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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.


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    • Shut them down was my response as well. Plainly they think they’re above the law. What’s sickening to me is that they demonstrate the same attitude that was held by many bureaucrats back in the Byzantine Empire, who laughed at the emperor’s attempts to clean out their corruption because they believed they held the real power.

  1. I heartily endorse a slew of FOIA requests, backed-up by threats of firing/investigation/conviction by AG Sessions for any bureaucrat that drags their feet or leaves anything out when fulfilling one.

    It’s time to quantify just how badly and often the last administration lied to us, and show their embedded minions they are not immune to repercussions.

    • The AG has multiple agencies under him and 4 years to untangle a Gordian knot that has been spinning itself for centuries (BATFE, starting with A and T, is the oldest enforcement and revenuing arm in America)…… the 4th branch just sees an other group of suckers that will be gone in 4 years. If they keep their crap together, then they can weather the storm.

      • You do know how the first Gordian knot was “untangled,” right? Sounds like a perfect way of solving that problem.

  2. We shouldn’t be focusing on anything but the dismantling of this agency while we have the people in place to do it.

    I strongly believe this agency is so entrenched in anti-gun regulation, and staffed (at least higher up) with those who have no idea what they are doing, and have no concern for freedom, that the only recourse is to get rid of it wholesale.

  3. The Obama Administration, educated and expert in Illinois Capone-style Governance,.created dozens, if not hundreds, of secret slush funds within the federal government. Had Trump not won, The Clintons would have put the funds to great use.

  4. Actions such as this by Judicial Watch are why I occasionally send JW a check for as much as I can spare on a disability pension – and why you should, too.

  5. This is just Why I think the ATF needs to be disbanded and absorbed into other agencies they’re obsolete and corrupt to boot. I’m all of their doings and goings ons from Fast and Furious to that ridiculous setup of pawn shops in the southeast run by mentally retarded people so that they could could troll what exactly goes on and cause crime rates to rise almost 75% in these areas where they set up these corrupt pawn shops and gun stores. They are the problem in this whole situation no other federal or state law enforcement agency goes without oversight like the ATF does we oughta start a petition to disband them there more criminal than the criminals they’re trying to catch.

  6. So ATF runs guns and sells tax-free cigarettes. I wonder what we’ll discover about their alcohol mission…

    • Given their bizarre rulings, I’d guess they’re probably drinking it all after its confiscated.

  7. Perhaps a judge will inform them that they are in fact an agency and must respond to FOIA requests. I remember some time ago they tried slipping out of a request by saying they weren’t an agency, and therefore FOIA didn’t apply.

    The attempted ban was both arbitrary and capricious. If challenged, it would likely not have held up under their unusual reasoning of what constituted a handgun round (armor piercing law only applies to handgun ammo. It was reasonably assumed during drafting that any rifle round would pierce Kevlar).

  8. When some of their agents, and administration brass start going to prison to spend a little ” vacation time” studying the US Constitutional-Bill of Rights…Then maybe ill,think our country is starting to turn around!

  9. I really enjoyed those videos. It’s almost like Chaffetz considers it a gov’t by the people for the people. What a concept.

    • I love watching Chaffetz go to town on these jokers. I normally dislike watching political videos, but his videos are hands down the best!

  10. Oversight? What a concept.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if these agencies actually had to answer for the BS they pulled during the last administration?

    Not holding my breath.

  11. I ran across that second video a few days ago. It’s great. “I am questioning your honor.”

  12. Maybe find out why 7n6 was banned?

    Nevermind that it followed all the rules regarding NOT being AP (below .22 and has a giant hollow cavity in the tip).

    Nevermind the “pistol” that triggered the ban was never offered commercially to the U.S.

    Nevermind that it took 3 YEARS, when the “pistol” was supposedly brought to the ATF for legality, for the ATF to getting around to banning it when it took only a few weeks 20 years ago to ban steel-core 7.62×39 with less communication technology available. It was very conveniently timed for the Ukrainian crisis to ban 7n6 nevermind none of it came from Russia but all from Ukraine.

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