How President Trump Can Improve the ATF and Please Gun Owners With One Phone Call

Charles Gross ATF BATFE Department of Justice

courtesy justice.gov

Earlier this week the President asked for and received Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation. It probably won’t be the only personnel move the administration makes after the midterm elections. Like almost all top cabinet level and agency officials, Sessions served at the pleasure of the commander-in-chief. Anyone in those jobs can be fired if the boss believes he isn’t performing well or furthering the policy interests of the administration.

The ATF, of course, has a number of similar top-level positions over which the President has control. One of those is that of Chief Counsel, a job which currently has outsized influence over the bureau and its policy and enforcement priorities.

First, a little history. After the Fast and Furious gunwalking debacle, then-acting ATF director Kenneth Melson resigned in 2011. Attorney General Eric Holder — no friend of gun rights, he — then named US Attorney B. Todd Jones as acting director in August of 2011. In January of 2013, just after the Newtown shooting, President Obama nominated Jones as full-time director. He was confirmed by the Senate in July of 2013.

Not long after Jones was nominated by Obama, Charles Gross, another US Attorney, was elevated to the position of BATFE Chief Counsel by Holder, presumably with the input of Jones.

B. Todd Jones is now long gone. He shuffled off to a higher paying gig with the National Football League in 2015 as senior vice president and chief disciplinary officer. Deputy Director Tom Brandon was named acting director in April of 2015, a position and status he holds to this day.

Why is all of this important? Acting Director Brandon, because of his interim status (his term as acting director has been extended twice), is limited in the policy and enforcement decisions he can make. As an acting director who hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate, he’s restricted (by tradition and by standard government agency practice) to a mostly administrative role. His job is basically to keep the trains running on time without making or implementing policy.

That has resulted in the Bureau’s policy and enforcement decisions falling to the ATF’s Chief Counsel, Charles Gross.

To get an idea of Mr. Gross’s policy and enforcement priorities, a good place to start is with the confusion and ATF-induced angst surrounding AR pistol braces. The ATF’s tech branch — who a number of industry sources tell us generally does a fair and even-handed job of interpreting and applying current laws — approved the first pistol brace for general use back in late 2012, just before Jones and Gross arrived.

In early 2015, toward the end of Jones’ tenure at ATF, the Bureau muddied the waters, apparently changing their interpretation of their earlier ruling. They issued an open letter on the “redesigning” of stabilizing braces which essentially said that shouldering them makes an AR pistol subject to NFA regulation.

While this letter was issued and signed by the ATF’s acting Technology Branch head at the time, we understand that this was, in fact, a political decision that came down from the top, i.e. Jones and Gross. After an uproar by both the makers of the braces and the buying public who owned them, the ATF was forced to back down, finally issuing a new clarifying letter in 2017 stating that shouldering an AR brace does not, in fact, violate the law.

Another example of Gross’s handiwork was the Bureau’s abortive effort to ban standard green-tip 5.56 M855 ammunition as supposedly “armor-piercing” and having no “sporting purpose.” That push came, again, in the final weeks of Jones’ time at ATF, a decision which we understand Gross was intimately involved with.

Don’t remember that whole kerfuffle? Click here for our extensive coverage. Again, the ATF was forced to back down under a deluge of public comment and Congressional pressure.

One positive change that now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions made as head of the Department of Justice was to issue a moratorium on regulation via public letter or “guidance documents,” basically legislating via written fiat. Sessions directed all DoJ departments thusly:

The Department will no longer engage in this practice. Effective immediately, Department components may not issue guidance documents that purport to create rights or obligations binding on persons or entities outside the Executive Branch (including state, local, and tribal governments).

He directed the DoJ to go through the standard notice-and-comment process that gives the public a voice in a potential new regulatory stance or interpretation. It was that notice-and-comment process that defeated the ATF’s M855 ban attempt.

But the Bureau hasn’t let Sessions’ directive get in their way. Instead of creating new interpretations of law at will via open letter, the ATF has, instead, tried to get that done through private communications.

See, for instance, our post on the recent prosecution of an Ohio man for an allegedly un-registered short barrel rifle. The ATF prosecuted the man for violating a limit on the length of pull of an AR pistol. But that limit had only been revealed to pistol extension manufacturers in private communications. The public had never been notified of the arbitrary limit.

Which brings us back to the ATF’s Chief Counsel, Mr. Gross. That’s the kind of decision he would have had a hand in. He’s an Obama administration appointee and holdover, one who’s still in a unique position to make policy for the Bureau. And he has a demonstrated record of using that power to make gun owners’ lives more difficult when and where he can via regulatory fiat.

The good news is that, like his predecessor, President Trump has a pen and a phone, either one of which he can use any time he likes to replace Gross with someone who will make and implement policies that are more firearms- and Second Amendment-friendly. It would be an easy exercise in swamp drainage that could make a significant, practical difference to a constituency that hasn’t exactly been encouraged by some of the administration’s gun-related moves.

Since it appears that Trump is cleaning house at DoJ anyway, why not add one more name to the list?

 

comments

  1. That article photo almost looked like Adoph Hitler….! Is he running the ATF…?

  2. avatar Texican says:

    So, how does one go about notifying the president of his options in cases like this?

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      He should ask his Second Amendment Policy Comedy, I mean, Committee, that he announced during the campaign.

      1. avatar former water walker says:

        Hey isn’t Boch one them thar fella’s?!? Other than a booming economy this sux….

    2. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

      Texican,

      http://www.whitehouse.gov

      Click on the three horizontal parallel bars in the upper left of the screen and choose the option “Contact”. Respectfully compose your suggestion, opinion, request, etc and hit the “Send” button.

      All messages are read and stored. Some Clerk will keep tally marks on the subject matter. If enough comments are received on a subject matter…it gets included on a Presidential briefing.

      If you don’t try then don’t kvetch if the broken Government Agencies continue to be broken….and Heaven knows that the BATFE is seriously broken.

  3. avatar arc says:

    Pretty much, any alphabet soup agency, is first authorized by the legislative branch, and operates under the executive branch… They operate at the leisure of the President of the USA.

  4. avatar Peter says:

    I’ve been getting (and ignoring) a lot of calls from the NRA lately. My membership is paid through 2020, but I’m sure they can still find more to do with any additional funds I’m willing to provide.

    My current mindset is this: I’ll pay more to the NRA when I start seeing results for my money. The issue addressed in this article seems like a good place for them to urge Trump to start.

    1. avatar Nanashi says:

      You are seeing results, just not pro 2A ones. The gun confiscation they supported and still support got a man murdered by police in Maryland! That’s results!

    2. avatar MarkPA says:

      I too am disappointed by how little the NRA has accomplished for us in the past decade or two. Nevertheless, I continue to support them for three reasons:

      1. – the NRA is the biggest gorilla inside the beltway. When you recite those initials in a DC bar no one imagines you are referring to the National Restaurant Association. There is a reason why. To reproduce this kind of clout in a new (or emerging) organization is unrealistic.

      2. – I am not – personally – the repository for ALL WISDOM on any topic. I am a bit unusual only in that I do not entertain the delusion that I am all-wise. It’s perfectly realistic to me that the NRA does (or doesn’t) do things that seem to undermine our interests; and, that they are probably WISE in doing them (or refraining). The handling of the bump-stock ban is likely a good example (I do NOT presume to know for sure). By steering the bump-stock issue to the ATF the NRA could “cabin” the action the executive (i.e., President Trump) to have as narrow an impact as possible. Had it NOT done so it is HIGHLY LIKELY that Congress-critters would have been stampeded into passing a law with wide implications. We might have all had to worry about oiling our fire-control-groups! What NRA did was bad – really bad – in principle. In doing so, it very likely choked-off a far worse result beyond its ability to influence.

      3. – our political friends can – and will – do NO MORE for us than what we DEMAND of them. We can cry all we like – shouting “Myyyyyy Riiiiiiiiiights!!!” at the top of our voices. None of that matters until we play-the-game. We have to vote gun-rights. We have to get our neighbors to vote gun-rights. We have to send our political donations to precisely the right candidates in the right races – in other districts/states in most cases. Nothing matters as much as winning an election. If we don’t get the votes to the polls we WILL LOOSE! The only other thing that has an influence is MONEY. Bloomberg has lots of money; Soros has more. Although we won’t match the gun-controllers’ money, we have to pay our dues if we have any hope of getting the best Congress-critters we can afford.

      The secret – which should be apparent to all of us – is to achieve effective control of the SENATE. That goal should be affordable. There are 40 right-to-carry states electing 80 senators. We need to control ONLY 41 of those senators to filibuster every gun-control bill. I find it hard to believe that gun-owners have enough political clout to push right-to-carry laws through their legislatures but CAN’T elect a gun-rights senator. Gun owners must be at least a substantial minority in these states; let’s say 49%. If so, it takes very little to push a few more voters to the polls to make them a majority; e.g., 49 + 2 = 51%. 45 + 10 = 55%, a force to be reckoned with. Every 2 years about 33 senate seats are on the ballot. Of these, we probably need to concentrate on a half-dozen races. If we can’t do this (relatively simple) political task then our days are numbered.

      I think our problem is (not that we can’t) that we WON’T do this task.

      Please explain to me where I’m mistaken.

      1. avatar rick3 says:

        I would have loved to have the NRA fund a broad push against I-1639 here in WA state…I think many of the people who voted for it, didn’t really understand what it encompassed, other than the mainstream media telling them that it would require all gun owners to provide for “safe storage” for their guns.

        Instead, I did not see one TV PSA nor one newspaper article nor one message being broadly pushed on social media from the NRA about the OTHER aspects of the bill. I did see just 2 pre-election signs in certain parts of Seattle, but that was IT.

        I’m not sure why they didn’t push back on this, but I feel like they left those of us who live in WA state out in the cold.

        1. avatar John Smallberries says:

          Exactly. the NRA put only $150K into the anti I-1639 campaign, vs. over $4M raised by the initiative supporters. We saw this same thing happen just a few years ago with I-594 as well.

          Understanding that these were both pretty shittily written initiatives that should be easy to prove violate WA’s law on how these things have to be written, I assumed the NRA was letting the opposition piss away a ton of money on an election they were probably going to win anyway and were then going to zap them in court with a relatively inexpensive in comparison lawsuit.

          Instead we got nothing from the NRA on I-594 and a weak federal civil rights suit from SAF (vs. state suit) that was predictably shot down. SAF looks to be doing a better job this time with a strong state case queued up, but the NRA is again absent.

          Sadly tone deaf from an organization that used a state-centric approach to get shall issue concealed carry across most of the nation. Their own tactics are now being used against them and they’re sitting on the sidelines. WA now has the dubious honor of being the first state to have “universal background checks” passed by voter initiative and between the two laws also has a host of weird anti gun rules that criminalize normal gun owning behaviors. Makes me want to cry that just 5 years ago we were fairly gun friendly here.

        2. avatar neiowa says:

          Is there not a Wa branch of the NRA? or other similar org? Solve your own problems with YOUR socialists.

          The NRA is largely a NATIONAL org (Thus the NATIONAL Rifle Assoc). You Washingtonians elected Murray etal. Take care of it.

        3. avatar DDay says:

          bloomberg alone has 1000x more money than the NRA. IF the NRA put every dime they have into that WA ballot question, it still would have passed and the billionaires supporting it would put in 10x what the NRA could have to begin with.

          what do you think the results would be for gun control ballot questions in NY, MA, RI, CT, NJ, CA, IL, etc? They would all pass because they are very liberal states. Look at the election results in WA, all the statewide offices are won by liberal democrats, same wtih the other states I listed. Liberals vote for gun control and liberal politicians. The only thing that is going to help in WA and those other states is the federal courts.

          If you think spending a bunch of money on elections in those liberal states is going to work, you are not looking at the voting patterns of those states.

        4. avatar SadDayForWA says:

          @neiowa – The people that support 2A rights (single issue voters, not Fudds) certainly didn’t vote for any democrat for Federal office. The problem is that we have a LOT of progressives and a shit ton of stupid people that will vote for anything based on a TV ad full of lies.

          It literally doesn’t matter how I vote. No candidate or initiative ever went the way I voted or was even close – think 10% and above margins. And yet I still vote, even though in King County it is an exercise in futility.

          I think this is undoubtedly true in many other areas that are anti-gun. I am sure that POTG vote against the candidates and initiatives that are anti-gun, but we are just solidly in the minority in the areas. It’s democratic tyranny of the majority. Except I don”t think they should be able to chip away at the Billl of Rights via state law, initiative, or loud mouthed state attorney general.

        5. avatar John Smallberries says:

          @neiowa

          Certainly there is a WA NRA branch; who do you think spent the $150K? I have reached out to them before, got a “hey, wrong department” e-mail back with a link to a non-functioning e-mail address as the “correct” place to send my question.

          Yes the NRA is a national organization, but the ballot measure language is being copy-pasted to every state that allows citizen initiatives. Do you think that maybe A)that makes it a national issue, and B)it’s easier to nip it in the bud before a half dozen states have these laws in place?

        6. avatar John Smallberries says:

          @DDay

          If you read my comment, I thought underspending was a deliberate strategy by the NRA on the last asstastic initiative like this, I-594. I was certain they were going to slam the law in court for the numerous ways it violated state initiative law:
          1) Misleading title
          2) Multiple subjects
          3) Misrepresenting costs to implement
          Plus, requiring a private party (local FFL) to willingly run a background check without forcing them to do it or control maximum costs (even CA does this). You can’t make exercising a Constitutional right contingent on a third party playing along.

          Instead SAF filed a federal civil rights suit claiming 2d Amendment violations. Anyone that studies this stuff can tell you that the vast majority of cases with that argument lose- It was dismissed for lack of standing. In contrast, cases alleging procedural violations are relatively easy because it’s a binary: does this initiative meet the requirements in format, etc. laid down in the law? If no, plaintiff wins.

          I contacted the NRA with all this “stuff” right when the law passed and got the brush off (I know, who cares what some rando dude sent us? But it only takes a second to forward to the legal department to see if it has merit). I-594 is so old now, I don’t see a successful case being made anymore. I also see no reason to believe the NRA will be more effective or proactive this time.

      2. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Uh, we just DID do it?

      3. avatar Gunner2000 says:

        “I was told there would be no Math”.
        Actually, you nailed it.

        1. avatar Miner49er says:

          Why doesn’t the NRA spend some of the $30 million the Russians gave them? Or was all that money spent to illegally influence the election?

        2. avatar DDay says:

          Miner49er so you voted for trump because of a facebook post? Get a life.

          Not a single person voted for or against trump or hillary based on dopey posts russian trolls put on twitter or facebook. Yeah the russian’s interfered to a degree in the election but it was not an attempt to help either hillary or trump win. They wanted to sow division regardless of who won and the dem’s flipping out after the election gave the russians exactly what they wanted.

          The russians were caught after the election in our surveillance talking about how they interfered. And they said they had no idea trump would win, they were as surprised as the media and DC.

          You liberals just can’t take losing, you always need to blame it on others or say the election was somehow illegitimate. Miner49er your side lost, get over it.

    3. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

      I’ve brought this up a number of times. How can you get in touch with the NRA????

      And I don’t mean a contact form off the NRA.org homepage. A public list of every states rep with emails and phone numbers might just get them off their ass.

      But the truth is I hold out very little hope of serious change unless it comes from outside the political process.

    4. avatar joefoam says:

      I am also constantly inundated with requests for more money from the NRA. They will see no more after they endorsed the ‘red flag’ laws. My money now goes to SAF and GOA, they seem to be more active and are able to get better results. They tend to go right after the source of the problem rather than supporting legislators that are impotent.

  5. avatar Nanashi says:

    Here’s a better idea: Order the ATF to declare all purposes are sporting purpose and end the barrel ban.

    If he really wants to please us he can order the ATF to recognize that smokeless powder does not propel “energy of an explosive” but by expansion of gas generated that burns, not explosion, of the powder. This would invalidate virtually all federal gun laws and many state ones.

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      And remove the adopted and made up out of thin air with no law to back up the ” Sporting Use ” foolishness. I do not see a mention by our founding fathers about a sporting use qualifier.

  6. avatar MarkPA says:

    I agree. It is only by wisdom from the executive that our evolved system of being governed of, by and for the bureaucracy can be made to work without becoming a tyranny.

    Most TTAG readers have neither worked within, or under the direct thumb, of a government bureaucracy. Long ago, I worked for 9 months in the former, and 9 years in the latter. So, I can offer some insight.

    Because of neglect by their superiors (if any exist at all) a government bureaucracy has unbelievable discretion to do or NOT-do pretty much anything it wishes. It is somewhat constrained by law to DO some things; and somewhat prohibited to do things beyond it’s authority. Nevertheless, these actually prove-out to be of limited value in guiding what they actually do.

    As a few examples. The agency I came to work for had a well-implemented reporting requirement that gathered and aggregated a particular statistic which was of enormous economic importance to the nation’s economy; but, played a trivial role in law enforcement. A scandal – of global proportions – unfolded. (No exaggeration here.) While the evidence of something weird going on was publicly available and obvious to everyone who could understand the implications, there were only 3 parties who understood exactly what was happening: the Russians; the publisher of a major industry magazine; and, some “deep-throat” character whose identity has remained a secret. (The third guy told the second guy in a series of phone calls. Because the second guy understood the implications but couldn’t corroborate the information he kept silent. He could have, and should have, called the corresponding Cabinet Secretary and alerted him to the information. That certainly WOULD have triggered a serious inquiry into the relevant data; which WOULD have lead to 6 interviews of the data. Thereupon, a straight line would have been drawn from one dot to the others pointing to the Russians.)

    This agency had the data that provided the 6 dots that would lead to the Russians and the explanation for the weird public data. Since there was no statutory purpose to looking at these 6 data-points – and how they were so very unusual – the agency did NOT act. It sat on its hands continuing to shuffle the papers it was statutorily mandated to shuffle. And, dutifully reported on how many papers it shuffled each year.

    In two other cases – in which I was personally involved – there was clear-cut evidence of violations involved. In one, the agency resisted pursuing any action because to do so would have hit its budget with the expense of two plane tickets and 4 nights of hotel rooms to carry-out an investigation. (Eventually, the expense was authorized because of the insistence of two of us low-level functionaries.) In the other case. There was, indisputably, a paperwork violation. The perpetrator acted without first giving 10 days notice. The economic impact (the only basis for anyone being the slightest bit interested) was indisputably insignificant. Moreover, he was entitled to do what he was doing, he just didn’t know he was supposed to send in a letter. The agency attempted to pursue him vigorously. But for my foot-dragging and the involvement of another senior functionary, he was spared.

    These three bits were merely the beginning of the nonsense I went on to observe in my new role working in the industry (at a remarkably high level for my experience at the time.) The conclusion I eventually reached is that government operates very much like a “mafia” “protection” scheme. One bureaucrat or legislator acts as a “bad cop” to tyrannize a private citizen over whom he has authority. The citizen must then find a “sympathetic” Congress-critter to pay-off with campaign contributions or patronizing the right lobbyist or Washington law firm to play the “good cop” role.

    Once one figures-out this opaque process then the bizarre behavior of government begins to become understandable. Fixing it is difficult. The very first step is learning how to play-the-game. (My employer at the time was exceedingly naive and only began to figure out what was being done to it after taking a beating for many rounds.) This is what we PotG are up against. And, we are slow to realize how important it is to learn how to play-the-game.

    Ultimately, we the People must figure out that government can’t solve most of our society’s problems. Instead, government IS our society’s problems. And, each of us is somewhat vulnerable to the seduction of asking our Congress-critters: “Something MUST be DONE!”

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      MarkPA,

      I can personally attest to what you describe. One of my state’s executive agencies slapped me with a ludicrous penalty for failing to file a timely report in regards to a matter involving about $80. Of course that executive agency never answered the phone when I tried to resolve the matter personally. Thus, I promptly went to my state senator’s office and asked them to intervene on my behalf. I was dumbfounded when my senator’s assistant told me straight-out that the executive agency does not talk nor work with our state senators. She candidly told me that I was quite literally screwed. If that isn’t a mafia-esque “protection” scheme, I don’t know what is.

      And why should that executive agency work with us constituents or my state’s senators to do what is fair and right? After all, they face ZERO repercussions no matter what they do. THIS is the fundamental problem with modern government.

      1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

        You would have *possibly* gotten some resolution if you were on good terms with someone who new that elected official *personally* and made a phone call on your behalf.

        So, yeah, you got it right. It’s just like dealing with the mafia.

        It also means that it is well worth your while to make contacts, through third parties, if necessary, to get the wheels moving.

        EDIT – And in actuality, making a request for influence can often times be more successful with a house representative, instead of the senator.

        Why, I don’t know…

        1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

          Here in Texas I was having hell getting my Master Electrician license after 30 yrs. documented experience and having passed my exam and paid the fee. I finally went to my state representatives office and after one phone call from them I was told my license would be in the mail the next day. It was. I fought the license bureau for months and finally got someone to cut thru the b s. It’s not what you know its who you know.

    2. avatar Mad Max says:

      “There was, indisputably, a paperwork violation. The perpetrator acted without first giving 10 days notice. The economic impact (the only basis for anyone being the slightest bit interested) was indisputably insignificant. Moreover, he was entitled to do what he was doing, he just didn’t know he was supposed to send in a letter. The agency attempted to pursue him vigorously. But for my foot-dragging and the involvement of another senior functionary, he was spared.”

      Boy, this sure sounds like something the EPA is notorious for. To them, paperwork is compliance (or visa-versa).

      I think the best thing that could be done is to starve the beast. How that is accomplished, I don’t know.

      The SCOTUS could contribute by eliminating the Chevron Doctrine but that would be just one small contribution.

  7. avatar Swarf says:

    You guys think Trump gives a shit about you, that’s cute.

    Trump doesn’t have to, and likely won’t, do a damn thing for gun owners, because what are we going to do? Vote Democrat?

    1. avatar MarkPA says:

      Let’s be realistic. Trump is not a “gun-guy”. If you want to elect a gun-guy to the office of president then you had better be willing to dig deep into your own pockets to make that economically realistic.

      Trump has a CWP; and, two sons who have his ear who are gun-guys (to some extent). That’s about as good a situation as we can afford with our tight fists.

      We are vulnerable to the delusion that 2A rights are the most important thing in our lives; and so, they must be for the guy who sits in the oval office. While we are concerned for our AR-15s, he is juggling North Korean and Iranian nukes. Let’s be realistic, Trump has a lot of fish to fry and he is being remarkably successful in view of the fact that his party is mostly against whatever it is that he wants to do.

      We got our last-best-hope when the Democrats ran such a poor choice as their candidate; and, we got a president who would fight for his policies vigorously. In this election just passed, we picked up a few Senate seats but lost control of the House. American politics hasn’t made any remarkable turn to the better. We aren’t wiseing-up politically. The gun-vote is remarkably ineffective in light of the fact that we believe we have 1/3 of the population in our camp.

      For lots of reasons having little to do with guns, Trump is the closest thing we could hope for in a “Messiah”. Not what you had in mind as your savior? Wouldn’t be the first time in human history that God sent his chosen people a solution to their problems and he failed to be recognized as a “prophet in his own land”.

      So, before you get disgusted and pledge to stay home in the next election, remember this: Trump nominated justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

      Now, let us all pray for the swift recovery of Justice Ginsburg, and wish her a comfortable early retirement.

      With enough luck, money and votes, we may have 6 years to populate the federal bench with Constitutional jurists. Since we won’t do what is necessary to control 41 Senate seats we had better do what we have to to retain the White House.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        MarkPA,

        In this election just passed, we picked up a few Senate seats but lost control of the House.

        It matters not since we have never had 60 Senators in the U.S. Senate who are willing to repeal unconstitutional laws.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “It matters not since we have never had 60 Senators in the U.S. Senate who are willing to repeal unconstitutional laws.”

          How long has it been since we had any?

        2. avatar MarkPA says:

          It takes both chambers of Congress to PASS a bill plus the President’s signature. Likewise, to pass a bill that repeals a previous law. Therefore, the Senate alone can STOP a bill by itself; however, it can’t repeal an existing law by itself.

          Accordingly, by controlling the Senate one can STOP NEW legislation; but, it can’t repeal old legislation.

          If a bill is subject to filibuster then 41 committed senators can stop the bill. If its NOT subject to filibuster then it takes 51 committed senators.

          I think that if w had 41 committed senators we could exert enough control to stop most gun-control bills. Some might be pushed through via parliamentary procedures that get them around the rules on bills that can be filibustered. Yet, even in these cases, 41 senators committed to putting their foot down could make matters miserable enough that funny business on skirting the filibuster would not be attempted often.

      2. avatar S.C. Baker says:

        Maybe we should be talking to Trump’s sons ? ? ?

    2. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      swarf… Yes that’s what happened to the House .

    3. avatar arc says:

      Trump gives a shit about money and business, money and business give a shit about reducing red tape. Little people like me give a shit about reduced red tape.

  8. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Toady Jones should already be counted as a former government employe.

  9. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Something just occurred to me. It may be next to impossible to find a quality person who will operate the ATF in a “fair” fashion since almost every ATF activity with respect to firearms violates decency and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is akin to searching for a quality person to be a “fair” pimp.

    1. avatar MarkPA says:

      Your analysis is insightful. One way of looking at it is that we have the best ATF we are willing to “pay for”. If we want something better then we must be willing to pay for what we want.

      Let’s look at the ATF we have. It is clearly a creature of Congress, the Attorney General and the President. It is what these three political entities want it to be by: law; regulation; and, budget.

      Most of what ATF spends its time on is auditing 4473 forms and bound books at FFLs. While it’s resources are so engaged these resources aren’t being directed to other activities; e.g., shooting women with babies in their arms in cold-blood, or, firing incendiary devices into buildings housing women and children, burning them to death. I know, these sorts of activities seem purely hypothetical and rhetorical, but we know from our study of history that they can happen in supposedly civilized countries. There is no reason why it’s inconceivable that they would ever happen in America.

      Occasionally there are proposals to dissolve the ATF and turn its responsibilities over to the FBI. Those guys, by habit, are not paperwork auditors. They are far more interested in far more kinetic activities. In contrast to the ATF, the FBI still commands considerable respect in both government and with the voters. ATF’s reputation in government is despicable. Reports of scandalous behavior by ATF employees are routine. No one is excited by the prospect of giving this agency more responsibility or the money to carry it out. We couldn’t have designed a more advantageous situation if we were allowed to run the ATF ourselves. There are a number of prominent and insightful members of the PotG who have argued against proposals to eliminate the ATF; explaining the adage “the devil you know”.

      Far too many of us harbor a delusion that if only we could eliminate all the gun laws we could get rid of the agency that enforces them. These fail to grasp how unrealistic it is to imagine that we could ever persuade Congress to repeal all the gun laws. Every last one of them. This is a Utopian dream. We are barely willing to muster the political influence to keep new federal gun legislation limited to a slow trickle. We can’t expect to achieve any repeals until we can bring new legislation to a dead stop.

      The NRA is probably doing the best it can with the ATF. Keep their budget on a short leash with Congress. Keep their senior leaders on a short leash with the Attorney General. Leaving them alone to do things that continuously embarrass the reputation of the agency. Maintaining a working relationship with them so that they occasionally do less damage than they would have liked to do without some outside influence.

      Plenty of us believe that society would be better off if we deregulated vices such as prostitution or drugs. Nevertheless, with a few noteworthy exceptions, a political majority insists on maintaining bans on prostitution and the regulation of pharmacists. Moreover, political majorities have decided to make the “numbers racket” a government-run monopoly! I can only imagine how much change would occur if only we campaigned for state-run brothels and pot dispensaries.

      We need to figure out where to direct our political “fire” to best effect. ATF probably isn’t the bull’s eye.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        I would happily volunteer to run the ATF myself, for no pay, without funding, and without any assistants. Also called, “shut it the fuck down!!” The paperwork you assert they accomplish does not need to be done. The people they have hired are incompetent, fire them all. Many who should be prosecuted for murder will escape punishment, but they will anyway. There are a tiny number of things they are responsible for which actually need doing, say a 10-man team in the FBI should be able to handle them all.

      2. avatar Ed Schrade says:

        The best cure for the problems with the A T F is to eliminate it.

        1. avatar frank speak says:

          alcohol and tobacco should fall to the DEA…ATF isn’t really part of treasury anymore and probably shouldn’t be collecting taxes…that leaves us with an agency whose prime responsibility is chasing guns…. which we likely don’t need…..

      3. avatar frank speak says:

        let’s not forget it was the FBI that conducted all those outrageous killings at both ruby ridge and Waco….

    2. avatar Mad Max says:

      Put me in charge of the ATF. I’ll try my best to to slow-walk everything anti-2A (which is just about everything the ATF does) for as looooong as possible while vastly speeding up the NFA process by doing the minimum necessary to comply with the law.

    3. avatar Sam I Am says:

      It took 99 years to eliminate the Federal Tea Tasters Board of Appeals (Apr 1999).
      https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Federal_Tea_Tasters_Repeal_Act_of_1996

  10. avatar L says:

    “How President Trump Can Improve the ATF and Please Gun Owners With One Phone Call”

    By abolishing the ATF. Haven’t even read the article yet I really hope that’s what it says.

    1. avatar L says:

      I am mildly disappointed.

  11. avatar Jon in CO says:

    Put his son in as director. His kid seemed to be the most pro-gun guy in that whole admin. Working with silencerco and such, seems like a decent deal. The pistol/sbr debacle needs to die. There is no reason for sbr laws anymore. After that, silencers need to be taken off as well.

    You can keep machine guns under NFA (for now) and open the registry back up, at least for a temporary amnesty period. I think 12 months is enough. (That gives people a calendar year to throw as many stamps as possible at their toys) I get that a bunch of people will lose money on prior investments, but the true gun people will embrace it. Once all of these items get pushed out to the public in massive numbers, Heller will activate, and everything under the sun will be “in common use”, invalidating everything short of suitcase nukes and explosives. All of your ridiculous federal law will cease to be constitutional (even though it isn’t already), and things will return to the way the Founders, God, People, and whoever else, intended.

    New IPSC, 3Gun classes will open up, bringing more into the sports. More and more millennials will see that having machine guns (other than massive fun) are pretty much useless in the grand scheme of civilian ownership. The stupidity, the lies and falsehoods, the entire anti-gun argument structure will die.

    Ok, sorry, back to reality. Dreams are nice, aren’t they?

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      12 months? I would suggest 120 years, then we’ll have another look. There is no justification, and no authority in the Constitution for any controls on full auto weapons. Announce the decision and allow 1-2 years for opponents to try to pass an Amendment, then all is decontrolled.

      1. avatar Jon in CO says:

        12 months was my “compromise”. We have to seem as though we are willing to work with other people, even though I’m not. 12 months of stamp submissions, it’ll take ATF 5-10 years to get the backlog fixed. However, the only thing in the ques will be machine guns. No more wasted time and money on stupid stuff like SBR’s and silencers. Hell, I’ll have $5k worth of stamps just on cheap Anderson lowers.

        Anything that can be shoulder fired, ONE man portable (there are some exceptions, M2’s come to mind) should be restriction free. They can do some checking for people to buy HE and what not, but there is zero reason I can’t have a Glock 18.

      2. avatar frank speak says:

        there is no support in congress for widespread ownership of automatic weapons…best stick to what is achievable….

  12. avatar GS650G says:

    The ATF is the agency which will decide what we can and cannot have. Under control of the Democratic Socialists of America that’s going to be a small list.

  13. avatar Dan the Man says:

    Trump could have done a lot but has not. Just because “nothing” is happening at a federal does not mean we are winning. If you live in MA, CA, NY, FL, VT, WA, NJ, MD, CO, you lost BIG time regarding the 2nd Amendment and NOT A PEEP from Trump. We get these Republucrats elected and they give us zero. HPA, national carry, NFA amnesty, etc. are all carrots on a stick that the NRA and Republicans hold in front of us in every election and then when they take the house, it’s never a good time to push for what we want. All B.S. and I’ve seen it for 40 years. Republican icon Reagan banned machine guns and backed the 1994 “assault weapons” ban and mag ban. Bush 1 (Another Republican favorite) banned imported “assault weapons” in 1989 and backed the 1994 ban (and voted for Hillary in the last election). You know what we will get with all this Republican support? A ban on bump stocks and probably worse. Gun owners need to stop worshipping these Republicans including Trump. I saw how many people worshipped Reagan and Bush – no difference young guys, better listen to us older guys or you will be duped.

    1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

      “…you lost BIG time regarding the 2nd Amendment and NOT A PEEP from Trump.”

      Oh, *please*.

      What do you call Gorsuch and Kavanaugh?

      Would you have liked the justices Hillary would have appointed?

      1. avatar Dan the Man says:

        You are dreaming if you think that non-gun owner Gorsuch or non-gun owner Kavanaugh will overturn anything meaningful in regard to the 2nd Amendment. Kavanaugh (anti-gun Bush family friend) already stated that the machine-gun ban is fine with him and he rules on precident not on constitutional intent.

        So, post the links where Trump OR ANYONE IN HIS ADMINSTRATION even mentioned that they would fight the states destroying the 2nd Amendment. You can’t Mr. PR B.S. artist because no such statements were ever made. Trump is for turning bump stock owners into felons. Is that making the 2nd Amendment great again you dunce?

      2. avatar MarkPA says:

        I have finite patience for the “cut off my nose to spite my face” line of reasoning.

  14. avatar DJ says:

    Abolish BATFE, too many bureaus over lap with each other, waist of resources.

  15. avatar possum says:

    How Trump can improve the ATF and please gun owners at the same time. The call should go. RING; “Number nine number nine number nine.” And in swept the midget , with a bucket and a mop, where the blood goes down the drain.

  16. avatar Shaun Oliver II says:

    PLEASE, NOMINATE KOBACH FOR ATF CHIEF!!!

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      from time to time ATF feels they have to do something to justify their existence…and keep the funding flowing…

  17. avatar neiowa says:

    “Dear Executive Branch, All persons appointed to a Federal office or position under Obuma or Clinton are to be discharge from their current position NLT Nov 19, 2018” Trump, (should have been effective Feb 1, 2016).

    If this causes turmoil in a Fed agency that is a positive consequence/benefit.

  18. avatar Hannibal says:

    Trump got rid of Sessions because he’s upset that Sessions didn’t halt the investigation against him. Trump cares about Trump. He doesn’t care about gun rights any more than the old-guard GOP.

  19. avatar John Smallberries says:

    @DDay

    If you read my comment, I thought underspending was a deliberate strategy by the NRA on the last asstastic initiative like this, I-594. I was certain they were going to slam the law in court for the numerous ways it violated state initiative law:
    1) Misleading title
    2) Multiple subjects
    3) Misrepresenting costs to implement
    Plus, requiring a private party (local FFL) to willingly run a background check without forcing them to do it or control maximum costs (even CA does this). You can’t make exercising a Constitutional right contingent on a third party playing along.

    Instead SAF filed a federal civil rights suit claiming 2d Amendment violations. Anyone that studies this stuff can tell you that the vast majority of cases with that argument lose- It was dismissed for lack of standing. In contrast, cases alleging procedural violations are relatively easy because it’s a binary: does this initiative meet the requirements in format, etc. laid down in the law? If no, plaintiff wins.

    I contacted the NRA with all this “stuff” right when the law passed and got the brush off (I know, who cares what some rando dude sent us? But it only takes a second to forward to the legal department to see if it has merit). I-594 is so old now, I don’t see a successful case being made anymore. I also see no reason to believe the NRA will be more effective or proactive this time.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email