Bill would disband ATF

A Wisconsin lawmaker this month reintroduced a bill in the House that would abolish the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Under the bill (H.R. 1326), sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R), ATF's current functions related to federal firearms, explosives and arson laws, and those related to violent crime and domestic terrorism, would be transferred to the FBI. Functions related to federal alcohol and tobacco smuggling laws would be turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Sensenbrenner also introduced the bill last year, but the previous Congress failed to act on it.

In comments last September, Sensenbrenner called his legislation "a good government bill to streamline agency activity at DOJ—increasing effectiveness while decreasing cost."

"The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal-ridden agency that lacks a clear mission," he said on introducing the bill last year. "It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership. For decades it has been branded by high-profile failures. There is also significant overlap with other agencies. ... Without a doubt, we can fulfill the role of the ATF more efficiently.”

Reader comments

Tue, Mar 10, 2015

I have wondered for some time why the ATF existed as a separate organization. Giving their functions to FBI and DEA makes a lot of sense.

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 Cack MD

The Congressman is correct... however, this is simply political capital building (i.e. swaying voters to support him). His bill has no chance of being taken seriously.

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 BorderBob

"largely duplicative, scandal ridden agency that lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership"

Is he talking about Congress?

Tue, Mar 10, 2015

And it will fail again. ATF is a small agency and (whether you believe it or not) more easily controlled by the firearms business. You put the gun laws in the hands of an agency that has over 15,000 agents and I can assure you the public will wish for the days of ATF. NRA grandstands but in the long run, won't let this happen.

Tue, Mar 10, 2015

This legislation will never pass because of the opposition it will get from entrenched and vested interests. Such is the fate of most worthwhile legislation that actually benefits the nation as a whole.

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