taxpayer neither wants nor needs.

  17. If the BATF really wants to make a dent in gun crime, they have the opportunity to do so in South LA and Chicago using existing laws. The reason why they wont is because they actually might get shot at and get into some firefights. Its easier to go pick on FFL dealers, manufacturers and ordinary citizens.

  18. As shocking as this might appear on this forum, I advocate for NICS as a system. I don’t see how America could do without such a database in the 21st Century. Most of the data in NICS is in the nature of a public record. (To whatever extent there might be non-public-record data, it should be explicitly categorized and scrutinized by public debate.) We are a mobile society; someone convicted of a felony in HI might travel to ME, or vice versa. LE ought to be able to ascertain whether a gun possessor is a felon-in-posession – or not – without having to telegraph every court house in America.
    – – – That said, data errors in such a database as NICS are a problem; both false-positives; and, false-negatives. If such a database is to be used for any purpose affecting an individual, we have a collective duty to strive to cure as many data errors as possible.
    – – – What use is made of the data is an entirely separate question from the preceding points. We PotG are mainly concerned with the “prior restraint” issue of NICS before one may buy a gun. In the main, the delay is a trivial infringement if it is even an infringement at all. I hasten to add that I do not dismiss lightly the 1 – 5% of cases where a NICS check is delayed or denied in-error. First and foremost, if gun-buyers are to endure the prior restraint of a NICS check then ample Federal and municipal resources must be committed to clearing delayed or denials that are in-error. I’d be satisfied if the number were kept to 1% and that these are permanently resolved in a month or two.
    – – – The major point of the OP is that our Federal government is not the least bit sincere about using the NICS system for FFL customers to keep guns out of the hands of the dis-abled. Absolutely every denial (and probably most delays) should result in an investigation leading to either a database update or a referral for prosecution. (This is not to say that every referral ought to be prosecuted; prosecutorial discretion is always appropriate.) Either the delay/denial is evidence of an error/omission in the database; or, it is evidence of a dis-abled person in-posession – possibly a dangerous dis-abled person in possession.
    – – – We PotG should be beating the drums about these failures to pursue delayed denials. Our objective here is NOT particularly that such pursuit will materially reduce number of dangerous dis-abled persons with guns. Such a number might be reduced slightly, but hardly worth the cost of the effort. Instead, our objective should be to either: A) discredit the NICS BC as a prior-restraint mechanism in the public eye; or (preferably) B) be responsible citizens supporting a NICS database (used for whatever legitimate purposes to which it might be applied) that is as complete and accurate as required to support its uses. If politicians desire a DIScredited BC prior-restraint for gun purchase than the public should know this. The public should know that they are paying for a database that is plagued with errors and is NOT being used to keep guns out-of-the-hands of the dis-abled. Before the public is invited to pay for an expanded use of this database (to private transactions) they should beware that it won’t be used any more effectively after expansion than it was before. Conversely, if our politicians decide to be sincere (for the first time in history) then they will dedicate the resources to cleaning-up errors and pursuing apparent felons-in-posession.
    – – – Ironically, the broader the use of the NICS database the more support we should garner for making that use accurate and just. For example, an increasing number of jobs require a background check. (E.g., my work in banks usually requires that I pass a background check). If every job-BC had to clear the NICS database then enormous public pressure would be exerted to ensure that our friends and neighbors’ employment (and tax-paying) ability is not impeded by false-positives in NICS. Likewise, we would enjoy greater assurance that pedophiles are not being employed by our neighborhood schools due to false-negatives. As long as our complains about NICS errors are confined to gun buyers we won’t attract much sympathy from voters or politicians. Once the oxen gored by NICS errors become a politically-significant population then our objections to NICS will largely be resolved.
    – – – I explicitly leave-out of this discussion the risk of NICS inquiries serving as a back-door gun-registration scheme. I take that risk to be very serious; and, it is easily cured by a combination of two measures. First, the widespread acquiescence of States (now numbering about 21, such as the Idaho example mentioned) that dispense with a NICS check on showing a CCP. Second, by contracting the job of fielding NICS inquiries to 1+ system-operators not controlled by the DoJ (e.g., NRA, NSSF, or the like.)

    • If you feel protected because the people who choose to be so-regulated submit to those checks, then I pray (daily) that your are not exposed to circumstances that prove it’s just a feeling.

      It is wrongful to state that is some sort of providence of protection.

      • I don’t feel protected at all. As far as I’m concerned, it’s merely PR. I’d tell them: “Yes, we PotG are the good guys. See, we passed a BC. WE are NOT the problem. The problem is with people who couldn’t pass a BC if they tried. They don’t try. They will buy guns on the black market. That is never going to change. So, people-who-are-afraid-of-guns, go ahead and check my background as often as you like. Spend as much money as you are willing to be taxed to verify that I’m a good guy. Don’t charge me for your illusion that it accomplishes something. And, don’t expect it will turn-up any bad-guys. When you get tired of gun crime then check back with us, the PotG. We have the knowledge to have a serious conversation with you Anti’s about what will work; and, what will work is not on your list of gun control measures.”
        – – – When discussing BCs with the as-yet uncommitted voter we have to adopt a position that we PotG are the responsible and knowledgeable people in the discussion. BCs don’t work; they will never work; they are a feel-good measure. Whatever the Feds or States do to impose BCs they will simply verify what we already know: Non-criminal gun-owners are not criminals. Criminal gun users will have their guns no matter what governments do short of locking them in prison and keeping them there. Gun control is mostly – 98% – an expensive chaotic mess that doesn’t accomplish any positive outcome. We will put up with some of your feel-good measures so long as they don’t materially infringe upon our 2A rights. We will never put-up with measures that do infringe on our rights. Forget about: registration; AWB; magazine bans. To whatever extent you pass such laws, we will not comply. You can’t – and therefore won’t – enforce them. Look at the growth in CCW holders. You had better hurry; in 20 years the issue of gun-control will be settled in America.

      • In the main, I agree with your point. However, if the felony were violent then I think the problem is essentially the same. F injured V with his: fists; feet; a blunt object; a sharp object; a gun. If I read you literally you would say that he should have his gun rights restored in all cases but the last. I’d be more interested in a discussion of the possibility of a felon redeeming himself from a violent felony – irrespective of the instrumentality – than a discussion making a distinction among instrumentalities of the violent felony.
        – – – Non-violant felonies are an entirely separate matter. Who better than Bernie Maduff would be in greater need of the means to an effective self-defense if he were ever released from prison. His pacifist progressive clients would all be gunning for him.
        – – – I am more concerned about the mental-illness disablement criteria than the violent-felon criteria. I think the RTKBA is much more vulnerable to abuse under the pretext of mental illness than under the felon pretext. The presupposition that someone who was/is mentally-ill is presumptively a danger to himself or others is weaker than that for convicted felons.
        – – – In any case, the place to continue the fight for 2A rights is for the overwhelming majority of us who have never been convicted of a disabling crime nor adjudicated as mentally-ill. Once we have restored our rights in this area – which ought to be non-controvercial – then we can turn our attention to other categories that are equally worthy of a presumption of responsibility: 18-year-olds; legal aliens; ex-patriots (not a substantive issue but one of principle) and the like.

    • Your Right MarkPA; just as a GFZ sign is just a feel good measure that has no effect on a homicidal maniac in deciding on committing a mass shooting; (in fact it can be argued it encourages a mass killer to target such an establishment): if Chicago isn’t enough to show you that if gun bans have no effect on the use of guns by bad guys to commit murder; then you won’t accept the fact that NICS is just a very expensive feel good measure that has no effect on whether a bad guy can get a gun, or car, or a gas can, propane tanks as an improvised explosive device, etc., etc. to commit mass murder.

      The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun(which if they really want they will get) is a good guy with a gun.

      The only real way to stop a bad guy is to eliminate GFZ’s and make it easier for law abiding citizens to carry a gun.

  19. Under-staffed? Uh, no, they’re over-stuffed — simply for the fact that they even exist to start with.

  20. I find it fascinating that, a generation ago, it was the liberals who we’re bitching about jack-booted thugs in police uniforms. Now, it’s completely reversed. Fascinating.

    • The bitching a “generation ago” was the marxist Saul Alinsky type skum that just wanted (and are still working) to destroy Western civilization (see Obuma, H. Clinton, etc). Their “jackbooted” were and the self-indulgent “protester” didn’t have a clue.

  21. Congress is kicking around the idea of disbanding the ATF, handing the A&T to the DEA, the F to the FBI, and the money bits to the IRS. Something about excessive waste and other nasty bits.

  22. I had a fairly patriotic friend who went false positive on an NCIS check and had to get the thing cleared. No real good reason. I think the BATF is fairly worthless, but I think most of the gun laws are fairly worthless. I really do not feel safer than before 1968. I really do not have a big problem with NFA items being common place, and really very few NFA items are used in crimes.

  23. This isn’t the first story I’ve read about not having enough LEOs or having to let a bunch go because of funding. Is this just a push to pretend there’s a problem and get more money from taxpayers via sympathy? No sympathy here.

    Personally, I think there are about 25x too many agencies with law enforcement/tactical/swat/military/UFC capabilities. Some localities have state/sheriff/county/city police all patrolling the same streets (hidden in cars, not out with the unwashed masses).

    Reduce budgets. Reduce LEOs. Reduce agencies with their on militant law enforcement branches. They aren’t doing much good anyway. Many are frustrated meter maids looking to work off steam by busting someone’s head open. They’re dangerous.

    “Please put down your weapon. You have twenty seconds to comply.”
    ―ED-209 to Kinney.

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