ATF Says More Funding Needed

Now there’s other ATF agents appearing in the media to counter the whistleblowers on operation not-so-fast and not-so-furious:

Several agents said the bigger problem was not in Mexico, but shortfalls in staffing and gun laws in the U.S., which had prevented the ATF from adequately monitoring multiple sales of semiautomatic rifles to suspicious buyers.

“We have roughly the same amount of people we had when they founded us in 1972,” one agent said.

He said Congress and the Obama administration had refused to support the ATF’s proposal to require federally licensed gun sellers to report multiple sales of long-barreled rifles, as they were with handguns, to a single buyer.

“Can someone tell me how I can find out if Joe Blow just bought 50 guns at a gun store? If they do, I’ll be happy to sit outside the door and ask him why he bought them. But otherwise, I won’t know until they start showing up at crime scenes,” the agent said.

Trying to wrap my head around this one. ATF can’t keep track of guns that have been voluntarily reported to them by dealers, so the solution is to mandate even more data? There’s been some speculation, both at Uncle’s and Truth about Guns. I think empire building is a likely explanation, but I’ll speculate on a twist to that theme. The plan was hatched by bureaucrats who have little knowledge or concern for how to do proper police work. The idea would have been to allow firearms to walk, which presumably then would get trafficked to Mexico, be seized at crime scenes in Mexico, and then be traced back to the straw buyers, who could be squeezed to turn on the larger traffickers. If you’re an ATF bureaucrat looking to advance his career, the idea of making a large bust like this using data aggregation techniques, instead of sound police methods, would be pretty irresistible. Obviously agents on the ground who are familiar with sound police methods realized the inherent hazard of this type of operation, and blew the whistle.

This also would explain why they want mandatory long gun reporting, because that would mean even more data. More importantly, it would mean even more data ATF doesn’t have to take responsibility for by walking guns. They could get out of the business of telling dealers to make sales for people who are obviously trafficking.

This kind of law enforcement by data mining isn’t a substitute for good police work. Unfortunately, it would seem there’s a lot of folks in ATF leadership that thinks it is, and the desire for the big career making score is allowing guns to get into the hands of thugs and murderers.

4 thoughts on “ATF Says More Funding Needed”

  1. Leave it to the frakking LA Times to spin a story in an anti-gun direction.

    The takeaway one gets from the story is that the ATF needs more money, agents, and anti-gun laws. That is the spin the LA Times intended.

    Yet if one gets down to the nitty gritty of the article, buried down at the very bottom, one can discern the real story that the LA Times minimized. The ATF agent interviewed who is central to the story is a critic of the failed ATF operation “fast and furious” and believes the ATF retaliated against him by re-assigning him back to the United States and away from Mexico where his background and language skills were valuable. I don’t blame this agent for everything that he said, but I do blame the LA Times for putting the emphasis on the peripheral issues.

    Of course it was the LA Times who back in the early 1990’s infamously advocated on the editorial page a confiscation policy on firearms; give gun owners 30 days to turn over all their “assault weapons” and then convict any who don’t of a felony crime!

    I’m glad the Los Angeles Times is slowly going bankrupt. Good riddance!

  2. Another point about the ATF funding, while funding levels have stayed roughly the same as 1990, the number of FFL dealers the ATF regulates has fallen by hundreds of thousands since then. There are approximately 25% of the FFLs there were in 1994, yet ATF is still employing the same number of agents with the same funding?

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