Robert Farago of Truth About Guns thinks ATF has seen better days. I think a lot of gun owners would come to regret this, to be honest. Why? Let me outline some points to think about:
- We’ve gone through the trouble to get ATF appointment to be subject to Senatorial confirmation. We’ve been able to block Andrew Traver as a result of that. If ATF is eliminated, enforcement of gun laws will fall to the FBI. Our ability to block an anti-gun FBI Director will be nearly non-existent, because FBI has such broad responsibility. There’s no special interests that are too worried people will start moonshining and smuggling cigarettes in the absence of an ATF Director. Lots of other interests are going to get real uppity if you hamstring the FBI.
- ATF are the Barny Fifes of federal law enforcement. The media doesn’t take them too seriously, or pay much attention to them. Congress does not take them very seriously. Other federal law enforcement doesn’t take them very seriously. On the other hand, the FBI has a very good reputation. Congress will listen to the FBI.
- ATF is stretched thin on resources, and have been for some time. This limits their ability to harass otherwise law abiding people with federal gun laws. Sure, ATF does this sometimes, but the FBI currently views guns as an ancillary mission. We’re not going to screw with FBI’s funding like we can ATF.
- Remember that the FBI was secretly keeping NICS data for years during the Clinton Administration. They are probably still doing it. Usually when ATF makes an aggressive move, it’s done with such bumbling incompetence that a scandal usually quickly ensues. The FBI will screw us in ways we probably won’t even realize, and even when we do realize, they’ll probably get away with it.
So this is another bandwagon I’m not going to get on, at least not unless we can seriously repeal a lot of federal gun laws. It might not seem like it sometimes, but the ATF wolf has largely been caged over the past couple of decades, mostly through appropriations riders, the agency’s own poor reputation, and subjecting the director to confirmation by the Senate. The FBI is a wolf we’re not going to cage, and that wolf has enough fox in him to be dangerous.