I just received an email from one of the gun-control groups telling me to make sure I contact my Senators in D.C. and tell them to confirm Steve Dettelbach to be the Director of the ATF. Joe’s last nominee, David Chipman, couldn’t get past the Senate because he was employed by Gabby Giffords and that’s an absolute no-no as far as Gun-nut Nation is concerned.

              Dettelbach has a strong track record as a federal prosecutor in Ohio and has gotten positive notices from both sides. The NRA is opposed to his nomination, but the NRA would be opposed to anyone named to head the ATF by a Democratic President. Even Mother Theresa would be seen by our friends in Fairfax, VA as a threat to 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              I don’t usually take public issue with my friends at Brady, Giffords and Everytown, but when it comes to supporting the ATF, I have to draw the line. As far as I’m concerned, you could take the entire agency, give them all a six-month severance deal and let them go get jobs as cashiers in a convenience-store chain.

              By the way, one of the issues about how we regulate the gun business which never seems to get discussed, is that we have a federal agency which spends most of its time looking at intra-state commerce, i.e., the transfer of guns from dealers to gun shop customers who can only receive the gun if both the customer and the dealer are located in the same state.

              Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution, the ‘commerce clause,’ gives the federal government authority to manage the transfer of goods and commercial activities which move from state to state. So how is it that I used to sell every, single gun in my shop to folks who lived in the same state where my shop was located, yet it was the ATF that came in to examine the paperwork covering those sales?

              Which, by the way, is basically what the ATF does, go into gun shops and make a big deal about paperwork and in the process consciously lie about what they can and cannot do. Because if you listen to the ATF, they will tell you they could do a much more effective job if they weren’t prohibited from only examining the paperwork which covers the initial sale of a gun. The whole point of doing gun tracing is to create an unbroken path from when the gun was manufactured until it winds up in the hands of the guy who shouldn’t be able to get his hands on a gun.

              Except this happens not to be true and the ATF knows it’s not true. The paperwork inspected by the ATF in a gun shop isn’t the property of the dealer. He’s just the custodian of those 4473 background-check forms and the Acquisition-Disposition book. The ATF owns the data, they can enter a gun shop at any time without prior notice, and they can take as long as they like to examine and validate every, single scrap of paper created for every gun sale.

              And in case you didn’t know it, if the ATF finds a single error in any form, even so much as an abbreviation for the name of a state or a field that has been left blank, the dealer can be charged with committing a federal felony which carries a sentence of five years.

              Is every, single gun dealer in America operating on the up and up? Of course not. You’ll find bad apples in every group. Gee – what a surprise! But the reason why the ATF is so ‘lenient’ and lets gun owners continue to operate even after their license has been suspended is because the ATF knows that these so-called felonies are nothing more than Mickey Mouse mistakes.

              The average gun shop sells between 10 and 20 guns a month. Just about all the customers are folks who live within 15 miles of that store. The average cop gets paid $200 a day. How long do you think it would take that cop to do an inspection of the gun shop in his town every six months?  Two days? Three days?

              If we took the money being pissed away on the ATF and reimbursed local police departments for conducting inspections of local gun shops, we’d not only save a lot of taxpayer dollars, but if anything, a dealer who knew he would be inspected by the local cops would probably be more careful about selling guns because after all, the local cops usually know the identities of the good guys and bad guys in their town.

              Don’t get me wrong. I’ll support effective gun regulations every time. But you’re not going to reduce gun violence whether the ATF has a Director or not. This bunch has done next to nothing over the past fifty years except pat themselves on the back and promote their agency as an important cog in the crime-fighting machine.

              Nothing could be more wrong.