ATF Death Watch 134: Why Not Eliminate the ATF?

In what appears to be a pre-emptive move to appeal to centrist and fiscally conservative voters this coming November, President Obama has proposed abolishing and/or merging five federal agencies and the Department of Commerce.  The action is slated to save $3 billion over ten years, and reduce the federal payroll by 1,000 to 2,000 jobs.

From the L.A. Times:

Under his blueprint, Commerce would be merged with the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency.

Saving $3 bilion over ten years is really a drop in the bucket but it’s a good start, especially when all you’re losing is a few office buildings worth of bureaucrats from agencies that most Americans have never heard of or dealt with.  We here at The Truth About Guns have a bigger, better idea.  An idea that will save the American taxpayer another eleven billion dollars over the next decade, and shrink the Federal payroll by 5,145 useless bureaucrats that most Americans fear and loathe (or would if they really knew what they were doing.)

Our suggestion would also save the lives of thousands of Mexican nationals each year, by abolishing the conspiracy that deliberately and illegally channeled thousands of firearms into the hands of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

And what is our suggestion?  Add the ATFE to the list of useless and duplicative federal agencies to be abolished.  Click here to download the ATFE’s 2011 budget request and learn exactly how many of our dollars they’ve been pissing away.  Any of  the ATFE’s legitimate law-enforcement duties (not to include gun smuggling, harassment of FFL holders, and entrapping clueless gun owners for 922(r) mistakes) can be done more effectively and with (at least a little bit) more integrity by the FBI.

Trust us, Mr. President: abolishing the ATFE will earn you more centrist and fiscally-conservative voters that you ever imagined.  If you really want to take the wind out of Mitt Romney’s sails, come out in favor of the Second Amendment.


  1. avatar ST says:

    Expecting a liberal president to shut down the BATFE is like expecting the Sinaloa cartel to exit the narcotics business. A federal agency that maintains a registration system of U.S. gun owners ( via Etrace) is the last office any leftist President would pull the plug on.

    1. avatar matt says:

      Whats even more disturbing is that eTrace data is available to at least 31 foreign nations.
      “Foreign countries currently using eTrace include: Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Australia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Germany, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.”

      1. avatar matt says:

        This powerpoint says it is available to 35 foreign countries it ‘interacts’ with 60 foreign countries. And that it is cost free, so your paying for foreign law enforcement actions which may be violating your privacy.

        It contains not only the first purchaser, but also data from ‘bound book’ records. In addition the ATF publicized global access in ‘United Nations Disarmament Marking and Tracing Workshops’ held in Nairobi, Kenya in December, 2007, Lomé, Togo in April, 2008, Rio de Janeiro in June, 2008, and other locations.

  2. avatar matt says:

    Get rid of the DEA while your at it.

    1. avatar Totenglocke says:


      The DEA and ATF must go, followed by a repeal of the Hughes amendment (and eventually the NFA), as well as a federal mandate that non-Federal officers are not allowed to use weapons other than a pistol, shotgun, or bolt action rifle.

      1. avatar Pro Libertate says:

        You, sir, are barking up my tree

    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      This would actually accomplish a lot more than getting rid of the ATF. Compared to the DEA and the drug war it’s running, the ATF is a minor nuisance.

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    Obama is an empire-builder and would sooner put his pecker in a pickle-picker that cut the size and power of the federal government. By merging institutions, he just creates bigger and more powerful institutions.

    Save us money? Please, don’t make me laugh. This is just another in a long line of scams.

    1. avatar Aharon says:

      I agree. Beware the knife shift to the other hand. Bigger and fewer institutions means more concentrated power that answers to him, and less checks on balances. There will be less legal difficulty in getting different institutions to share data on people.

      Government’s long-term debt — err I mean the taxpayer’s real federal debt — is probably in excess of $120 trillion FRNs. Saving three billion is just pretty smoke for the sheeple. When a house is on fire you don’t try putting it out with gasoline.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        Nice Dune reference, by the way.

        1. avatar Aharon says:

          Thanks! 🙂

      2. avatar Tom says:

        Very correct, this is consolidation of power and less checks and balances.

    2. avatar NCG says:

      Don’t worry, guys, Romney will fix everything!

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Romney is an unprincipled opportunist who will sell out to the highest bidder. Fortunately, the highest bidder is the 2A crowd. Which is okay, because even though he can be bought, at least he’ll stay bought.

  4. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

    I don’t believe anything Obama says anymore. But, I do think you guys are over-simplifying the work done by the ATF when you say it’s completely useless and redundant. There’s waste in all bureaucratic organizations, but that doesn’t mean they accomplish nothing.

    You guys just hate the ATF the way a teenager hates being told what time he has to be home.

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      And the ATF is accomplishing…

      [Jeopardy theme]

    2. avatar Pro Libertate says:

      Arbitrary rules really piss me off.

      16 inches minimum for a rifle barrel but 18 for a shotgun?

      Suppressors? Really? European hardware stores sell them next to candy bars at checkout.

      Don’t get me started on their weapon design approval process.

      1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        “16 inches minimum for a rifle barrel but 18 for a shotgun?”
        But if there’s no shoulder stock, then the rules are different. Or not, depending on where you live. Or maybe so, if the weapon is imported. Or not, depending where it’s imported from. Or…

    3. avatar DaveL says:

      Mike, how many other countries have a bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives?

      1. avatar ST says:

        A lot of countries have an “ATF”. Its called a secret police.

        1. avatar DaveL says:

          No, seriously. Political hyperbole aside what other countries group such disparate things together as the whole focus of a group separate from ordinary police forces, customs, and border patrol?

        2. avatar ST says:

          Scotland has this:
          Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency; the SCDEA operates in Scotland and although nominally an agency it is controlled by a police authority and Scottish police legislation.[9] As of March 2007, there were 197 police officers seconded to the SCDEA from the eight territorial police forces in Scotland, plus a further 77 police staff[10]

          That said, you are correct in that a separate bureaucracy is not required for the purposes the ATF exists for.

    4. avatar Silver says:

      No, we hate the ATF the way a teenager hates an uncle who rapes her and threatens to kill her if she stands up for herself.

      You love the ATF because they rape people you don’t like, thus making you a reprehensible scumbag.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        +1. Sometimes, Silver, you absolutely kill me! I mean that in a good way.

    5. avatar TheRandyGuy says:

      Waco and Ruby Ridge: Nobody was fired, nobody was prosecuted, and nobody went to jail. That’s why I hate the ATF.

  5. avatar percynjpn says:

    It’s a nice idea, of course, but no leftist politician would shut down the ATF any sooner than they would their beloved EPA!

    1. avatar CarlosT says:

      You’re kidding yourself if you think any Republican would shutdown the AFT either.

      1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:


      2. avatar Ralph says:

        RINOs love the ATF because they favor its mission. “Conservative” Republicans love the ATF because it gives them something to complain about so they can fool the folks back home.

        Republicans recently voted to increase the ATF’s budget. Who do they think they’re fooling?

      3. avatar percynjpn says:

        You’re may be right, but my post was in regard to Obama, who as you may know is a leftist politician.

  6. Well TTAG, 1.4 million hits a month? Where do you want me to sign the petition? Go make a US White House petition and I will add my signature.

    Though from what I have seen most people are afraid of registering for the petition thing…. they think “da gubbment is go find meh!

    1. avatar Anthony Meruelo says:

      Seriously, how come I haven’t seen any petitions on TTAG? I would think 500,000 signatures would be easy to get.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        From gunnies? You can’t get gun owners to agree on whether Glocks are better than Sigs or vice versa. We’re the last rugged individualists.

  7. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin. Both are out for power, influence and money. Neither would actually shrink the size and scope of government. G.W. Bush is my case in point.

    The only politician who I think would actually do the things that he says he’d do is Ron Paul, but I don’t even think he would abolish ATF.

    1. avatar matt says:

      Which is why I encourage everyone to cast a vote of no confidence this election cycle by abstaining from the process. Come join the ~45% (or 60% if its not a pres. election) of Americans who did so last cycle.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Come join the ~45% (or 60% if its not a pres. election) of Americans who did so last cycle.

        Yeah, and that worked out so well, didn’t it.

        1. avatar matt says:

          It does, ask any cop what their major issues with the citizenry are. They’ll all say, ‘victims’ who refuse to press charges. They no longer have confidence in the system.

        2. avatar Ralph says:

          What does that have to do with voting?

      2. avatar Henry Bowman says:

        I concur. I didn’t mean to imply that I was voting, just that I think Ron Paul would really shake things up. He would definitely help the cause for freedom, but he simply can’t fix the fundamental problem with government, which is the use of force to subject the people. Too bad the establishment would never let him win… they’re too dedicated to maintaining the status quo.

      3. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        And, how exactly will that change anything, matt?

        1. avatar matt says:

          By further delegitimizing them, accelerating the inevitable hostilities. Why do you go out of your way every couple years to provide the politicians with your legitimacy? Tell me who you voted for in the last national election cycle, and i’ll enumerate how you sold out your fellow countrymen.

          Every government action is backed by the threat of force and violence, and even Ron Paul isnt for abolishing government. Its just a matter of who is oppressed. Take for instance slavery/servitude, everyone likes to think it was abolished, while ignoring things like UNICOR/FPI.

        2. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          So, if I understand correctly, you are voicing your displeasure with the current system by refusing to participate in changing it? You rebel, you.

        3. avatar matt says:

          lol, voting changing something other than the face of government, you should be a comedian. you also missed the first sentence which said “accelerating the inevitable hostilities”

        4. avatar CarlosT says:

          You do realize that even if not a single person voted, someone would take office anyway and life would go on?

          I think you’re highly overestimating the impact that non-participation would have.

        5. avatar Guywithagun says:

          Wow! Pure ignorance, Moonshine.

          If Rosa Parks had just moved to the back of the bus and filled out a complaint form, do you think anything would have changed?

          You don’t change a system by participating in it.

        6. avatar CarlosT says:

          Actively protesting and sitting at home on your couch on election day are two very different things.

        7. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

          “Wow! Pure ignorance, Moonshine.”
          Lol. Okay.

          “If Rosa Parks had just moved to the back of the bus and filled out a complaint form, do you think anything would have changed?”
          Spare me. Refusing to vote doesn’t make you Rosa Parks any more than refusing to disarm makes you a Spartan.

          “You don’t change a system by participating in it.”
          Participation is not tacit approval, despite what matt may say to the contrary. Soap box, ballot box, bullet box. The latter is not yet an option.

      4. avatar Tom says:

        I wish I could get the non-voters to vote Libertarian.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      Neither would actually shrink the size and scope of government.

      Henry Bowman, you’re certainly correct. I’ve given up on the notion that any politician would act contrary to his or her own venal self-interest. The only question is: which part of government is going to grow, and where is our money going to be spent?

      I would not be upset if the Defense Department grew, while ATF, DEA and the abomination known as HUD were wiped off the face of the earth. However, I couldn’t argue with you if you disagree.

      1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

        Ron Paul’s plan is right up your alley then.

        On principle, I don’t vote, but if I did, he’d be my choice.

        1. avatar NR says:

          Monarchist principles, I gather? What’s up with that?

        2. avatar Henry Bowman says:

          Actually, it’s that I won’t lend my authority to an organization that is based on the threat of force to make people do it’s bidding. And, regardless of who you vote for, when you participate, the implication is that you’ll accept whoever wins.

        3. avatar Ralph says:

          Henry Bowman, I like Ron Paul. Philosophically, he reminds me of Barry Goldwater, but he doesn’t have any of Goldwater’s leadership abilities and he’s too damn old to be President.

        4. avatar Henry Bowman says:

          I don’t know what his age has to do with anything. But, okay, that’s a common “disqualifier” I’ve heard regarding him. So, which of the “young” neocons would advance the cause for liberty and freedom?

          By the way, Goldwater was a war monger… distinctly un-Ron Paulian.

        5. avatar Dyspeptic Curmudgeon says:

          To use Maggie Thatcher’s phrase, Milton Friedman would say that Ron Paul is a wet.
          Friedman would drop most cabinet departments, leaving only 4 (with Veteran’s Affairs folded back into Defence).
          Great (long) interview here:

      2. avatar matt says:

        “I would not be upset if the Defense Department grew”
        Good job ignoring the NDAA, or who would be sent to seize your guns. They fight not for what they believe in, but rather for what a politician tells them to. And just a reminder, but many cops are ex-mil. And how much do you wana bet the assholes who require blind obedience to their will are ex-mil? Where do you think they got that mindset?

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          I said I wouldn’t argue with Henry Bowman if he disagreed on the point. I won’t argue with you if you disagree, but then again, you disagree so much that you’re merely disagreeable.

  8. avatar Cliff says:

    You do understand that Barack the Magnificent the 1st has added almost 125,000 federal employees since 2009? At a $300 million a year savings, why that cuts the deficit to $999,700,000,000* for 2014. Woo woo! There is a reason that the two wealthiest counties in the US are the ones surrounding DC**.

    *If we get lucky.
    ** Until we go bankrupt in 2019 anyway.

  9. avatar NR says:

    Abolishing and/or merging? Give me a break.

    In other news, deficit spending is being reduced and/or expanded.

  10. I think it’s a mistake to focus on ATF, the organization. ATF is made up of people, some good, some bad. For every “Gunwalker Bill” Newell there’s a John Dodson. Actually several John Dodsons that you’ll never hear about.

    The problem isn’t the ATF, it’s the laws they’re trying to enforce. These laws are unclear, and mostly malum prohibitum laws, laws banning things, not addressing violent conduct. A couple of commenters here teed off on particular laws the ATF enforces like the SBR aspect of NFA 34. (Yeah, 14.5″ rifles are going to cost you transfer taxes and paperwork. Why? Because that’s what the statute says). Yeah, some people in the ATF get off on banning the import of common weapons and parts, but they can do it because USC 18 922 is loaded with examples of the “sporting test.” (That was a direct lift, by the way, from Third Reich law, by a Senator who wound up censured for corruption. Naturally his son then inherited the Senate seat — also to become famous for his corruption).

    Your ire should be directed at the people responsible for these laws, which are, in order, Congress (including your Representative and Senators), Gun Lobby groups who deal away your rights (cough *NRA* cough), and prosecutors who would rather file an indictment in a slam-dunk possession case without any guilty <i<mens rea than do the messy work of changing the zip codes of violent criminals.

    Personally I do not believe that the sporting test can survive a well-crafted legal challenge in the light of McDonald and Heller. IANAL, but Glenn Reynolds has some thoughts on <a href=""Second Amendment Penumbras at the link (click the Download button to get the .pdf. Yeah, he’s a law prof so there’s a raft of footnotes, but it’s readable).

    But we could avoid the mess in the courts by overturning the sporting test where it was created, in Congress. Congress had the power to fix this, and we have the power to induce Congress to do so. Sound farfetched? When I was a kid, in most states you either couldn’t carry concealed, or had to “know somebody.”

    Give the ATF good and clear laws to enforce and they will do as well as any other agency in America… they will make you proud. Just my opinion.

    1. avatar Mike from Roswell says:

      The issue here isn’t unclear laws, it is Unconstitutional laws. Anything beyond ” shall not be infringed” IS an infringement and therefore unconstitutional.

      BATF is an unnessessary agency without a legitimate mission. Booze and Tobacco should go to the FDA, Explosives to the FBI.

      1. avatar SDFreeman says:

        Well Said!

  11. avatar 101abn says:

    The Government has no relation to “We, the people………….”

  12. avatar tater88 says:

    we the people may not be any relation to the govt. but the govt has the final say of we the people in with i believe be total bull sparks why cant we just get an NRA member in there for a few terms………

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