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The ATF deserves close scrutiny

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) works under the authority of the Justice Department. Formed on July 1, 1972, the ATF has been involved in thousands of cases of alcohol, tobacco and firearms enforcement. Since its beginning, the ATF has been mired in controversy. In fact, in Congress held a number of hearings on the ATF, in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, regarding their techniques to generate firearm cases.

Is the ATF going after the right people?

One of the most shocking findings of those hearings was that 75% gun prosecutions, brought by the ATF, targeted non-criminal citizens with no criminal intent. FastBound A&D is a company that provides ATF Compliance Software for FFLs. According to their article the ATF has a 95% success rate in the District Court and a 100% success rate in the Court of Appeals. These set of facts have many people wondering if the ATF is really doing the right job. And if the ATF is really working in the interest of the American people.

Perhaps one of the most infamous episodes in the ATF’s history has to with the Ruby Ridge incident. In 1990, Randy Weaver had sold two shotguns, with shortened barrels, to an FBI informant. This sale was considered illegal and lead to Mr. Weaver’s arrest. However, the incident escalated into an out of control situation 2 years later in 1992. According to the situation intensified eventually leading to the death of Mr. Weaver’s son and the death of a U.S. Marshall, and then later the death of Mr. Weaver’s wife by an FBI sniper. This incident along with the Waco incident, five years later, have led many to wonder if the ATF should be disbanded.

ATF success in the courts seem statically improbable

The ATF success, in the courts, seems almost statistically impossible. Most law enforcement agencies do not have a success rate that can match the ATF. As stated before, the ATF has a 95% success rate in the District Court and a 100% success rate in the Court of Appeals. Such a success rate does not seem reasonable in any democratic judicial system. Marry that with the fact that 75% of ATF gun prosecutions target non-criminal citizens and you have a situation that warrants further scrutiny. Especially as said by the Lewiston Tribune the ATF doesn’t not contribute to effective enforcement of the nation’s gun and explosives laws.

What should be done about the ATF?

Every government agency should be held accountable for their actions. Oversight of the Justice Department is the responsibility of both the White House and Congress. Both of these branches of the government should examine the usefulness of the ATF and whether it is time to disband the government agency as is suggested by many groups. No government agency should act without accountability. And the should especially apply to the ATF.

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