U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms should be a convenience store” is an old meme gun owners use to express the more serious concern that Constitutional authority to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms is non-existent. “Boot the BATFE!” was a campaign the late Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership started to argue that point, and to call for the elimination of the agency tasked with taking point on most of those infringements.
Recognizing that waste, abuse, corruption and fraud are so deeply ingrained in the Bureau’s management that rooting them out is an effective impossibility, we’ve seen legislative “solutions” offered, the last being Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner’s proposed “ATF Elimination Act:”
“This bill abolishes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). It transfers the ATF's authorities, functions, personnel, and assets to the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
I argued against that in “The Devil You Know” for one of my GUNS Magazine “Rights Watch” columns. As offensive to liberty as ATF has been, the DOJ, FBI and DEA have been as bad and worse. Besides, transferring functions does nothing about the usurpation of undelegated authority that makes Zelman’s solution – elimination – the only acceptable one. Admittedly, it’s one that none of our “staunch supporters of the Second Amendment” in Congress have the guts to even broach, let alone make the case and fight for.
As for the FBI, the Bureau has been wary of armed citizens from its inception, and the attitude of its first director set a tone that remains an influence to this day.
“FBI director J. Edgar Hoover received the first .357 Mag. on April 8, 1935,” a 2010 “American Rifleman” article on the history of the caliber informed National Rifle Association members. “Sales of the new .357 Mag. started very strong and continuously increased. “
That the Hoover .357 is a Holy Grail of sorts, something researchers and collectors of historical firearms have been diligently searching for, is hardly surprising. Perhaps more of a revelation for those of us who aren't collectors, but are more interested in propriety of official actions, is that Hoover gave a Super .38 handgun taken from the Dillinger gang to a “New York movie lawyer.” Questions such as who “owned” confiscated evidence and if the Sullivan Act was complied with will probably be as difficult to find answers for as the director’s elusive #1, but they do lead to a question we can answer: How did he feel about American citizens possessing subsequent production models of the handgun presented to him?
Hoover didn't like the idea one bit, and in typical elitist “Only Ones” fashion did what he could to encourage banning “highly-powered firearms.” That’s the gist of a letter from Hoover to Attorney General Homer Stille Cummings dated March 19, 1936.
An industry insider provided me with a copy of the letter that had watermarks forbidding publication of the document. A call and correspondence with the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library resulted in a clean scan and acknowledgement that posting it is consistent with publication guidelines. For research purposes, per the library reference coordinator, it is housed in the Papers of Homer S. Cummings, MSS 9973, Box 103, Folder “Attorney General Personal File – Firearms and National Firearms Act 1935 May-1938 September.”
Expressing concerns over “the velocity and penetrative ability of firearms and their ammunition,” Hoover noted “a competitive race” to develop the highest velocity cartridge possible.” These advances, he warned, would render “hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment now in use by law enforcement agencies useless and obsolete.
“[T]hese developments will eventually be of much greater assistance to the criminal element than to the law enforcement agencies or to the law abiding citizens,” Hoover predicted.
“It is not believed that members of the various shooting clubs and organizations would concern themselves over a curtailment of highly-powered firearms,” Hoover opined, probably not altogether incorrectly considering the indifference of many who to this day still place sporting interests over rights. “Additional penetration is of no value to target shooting, and it is logical to assume that organizations promoting this sport would be in hearty accord with legislation curtailing high velocity bullets in an attempt to insure their members the continued use of target pistols.”
Noting the “menacing developments of these guns,” Hoover recommended “permanently control[ling] … rapid advances” and offered technical assistance from the Bureau to come up with limitations on “breech pressure and velocity.
“May I respectfully suggest that you consider referring these facts to the appropriate House Committee for such legislative action as may be deemed advisable,” he concluded.
So the Second Amendment is about target shooting? And here all this time we’ve been told it’s about deer hunting.
Arrogant, presumptuous and powerful FBI leadership did not acknowledge “shall not be infringed” then and they don’t acknowledge it now. The more things change the more they stay the same.
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 a contributor to Firearms News, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.