The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, charged with enforcing the nation’s gun laws and regulating the firearms industry, has been so hobbled by high-profile operational failures, internal dysfunction and external limits on its authority that the agency should be eliminated and merged into the FBI, contends a new report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. U.S. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has proposed to dissolve the agency.
The bill and the report are the latest in a series of efforts, from both sides of the political spectrum and even by veterans of the ATF, to reform or eliminate the agency. In July, a Government Accountability Office report on ATF described an agency trying to redefine itself while struggling with high personnel turnover and internal problems. The think tank’s 182-page report traces the agency from its origins as a tax collection agency to the present, as it again finds itself with no director and beset by problems. The report’s authors interviewed more than 50 current and former ATF personnel. Its argument boils down to this: The vital job of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is too important to leave to a weakened, embattled agency like the ATF. The Department of Justice, which oversees the agency, said it “supports ATF in its current form and believes Congress should fully fund the President’s budget request that will enhance ATF’s ability to carry out their important mission.”