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ATF warming-up for Waco raid (courtesy

In case you missed it, the ATF got caught running one of the most inept and corrupt “stings” in the agency’s long history of inept and corrupt “stings.” That would be “Operation Fearless” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sherman set the way back machine for May 2013. “A bipartisan group of congressional members demanded answers after a Journal Sentinel investigation of the sting that revealed an agent’s guns, including a machine gun, were stolen, the ATF storefront was ripped off of $40,000 in merchandise and agents allowed an armed felon who threatened to shoot someone to leave the store,” reported. But wait! There’s more!  . . .

At least four of the wrong people were arrested and three of them charged, including a man who was in prison. The ATF machine gun is still missing . . . They ran up utility bills, refused to pay the landlord and warned him [in no uncertain terms] against pursuing the matter. In addition, ATF agents hired a brain-damaged man with a low IQ to promote the store, then turned around and arrested him on federal charges.

The Inspector General promised an investigation into Operation Fearless – just like he promised an investigation in Operation Fast & Furious, which enabled the illegal sale of some 2000 U.S. gun store guns to Mexican drug thugs, four of whom used those guns to murder U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Others of which used the guns to terrorize and murder Mexican citizens.


Frustrated in his efforts to get an accounting of, and accountability for, Operation Fearless, Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner has introduced the ATF Elimination Act. The Act has about much chance of passage as the American Elementary School Marksmanship Program (I just made that up), given the antis’ love of the ATF’s unconstitutional remit. But it’s good to see the ATF’s jackbooted thugs and their amoral masters wrong-footed by the people’s representative in Congress.

Sure, TTAG called for the ATF’s elimination before the Operation Fearless f-up. But this is an actual piece of legislation by an actual Representative. Should the ATF show their fascistic face again – a likely prospect given their checkered history – the idea of getting rid of the anti-gun agency will have been broached. Could a budget-minded incoming Republican President have the ATF scheduled for elimination? He could. From my keyboard to God’s ears.

Here’s Sensenbrenner’s press release, which, strangely, makes no specific mention of any of the ATF’s criminal anti-gun escapades, save a reference to “high profile failures.” Shame.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) today introduced the ATF Elimination Act, which would dissolve the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and merge its exclusive duties into existing federal agencies. The legislation also calls for an immediate hiring freeze at the ATF and requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to (1) eliminate and reduce duplicative functions and waste to the maximum extent possible, and (2) report to Congress with a detailed plan on how the transition will take place.

Congressman Sensenbrenner: “Washington should be responsible stewards of the American taxpayers’ money. While all too often that is not the case, this is a good government bill to streamline agency activity at DOJ—increasing effectiveness while decreasing cost. The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal ridden agency that lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership. For decades it has been branded by high profile failures. There is also significant overlap with other agencies. At a time when we are approaching $18 trillion in debt, waste and redundancy within our federal agencies must be addressed. Without a doubt, we can fulfill the role of the ATF more efficiently.”

The ATF Elimination Act would transfer enforcement of firearms, explosives and arson laws to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products would be transferred to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). No later than 180 days after enactment, the DEA and FBI must submit to the Congress a plan for winding up the affairs of the ATF. Field offices and other buildings/assets of the ATF will be transferred to the FBI and it will have one year to report excess property to the General Services Administration (GSA).

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  1. Write down all the names of people who vote against this (won’t pass) these are our enemies and must be removed from office.

    • Let’s be honest here, when in the history of the United States has a federal agency ever been dissolved? Normalized by GDP, when has the federal government ever shrunk in the past 120 years? The government grows in boom and bust just the same. It will only ever keep growing.

      • The republicans under Gringrich abolished some agencies under the Contract With America. The Bureau of Mines in 1996, for example.

      • Grow and grow and spend and spend until the money runs out and it all crashes down. The only question is how long will it take. Likely more than 8 or 10 years.

    • I contend that this will be an evil we must not allow.

      If the AFT is dissolved and its duties transfered among many other agencies it will be harder to locate and destroy this evil.

      Do not be fooled, this will hurt us more than help. Even if the intentions are good.

  2. Here is a game plan, once enough states start to legalize recreational marijuana the federal government will have to change their tune. Take all of those agents in the ATF and redistribute them to different agencies. Many could go to the DEA and still pursue hard drugs like meth, cocaine, etc. Many other agents can go to tax evasion and other white collar crimes. One less government agency, less legal overlap between agencies, and relatively few job losses just reassignments.

    • Take the ATF, DEA and all the “swat” teams from the various federal agencies that shouldn’t have them (EPA, DoEd, BLM, etc.) and send them all to patrol the Mexico border.

      Why do we need a DEA either? Cross-border smuggling should be within the madate of customs and border patrol. If individual states wish to devote state and local resources to combat drugs, they can. Any truly inter-state crime shold be the responsibility of the FBI.

      These narrowly focused agencies are such a terrible idea – their drive to justify their own existence is antithetical to their task – I mean, what would the DEA do if we ever actually won the War on Drugs?

      • “I mean, what would the DEA do if we ever actually won the War on Drugs?”

        I recall a “Business Psych” class where the Professor recounted how the March of Dimes organization had tried to cut off funding to Dr. Jonas Salk. They were trying to claim his research wasn’t leading anywhere, but the opposite was true. They were afraid that they would no longer have a reason to exist if polio was cured.
        The solution was to find another purpose for the organization. The March of Dimes is now concerned with “birth defects”, and since there are several hundred identified “birth defects” the organization will have reason to exist for many years.
        Maybe the DEA can become an organization dedicated to developing a drug that will be something on the order of “Soma” in the “Brave New World”.

        • Same thing the G-Men and T-Men did when the “war on alcohol” became irrelevant after Prohibition was repealed. They’d go find some other “war on ___” to attach themselves to.

        • Yep. To those of us with a cynical mind, the outlawing of narcotics (which was not then a major problem) followed hard upon the repeal of Prohibition. It seems as if it was both to make up for the loss of revenue to organized crime for the “cash cow” which was slaughtered, and provide for continued employment of the law enforcement employees.

    • I understand what you are saying A-Rod. However, your proposal does not appear to do much if anything to reduce the cost of government or government infringement on our liberties.

      In the big scheme of things, what does the ATF really do for our nation? What value do they add to our nation? Answer: none. They are just another large voting bloc that sucks the life out of our nation. Disband them and their “duties” entirely.

      What is the down side if we entirely disband the ATF and their duties? Someone underreports alcohol, tobacco, or firearms production and underpays their tax liability? People/companies can do that already. And the Internal Revenue Service can already audit those people and companies. The ATF certainly has done nothing to prevent violent crime so there would be no increase in violent crime. What am I missing? Why is the ATF so vital to our nation?

      • This does leave the question of who will enforce all those laws! I have a plan! Remember Prohibition? Same drill. Repeal NFA, GCA ’68, etc, plus all laws affecting alcohol or tobacco other than controls on purity, etc, and legalize all drugs. Then wrap DEA into this bill with ATF, and none of their employees need to be transferred anywhere, and we will have really decreased the power and cost of government.

        BTW, many consider Waco and Ruby Ridge to be examples of violent crime, in which case eliminating ATF would *decrease* crime.

      • I agree. In this information age, every government agency should have their performance metrics posted for the public to see. First, determine what the metrics are (Better this, reduced that, improved this, etc…), than measure them and transparently let the American people decide. Isn’t that the purpose of democracy?

  3. I’m all for elimination of the ATF but if it’s “duties” are just picked up and carried on by the FBI would things get any better for us? Would the backlog of NFA approvals suddenly go away or just get worse since a new agency would have to figure it out? Wouldn’t the FBI just grow and end up doing the same f’d up things the ATF has been doing? Is the FBI bureaucracy somehow more responsible than the ATF bureaucracy? Would they somehow be more pro civil rights/pro-gun community? At the end of the day both agencies have the same boss, don’t they?

    • “.. At the end of the day both agencies have the same boss, don’t they?”


      And no.

      Two agencies doing the same thing is inefficient at best. Who gets to claim jurisdiction, who gets to claim victory, why are there fifteen mrap’s on scene?

      Once agency, even if it is bigger by the adding one into the other, is going to pick and choose where to send those fifteen urban tanks and will have the ability to say “no, that situation is best left to locals.”

      Ultimately there is no improvement to the average citizen. But having one agency in charge increases accountability, even if only slightly, and it is easier to de-fund duplicate department/divisions when it is under one set of letters.

    • All bureaucrats seek to rationalize their own existence, and expand the size, power, and influence of their organization.
      BAFTE wouldn’t get much attention from the Public or the Government for actions taken in regard to alcohol, tobacco, or even explosives. Not so with firearms.
      There’s a sure-fire way to get publicity. Show the country how your organization is protecting the American Public from all those deadly weapons in the hands of criminals and madmen.
      That’s how we get political theater turned deadly fiasco, from Waco and Ruby Ridge on through “Fast & Furious”.
      At least the FBI has plenty of other responsibilities which they can demonstrate they fulfill in a competent manner. They don’t need to rely on sensationalism in “gun control” enforcement to justify their existence, as BAFTE does.

  4. One of the items in the “history of repeated injuries and usurpations” of George III stated in the Declaration of Independence was:

    “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

    I can think of no more needless bureaucracy, and greater danger to Liberty, than the BAFTE.

  5. Don’t redistribute ATF agents, fire them. Eliminate all funding for the agency. Do it with the directive that none of them(except the explosives people) be hired by any federal agency for life.
    I’ve personally known one honest one and one totally power-mad, witness -intimidating, sleazy one. From all the facts I can gather over the years, the sleazy one is the norm.

    • Neither party would have any interest in this. If anything the Democrats are more likely to end the War on Drugs or deregulate alcohol than the Republicans. The DEA/BATFE(RBF) are both here to stay

      This act is a fart in the wind.

  6. What idiot comes up with these operation names?

    Operation Fast and Furious? Operation Fearless? What a great way to engender a James Bond / Jason Bourne “we can do anything – we’re action heroes!” mentality in the people running and working the op.

    How about Operation Sniffle (follow-up codename Gesundheit) or Operation Thermometer or something? At least that won’t lead to inflated … expectations … just thinking about the name of the op you’re on.

  7. Been saying this for years. While we’re at it, dump the US Marshals, get rid of the Postal Police, take away all of the SWAT teams. All these yo-yo’s should call the FBI or local law enforcement if they need somebody arrested. Duplication does lead to inefficiency and massive amounts of waste, fraud, and abuse.

  8. It sends to me that eliminating the ATF would do more harm than good unless the NFA were also repealed. Wouldn’t NFA items still be a thing and wouldn’t we be left without a regulatory body to approve tax stamps, etc..?

    I could be mistaken on exactly how the legal structure surrounding all this works, of course.

  9. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    Why do ATF when 14 other screwed-up federal agencies can do it on the same budget/staffing/level of corruption each.

  10. When I first ready the title, I was excited that the proposal was to disband the ATF and their duties. No such fortune.

  11. They don’t need a new law, the House has the power of the purse. Simply remove all funding for the ATF and that is enough to kill the ATF. The issue is neither side has the integrity and moral conviction to do anything.

    • Even if the Senate passed it, Osama would veto it and blame the resulting govt shutdown on Republican intransigence, and the media would report exactly that.

  12. Didn’t Reagan say he was going to disband the ATF? But found himself unable to in the face of the Civil Service Act and other bureaucratic protection measures? Welcome to the United States of Bureaucracy.

    I expect a Congressional act could pull this off, but I doubt a president could do it on his own.

  13. The keyword is unconstitutional. A case could be made to disband it on those matters. However I do not see the supreme doing it. As someone who suffered a brain injury (back in 1989, but still suffered one) I am outraged by the actions of the ATF in this case. Sounds like discrimination to me. Would more people be outraged if it was a different (and more popular) minority group used in this matter?
    Just my 2 cents worth, and not necessarily the views of TTAG, it’s advertisers, employes, or members of the team.

  14. Not all regulation is executed by government agencies. Two examples I’m aware of are the securities and commodities industries. FINRA and NFA are “self-regulatory organizations” that are owned and run by member brokers. These “SROs” police many (not all) of the rules governing brokers’ activities.
    The gun industry already has mature industry-sponsored organizations, notably the NRA for gun users and the NSSF for manufacturers, distributors and FFLs. I imagine there are State or regional FFL dealer associations. We need not press these particular organizations into service as SROs of the gun industry. Instead, we could look to these organizations to spawn new independent organizations to undertake certain duties.
    Admittedly, what I’m proposing implies a transfer of tax-payer funded regulatory activities to industry-funded activities; i.e., we will pay a slightly higher price for guns and ammo to regulate ourselves rather than sharing this cost with non-gun users through taxation. While a consideration, cost is not the primary consideration. We should be looking at whether we, the PotG, prefer to regulate ourselves or prefer the tender loving care of the BATFE.
    If this idea has any appeal we have to mentally disassemble the ATF into its component parts and see which of its functions we might want to take-on. Clearly, processing NFA forms and issuing stamps is mostly a ministerial function that we could do at lower cost with higher service vs. the ATF. Issuing FFLs, auditing paperwork and the like, are enforcement functions very much like issuing brokerage licenses and auditing brokerage paperwork. Our SRO could take care of the paperwork and reprimanding for minor violations. Major violations might be referred to the supervising government agency.
    One of the most important functions – IMO – is the fielding of FFL NICS inquiries. Presently, the DoJ farms this function out to a computer/services company. In performing its role, that company is supposed to destroy records of inquiries within 24 hours. In so doing, it precludes the NICS system from becoming something of a national gun registry. Our problem is that we doubt that the DoJ is not corrupting its direct contractor. Perhaps the contractor sends a messenger with a magnetic computer tape (in a brown paper wrapper) to Holder’s office each day. If not today, perhaps in some future administration. If we take this risk seriously we should mitigate this risk by putting the service of fielding FFL inquiries under the direct control of an industry-managed organization. In so doing, it would create an opaque wall between the DoJ (which would maintain the database of prohibited persons) and the active file of each day’s inquiries.
    IF we did so, then there would be no impediment to our own industry surveillance for apparent straw-buying activities. It’s one thing for Grandma to buy a dozen Glocks – same model – for each of her grandchildren as Christmas presents; it’s another for a 21-year-old female to go on a shopping spree in a dozen different FFLs on a weekend, buying a dozen Glocks as gifts for her beloved suitors. An industry organization would quickly dismiss Grandma and turn-over its discovery of the young “lady” to the cops.
    I acknowledge that the absolutists will hear of nothing other than a roll-back of all existing gun laws one-by-one. But, that’s not going to happen. What might happen is a negotiation with Congress about sharing supervisorial/regulatory responsibilities. Those who appear to be criminals will feel the cold-hard-boot of the Government on their necks. The remaining law-abiding peaceful dealers, traders and users of guns will feel the tender gaze of our fellow PotG making sure we are adhering to industry-defined standards of conduct and assuring the public that they should have nothing to fear from the 2A.
    Today, we have a large ATF spending a lot of time trying to identify new mischief to get itself involved in. If we took-over half of it’s activities the other half might logically be re-assigned to other existing agencies. In so doing, those other existing agencies would have competing priorities to consider. E.g., imagine the FBI weighing the relative merits of assigning a dozen special agents to: A) pursue a serial bank robber vs. B) running assault rifles to the Sinaloa Cartel. Do we really think the FBI would find trafficking guns to drug cartels a better use of its time relative to the bank robber? Perhaps our problem with the ATF stems from the fact that they lack a rich field of useful work to do so they create crimes that would not occur but for the initiative of the ATF itself.

    • I hereby volunteer to take over all of the NFA responsibilities, and do it for only $100 per item. Further, I would commit to eliminating the backlog within a month, with future approvals by return mail.

  15. Does anyone really think the elimination of ATF would do any good? After transferring all the duties and property of ATF to other agencies, the agents of ATF would in all likely hood resume their employment with the said agencies. Plus, it’s not like these other agencies haven’t had their own fair share of scandals and if they haven’t had any before they will once they hire all the ATF thugs back.

  16. “Could a budget-minded incoming Republican President have the ATF scheduled for elimination?”

    That’s a howler! A budget minded Republican President. Seriously? Where do we find one of those? Let me guess. On the store shelf right next to the unicorn horns and pixie dust.

    • Scott Walker comes to mind. He’s certainly eliminated a lot of government spending in WI. Ryan would be another. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz would also be great choices.

        • They could win just fine if we had voter ID. If illegals get amnesty and voter ID is shot down again, we probably won’t ever have another Republican president.

  17. Don’t bet on it Sensenbrenner (R) is one of the few that gets major legislation done. Introduced the Patriot Act (whatever you think of it) and Real ID Act (which is despicable big brother BS).

    To my understanding, ATF is widely regarded, even in copworld, as a bunch of undisciplined, incompetent dirtbags and thugs. FIre them all and ban from gov’t employment.

    The GOP will be in control of the House and Senate in Jan. Bozo will still be on the golf course but likely some of the libtards could get on board with this plan.

  18. This would increase the power of the FBI.
    Even though I trust the FBI more than the ATF, it’s a redistribution of power. This won’t solve any of the legislative problems. Hopefully it would solve the corruption though.

  19. Well it looks good as theater. At least it shows there are some politicians willing to “fix” our broken government. No chance of happening…

  20. what good is it if the functions move to other agencies.
    I thought we were against function, laws they enforce and in general what they do.
    I don’t give a rip who is wearing the Jack boots

  21. The joke about the school marksmanship program brought to my memory the DCM. How many of us here had our first exposure to disciplined target shooting via school and camp and boyscout programs?
    In my case it was a great program where the target rifles (some of them very good target rifles) and what seemed to be an everlasting supply of .22 rim fire ammo and targets were there to use for students starting in the 7th grade… I wonder how many of those programs still exist….

    For me the 1950s were a wonderful time to be a kid….

    I recall an 8th grade field trip for the rifle team where late one December afternoon after dusk we went to the town dump where a firing line had been set up for the 6 of us to shoot rats…
    The headlights of the town cars and trucks were turned off and after about 5 min they were turned on and the trick was to see how many you could shoot with your bolt action target .22 before they vanished… Rinse and repeat. Then off to the DPW lunch room for hot chocolate
    This was in 1959 and I doubt it could happen today!

  22. It’s all theatre. No change to the status quo until the “people” realize that they’ve been shanghaied and really demand true change.

  23. Federal agencies have a way of living on and on. Since the New Deal boondoggles were defunded during WW2, I can’t remember many civilian agencies that were put out of business (although some were absorbed into other agencies, or simply renamed).

    We are stuck with the ATF until the end of time.

  24. Gee, Sensenbrenner makes sense. I wonder if this guy is of a Plat -Deutsch speaking ancestry. I have Steinbrenner ancestors from around Emden and Oldenburg.

  25. Isn’t going too happen as this is the strong arm of the Democrat party, the ATF was formed under Johnson for this very reason! too subjugate the population! ATF has perpetrated more killings than any other agency, Ruby Ridge, Waco, Fast and Furious and more!
    Our Democratic Party owns all of these, yet they continue with the subjugation policies by using the IRS and NSA for internal spying and enforcement, so be prepared our turn is coming!

  26. TEMP — could not post on Students for Concealed Carry nsite

    TO the chief counsel of the Idaho State Legislature:

    In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a faculty member?

    I am a biology student, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to class until now. But since many of my professors are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.
    I have had encounters with disgruntled teachers over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset over being denied tenure, or not being promoted to Associate Professor, but I always assumed that when they reached into their desk drawers they were going for a marking pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no limits to their arbitrary opinions in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a dropping me a grade or two. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.

    At present, the harshest penalty available here at Boise State is dismissal, used only for the most heinous crimes, like cheating with the department chairman’s wife. But now that lethal force is an option, I need to know which infractions may be treated as de facto capital crimes.

    I assume that if a professor shoots first, I am allowed to empty my MAGAZINE; but given the velocity of firearms, and my lesser experience, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and a domineering teacher tries to correct me using a laser sight, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?

    If two armed professors are arguing over whose academic rank entitles him to be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement (which reads, in part, “Boise State strives to provide a culture of civility and success where all feel safe and free from discrimination, harassment, threats or intimidation”)?

    While our city police chief has expressed grave concerns about allowing guns on campus, an encroachment on his “blue monopoly of force” challenged by the outrageous idea of any “civilians” being armed, I would point out that he already has one. I’m glad that you were not intimidated by him, and did not allow him to speak at the public hearing on the bill (since he has no police authority on the state’s campus, though I really enjoyed the 40 minutes you gave to the National Rifle Association spokesman).

    Knee-jerk reactions from law enforcement officials and university presidents are best set aside, considering the lack of “common sense” often lost in those of the law enforcement and academic persuasion. Ignore, for example, the lame argument that some doddering, old senile profs (we are all entitled to our stereotypes — fair is fair) will fire their weapons in violation of best practices. This view is based on stereotypical depictions of senile profs, a group whose dignity no one seems willing to defend.
    The problem, of course, is not that senile profs will be armed; it is that they are senile profs. Arming them is clearly not the issue. They would cause damage with or without guns. I would point out that urinating against a building or exposing themselves to a sorority house full of female students are both violations of the same honor code.

    In terms of the campus murder rate — zero at present — I think that we can all agree that guns don’t kill people, people with guns do. Or people with knives, or fists, or feet. Which is why forbidding guns on campus makes so much sense. That way the weaker members of our little society can be the victims of the stronger members — it’s Nature’s way.
    Bad guys go where there are no guns, so by adding guns to campus more bad guys will spend their year abroad in London. Britain has incredibly restrictive laws — their cops didn’t used to have guns! — and guns, even machine guns, were allowed to any “loyal subject of the throne”, with no restrictions, until about 1960. That’s when they got the idea guns were “bad”, and must be kept away from good people lest they become violent criminals. Then the violent crime rate started increasing. Now Britain makes America’s gang and drug-ridden inner cities look peaceful by comparison. It’s a perfect place for bad guys.

    Some of my professors are concerned that you are encouraging firearms within a densely packed concentration of young people who are away from home for the first time, and are coincidentally the age associated with alcohol and drug experimentation, and the commission of felonies. Don’t they know that stuff starts in elementary school? How far behind the times are these sophomoric academics?

    Once again, this reflects outdated thinking about students. We current CCW licensed students have grown up learning responsible weapon use through training required for issuance of a CCW, available through the NRA in co-ordination with the requirements of the law. That is, if we are not granted a waiver because of our prior military service or police officer status. Far from being enamored of violence, many studies have shown we are adverse to it. The number of the 11 Million CCWs revoked for criminal behavior is infinitesimal.
    These creative young minds will certainly be stimulated by access to more diversity of thought at the university, like Black Studies, Feminist Studies, and all sorts of programs that can make more positions for faculty, and make students feel good about themselves, but are less than impressive to potential employers.
    I am sure that it has not escaped your attention that nearby military bases would make excellent satellite campuses, and the rifle ranges there could be converted to golf courses for the faculty and administration to enjoy. Who needs a military when there is no war?

    I want to applaud the Legislature’s courage. On a final note: I hope its members will consider my amendment to put billboards on campus, warning any homicidal/suicidal maniacs that we will not tolerate such offensive behavior as mass murder in our peaceful academic society. Such behavior will be greeted with stern looks, and if that disapproval fails to discourage the loutish conduct, not only will there be expulsion but fines and jail sentences will result.


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