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Why the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) can't Enforce Gun Laws

Updated on July 1, 2014
ATF Seal
ATF Seal | Source

After doing research, I found that there has not been a Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacoo, and Firearms (ATF) in six years. So why has there been no ATF Director in six years? Because one Senator James Sensenbrenner Republican, Wisconsin, in 2006 introduce a provision in the Patriot Act that makes the ATF director subject to senate confirmation. We all know how senate confirmations work and how they can be blocked! In that same year Congressman Sensenbrenner received the coveted Defender of Freedom Award from the NRA.

B.Todd Jones
B.Todd Jones | Source

The Acting Director of the ATF

The truth is there is a current acting director. He is a U.S. Attorney from Minnesota. His name is B. Todd Jones and he splits his time between his job in Minnesota and his ATF job.

Same Amount of Agents today as in 1972

James Cavanaugh, a former ATF agent, said that in 1972 there were 2,500 ATF agents and today there are still 2,500 ATF agents. Former records indicate that 57% of illegal gun sales can be traced back to 1% of bad dealers. However, the ATF is prohibited from creating any registering of gun transactions.

The NRA says it wants existing gun laws enforced. There are something like 20,000 gun laws on the books that are not enforced according to Jerry Henry, Director of Georgia a spokesman for the NRA. Why don't we enforce those he said. He also said that Obama's Executive Orders are only going to affect legal gun owners.

The Tiahart Amendments

Former Republican Representative Tom Tiahart of Kansas said on Fox News 7/11/2007: "We have an organization that goes after the bad guys 24/7, it's called the ATF." The irony of this is that same senator passed a law called the Tiahart Amendments that was attached to a federal spending bill. Here is a list of what the amendments do:

  • Restrict cities, states and even the police from fully accessing and using ATF gun trace data, which can show where illegal guns are coming from, who buys them and how they get trafficked across state lines and into our communities
  • Requires the FBI to destroy certain background check records within 24 hours, making it nearly impossible to use those records to help solve crimes or to identify gun buyers with criminal histories who were mistakenly approved
  • Blocks ATF from requiring gun dealers to conduct inventory checks to detect loss and theft, which law enforcement says is a dangerous back channel source for criminals who are in the market for illegal guns.
  • The ATF is allowed to inspect dealers licenses once every 12 months. They actually have inspected only once in 17 years, according to a Washington Post article,

Tiahart and the NRA

For years, the Tiahrt Amendments have been standing in the way of law enforcement efforts to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals. But now, a coalition of 350 mayors and 200 police chiefs have called for repealing these damaging restrictions.

In the final analysis, the ATF has been restricted from doing what the NRA wanted them to do in the first place, which is enforce existing gun laws. Here is a result of the Tiahart Amemdment:

  • It allowed dealers to ignore police request for assistance
  • It denied congress access to formerly access public prime gun data
  • It ended the oversight of used firearms sales
  • It required the destruction of background check records within 24 hours of sale

Fast and Furious and the Tiahart Amendments

The Tiahrt restrictions are blocking Congressional oversight of the ATF and its controversial “Operation Fast & Furious.” According to allegations, ATF allowed guns to be illegally trafficked to Mexico, possibly putting law enforcement officers in danger.The truth is the ATF is prevented by Tiahrt from releasing trace data connected to Fast & Furious, and forcing Congress to request the data from the Mexican Government.

Meet the Lawmakers

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner | Source
Senator Tom Tiahart
Senator Tom Tiahart | Source

In Summary

The NRA says it wants gun laws enforced. But the same people who say the ATF and law enforcement agencies are working 24/7 to enforce gun laws are the same people who have hobbled the ATF and the law enforcement agencies from enforcing those laws!

Senator Tiahart says his law protects those who protect us and the language in his law was approved by the NRA.

As Pogo said: "We have met the enemy and he is us!"

What is your opinion after reading this article?

If the ATF had been able to enforce the laws, how would that affect mass shootings?

See results


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    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      lovemychris: I read your comments all the time in the forums. I take it, this is all no surprise to you. Thanks for stopping by.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Hi Leslie:

      In the beginning of the hub, I cited Tom Tiahart stating that "We have an organization that goes after the bad guys. it's called the ATF." He is the same guy who restricted the ATF from going after the bad guys by passing his Tiahart amendment... Quite an irony!

      I know with Sensenbrenner, time is on his side, people forget things. I'm with you, I worry too. I heard a woman who represents one of the gun manufactures state that "All women should own an AR15 because it looks scary and it can take out multiple invaders very quickly."

      I think Obama is serious about this and he is not going to let it rest. I think he will get down to the grass roots level and run it just like his campaigns. He said he is going to use the same apparatus that he used for campaigning. There are a lot of NRA members that want the laws enforced. It's the big guys at the top that are fighting this, all for the love of money. Hey, we are both Libra's. No wonder we think alike. Thanks for the comments, the ratings, and the sharing. - mike russo

    • lovemychris profile image

      Cape Wind Girl 5 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      All I can say is FIGURES!

      par for the course.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      Grrrrrrrr......this just gets my libra right pissed off, peoplepower..

      I have one question though - wondering if this sentence is saying what you want it to say - or - if i'm missing something...

      " In the final analysis, the ATF has been restricted from doing what the NRA wanted them to do in the first place, which is enforce existing gun laws.."

      While I've been all too aware of the fact that there hasn't been a n ATF director in years, AND - i've known that it was the republicans that are always blocking the appointment - i had NO idea about this fresh new distortion of the laws! This Stensenstrebbensturen... ought to be immediately fired for conflict of interest - or - those little factoids have no bearing anymore..

      ethics are history - why worry about such small details, eh?

      Interesting how laws can be manipulated so quickly when it's "IMPORTANT' - but - laws that actually PROTECT THE PEOPLE are unavailable..or mired in bullshit and red tape for years on end..

      i worry for your country, my friend - and - it hurts me deeply..

      i worry that the same piece of paper that made it possible for your country to grow and thrive and become great - might be the same piece of paper that brings it down in the end.. ironic and tragic would that be..

      If we're not moving forward - we're moving backward - and maybe we should take a look at Rome and Greece and see what happens when a country refuses to BUDGE!

      Excellent post...

      sharing forward..(also sharing on my fb page - leslie silverman..)

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      HLPhoenix: I really appreciate your comments. You would be surprised, there are people that are in denial about the truth. I'll look into ALEC and its connection to the NRA. Here is the link to Obama's 23 executive orders.

      Thank you so much for your rating and sharing.

    • HLPhoenix profile image

      HLPhoenix 5 years ago

      Really a great hub... shows how intertwined the NRA and it's Corporate Supporters/our law makers and the Tiahart Amendments are ...and how they hobble the ATF and other law enforcement agencies from enforcing existing laws... and most important from sharing information between themselves.

      I was completely unaware of the fact that the ATF agent level stands at the same number 2500 as back in the 1970s that is shocking! This statistic alone should make people realize that when it comes to guns, gun laws, gun sales, imports, exports, lost, stolen, information sharing, information on lost and stolen weapons, etc..... the people of the country have been sold down the river. The Gun Lobby, ALEC, and their puppet the NRA and our bought and paid for Congress... have made it near impossible to untangle the mess. Obama is trying. voting way up and sharing.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Empireone: Here is one of the sources for my information:

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Empireone: Here is one of the sources for my information:

    • profile image

      Empireone 5 years ago

      There are MANY false truths in this article. Dealers are Required to maintain their books, and if they don't they can lose their License. The Fast and Furious operation has been hindered at EVERY step by the Obama Administration, and has already resulted in the Death of Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry. ANY attempt to create a National Database of Gun Owners, will result in Confiscations, and the resulting KILLING of people Defending OUR Constitutional Rights. How many Ruby Ridge's and Waco's do you REALLY want ? Why does the government REFUSE to allow private citizens from conducting background checks just like Dealers do now....Hmmmm? They DON'T want to solve the problem, ALL the Left wants is America Disarmed, read what they have said.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      I changed the title to make it more descriptive for Google searches and added an opinion poll.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Quilligrapher 47: Thanks for your well informed comments. I like the way you put the NRA in proper perspective with the Brady Center. I hope many people read your comments.

    • Quilligrapher profile image

      Quilligrapher 5 years ago from New York

      Well done, PP, very well done!

      The NRA was founded in 1871 ostensibly for “improving American civilians' marksmanship in preparation for war” (a function already aptly provided by our military). It has grown to be an extraordinary political force in this country. The four million NRA members are less than 2% of the US population yet they have power and influence grossly disproportionate to their number. They blatantly use money and pressure to manipulate the political landscape and to oppose the political will of American citizens who have larger numbers but lack the financial support from gun manufacturers, distributors, and retailers worldwide. In 2010, the NRA spent about $240 million or 100 times more than the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence which is the biggest-spending gun control group. NRA spending is not funded by membership dues, PP. The money comes from corporate sponsors. The NRA has shown they do want to be part of the solution and, therefore, they become part of the problem.


    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      I changed the title to much more descriptive of the contents.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      JayeWisdom: I too was ignorant of what was going on behind the scenes. My hope is as people read this, they will support the President's agenda to rescind these laws. Thanks you so much for your comments.

    • peoplepower73 profile image

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      HSchneider; Thank you so much. The more research I did, the more I was surprised by what I found. Thanks for the comments.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This is a great hub, peoplepower, well-researched and presented. It contains a good deal of information--some of which I was previously ignorant--but not one word surprises me. The NRA and its minions are EVIL and are among the forces destroying the USA from within.

      Voted Up+++

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      The NRA has its fingerprints on all such legislation, appointments, and funding all around the country. They are insidious in their work to destroy all gun laws as well as stopping new ones. Excellent Hub. Peoplepower.


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