Thursday, May 21, 2015

Is it Time To Merge The Bureau of ATF and The FBI ?

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by its name appears to be a juxtaposed organization tasked with policing areas their government sibling (FBI) already has dibs on. To understand the bureau's obscure importance you have to know its piecemeal emergence.

The history of ATF is just as juxtaposed as its name and reponsibility as a federal law enforcement agency.
Its origins date back to the Civil War era when Congress created the Office of Internal Revenue within the Department of the Treasury to collect taxes on spirits and tobacco products.

Over the years ATF has been the "file it under other" portal for federal oversight and enforcement of various industries.

In the early 1900s  alcohol and tobacco policing became the resposibility of the organization. In the
1930s the agency inherited firearms oversight, and in 1970 explosives were added to their plate.

Within a century ATF slowly evolved from a pure tax collection agency with jurisdiction over one industry into a hybrid regulatory and law enforcement.There are tax payers today that still aren't sure what it is ATF agency does.

In the wake of mass shootings, and powerful firearms finding their way to the streets of America, alcohol and tobacco, has taken a backseat to firearms enforcement by the ATF agency. The resposibility for firearm policing proved to be an archilles heel for the organization.

Nationwide split views on gun ownership coupled with impeding politics funded by one of the most effective lobbying entities (NRA) in the world, the agency struggled for identity. That identity crisis, coupled with inefective management, and underfunding has led to the bureau's  mission being opaque.

Is it time to dismantle the agency and assign their responsiblilities to their wider known govenment sibling, the FBI?. Or would merging the AFT with the FBI result in a more powerful and effective firearm and explosive branch of Federal law enforcement?

The Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group with close ties to the White House, feels strongly about an ATF-FBI merger  for more effective enforcement of gun regulations.

The Center said its two-year study of ATF found that the agency can’t keep up with the challenges of enforcing gun laws and regulating the firearms industry.

The detailed report says ATF has suffered from a “leadership vacuum,” going seven years without a confirmed director before the Senate approved B. Todd Jones in August 2013, who recently resigned. In its report, CAP said the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups have worked to keep ATF as an ineffective agency by lobbying Congress to keep it “underresourced.”.

Government budget allotments suggests that lawmakers view AFT as a second tier tennant. The ATF has an annual budget of slightly more than $1.1 billion, far less than the roughly $8 billion of the FBI. It is not surprising that some lawmakers are opened to and ATF and FBI merger.

The DEA would seem like a practical partner for ATF. Guns and drugs are synonomous with one another. Marrying the DEA and ATF would produce more and stronger recources to combat firearms and drugs.There are some lawmakers that like ATF and DEA together as one.

The Center for American Progress has spotlighted the impotent areas of  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It's hard to argue with some key points of the report. The question is - would federal law enforcement be better served if AFT merged with the FBI or DEA?

What are your thoughts?

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