The Amazing BATFE

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has a mission:

“A unique law enforcement agency in the United States Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research, and use of technology.”

Without spending “thesis” like amounts of time, I tried to discover the history of the organization. About all I truly discovered is that once the Federal Government creates something, it may change, a lot, but it will NEVER, EVER, die, especially if it involves collecting money for the government. To those of you who think the solution to our current difficulties is to tax and regulate more please note this NEVER, EVER die characteristic.

After the revolutionary war in 1789, congress decided to tax imported spirits to pay off the war debt. This must have worked well because in 1791 they taxed domestic spirits as well. This led to the Whiskey Rebellion. If you would like to discover a ton of parallels to what is going on today, read a bit about this “rebellion”.

Mixed in there is the seed, the folks collecting the spirits tax, from which the current BATFE, officially founded in 1886, grew. They started as revenue collectors.

All these years later we have the mission that opened this post. Mission creep or just the government doing its thing?

Today these folks are demonstrating Whisky Rebellion inducing behaviors with their “Fast and Furious” operation. The idea was that they could create a case against folks smuggling guns to Mexican drug gangs, but THEY became the master smugglers. They actually watched as “straw purchasers” (folks in the US who can buy guns legally, at least until they get caught selling them to their illegal recipient customers) bought a lot of guns (close to 2500) and then moved them to Mexico.

Now straw purchasing is illegal, but the BATFE folks just watched, supposedly going for bigger fish. They did not arrest the straw purchasers. In addition, the BATFE requested licensed firearms retailers in Arizona to permit these transactions to occur, in other words to break the law. Under normal circumstances, these behaviors are illegal as the retailers were aware of the “straw” nature of the transactions.

At this juncture, a US Border Patrol officer has been killed by one of the guns and over 1,000 of them have not been found.

Hearings by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (sounds appropriate) appear to have been stonewalled often by the powers that be. The BATFE now reports to the Justice Department which is part of the executive branch. Certain of those testifying have suggested that knowledge of this “operation” existed at the highest levels, i.e. Eric Holder, the head of justice, and his boss, The Big O. Both, it appears from testimony, were aware of this operation.

Why stuff like this becomes so convoluted escapes me. Well, not really, but let’s start there. It was done. It was REALLY stupid and even criminal. Maybe it had aspects of other back door approaches that the current (and other) administrations have used to get things done. Maybe there were implications for satisfying the anti-gun interest groups that strongly support the current administration. But so what. Take responsibility. Take your lumps. Move on. Stop wasting our time and money.

Along the same line of the BATFE wasting time and money, you can add in violating our constitutional rights. I understand that, a working group within the BATFE has recommended that any shotgun (semi-automatic, pump-action or any other) that has any one of 10 specific features should be banned from importation, on the grounds that such shotguns are not “generally recognized as particularly suitable or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.”

To the BATFE:

Laws with language like “sporting purposes” open the door to way too much interpretation. You would think that if I am sitting out on the back forty plinking at cans with my single shot 22 caliber rifle all would be right with the world. Well, probably not, because it’s not a “sporting purpose”. But that really is not the point.

Creating back door approaches to limiting gun ownership is not in your mission statement. You are an enforcer of the rules not the creator of them. The executive branch, remember?

Looking back at the mission, I am not in a gang (“violent criminals”), have not sold guns to criminals (“criminal organizations” and “illegal trafficking”), don’t illegally store my ammunition (it’s in a locked, fireproof safe), and don’t smoke. OK, I do enjoy a glass of wine with my dinner now and then (should I worry?). More importantly to me, I really do enjoy my shooting competitions. See Guns Not Butter to see how guns have impacted my life.

Take another look at your mission and how you are doing reducing gang violence (on the rise I understand), keeping guns out of the hands of criminals (they get them any time they want and often by stealing them from law enforcement agencies or having you buy the guns for them it appears), putting criminals in jail (many repeat gun offenders walk the street), stopping arson, etc.

Have you ever considered education? The NRA gets great results with programs that focus on education and good law enforcement. The great thing is that their approach works. Yours won’t. The efficacy studies on the Clinton gun ban done by groups like the Center for Disease Control showed us that laws like the “Assault Weapons Ban” and your proposed shotgun restrictions, have no impact whatsoever on your, keep the populace safe, mission. They do, however, severely mess with folks like me.

We need to get the BATFE shaped up or closed down and reconstituted as an organization that has a clearly defined, sensible mission intended to safeguard the populace and not just to serve the ideology of a small portion of the populace.

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