On Saturday I posted a column about the ATF and said that rather than appoint a new Director, that the agency should be shut down.  Wow! I got some interesting responses, most of them not only negative, but pissed-off negative too.

              So, rather than just leave well enough alone, I want to add a few points to my argument about why the ATF is no good and should join the dodo bird in the pantheon of things that no longer exist.

              For starters, you might want to begin by reading this report.  It’s the work of the Center for American Progress (CAP), which is the DC think tank that produces research to support legislative and governmental initiatives for the Democrats and was asked to study the ATF in 2015 when Obama was considering the possibility of folding the agency under the FBI.

              What got Obama started on the idea of closing down ATF was a program called Fast and Furious, which at the ATF ran from 2009 through 2013. The idea was to interdict guns that were purchased in gun shops in Arizona and then smuggled to Mexico and delivered to the cartels. All in all, ATF was involved in the movement of some 2,000 guns, many of which were assault rifles that were purchased in ‘straw’ sales.

              The purchasing was done by a bunch of gun ‘walkers,’ i.e., the men who smuggled the guns across the Rio Grande. Not only did the ATF know about these sales, but they encouraged dealers to break federal laws by not reporting or preventing these sales. After a U.S. Border Agent, Brian Terry, was shot and killed in 2010 by a guy using one of the ‘straw-sale’ guns, the program was shut down and the Department of Justice Inspector General issued a report.

              You can download the report here but get ready to read almost 500 pages.  Add that to the 150+ pages of the report from CAP, and you’ve got some serious reading to do. I’m willing to bet that I’m one of the very few gun-control advocates or writers in America who has read these two reports. Because if you read them, you’ll think twice about wanting to have anything to do with keeping the ATF alive.

              It’s not that the staff who managed this effort both in D.C. and Phoenix made endless mistakes. It’s not that of the 2,000 guns that were walked to Mexico, law-enforcement agencies interdicted and prevented maybe 100 of the guns from crossing the Rio Grande. It’s not that ATF senior management approved this crazy scheme because their primary motivation was to convince a federal judge to issue ATF it’s first-ever federal wiretap, which would have put the agency on a bureaucratic par with FBI and DEA. It’s not that one of the guns was used to murder a Border Patrol agent – getting shot is a risk that all cops take.

              Know how many ATF managers were fired, lost their pensions, and might have had trouble getting another law-enforcement job?  None. Not…one.

              How do you justify or even come up with a scheme that has the people whose business behavior you are supposed to regulate and make sure are following the laws consciously break the law because they are doing what you told them to do? And by the way, the entire scheme unraveled not just because of the investigation into Brian Terry’s death, but because comments were beginning to appear on the internet – where else? – which may have been posted by disgruntled ATF agents, pissed-off gun dealers, or both.

              One of my friends who is supporting the nomination of a new ATF Director told me that this issue gave him an opportunity to “f*ck the NRA.”  I understand his frustration and I understand his concern about wanting to do something that will blunt the power and influence of the gun lobby.

              But it seems to me that you don’t challenge the NRA’s presence and power by supporting a gun-control organization which has demonstrated consistently that it is as corrupt and useless as the organization whose pro-gun stance you would like to come to an end.

              When you do that, you’re helping the NRA stay afloat.