ATF: still without a director
The current acting director had to step down because there's a limit on how long a person can be "acting" without Senate confirmation. (I think a person can only be "acting" for 120 days in such a post -- this keeps a president from calling someone an acting director or acting secretary and giving them full power without getting Senate confirmation).
UPDATE: When I wrote 120 days, I was going by memory. The system was extensively amended in 1998; it's now more complicated than a simple 120 day clock.
Fine. The more confusion at ATF the better.
Posted by: Henniger at May 7, 2010 11:06 PM
I would be happy to take the job. Can you say "amnesty"? I am sure the "gun Lobby" would not have a problem with me. And I would not even redecorate my office. Well, maybe a few really nice guns on the wall.
Hey Obama If you are interested just give me a call. I would probably take a reduced salary too!
Posted by: David Mccleary at May 8, 2010 06:33 AM
Interesting. I work for a federal agency that has had the same person as the acting director for the last year and a half. I guess the difference is he is a career employee that was made acting until a political is appointed. We nave had no indication that will happen any time soon.
Posted by: David at May 8, 2010 02:22 PM
You know, what we need is....
A new vacancies act that gives the President and Congress, collectively, 120 days to appoint and confirm (or deny) a nominee.....
Or the agency is defunded and has no powers whatsover, until the next Congress sits.
Posted by: flighterdoc at May 8, 2010 03:37 PM
Posted by: 5thofNov at May 8, 2010 06:22 PM
You're not thinking like politicians. Obama appoints someone so left wing that even the current Democratic leadership couldn't stomach him/her. (I know; it's an almost impossible threshold to meet, but just go with me a minute.) Congress is tempted to reject him/her, but Rahm let's them know that this is O's chosen one. Faced with a choice of confirming Stalin's evil twin or letting BATFE go out of business, what do you think they'd choose?
Posted by: Ken at May 9, 2010 06:19 AM
Just a thought...wouldn't this be a great time to merge ATF and FBI. Except for a bunch of new raid jackets with FBI on the back,how hard could it be. Leave the NFA branch (a great bunch of people) in WV, they would still be the NFA branch, but report to the FBI. Close the redundant explosives lab. The "lost" laptop and firearms lost rates are about the same so no one would really notice. Or maybe we could combine them with DEA...we could make marijuana legal but charge a 11% tax, just like guns. ATFE&D could concentrate on busting people who grew it and didn't pay the tax.
Sorry I digressed at the end, it was just a thought.
Posted by: Chuck at May 9, 2010 11:44 AM
How about just taking all the law enforcement rolls away from everyone but the FBI and US Marshals Service, and let the tax agencies (like ATFE) collect taxes. If they find a crime has been committed they can go to the FBI or USMS, they can get a warrant and serve it.
There is far too much federal 'law enforcement', consisting of poorly trained cowboys who have to stage media circuses for their budgets (i.e., WACO). Even the Department of Education has their own short-barreled shotguns now - WTF?
Time to leave law enforcement to the professionals, or as close as we can get (serious doubts about the FBI, btw).
Posted by: flighterdoc at May 9, 2010 03:33 PM
I have to agree with the idea of separating out the functions of the federal government and dissolving a lot of agencies.
The way I see it, the federal government (on the executive agency side) does three basic things:
1) tax collection
2) business regulation
3) law enforcement
Regarding the ATF and firearms, they currently operate in these three areas in ways that heavily overlap and this creates a lot of unjust situations for regulated entities (manufacturers, retailers and some gun owners).
1) tax- currently all they collect is excise tax and NFA transfer taxes. This could almost certainly be rolled into the IRS, along with everything else in title 26 USC.
There's nothing in here requiring use of swat teams or armored vehicles. By the way, the IRS doesn't need weaponry any more than the ATF does. If people start shooting IRS agents or otherwise breaking the law, just have the US Marshals or FBI arrest them.
2) business regulation- the vast majority of this is a) making sure retailers and manufacturers are following proper procedures (like running background checks and not selling to prohibited persons) b) making sure they are keeping proper inventory in the log books, etc.
There's nothing in here that should require swat teams and armored vehicles. Really, all they should be doing in these situations is warning violators, fining violators or shutting violating businesses down. There should be lots of due process and there should be a presumption of non-violation/non-guilt in all cases. If the US government wants to take away someone's livelihood, they should have to prove they're entitled beyond a reasonable doubt.
3) law enforcement- the vast majority of this stuff is unenforced nonsense. Unless the ATF is trying to make a point, prohibited person stuff is essentially unenforced, except at the state level. When the cops catch a felon with a firearm in FL, they get charged under the FL Statutes, not the federal ones. Here they don't even count possession of a firearm by a federal prohibited person as a violation of probation unless there is a matching state disqualification.
I'm of the opinion that most of 18 USC 922 could simply be abolished with no ill effect and have the explosives and arson stuff rolled into the FBI for good. The ATF would be best as a simple tax collecting agency with no direct law enforcement powers.
Believe me, having a civil judgment against you from the federal government is bad enough for the vast majority of ATF regulated entities.
Posted by: Jim W at May 9, 2010 08:05 PM
I am amazed at how clueless some people who insist on having an opinion can be...
The ATF is hated by all persons who despise the U.S. Government having anything to do with making gun laws. The 2nd Amendment:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
It has no buts, or's or if's in it. "Shall not be infringed" is pretty clear as to what the founding fathers intended. Over the years Congress has found the need to restrict certain persons from possessing firearms and this need to protect the community from: convicted felons, illegal aliens, domestic violence offenders, drug dealers/addicts, etc. Also, certain firearms have been deemed to destructive for private citizens to possess, even though deer hunting with an M72 Law Rocket would make collecting the meat much easier.
People hate the ATF because laws restricting their ability to possess nuclear weapons have been enacted. But ATF is just the patsy for the Congress. After all, it's Congress who enacts laws, the men and women of ATF are simply charged with the duty of enforcing the laws Congress enacts. The ATF has nothing to do with the actual creation of law.
Armed with this "Cliff's Notes" knowledge of ATF hatred, you can understand why ATF had 2500 Agents in 1975 and still 2500 in 2011. The NRA is a very powerful lobby, and good for them, who makes sure the ATF stays a small enemy.
ATF does a lot more than collect taxes and regulate. ATF is the U.S. Governments lead agency in the battle against violent crime. That's right, not FBI. ATF puts more asses in prison per agent than any other agency in the federal government by far. And to the gentlemen who said 18 USC 922 could be abolished, you should pursue an education. What you are refering to is partially true because Florida is one of the few states with strong gun laws. ATF has no need to make a million 922g arrests there because the state does a fine job of that themselves. So ATF in Florida can focus on other, more proactive cases, such as Home Invasion Crews and Firearm Trafficking. In other states, many others, this is not the case. In other states 922 offenses are one of the hottest charges, because a multi-convicted drug dealer will get more time in federal prison on a gun charge than he will in the state for distributing drugs.
ATF will be merged with some agency, it is coming. Whether it's DEA, FBI, ICE, it is coming. But when the day comes that investigating a major explosion in the U.S. is entirely up to the FBI, may God be with us... You see, when we have a major explosion in the U.S. now, many agencies, including the ATF's explosive experts (who are the best in the business), are working behind the scenes while the FBI is taking full command of TV interviews and making sure their raid jackets are all over CNN and Fox News. FBI has no problem taking full credit for everything under the sun, whether they did an ounce of work or not, but true justice is accomplished through teamwork. When the FBI is all there is to protect us, that will be a scary day indeed!
Posted by: Adam at January 27, 2011 10:06 AM