Our friends at the ATF have been famously non-responsive to requests for information regarding how it goes about its regulatory business. But let it not be said that they discriminate in their obfuscatory practices. No, they’ve always been equal opportunity stonewallers.
In addition to blowing off requests from ordinary citizens and government watchdog groups, they also made it a practice to ignore members of Congress with oversight responsibility and control over their budget. It’s that kind of non-responsiveness that resulted in this entertaining confrontation last month:
That was followed by this discussion on the importance of government oversight in a free republic last week when the ATF’s number two bureaucrat finally deigned to appear before the man who subpoenaed him:
Maybe the ATF’s lack of enthusiasm for openness has something to do with the way the agency conducts its business, as exemplified in a New York Times report this morning alleging illegal bank accounts and slush funds stuffed with “public/private” cash from un-taxed black market cigarette sales. To say nothing of some of their other illustrious endeavors like gun-running to Mexico and false-front urban gun and drug sales operations featuring mentally disabled recruits as accomplices.
In any case, given the way the ATF has stiff-armed authorities like the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, above, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that they also raised a metaphorical middle finger to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request for information that went into their abortive 2015 attempt to ban M855 green-tipped ammunition as “armor piercing.”
What finally prompted Judicial Watch to resort to legal action? Maybe they were inspired by those verbal bitch slapping sessions Rep. Chaffetz delivered to the ATF’s brass. It could be JW is more optimistic about their chances now that an entirely new administration (and Attorney General) is in charge. Or maybe it’s as simple as they tired of all the slow-walking and stonewalling and their patience simply ran out.
Whatever their motivation, Judicial Watch filed suit against the ATF yesterday to try to disgorge what should be public information.
The ATF is reportedly reconsidering its February 2015 proposal to revise the 2014 Regulation Guide regarding the reclassification of certain ammunition. In March 2015, more than 200 members of Congress wrote to former ATF director Todd Jones expressing their “serious concern” that the proposal might violate the Second Amendment by restricting ammunition that had been primarily used for “sporting purposes.” The letter asserts the ATF’s move “does not comport with the letter or spirit of the law and will interfere with Second Amendment rights by disrupting the market for ammunition that law abiding Americans use for sporting and other legitimate purposes.”
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agency failed to respond to a March 9, 2015, FOIA request seeking information on the ammo ban effort….
The hope here is that coughing up the requested information will reveal why the ATF didn’t determine that M855 was armor piercing when they looked at it way back in 1986, but somehow came to a new determination three decades later. Enquiring minds would certainly like to know. In any case, we wish Judicial Watch good luck in their efforts to direct a little sunshine on the matter.