Ending the ATF Could Go Either Way

The Gunwalker scandal has gotten so big that there has been talk about completely dismantling the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). While many are cheering this possibility some, like Sebastian, are quick to mention abolishing the ATF could turn out poorly for us:

The country’s gun laws are not going away, and someone is going to be charged with enforcing them. That agency is likely to be the FBI. While the FBI would certainly do the enforcement part far more competently, you’d be giving the FBI an incentive to lobby Congress for more gun laws.

The problem with that is that people in Washington have a high degree of respect for the FBI, and they are listened to. ATF is the bastard step-child of federal law enforcement, and Congress and the other D.C. powers that be don’t really take them too seriously. It’s also worth noting, because of the FBI’s other missions, you’re not really going to have much luck threatening the FBI’s funding in order to keep it under control.

This is a valid point although, as Joe Huffman, points out the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have enough skeletons in their closet that much of what they say may not be taken too seriously:

The concern that the FBI has credibility and respect the ATF doesn’t and we would rather have a money starved easily demonized bunch of screw ups instead of the FBI, the Secret Service, or the U.S. Marshalls enforcing the regulations has been the whisper from behind the scenes since as least the Regan years when the first serious thoughts of disbanding them came up.

Things have changed with the FBI since the 1980’s. Remember Ruby Ridge and Waco? The ATF created the messes but it was during the FBI “cleanup” that the FBI shot the woman holding the baby and burned down the church with the women and children in it. The FBI has it’s own public relations issues to be concerned about.

So what’s my take? Honestly, I’m all for abolishing the ATF. Although I realize that the federal gun laws won’t be abolished alongside their enforcer it would require either creating a new agency or loading up a current agency with even more pointless shit to do. If we’re lucky the latter option will be taken and an agency that doesn’t have the time or resources to effective enforce those arbitrary regulations will be given the task. Whether due to lack of resources or the fact gun control enforcement is a secondary task it’s likely the federal government won’t be putting as much time into harassing innocent gun dealers and owners.