Posts Tagged ‘Atf’

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s (R-Wis.) ATF Elimination Act

by John Lott on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

This is article 2 of 2 in the topic Legislation
From The Hill newspaper:

. . . “The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal-ridden agency that lacks a clear mission,” he said. “It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership. For decades it has been branded by high profile failures.”

The ATF has become a GOP punching bag in recent years after it was revealed the agency lost track of hundreds of guns, some of which ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, part of the infamously botched Operation Fast and Furious.

The Sensenbrenner bill would transfer the agency’s enforcement of firearms, explosives and arson laws to the FBI. ATF would cede jurisdiction over cases involving the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products to the Drug Enforcement Administration. . . .

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Lawmakers finally subpoena ATF for misconduct probe documents

by Jim Kouri on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

This is article 234 of 246 in the topic Congressional Investigations

U.S. House of Representatives’ lawmakers on Wednesday evening subpoenaed the scandal-prone Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for “any and all documents” related to that agency’s alleged misconduct in a national undercover operation including its activities in Operation Fearless Distributing.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the current chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent ATF’s director the committee’s subpoena because of the ATF’s lack of transparency in its nationwide storefront sting operations and its alleged stonewalling of a probe into accusations of misconduct and abuse by the agency responsible for enforcing federal gun laws.

According to the subpoena’s cover letter and news reports, agents with the ATF carried out storefront sting operations throughout the country and allegedly “utilized deplorable tactics including exploiting mentally disabled individuals to generate business and later arresting them, setting up storefronts near schools, and even losing high-powered firearms.

“After more than a year of promised cooperation, multiple letters to you, and several unfulfilled document requests, I have no choice today but to issue the enclosed subpoena to compel the production of documents relevant to the Committee’s investigation,” Chairman Issa wrote in his cover letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.

According to Rep. Issa and GOP members of his committee, the congressmen first heard about Operation Fearless Distributing, a storefront operation in Milwaukee, Wisc., from media reports in January 2013.

The operation is believed to be a result of President Barack Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s desire to control ownership of firearms and ammunition by American citizens, according to an Examiner news story.

News reports shed a bright light on the accusation that the far-reaching Operation Fearless was poorly managed. For example, there is evidence that close to $40,000 in merchandise and three guns were stolen from ATF agents during the operation. The stolen items shockingly included a fully-automatic rifle.

ATF officials, after stonewalling a House probe for months, finally briefed congressional staffers claiming that storefront operations were limited to only the city of Milwaukee. But it was soon discovered that the ATF officials were being deceptive and in fact used storefront stings in other U.S. cities.

According to Issa, the ATF agents even manipulated a mentally disabled man to work at their storefront.

The Oversight Committee’s subpoena orders ATF officials to provide videos, audiotapes, written reports, emails and other communications regarding Operation Fearless Distributing, as well as the Monitored Case Program. It also requires that ATF to provide operational plans and investigative reports for the undercover storefronts throughout the U.S. Issa also required the ATF to turnover the agency’s policies for undercover storefront operations.

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ATF grilled by lawmakers over another gun operation snafu

by Jim Kouri on Saturday, March 1st, 2014

This is article 233 of 246 in the topic Congressional Investigations

On Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations held a hearing to examine the already discredited U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) use of storefront operations.

The hearing focused on yet another ATF operation — “Operation Fearless” — that turned into a fiasco. The subcommittee members examined Milwaukee’s operation and other ATF undercover cases to see if storefront operations by that bureau possessed systemic problems, according to the House Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.

The main witness at the hearing was the Deputy Director of the ATF, Thomas Brandom.

According to the facts as they are known, the ATF’s Violent Crime Impact Team (VCIT) opened an undercover storefront they dubbed “Fearless Distributing” in a neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisc., in January 2012.

The ATF agents also created an attractive Facebook page, according to the committee. The undercover ATF agents then began selling everything from clothing to drug paraphernalia such as marijuana and hashish pipes.

In an effort to nab criminals and street gang members, the ATF agents who staffed the phony Milwaukee store put the word out on the streets that they were interested in purchasing firearms and illegal drugs.

While perhaps well intentioned, the undercover operation became a series of snafus such as the theft of firearms from a government vehicle parked on the street outside of the store, as well as an actual burglary of the ATF storefront.

There was also the questionable involvement of an allegedly mentally-challenged man in conducting firearms transactions and what one subcommittee member said was the “utter lack of management.”

“When I see allegations of police or military misconduct — well intentioned or not — I can always point to a lack of training and a lack of supervision. This operation, as much as Operation Fast & Furous, must be thoroughly investigated. Maybe there needs to be a special prosecutor appointed to probe these ATF operations,” said former police lieutenant and training advisor George Bruno.

According to the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., there were similar problems with ATF undercover operations in other U.S. cities that need to be investigated by his committee.

“We’ve come to learn, thanks in large part to diligent reporting by the Journal Sentinel, that the botched storefront operation in Milwaukee was not an isolated incident. The ATF lacked proper oversight, acted recklessly and took advantage of the mentally handicapped,” said Sensenbrenner in a press statement.

“Coming on the heels of Operation Fast and Furious, Congress continues to have serious concerns about the agency’s leadership. I expect Deputy Director Brandon to be forthright regarding the agency’s activities. I will continue to vigorously oversee the ATF until I am confident that the public knows the whole truth and that the agency’s mismanagement has been corrected,” said the lawmaker from Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Rep. Goodlatte said, “Over a year has passed since the botched ATF undercover operation in Milwaukee and many questions still remain about this and similar stings across the country. Why does ATF continue to use large amounts of taxpayer dollars in buyback programs when the Inspector General has found these programs lack oversight and are not effective in reducing crime?”

“In fact, these storefront operations have often increased crime in the very neighborhoods they were supposed to help,” he added.

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Eric Holder to revise firearms purchase regulations in 2014

by Jim Kouri on Saturday, January 4th, 2014

This is article 497 of 583 in the topic Gun Rights

Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department on Friday quietly proposed a regulation that will clarify what mental health reasons can be employed under federal law to prohibit citizens from receiving, possessing, shipping or transporting firearms.

According to officials at the Justice Department, this clarification will direct U.S. states and territories in determining what information they should share with the federal background check system known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The stated goal is to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others. However, the regulation’s language, as with many of the regulations and laws coming out of the Obama Administration, leaves room for interpretation.

“We are taking an important, commonsense step to clarify the federal firearms regulations, which will strengthen our ability to keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands,” said the controversial – some say ultra-political — Attorney General Holder.

“This step will provide clear guidance on who is prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law for reasons related to mental health, enabling America’s brave law enforcement and public safety officials to better protect the American people and ensure the safety of our homes and communities. And it is emblematic of the Justice Department’s broader commitment to use every tool and resource at its disposal to combat gun violence and prevent future tragedies while respecting the Constitutional rights to which all Americans are entitled,” Holder announced on Friday.

The revised definition clarifies that the statutory terms “adjudicated as a mental defective” and “committed to a mental institution” include persons who are found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect; persons lacking mental responsibility or deemed insane; and persons found guilty but mentally ill, regardless of whether these determinations are made by a state, local, federal or military court. The proposed regulation also clarifies that the statutory term includes a person committed to involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment.

“While the regulation on the surface may sound reasonable, it does leave former military personnel returning from the battlefield who are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and are psychiatrically treated for PTSD, very likely in the lurch when it comes to purchasing firearms for protection or sport,” said former Marine and police detective Sidney Franes.

“It may also be used to deny retired law-enforcement, security and intelligence officials access to firearms if at any time they underwent rehabilitation for alcoholism or substance abuse,” Franes added.

The Justice Department places the NICS background check system in high regard calling it a “critical tool in keeping guns out of the hands of those who cannot legally have one.”

One of the problems many gun owners see in this legislation is the role of an agency caught up in a firearms-smuggling scandal.

The existing regulations regarding NICS background checks stipulates that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will regulate steps the Justice Department has taken to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

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Cut the ATF instead of cutting national security budgets, say officials

by Jim Kouri on Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

This is article 495 of 526 in the topic Government Spending

During his speech on Monday, President Barack Obama eluded to the very real possibility of a “government shutdown” if lawmakers do not raise the nation’s so-called debt limit. Obama said there would be problems throughout the government, especially within law enforcement, intelligence agencies and the nation’s armed forces as a result of drastic cost-cutting measures.

“I do believe we should cut our programs that we don’t need. We need to fix ones that aren’t working the way they’re supposed to or have outlived their initial mission. We’ve got to make government faster and more efficient,” said the President during his speech in the South Court Auditorium on the grounds of the White House .

With that in mind, a number of well-regarded law-enforcement officials and gun-rights activists on Monday strongly suggested that President Barack Obama and lawmakers get rid of the scandal-prone Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) instead of cutting national security agencies and budgets including the U.S. military’s already drastically reduced coffers.

“Instead of increasing its budget, the House of Representatives should slash the budget of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or simply eliminate the agency,” gun rights expert John M. Snyder told the Examiner from his office in Bethesda, Md.

“This would be a good first step as sensible U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators work to curtail expenditure of the irresponsible federal establishment,” the former NRA editor stated.

As a constitutional matter, financial expenditure bills originate in the House of Representatives. This would be an appropriate place for Speaker John Boehner and House members to cry ‘Halt’ to the out-of-control federal government, said Snyder, who also serves as an advisory board member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

“If there was ever an agency that outlived its usefulness as far as enforcement, it’s the ATF which appears to be on the road to becoming just the ‘F’ for firearms enforcement,” said a former Marine and police detective, Sidney Franes.

The ATF has been on a collision course with the House of Representatives for months. Attorney General Eric Holder remains under a contempt resolution from the House for his refusal to cooperate with the House in the production of documents associated with the ATF Fast and Furious international firearms scandal, according to an Examiner news story.

Snyder said that, “ATF figures in schemes of political panderers and monsters of the media who are on a binge of hate. They use murderous acts by criminals as an excuse for proposals to undermine the individual Second Amendment civil right to keep and bear arms of millions of law-abiding American citizens. These gun-grabbing bingers don’t want citizens to be able to defend themselves against these murderers and they want ATF to do their dirty work.”

“The recent introduction in Congress of anti-gun owner bills surely will be met with deep and hard opposition by millions of [America's] law-abiding gun owners,” Snyder said.

Snyder noted that, “President Barack Obama, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and other political hacks are conspiring to take away American gun rights.

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What “Phony” Scandals is Obama Talking About?

by Alan Caruba on Thursday, July 25th, 2013

It is absolutely astonishing that Obama could refer to “phony scandals” when the list of genuine scandals keeps growing. Despite the best efforts of the mainstream media to deflect attention from them, they have become a constant factor from Obama’s first term to his second. To dismiss them as “phony” is a display of arrogance that is breathtaking.
In May, writing about the revelations that the Justice Department (DOJ) had seized the telephone records of Associated Press reporters and editors without informing them, Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, observed that “A President sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town.”
This DOJ’s actions are not a “phony scandal.”
Noonan was particularly prescient because, when the Internal Revenue Service scandal involving the deliberate denial of tax exempt status to conservative groups became known, the White House said it was the work of a few rogue employees in the Cincinnati office. That has since unraveled to reach right up into the office of the highest political appointee in the IRS and, in all likelihood, it reaches into the White House.
The IRS scandal is not a “phony scandal.”
Already filed and forgotten is the “Fast and Furious” scandal, the name taken from an ATF program intended to track weapons bought in the U.S. and “walked” into Mexico. In the process, the ATF lost track of hundreds of firearms, some of which were used to kill a U.S. Border agent and countless Mexican citizens. “Fast and Furious” was back in the news on July 5 when the Los Angeles Times reported that “A high-powered rifle from Fast and Furious was used to kill a Mexican police chief in the state of Jalisco earlier this year, according to internal Department of Justice records.” To stop further investigation of the program, Obama issued an executive order.
“Fast and Furious” is not a “phony scandal.”
The signature legislation of the President’s first term is Obamacare, a two-thousand-plus page law that was passed with a straight Democrat vote by Senators who had obviously not had enough time to read it. Since then, virtually all the promises made by the President have been proven to be lies. Not only have premiums risen, but its impact on employment has been catastrophic, leading companies to either not hire or to lay off workers to avoid a key element of the law. Without any legal right to do so, the employer mandate element was then delayed until 2015, after the 2014 midterm elections.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was found to be soliciting donations from companies HHS might regulate to fund the signing up uninsured citizens.
Obamacare is not a “phony scandal.”
To the tune of billions, many of the “alternative energy” companies that received government loans went bankrupt throughout the first term, sticking the taxpayers with the losses.

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Fallout from Obama admin’s bloodiest scandal continues: Police chief in Mexico killed by gun traced to Fast & Furious

by Doug Powers on Saturday, July 6th, 2013

This is article 257 of 339 in the topic Criminal Activity

Here’s the latest bit of news to come from the bloody gun running operation dreamed up by the people who want us to believe they’re qualified to be in charge of our nation’s firearm safety.

From the Los Angeles Times:

A high-powered rifle lost in the ATF’s Fast and Furious controversy was used to kill a Mexican police chief in the state of Jalisco earlier this year, according to internal Department of Justice records, suggesting that weapons from the failed gun-tracking operation have now made it into the hands of violent drug cartels deep inside Mexico.

Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, the police chief in the city of Hostotipaquillo, was shot to death Jan. 29 when gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire. Also killed was one of his bodyguards. His wife and a second bodyguard were wounded.
[...]
A semi-automatic WASR rifle, the firearm that killed the chief, was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, Ariz. The notation on the Department of Justice trace records said the WASR was used in a “HOMICIDE – WILLFUL – KILL –PUB OFF –GUN” –ATF code for “Homicide, Willful Killing of a Public Official, Gun.”

Probably the most glaring error in the story is that the guns were “lost.” “Whoops!” No, they were given away, and the administration knew who they were being handed to. Nice of some of the media to help cover for them, though. Forgetfulness is usually the preferred excuse when utter incompetence and/or criminality are the only other options.

Lots of previous Fast & Furious coverage here.

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Obama Breeds Rebellion Among the States

by Alan Caruba on Saturday, May 11th, 2013

This is article 9 of 10 in the topic States Rights

The resistance to Obamacare is writing a new chapter in U.S. history. It may well become the most unpopular law since Prohibition became an Amendment to the Constitution in 1919. By 1933, another Amendment repealed it.

Obamacare passed by a straight Democratic party vote on Christmas Eve in 2009. No Republican voted for it and, as one poll recently revealed, a third of Americans are still unaware it is the law of the land. A divided Supreme Court gave it a pass, calling it a tax, but it is a profoundly unconstitutional law insofar as the federal government may not pass a law that requires Americans to purchase something and to fine them if they do not. It is also playing havoc with the economy, delaying recovery as it deters hiring and encourages firing.
Nonetheless, a number of states have gone on record seeking to nullify its enforcement and some are doing the same as regards gun control. Arizona became famous when it passed its own immigration law in response to the federal government’s failure to protect its border with Mexico. The proposed “Gang of Eight” immigration law is facing stiff opposition for its various provisions, most of which do not address the central issue of security on the southern border.
How out of touch is the President? He went to Mexico and blamed the violence arising from its drug cartels on America, saying “Most of the guns used here to commit violence came from America.” He made no mention of the scandalous “Fast and Furious” scheme in which the ATF actually ran guns into Mexico, claiming they would track them. It took an executive order to throw a blanket of silence over it and a compliant media to ignore that scandal.
It is, however, Obamacare that poses the greatest threat to the nation, intruding on the patient-doctor relationship, robbing billions from Medicare to pay for it, requiring states to fund more Medicaid when many are strapped to meet other needs, and putting 16% of the nation’s economy under federal control.
A total of twenty-seven states have filed suit against Obamacare. Two federal judges have upheld its individual mandate to purchase health insurance and two others have ruled that it is unconstitutional.
Twelve states have introduced versions of the Federal Health Care Nullification Act that was drafted by the Tenth Amendment Center. They include Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Alabama, and Maine. All declare that Obamacare is “hereby declared to be invalid, shall not be recognized, is specifically rejected, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect.”
In South Carolina, on May 1st, the state House passed a bill that declares the bill null and void and goes a step further, criminalizing its implementation. Earlier Governor Nikki Haley, in her state of the state address, said that South Carolina does not want and cannot afford Obamacare, saying of the President’s namesake, “not now, not ever.”
The following day, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback sent a letter in response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s opposition to its Second Amendment Protection Act, declaring it unconstitutional; essentially tell him to piss off.

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The change in licensed firearm dealers from 1969 to 2010

by John Lott on Saturday, February 9th, 2013

This is article 380 of 583 in the topic Gun Rights
The data on number of licensed firearms dealers is available here.  Understanding this pattern goes a long ways towards explaining the changes over time in the rate of sales through FFLs at gun shows (see also here).  Part of the reason for the drop is explained here.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, known as the “Brady Bill,” increased the fees for federal firearms licenses from $10 per year to $200 for the first 3 years, and $90 for each 3-year renewal period. . . . .

Additionally, in 2004, ATF implemented an in-person application inspection program. ATF industry operations investigators now conduct in-person application inspections with all new firearms business applicants. Through the inspection process, investigators verify the identity of the applicant, ensure the qualification of the person(s) intending to conduct business, verify the business premises, and review the record keeping and conduct of business requirements to assist the applicant in complying with the law and regulations.

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WITH ALL DUE DISRESPECT…

by Burt Prelutsky on Friday, February 8th, 2013

by Burt Prelutsky

If there’s one term I would like to see retired in 2013, it’s the one so much favored by politicians and other hypocrites: “With all due respect.”

Has anyone in the history of the world begun a sentence with those four words that didn’t immediately evolve into the equivalent of calling the other person a charlatan, a thief or an ignoramus?

Recently, we had Hillary Clinton open her remarks to Sen. Ron Johnson with those words just before going into her well-rehearsed rant about nobody needing to know whether Ambassador Stevens and his three colleagues were killed by members of al Qaeda or by some guys taking a nighttime stroll in Benghazi who suddenly decided to kill Americans.

If my Aunt Hilda had said something that stupid, it would only matter to her husband, my Uncle Morrie. But this is the woman who, in her mid-60s, still has her eye on the White House. It’s hard to believe that she had four months to come up with a response, and that bit of hammy stage craft was the best that the Secretary of State and the spin merchants in Obama’s White House could come up with. Heck, even I could feign moral outrage better than that.

Isn’t it odd that nobody in this Second Amendment-bashing administration ever said, “Who cares what kinds of guns were used in Newtown? Isn’t it enough that 20 little children were murdered by a loon?”

If there’s one thing you can count on from Obama and his minions, it’s that they’re always ready to take responsibility, at least so long as neither self-sacrifice nor punishment is involved. Instead, whether it’s Eric Holder or Mrs. Clinton, their defense always seems to be that they didn’t bother reading memos, whether they came from the ATF regarding weapons being delivered to Mexican gangbangers or from their ambassadors begging for their lives.

What I find the most distressing is that Mrs. Clinton, has never displayed anything special when it comes to intelligence, wisdom or personal character. In fact, aside from arrogance and naked political ambition, I can’t come up with a single human quality I could easily attribute to her. In spite of that, she has a 59% approval rating among American voters a scant four years before the next presidential election.

Inasmuch as even in the wake of his re-election, Obama’s own rating is barely 50%, it behooves Republicans to start getting the truth out about this combination of Michelle Obama, Evita Peron and a rabid weasel, and the sooner the better. And let’s not have any of that “with all due respect” malarkey; ridicule is the best weapon to use on the terminally pompous.

The only reason that these left-wing boobs get away with the stuff they do is because we have a media that views its mission to be Obama’s first line of defense. The depths to which the MSM has sunk can be seen in a recent piece written by John Dickerson. Titled “Go for the Throat,” the article advises Barack Obama to declare war on the GOP. In the course of the piece, he employed such verbs as “destroy” and “pulverize,” in spelling out exactly what Obama needs to do during his second administration if he’s going to fulfill his destiny.

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