By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- A report issued Aug. 7 by the Congressional Research Service providing lawmakers with a detailed analysis of ATF funding can now also be scrutinized by citizens interested in keeping informed on expenditures and what they mean. Congressional Research Service’s “Gun Control: FY2017 Appropriations for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Other Initiatives” has been posted on the Federation of American Scientists’ website.
It’s an important public interest task the group, founded by former Manhattan Project scientists, is performing by posting such reports, because the Congressional Research Service, which acts as an issues “think tank” for Congress—does not generally make their reports available to the public, despite our tax dollars funding them. EveryCRSReport.com and CRSReports.com are also working to change that (the older OpenCRS.com site has been discontinued, albeit some of its history is available via the Internet Archive). Ultimately, changing that is largely in the hands of a majority Republican Congress that does not appear sufficiently motivated to pass an equal access bill (“7% chance of being enacted according to Skopos Labs”).
“For FY2017, Congress has appropriated $1.259 billion for ATF in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31), about $47.5 million less than the Obama Administration’s budget request and $18.6 million more than the FY2016 appropriation,” the report summary states. “This report chronicles the FY2017 appropriations cycle for ATF and other gun control initiatives, including legislative histories for several ATF funding limitations related to firearms. It also includes discussion of year-to-year data trends that could affect ATF workloads, such as the number and type of federal firearms licensees (FFLs), growth in the civilian gun stock, and firearms-related violent crime.”
Tangential efforts by the FBI and CDC were also highlighted.
“Congress provided funding to support NICS fully, and $73 million for NICS improvement grants,” the report noted. “Congress maintained a limitation … that continues to prohibit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies from using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control.”
That’s an important distinction from claims made by citizen disarmament flacks that NRA is keeping all gun research from happening. Gun owner rights advocate should use that acknowledgment, coming from no less an authority than the research arm of the Library of Congress. Instead, what NRA properly objects to is tax-funded “attempt[s] to convince Americans that lawfully owned firearms are a public health menace.”
So now that AmmoLand readers have access to the CRS ATF report, what should you do with it? Aside from noting that no “legacy media” outfit is (yet) reporting on this, that’s up to you. For starters, read it over and be informed. It doesn’t hurt to have an “official” government document validating the claim that “Selected Data Trends That Could Have Affected ATF Workloads” include “Growth in the Civilian Gun Stock” and a “Downward Trend in Violent Firearms-Related Crime.”
Share it with others you think would (or should) be interested, and share your concerns with receptive members of Congress (dont waste your time on known hostiles). If you agree, tell your representatives that non-classified reports like this ought to be made available to the people paying for them, and find out where they stand on legislation to correct that.
After all, it's not like Congress has a lock on how information can best be used to ensure proper oversight of ATF and other agencies.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.