United States – -(AmmoLand.com)- I don’t think there is any loyal Ammoland reader who has much – if any – love for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. I’m not very fond of that agency, myself, and consider it useful only for efforts like Project Exile. So I understand how many would likely want to rush to support HR 3960, the Brian A. Terry Memorial Eliminate the ATF Act, introduced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Let’s make no mistake about it, BATFE has been responsible for a lot of abuses over the years.
Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Operation Fast and Furious are three of the worst in my lifetime and have a death toll that calls out for some form of accountability. Second Amendment supporters have yet to fully realize that accountability. This is an agency that has mostly earned the hatred burning hotter than a thousand suns that some Second Amendment supporters have for it.
But the question now has to be asked, is eliminating BATFE really a good idea in the present time, or even the near future? In an ideal world, BATFE would be either non-existent or pared down to enforcing a very limited set of laws mostly focused on sentencing enhancements for the misuse of firearms in the commission of violent crimes. We certainly wouldn’t have a lot of the BS we go through to exercise our Second Amendment rights.
There is just one problem: We’re not in that ideal world right now.
There are still a lot of federal gun laws on the books that need to be repealed or stricken down by the courts. That means some sort of agency is going to have to enforce them. For instance, who would be handing all of the forms of Federal Firearms Licenses, not just your local gun store or those who manufacture firearms, but the folks who have the curio and relic versions?
HR 3960 effectively scatters the functions of BATFE across the entire Department of Justice. We could very well see some provisions kicked over to the FBI. Others could go to the United States Marshalls. It would likely be harder to keep track of every function. It could very well depend on who the attorney general is. For a hack like Merrick Garland, it is a huge chance for mischief, to put it mildly.
That said, making a public example of BATFE over the abuses by eliminating it might cause some hesitation to carry out abuses in the new agencies. If that is, career bureaucrats don’t engage in the kind of “resistance” we saw bureaucrats wage against President Trump throughout his time in the White House.
On the flip side, while BATFE has a track record of abuses, we know about its track record, and that agency knows we know.
We know where to look and who to constrain to prevent abuses. In essence, BATFE is the devil that Second Amendment supporters know. But it would still be around, and abuses would still happen, despite the best efforts of Second Amendment supporters.
The fact is, HR 3960 is a much harder call to make than one might think at first glance. Second Amendment supporters should think over the pros and cons of this legislation, then contact their Representative and Senators and politely make their case. More importantly, they should be working to defeat anti-Second Amendment extremists via the ballot box at the federal, state, and local levels to begin the process of changing the laws to greatly reduce the potential for abuse at the hands of BATFE.
About Harold Hutchison
Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.