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Thomas E. Brandon ATF Deputy Director

Last Sunday, Deputy Director Thomas E. Brandon appeared on CBS’ Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. Mr. Brandon was the ATF official who oversaw the discipline or, more accurately, the complete lack of accountability for the ATF’s extra-legal anti-gun-running gun-running operation Fast and Furious. His role has been detailed in the

According to outgoing Director Jones’s sworn testimony of April 2, 2014 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. Brandon was the person who determined disciplinary punishments for all of the ATF personnel involved in Fast and Furious. Brandon was “the ultimate decision maker.” Director Jones confirmed that Thomas Brandon did not fire a single person for participation in Fast and Furious.

Here’s the testimony where Jones is forced to admit that no ATF personnel were fired over Fast and Furious, and that it was the Deputy Director who made those decisions. The Deputy Director at that time was Thomas E. Brandon. From Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 2 April, 2014

Chairman Issa. Director, I understand. I am only asking did you influence or have an input into that call of his not being fired, his continuing to draw a paycheck and eventually retire at his high pay as an SES?

Mr. Jones. I did not.

Chairman Issa. You did not. Did your number two have that influence?

Mr. Jones. The process involves the Bureau deciding official and the ultimate decision-maker is the Deputy Director with appeal to me should the employee not be satisfied.

Chairman Issa. But the employee was satisfied and number two made the call, is that fair to say for the public record?

Mr. Jones. That is fair to say.

Deputy Director Brandon has now debuted as the public face of the Obama administration’s push for “universal background checks.” From

Yet, Brandon says, not having the database hurts. Indeed, after the San Bernardino shootings, it took 12 hours to find out who owned the guns used in the attack. He says a computer database would have helped, and adds that not having one simply doesn’t make sense.

“There’s a lot of things that don’t make sense in this town, you know?” Brandon tells Schlesinger. “And, so, yeah, would it be efficient and effective? Absolutely. Would the taxpayers benefit with public safety? Absolutely. Are we allowed to do it? No.”

Setting aside the Constitution-related reasons why Brandon and his undisciplined ATF colleagues are prohibited from establishing a national gun registry (to call it by its real name), his statement raises a question: what’s the point of determining where the gun came from? Why is that information considered worthwhile?

Tracing a gun’s origin is an attempt to close the barn door after the horse has bolted. In theory, the ATF could use the information from a national gun registry to identify and eliminate the source of a “crime gun” and, again in theory, prevent further illegal sales.

In practice, we already have a national gun registry. All new firearms sales must go through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FLL). These licensed gun dealers are required to file an ATF form 4473 containing all the buyers’ information. When the ATF wants to trace the original owner of a “crime gun” they have a paper trail with which to do it.

In practice, the information is of little value. Last year, the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab study interviewed 99 inmates at the Cook County Jail to establish the source of their “crime guns.” As reported, “of the 70 inmates who had possessed a firearm, only 2, or 2.9 percent, had bought it at a gun store.”

Brandon and his gun control allies want a “proper” national gun registry. A computerized system keeping track of all firearm sales and transfers. All legal firearms sales and transfers. Obviously, any such system won’t keep track of illegal sales. Which, at a stroke, reveals the inherent futility of “universal background checks.”

Before the Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed — a bill which specifically prohibits a national firearms registration system — President Johnson sought to do exactly that. The bill preceding the GCA 1968 legislation called for one. From Lyndon Johnson’s speech after the passage of GCA 1968

Congress adopted most of our recommendations. But this bill–as big as this bill is–still falls short, because we just could not get the Congress to carry out the requests we made of them. I asked for the national registration of all guns and the licensing of those who carry those guns. For the fact of life is that there are over 160 million guns in this country–more firearms than families.

If guns are to be kept out of the hands of the criminal, out of the hands of the insane, and out of the hands of the irresponsible, then we just must have licensing. If the criminal with a gun is to be tracked down quickly, then we must have registration in this country.

The current tracing system was a political compromise to prevent “complete” registration. As tracing does not aid in crime prevention, why keep it?

Why not devote resources to keep guns out of the hands of specific individuals who have been shown to be irresponsible, rather than attempting to track all gun sales and all gun possession, 99.9 percent of which is harmless or beneficial?

Because guns.


©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

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      • And TV shows, and movies, ALWAYS solve their crime. Didn’t I see somewhere recently that less than 1 out of 3 murders in Chicago is every solved? Even when a gun is involved.

        Police Procedural TV and movies always exaggerate the ability of police to solve crimes and the tools they have available to do so, starting with establishing a DNA profile within hours and matching it to some sort of database to identify their suspect or link him/her to the crime. The there’s that magical database that has all the bullets ever fired catalogued so that a recovered bullet can be quickly matched to the gun that fired it which can then be traced through a registry to identify the owner of the gun and make the arrest. This is another of those areas where the Progressives pretend that something exists and put its supposed extreme value in the public mind in order to gain acceptance of the concept.

        Even if all of this stuff existed and worked as dramatized, they are still only catching the perp, not preventing the original crime.

        I recall, however, the police drama “Southland” (which was undoubtedly cancelled because it was too realistic about police, who they are wand what they do). In one episode two cops attempted to get away with murder by swapping the barrels of their Barettas so that it appeared that the one cop had shot to defend the other when in fact the first cop had murdered he husband with her service pistol.

        That’s how easy it is to get around the bullet databases.

  1. The GCA68 “compromise” is today’s “loophole”. Incrementalism will be the death of gun rights in this country unless we stop and say “ENOUGH!”.

  2. At the VCDL, we have been tracking this. Here’s “the rest of the story.” A GAO report in June 2016 concluded that ATF has actually been keeping selected data on gun owners, in violation of the law. The 92-page report is linked below.

    So basically a lot of what Brandon is complaining they are not allowed to do, they are doing anyway.

  3. Hmmm… let’s see… DD ATF wants a proper national gun registry, Presumptive Clinton, wants an Australian style gun buyback/confiscation, and they need to know all the info of everyone who legally purchases firearms and ammo. Hmm… seems like this measure will save time, all that’s needed is to transfer the 4473 data the ATF has illegally kept on those 2 systems it has that the GAO discovered into this digital database and BOOM, you got the field set for confiscation.

    I would type, “vote for Trump” but with the constant media meltdown at his every breath, I don’t know what safe harbor there is left for pro-2a America. I think we are closer now to a “series of unfortunate events” than we have been since the founding. Ah, I’m probably reading too much into this, I’m sure everything will be just fine, I’m gonna be reloadin over here in the corner, you guys talk among yourselves.

      • This guy needs to be fired. He has violated the law and covered up violations of the law and he should be in jail for it, but at the least he needs to be fired both as an example and to prevent him from doing further damage.

        In Boston, back when there were patriots there, they would have been heating up the tar and gathering feathers for this guy!

  4. Ask yourself this question – With the vast array of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies already in place, why does the ATF exist? To prevent the evils of moonshine whiskey and bootleg cigarettes (the evil being the non-payment of taxes to the central government)? Okay, but the IRS is supposed to collect taxes? Investigating explosions? The states already have the expertise to conduct these investigations, and if any additional federal expertise is required, it should reside with the FBI. So, that leaves firearms and the enforcement of federal laws that infringe on our Second Amendment rights. And, as bastardized by Obama and his fellow Marxist (Fast and Furious, regulations, etc) the ATF has become the central government’s primary tool for civilian disarmament. The time has come to disband this rogue agency.

      • Indeed, the ATF used to be a tax-collecting division of the IRS. It should return to that, with the FBI doing any enforcement. The ATF has never been good at the enforcement stuff, bungling stings, raids, and just about everything else they attempt to do in the field.

    • No argument from me. You know my position. Alcohol, tobacco and firearms should be a convenience store, not a government agency.

    • I’m gonna open a convenience store names Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

      Actually, we stopped for gas at a Mobil station in the Black Hills on vacation. Beer coolers, Marlboros, and Rugers, all in one place. I know where I’m retiring to.

  5. Technology makes the dangers of totalitarian nations greater than ever. Keep your powder dry.

    • Technology makes the dangers inevitability of totalitarian nations greater more predictable than ever.

      I look for some other outcome, but I can’t find it.

      • In the Civil War, there were about 620,000 dead and 476,000 wounded, or about 2% and 1.5%, respectively, of a total U.S. population of about 31.5 million in 1860.

        Applying those percentages to 2016’s population of about 324 million, implies 6.4 million dead and 4.9 million wounded in Civil War II.

        Now, there are lots of problems with a direct comparison like that, I understand. We have better medical resources now and we use different tactics. Although, we use more lethal firepower today and the civilian population consists of a larger percenatge of urban, elderly, and infirm, people particularly vulnerable to the ravages of war. So who knows?

        The point is that, no matter the math, the answer is the same: a civil war in 21st century America could be an unprecedented world catastrophy, one that sets humanity as a whole back generations, if not centuries. The only sensible solution is an early on negotiated, peaceful dissolution of America. A civil war to preserve America would destroy America.

      • I wouldn’t necessarily say that. Technology makes it easier for the common people to communicate directly with each other. Alternate news outlets have led to the phenomena of “red pilling” where they prove that the media’s narratives are demonstrably false, resulting in the collapse of trust in the media.

        In order to end this, the government would have to take control of the Internet. At that point, even we smart-phone addicted millennials would want to fight.

        • I think POTG should start looking more closely at BitCoin as a way to avoid totalitarian issues. You can’t ChokePoint the BlockChain.


        • Scott et al., I really do appreciate your optimism. Unfortunately, thousands of years of history have told me that things don’t work that way.

    • Ha! Misuse of that phrase always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, but I never say anything about it because I don’t want to be an arrogant snob…on the outside, anyway. I guess I’m an arrogant snob on the inside.

      Oh, and do you also get that warm, fuzzy feeling when someone uses ‘begs the question’ correctly? It almost never happens, but when it does, it just makes my day. 🙂

  6. Whoever screams the loudest in this country will get there way. we stopped the “green tip” ban by screaming at the ATF and everybody else. The anti’s in the govt and everywhere else are not going to stop, they can’t be reasoned with and they can’t be negotiated with. If Trump gets his act together and starts to do good in the polls you will see a major push before Bahama leaves office. I know its a pain in the ass when we all have jobs and are not professional protesters but we have to start to really get involved. Really get in peoples faces and not back down, I really believe its the only way we are going to keep what we hold dear. Besides I have too much money in my gun safe, I ain’t giving up anything.

  7. “it took 12 hours to find out who owned the guns used in the attack.” Am i missing something here? Why is knowing who owned the guns so crucial? It’s not like they needed that info to find the perps. they already had assumed room temp.

    • “it took 12 hours to find out who owned the guns used in the attack”

      I thought it would take about 5 seconds to figure that out. The guns were clearly in the possession (owned by) of the evil terrorists who killed people with them. The guns obviously belonged to the evildoers.

      • Heh, at the very least, the killers were in “constructive possession,” which doesn’t seem to change the ATF’s course of action.

    • Well, they had been purchased through a strawman. So being able to trace them led to that guy’s arrest and he’s being brought up on charges. However, these were Californian guns we’re taking about, so they were already registered by the state to that man. The fact that it took them 12 hours to find out who the owner was speaks to the ineffectiveness of such a system.

  8. Publish his home address!

    Start collecting these totalitarian pieces of shit addresses and including ALL politicians, bureaucrats and police – publish a database of where they keep their families (and their dogs) and put them on notice that they can not hide from the people.

    We should not allow these totalitarians to hide and have secret addresses

    They need to know in no uncertain terms that they will be held accountable

    We need to know where they hide THEIR treasure.

  9. I don’t know how a registry will help. I have lots of ghost guns with 30 round clips and folding shoulder things that go up buried everywhere. Along with super duper cop killing armor piercing ammo. They’re Teflon coated, don’t ya know.

  10. The question that should be asked is whether this gun registry would increase the homicide clearance rate. Right now, I think there’s about a 40% probability of committing a murder and not being caught. Not charged and convicted. Caught. Of the 40% of homicides that are not solved, how many untraceable guns were found at the crime scene? And of those, how many could be found with this hypothetical registry? If the ATF and FBI can’t answer those questions, then such an intrusion on our Constitutional rights can not at all be justified for public safety.

    • There are numerous registration systems all over the world. The Michigan pistol registration system has been in effect for about 90 years. It might have been useful in solving 1 crime. The Canadian pistol registration system has been in effect for about the same period. It might have been useful in solving 1 crime. The registration of NFA firearms has been in effect for 80 years. I am not aware of any crimes that have been solved by it.

      These systems cost considerable time and money to operate. If done for the U.S., they would cost millions, perhaps more than a billion a year. Current federal spending on enforcement of gun laws is a billion dollars a year.

      The Canadian registry cost an estimated 2 billion for its life span.

      So how much are we looking at for cost per crime prevented? 100 million? 200 million?

      • Another point is that even if the murder weapon is found and its owner identified, the prosecutor still needs to show motive and opportunity. Rather than creating an expensive, intrusive and ineffective registry, Mr. Brandon should learn a few things about old-fashioned police work.

        • No, a prosecutor does not need to show “motive.” From a legal standpoint, it doesn’t matter WHY you killed someone, only THAT you killed someone.

  11. How about a registry of ATF directors who are ex-cons?!? Stock up-it’s in the tank for the hildebeast. ;-(

  12. By now anyone who is sane must recognize that the Obama Administration has thoroughly corrupted the Department of Justice and all its Subdivisions. In effect we have no Department of Justice.
    If a national registry of gun ownership is established as a computerized database, that will enable the Feds to identify selected individuals and find excuses to neutralize them pretty much at will. “…Divided we fall.” one-by-one-by-one…

  13. If the criminal with a gun is to be tracked down quickly, then we must have registration in this country.

    I call this one “The Central Myth of Firearm Registration”. It gets invoked by every proponent of registration schemes in one form or another, because it makes for a good soundbite. It falls apart, of course, with a little bit of rational thought.

    If the criminal has the gun, which in order to be the aforementioned “criminal with a gun” he must, how do you know which gun to trace? Did he helpfully leave behind a note with the make and serial number (but not his name, let’s not get silly now)? If he did, what are the odds that gun is lawfully registered? We are, after all, talking about a criminal here. For actually solving crimes, it’s useful only in the rare circumstances when a previously law-abiding person commits an unplanned crime and leaves the gun behind to be found, but otherwise manages to leave nothing else to link him to the crime.

    This sort of thing turns out to be vanishingly rare.

  14. IIRC it was five or so years ago that the ATF admitted that they were breaking the law when they asked Congress for money so that they could digitalize all the 4473 forms in their posession.

    At the time I seem to remember that their complaint was that they had airplane hangers full of paper 4473’s and it was kind of a mess.

    The ATF has been breaking the law and getting away with it for a long time. I don’t expect that it will change. Our government has been getting more and more out of control for a long time and as far as I can tell most people don’t care. There was more outrage over Mayor Bloomberg’s salt and soda regs than there has ever been over government corruption and overreach.

    Sadly, I fear that the Republic breathed it’s last long ago and we’ve just been playing “Weekend at Bernie’s” with the corpse every since.

  15. We should file a class action lawsuit against the ATF&rbf. Everyone of us who has purchased since database was initiated would be a member of the class. All winnings to be donated to 2A support group of your choice.

  16. Why is a government official lobbying for a policy which should be determined by the people, politically?

    Dear #2, it isn’t your job to deposit your notions of how things should be on the unsuspecting public (or our lawns.) It is your job to implement our idea of how things should be. Like, for starters, not running guns to known criminal organizations, who then use them to shoot agents of other federal agencies (not to mention citizens in the free-fire zone you ran guns into.)

    Some inter-agency rivalry is inevitable, but this is ridiculous.

  17. You want a registry? Repeal the Hughes Amendment. Nobody would bother with a semi-auto anymore. Today, everybody would plop down and extra 200 bucks for a happyfuntime switch on their ARs and Glocks, and it would all be in the NFRTR.
    Deal? Let’s shake on it.

  18. So the answer is to create another govt office and spend billions of dollars, Yea that seems to always work. NOT..
    The federal govt can’t keep up with the millions of illegals here what the hell makes them think they could track millions of guns.

  19. “There’s a lot of things that don’t make sense in this town, you know?” Brandon tells Schlesinger. “And, so, yeah, would it be efficient and effective? Absolutely. Would the taxpayers benefit with public safety? Absolutely. Are we allowed to do it? No.”

    What I own in my house is none of your F business? How’s that? That seems like a decent explanation.

  20. “Indeed, after the San Bernardino shootings, it took 12 hours to find out…”

    Who the ^&%* cares!
    Job #1, stop the terrorists from terroristing. Keep the terrorists out of America.
    Job #2, do not hand out guns to the wrong people.

    Job #481926, wonder about how to trace guns more quickly.

    This is precisely why we cannot have nice things.

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