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By Russ Read
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner introduced a bill to congress Thursday that aims to dissolve the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and fuse its responsibility into other federal agencies.
The ATF Elimination Act would transfer law enforcement powers over firearms, explosives and arson to the FBI, while enforcement over alcohol and tobacco would go to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Sensenbrenner noted in a statement Thursday that elimination of the ATF would be a beneficial to cutting government spending.
“Common sense budgeting solutions are necessary, and the ATF Elimination Act is one measure we can take to reduce spending, redundancy, and practice responsible governance,” said Sensenbrenner. “The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges, and a lack of leadership.”
Sensenbrenner noted that cutting the ATF would help “begin draining the swamp” and would be in the “best interest” of taxpayers.
The bill would require the DEA and FBI to provide congress a plan for incorporating the ATF’s responsibilities, field offices, buildings and assets.
In addition to cutting the ATF, the bill would place a hiring freeze on the ATF and would require the Department of Justice, the ATF’s parent agency, to “eliminate and reduce duplicative functions and waste.”
The ATF made headlines in 2011 after the so-called “Fast and Furious” scandal came to light. Fast and Furious was an ATF sting operation which involved a tactic known as “gun walking.”
Essentially, the ATF purposefully let Mexican cartels purchase illegal guns in an effort to later track the weapons and arrest the cartel members carrying them. The goal was to allow the guns to get into the hands of high-ranking cartel members, instead, the weapons were used in a litany of crimes, including at least 150 murders in Mexico.