Waco (courtesy news.com.au)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (and Really Big Fires) started life as a small office inside the Internal Revenue Service. Their mission: to collect tax revenue. President Reagan elevated the BATFE(RBF) to agency status. Today’s Bureau is a $1.1b per year behemoth dedicated to infringing on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. OK, that’s not their official mission statement. But even a cursory glance at their wikipedia.org entry reveals . . .

a deeply reprehensible lack of accountability (e.g., Fast and Furious) underpinned by a sometimes murderous anti-gun jihad (e.g. Waco [above] and Ruby Ridge). Now the left – yes the left – wants to merge the ATF with the FBI. I say yes. Regardless of the “this will increase firearms enforcement” rhetoric, I reckon it would be a good way to kill ATF’s toxic anti-gun culture (figuratively speaking). Your thoughts?  [h/t AD]

105 Responses to Question of the Day: Should the ATF Merge with the FBI?

  1. The Feebies have not exactly covered themselves in genuine glory, either, and that goes back to their beginning. I’d favor disbanding and eliminating both organizations forthwith. Along with the Department of Mis-Education and a host of others. They’re bleeding us dry and simply creating more problems by far than they ever solve/d.

    A pox on them both.

    • The primary purpose of the FBI, since its rise under Hoover, has always been political prosecutions. Any actual crime fighting they do is purely a coincidence.

  2. Now that is an interesting Question:
    On the 1 hand it is appalling to me that we can “Tax” constitutional rights. No other in the Bill of Rights would be subject to that – and in fact should and would be ruled Unconstitutional.

    Taxing of this nature is merely a barrier to entry – much like the poll tax of old. So, yes, the ATF should be done away with. Ownership of Firearms is a protected constitutional right.

    On the other hand – merging it’s power into that the FBI could be the “easiest” way to destroy this bureaucracy. (Absorb the DEA there too while you’re at it.) & any other “Domestic” alphabet soup agency. Once they’re under one roof : Non-essential functions can be stripped out — Yeah, I know, I’m a dreamer.

      • It is very different. FBI being better funded and much more man power. This would be very bad for the 2A.

        • ATF is culturally out of control borderline criminal organization. Merging with FBI would (further?) poison FBI, bad idea IMHO. Eliminate ATF, replace with a 10-person group within IRS to monitor tax compliance, weapons not authorized. Repeal NFA to eliminate another 10 people. The other 27,000 employees of ATF have no assigned duties, now! No replacement required. Then, every time a department head tells us he doesn’t have enough personnel/money to enforce a particular law, repeal that law, fire that boss and cut the size of the group he was whining about.

      • The FBI screwed the pooch at Ruby Ridge and Waco both, taking over for the ATF and completing the clusterfork.

        • Exactly! There are some murder charges that needs to be filed on the clowns at Ruby Ridge including the ass-clown sniper and the guy that gave him orders to kill on sight.

        • Larry: I love the way you think!
          Blue…..Murder charges have been filed in the state of Idaho; if Suriachi or however you spell it ever sets foot in Idaho again, he will be arrested and tried. The warrant never expires.

    • The FBI is already infected. When I took a tour of their headquarters in 1995, one of their employees put a cover of TIME or NEWSWEEK(a issue pushing gun grabbing, “Stop the Madness!” was the name) right in front of where the tour groups walked past every 15 minutes. It is that bad at the FBI.

  3. I fail to see a need for the ATF to exist. Somehow, my county manages to collect property taxes every year without hundreds of agents and SWAT teams. Simply put, if their purpose is to gather tax revenue, then the IRS can do that job rather well. Any other purpose is unconstitutional.

    • “I fail to see a need for the ATF to exist.”

      I too, fail to see a need for the ATF / postal service / dept of education / HHS / WIC / etc to exist, but here we are.

      • HHS has the CDC under it’s umbrella. They at least do good an important work (mostly and usually).

        • Except for the CDC’s constant drum-beating message “guns are bad!”

          How old are you?

          Google Arthur Kellerman, then read Gary Kleck.

      • Postal service is directed by the Constitution, I think all others can go, but certainly ATF, DOE, DEA, and all the massive duplication directed by DHS. And I bet that’s a couple hundred billion a year.

      • What would you replace HHS & WIC with?

        WIC is so despite having slackers for parents, you would get reasonable nutrition as a child. That ensures a well developed brain that can sort out what’s what and be productive, ie not a criminal.

        I for one don’t want to deprive all my white people of daily necessities. You talk like you don’t know any poor people or can’t understand their plight. There are slackers and cheaters
        in every economic class in America. All aren’t. You offer that poor white guy a job or have him do half your work and take half your salary. I didn’t think so.

        So where’s his job if you abolish social services?

      • At least Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution empowers Congress to establish Post Offices and post Roads.

        That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be cut where needed however.

        • The Congress shall have Power To…establish Post Offices and post Roads….
          ARTICLE I, SECTION 8, CLAUSE 7

          Congress has the power to establish the post office. I guess missed the “required” part in law school.

        • I guess you also missed the history class where they would have taught you that The Continental Congress (including Ben Franklin) created the U.S. Post off during the American Revolution which was before The Constitution or even The Articles of Confederation were drafted. It is the 2nd oldest Federal agency. Don’t feel bad. Obama had neither constitutional law nor constitutional history.

  4. Unfortunately they are both suffering from a crisis of honesty, morality and relevance as is the Secret Service. Hookers, drunk and passed out in the street, lost firearms., faked or shoddy lab work, political law enforcement investigations (remember Fender Guitar?) How about we just abolish it. Remember the Second Amendment to the Constitution does say “shall not be infringed”

  5. Not in favor of it. I feel this consolidates even more power into the FBT and they have had plenty of issues on their own. The FBI is even more politically influenced than ATF, and being much larger is more difficult for Congress to restrain from over stepping its mandate.

  6. Why not? We could combine them with the secret service, border patrol, postal police, diplomatic security service, department of energy, & marshals service, and simply call them the “Committee for State Security”.

    Problem solved.

  7. How about just abolishing them? And by the way the center for American progress is in favor of this, and I’m sorry but I’m always leery of a group that has leftist leanings like them supporting such a move.

    • Unfortunately, that will only happen the day after this decrepit sh!thole completely implodes.

      And the sooner the better, in my estimate.

  8. Somehow, the concept of an ATF/FBI merger reminds of the old B-grade monster movies, like “Frankenstein meets the Wolfman.”

    • I was thinking more tweedledee and tweedledum, except they have a MP5/10 in one hand and a canister of CS gas in the other.

  9. The law enforcement components of BATFE and DEA should be transferred to FBI. Regulatory function can be transferred to FDA or FBI (or states) and any revenue issues to Treasury. You could combine FBI, U.S. Marshals and Secret Service as well.

    And the we start on DHS…

    • Admittedly, I am prejudiced in favor of the DEA (spent 16 years attached to them); they do a lot of good both here and OCONUS. I would argue for maintaining the DEA in both its enforcement and diversion capacities. Although stripping the diversion out and giving it to FDA, since it is a regulatory function is reasonable. DEA has always been the red headed step child with regard to funding, but like the USMC is very mission focused regardless of personnel/equipment shortfalls.

      • >I am prejudiced in favor of the DEA (spent 16 years attached to them); they do a lot of good both here and OCONUS

        Oh no you didn’t.

  10. Merge the law enforcement function with the FBI, the tax function with the IRS, and fire all the staff. There was a need for an armed ATF in the days of prohibition and moonshining, but those days are past. If they need “muscle” for a particular job, the FBI can provide it. But one has to ask–did armed ATF agents need to raid ARES Armor or Stag Arms? I really really don’t think so.

    • “…did armed ATF agents need to raid ARES Armor or Stag Arms?”

      They have to do something to justify their existence, and “making a federal case outta’ it” is the stock in trade of most of these agencies. BLM vs. Bundy is another recent example.

      Merging as you suggest makes sense. One would hope that such a merge would result in better oversight and accountability, but recent IRS scandals aren’t reassuring and the FBI isn’t immune to stupid either, such as Ruby Ridge where now San Diego Sheriff Al Gore was, as I recall, the FBI AIC.

  11. Yes, let’s replace a bunch of pathetic vindictive bunglers with a vindictive competent agency that has a 100 year history of successfully burying 99% of its scandals and getting a free pass on the other 1%. Not to mention they’re pros at claiming credit for stopping conspiracies that they deliberately created. They don’t call it the Feral Bureau of Instigation for nothing.

    BTW, since Lon H and the whole ‘shoot on sight’ murder squad were FBI, why does BATF continue to draw the bad press from Ruby Ridge? True, it all started with a plan to frame Randy Weaver and force him to be a BATF Confidential Informant for free, but BATF didn’t shoot anybody on Weaver’s property. They also haven’t cooked any Seventh Day Adventists in my lifetime (see picture at top of page).

    • Yep, Ruby Ridge itself started as a US Marshal’s operation, the Marshals managed to shoot Weaver’s son in the back and shoot the dog (no kiddin’) before the FBI took over to murder Vickie Weaver. And Waco started out as an ATF operation before the FBI took over to stage the final barbeque. Not sure a merger would make a whole lotta difference.

      • The Marshals would not have been there except for the complaint from the ATF generated by their ILLEGAL entrapment of Weaver, to my knowledge no ATF, FBI, or Marshal suffered the slightest inconvenience other than the one the kid shot. No prosecutions, no demotions, maybe the rioters and looters have a point, why do we keep letting these arrogant a-holes get away with this crap?

        • Yes, I recall that. Interesting that ATF wasn’t in on the doings at the Weaver cabin since they did get the ball rolling to start with. The FBI, BTW, did pay a multi-million dollar settlement to Weaver, but that was the extent of any official repercussions as far as I know. One of the marshals did get shot, after another one shot one of Weaver’s dogs.

        • A little history to clear things up. The FBI wanted Randy Weaver to spy on the Aryan Nation. He had been to a meeting or two but did not want anything more to do with them or any one else for that matter. A government agent entrapped him (legal term) to create a sawed off shot gun. – ATF violation. Then they used the threat of prosecution to pressure him to spy on the Aryan Nation. He again refused. In retaliation they charged with the felony of manufacturer of an SBS. It is disputed that he missed a court date because they misinformed him but then the BATF and FBI went out and swatted him and his family.

        • That’s Ruby Ridge in a nutshell! Col. Bo Gritz (Special Forces) went in their and talked to Weaver and diffused the whole thing. A bunch of residents were starting to figure out the truth and were about to help Weaver out kind of like what happened at the Bundy Ranch. Gritz was the guy that they loosely patterned Braddock after in the MIA movies.

        • So what really is the difference between Waco, Ruby Ridge and Bundy Ranch? The internet and citizen journalism! There were no angels at any of these events, only mortals and sinners. Still smart phones, Twitter and Instagram saved lives and maybe a little freedom.

        • Waco could have been avoided by having a couple of Tx Rangers pick Koresh up when he was out for his morning jog. Roby Ridge never should have happened. The whole thing was fabricated by the ATF. It would be interesting to know what the turn out would have been at the Bundy Ranch without instant communications we have now. Bundy would probably have gotten clobbered before help got there.

  12. I do not favor combining them. Off the top of my head, the only legitimate function of the FBI would be investigating spies, foreign agent provocateurs, attacks on federal offices and officers, and state/local government abuses of our rights. Chasing down people for exercising a Constitutionally enumerated right in contravention to unconstitutional “regulations” is a waste of finite resources.

      • Larry, I always respect your opinions, however, just look at the name—“investigation”, not “arrest”. The FBI’s job is to “investigate” crimes committed on the federal level (of which there should be very few) and turn them over to the state police for the arrest. We did quite well without them for a century or so. In Texas, the FBI is allowed to carry firearms by order of the DPS; otherwise, they have no authority to carry in this state.

  13. There are too many Federal Police agencies, period. Merging these two agencies won’t reduce the bureaucracy. Getting rid of agencies like the ATF and the DEA (among others) would be a good start to restoring some measure of freedom though. I feel there is room for a FBI-type agency as well as a US Marshal-type agency (both as originally envisioned), everything else can go. Be right back, I have to go feed my pet unicorn.

  14. “I reckon it would be a good way to kill ATF’s toxic anti-gun culture (figuratively speaking). ”

    That culture comes from the top (you know who), so I’m not so sure. Sounds like the FBI will be forced to assume the mantle of the anti-gun culture, since their chain of command will insist upon it.

    • Let us use clear language: the ATF is not anti-gun, it is anti-civilian-gun. The FBI is also a government agency, by definition it is already anti-civilian-gun. Government hates resistance.

  15. Various gun groups oppose this but the BATFE is not just another unaccountable, out of control, poorly run police state, militarized, gang of thugs, they are a group MANDATED to do one of the things the government is not allowed to do. Being mandated to confiscate citizen guns means this group pulls the worst of the worst of the worst, gun grabbing, liberty stomping, jack booted thugs possible. The reality of the constitution is that this group has no possible legal function, but the reality of the world is that any real law enforcement they tasked with doing the unconstitutional functions given to the BATFE would have to do them less abusively than the BATFE.

  16. Both agencies have no respect for human life. BATF started Waco as a publicity stunt. FBI ended it as a massacre. At the Weavers home the same thing occurred. It was Lon Hourichi of the FBI who murdered the mother with a baby in her arms.

    BATF is largely inept. Gun owners should prefer it that way.

    • It’s been reported that Horiuchi expended some ammo at Waco, too, but of course any evidence of women shot in the face was covered up by the BBQ that killed 80 American citizens without trial. I’m pretty sure that is in competition for the biggest mass murder in American history. Except, of course, FBI.

  17. Dump the atf and as many of the .gov level agencies as possible. Put fbi in its place and downsize them. The savings in taxes can go to local cop shops. Locals know best for their areas.

  18. Change the department or name make a bigger mess of it.
    Same incompetent folks will still be doing the same job with a different badge.
    And worse more power to back them up.
    Just do away with them altogether.

  19. This leftist thinks that most federal agencies should be abolished and repeal all gun control laws especially the NFA.

  20. They should be merged together – in much the same way toilet paper and feces are merged. And likewise, they should be flushed in a similar manner as well.

  21. I would favor the dismantling of the ATF with those functions/responsibilities deemed necessary given to another agency (FBI,FDA etc). This would dilute the toxic culture and preserve some of the useful capabilities such as bomb forensics. Dump things like federal oversight of tobacco and alcohol, leave that to the states or treat them like a regulated food or drug. I worked with ATF for years and found a$$holes to be the norm not the exception. While the FB1 has issues as well, I sadly trust them more than the ATF.

  22. Dealing with the ATF is already bad enough. But dealing with an even bigger bureacracy like the FBI would be even worse. Pick your poison.

  23. No. We need to abolish the DEA, TTB, and BATFE, and with it the NFA and any other gun control laws, greatly shrink the FBI and NSA, and make sure that the CIA and other members of the Intelligence Community (and the intelligence agencies of any country who values international relations with us) are not allowed to spy on or otherwise harass American citizens without darn good cause, a warrant, and full departmental accountability.

  24. Not sure we want to infect what is viable in the FBI by importing ATF crazy.
    I’d more say we disband the ATF and hand its duties to other agencies.

  25. This question is similar to asking “Which would you rather have? Syphilis or gonorrhea?”

    What you’d really like is neither.

  26. Most necessary ATF functions should be distributed among other federal agencies that might not ship guns to goons in Mexico or cause Americans to be killed in ruthless exercises of power.

    What’s left of the ATF can process Form 4s.

  27. Merge ATF and FBI? Possibly although given the federal government it would literally take years and cost billions of dollars. Isn’t there something simpler, like say just firing the ATF. Like in Office Space, you don’t have to be confrontational, just let Personnel fix it.

  28. Yes, the BATFE should be disbanded and it’s necessary functions taken over by the FBI. It never should have existed in the first place. But really, alcohol and tobacco should be the concern of the FDA, local law enforcement, and the DEA as necessary. Firearms and explosives crime should be handled by general local and federal agencies, including the FBI. No special agency is needed. Firearms should be minimally regulated, and there is not a large incidence of crime with explosives. I’d rather see the BATFE disbanded than a merger. I don’t want a ATFE department at the FBI, and I think many ATF employees could be let go with no detriment to public safety. Those with relevant experience and expertise can be brought over, but it would be a good opportunity for a cultural cleanse to dismiss the gun-hating obstructionists, belligerents, and trigger-happy Lon Horiuchi types who have made the ATF a waste of public funds and a threat to public safety and freedom. If they complain about losing their jobs, I’d tell them they’re being treated generously by not being incriminated and thrown in jail for being traitors to the constitution and enforcing immoral laws.

  29. “President Reagan elevated the BATFE(RBF) to agency status.”

    Pretty sure that happened in the early 70’s, not under Reagan.

    Put them back under the Treasury Department as a division of the IRS where they belong. Their job should be nothing more than collecting NFA taxes (they haven’t collected alcohol and tobacco taxes since 2002) and issuing FFLs.

    Merging them into the FBI would be a mistake. After all, the FBI are the ones that took the messes the ATF started at Ruby Ridge and Waco and made them worse.

  30. I consider the BATFE and really big fires to be like a spoon full of urine. Many have suggested merging the agency with other federal agencies, which I liken to pouring that spoon of urine into a bucket of drinking water. Adding BATFE and really big fire agents to ANY other federal law enforcement agency will just pollute the other agency. The BATFE needs to be disbanded, with all personnel banned from working in any law enforcement capacity for the rest of their lives. Yeah, I know there are some good people working at BATFE, but that is the punishment for willingly working for a rogue out-of-control agency that has repeatedly harmed and killed Americans for no real good reason. Merge? absolutely no, Purge? The only way to go!

  31. My first choice would be to disband ATF, something, alas, that our government seems pathetically unable to do to any established bureaucracy. Folding ATF into the FBI would undoubtedly be very unpopular with the FBI as the two organizational are entirely different despite the fact that they often perform similar duties. The ATF “bad boyz ” won’t meld well with the FBI’s genuine hard-asses and many will seek other employment. This can only be a good thing.

  32. No.
    Just cut the ATF and fire everyone. Same with the DEA. They are better suited for working for the Venezuelan commie government or some other south of the border third world dictatorship.

  33. They’ll do the same thing regardless of what you call them. If we have to have anything at all keep it the ATF… so we continue to know exactly who they are.

  34. All the federal LE organizations should be merged into the Marshal Service. They are the original Federal LEOs. Their jurisdiction should also be restricted to the original US Marshal roles.

  35. No. Feebs dont want them, wont take them. Too much distrust and disgust.

    Shut the thing down and give the money to the states for a couple years to plus up their own cops to chase drugs and guns how they want to, where it will be better spent locally anyway, and not compromise investigations and trust.

    The ATF agents should be allowed to honorably retire for the toxic effects of working for management there, or cross-transfer to US Marshals or Border Patrol.

    ATF Management should be required to work at TSA lowest level for 20 years. Solves the Peter Principle problem, too.

  36. Having worked with the FBI on a few investigations, I find them to be at least moderately competent. Merging them with the ATF would probably destroy what little good they actually accomplish.

    So, I propose a different option.

    Let’s just abolish the ATF altogether and send all their agents to work at the TSA as unarmed airport security line workers. That way they could work where their skills are actually close to a good fit. Even they could probably grope grandmas in wheelchairs almost as well as the current crop of TSA workers.

  37. I am opposed to merging the BATFE and the FBI. The BATFE needs to be dissolved. The IRS can handle collecting for tax stamps. People selling guns to bad people can be arrested by any of the 800,000 law enforcement officers we have in the US today. Most states have their own form of the BATFE. The state agencies could keep guns out of criminals hands much better if they are not stumbling over the BATFE.

    • After the Loretta Lynch Tea Party attacks do you really want the IRS knowing anything about firearms? Just repeal it ALL,including the tax stamps.

  38. Ahhhh RF pointed out that another government agency is out of control and it goes unchecked! He must be anti American and even worse anti cop! Oh wait… maybe he is just looking for a little accountability with these programs that your tax payers built.

  39. The BATFE should be abolished, wholesale.

    Their “responsibilities”, such as they are, should not be rolled over into any other agency.

    Their personnel should not be rolled over into any other agency.

    It should be illegal, for any Congress critter, to even introduce any bill in either the House or the Senate any bill that would reinstate the BATFE or start any other organization akin to it.

    What say I? I say NO.

  40. I doubt the FBI would even accept the ATF dregs. The unflattering tongue-in-cheek image I envision is that of an FBI HR office with 4 bins of applications. The bins are labeled “exceptionally qualified”, “qualified”, “unqualified”, and “ATF.”

  41. Step 1: have the two agencies investigate allegations about misdeeds at the other agency.
    Step 2: get rid of all personnel found to have misbehaved in the least.
    Step 3: shut down the rest of the ATF, having finally gotten some good use out of it.

  42. I think I read somewhere that there are about 40 federal agencies that carry guns and have the authority to arrest you.

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