The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ days look numbered. Once more, under its 2020 budget proposal, the Trump administration seeks to transfer the ‘alcohol’ and ‘tobacco’ duties from the BATF. The U.S. Treasury Department would take those duties if the administration gets its way. Today’s BATF would also get a new name: Bureau of Arson, Explosives and Firearms.
This move makes sense. After all, according to BATF’s own Fact Sheet, alcohol- and tobacco-related cases, combined, only totaled .24% of the cases where the agency sought charges. The overwhelming majority, 92% of the time, the agency initiated charges in firearm-related cases.
The Trump administration sought to transfer out the booze and smokes enforcement in 2018 too, but Congress seemed disinterested in the change. This despite claims that cracking down on cigarette smuggling would bring in a windfall to federal and state governments in lost tax revenue.
The Washington Post had this latest proposal.
The Trump administration proposed a 2.3 percent reduction in the Justice Department’s budget, much of that money coming from grant programs like COPS, which pays for local police agencies to hire new officers. The White House budget plan for the Justice Department in 2020 prioritizes spending for national security, cyber security, immigration enforcement, combating violent crime and addressing the opioid epidemic.
Like last year, the Trump administration proposes shifting part of the work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives away. Under the proposal, alcohol and tobacco enforcement would move to the Treasury Department so that ATF could focus more on guns, explosives and arson. The same proposal was made last year and went nowhere in Congress.
Given the persistent moves by the Trump administration, it seems likely that eventually the BATF will face a realignment of its mission.