A bill has once again been proposed for the U.S. House of Representatives that could radically change the way the nation investigates and enforces firearm laws and result in the elimination of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The ATF Elimination Act, brought forward this time by Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner on Thursday, would begin with a hiring freeze. The proposal would eventually eliminate the ATF by transferring its current duties and jurisdictions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The time-frame for this transfer would be meteoric by government standards, with transfers of duty occurring within 180 days of enactment.
With the first year, the FBI and DEA would have to liquidate the assets of the ATF. Personnel would need to be reassigned, and the entire process would be wrapped up with a report to the General Services Administration.
Rep. Sensenbrenner issued the following statement in a press release Thursday,:
Despite our country being trillions of dollars in debt, government spending continues to rise. Common sense budgeting solutions are necessary, and the ATF Elimination Act is one measure we can take to reduce spending, redundancy, and practice responsible governance. The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges, and a lack of leadership. These facts make it a logical place to begin draining the swamp and acting in the best interest of the American taxpayer.
Critics of the ATF have a wealth of ammunition to use against the agency. While many democratic lawmakers lobby for stricter gun laws, proponents of the 2nd Amendment point to weak enforcement of the existing laws by the ATF.
And gun owners who do follow the laws often face extremely long wait times for what should be simple and routine procedures for obtaining guns that fall under the perview of the National Firearms Act.
The ATF received intense scrutiny after one of its own operations, now known as Fast and Furious operation, allowed straw purchasers to funnel hundreds of guns to Mexican cartels. The ATF, hoping to track those guns, simply lost them. Now they’re turning up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.