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Do We Need A New ATF Director?

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When Gun-control Nation thinks about the organizations which promote guns, the first one that always comes to mind is the National Rifle Association because, after all, the NRA has been the group which has been leading the gun charge for more than one hundred years.

There’s also the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which runs Gun-nut Nation’s annual trade SHOT show.

The group whose activities really determine how the gun industry behaves, however, is a small and not-so-public group known as the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers, or NASGW. This outfit represents the 30 wholesalers who are responsible for selling and moving just about all the guns and ammunition made in America which wind up on the shelves of the retail stores that sell guns.

There isn’t a single gun-control advocate or a single gun-control researcher who is a member of the NASGW other than me. But why bother to learn anything about the industry that you want to regulate just because you want the industry to operate in a more responsible way?

Yesterday I received an email from the NASGW asking me to sign a letter opposing the nomination of David Chipman to head the ATF.  I received a similar email from the NRA, except the NASGW letter is going to be sent directly to Joe Manchin, whose vote on any issue before the Senate has now become the litmus test for what Joe Biden will get done and what he won’t get done.

Or to put it another way, what Joe Biden will do to wreck the United States. That’s the way that Biden is being described by Donald Trump. Remember Donald Trump? He used to be a tenant in a very nice apartment located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, D.C. Now he’s just a blowhard and a schmuck. Anyway…

So, the battle lines are forming over the Chipman vote, with all my friends in Gun-control Nation certainly hoping that his nomination will be approved. After all, this is a guy who retired from the ATF and then went to work for the gun-control gang! He’s still employed by Gabby Giffords, and he’s also said some nice things about Mayor Mike.  In other words, to quote Grandpa, he’s nisht gut – no good.

Leaving all the sturm und drang about Chipman aside, I still don’t understand what difference it makes who is Director of the ATF when it comes to reducing the 125,000 fatal and non-fatal injuries each year caused by the illegal or inappropriate use of guns. This is because I have yet to understand the connection between a bunch of overpaid clerks who wander into a gun shop and spend a couple of weeks making sure that every piece of paperwork is filled out exactly right and the decision by roughly 7% of the guys who try to kick the sh*t out of someone else and do it by using a gun.

The ATF would like to consider itself a federal law enforcement agency on a par with the DEA and the FBI. It’s not. It’s job and most of its budget is used either to provide technical services to other agencies or to pay these so-called Industry Operations Investigators who first must spend 10 weeks becoming “experts in firearms and explosives federal laws and regulations.” They are also trained to “analyze trends and recognize patterns of trafficking and diversion schemes.”

There’s only one little problem with all this training going on at the ATF. When it comes to guns, there doesn’t happen to be any Federal law which either defines or tries to prevent gun trafficking. In fact, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is the latest in a long line of Members of Congress who have introduced gun-trafficking bills over the last few years. Know where these bills end up? Three guesses and none of them count.

I like David Chipman and I hope his nomination goes through. But If all he’s going to do is manage a government agency which is responsible for enforcing a law that doesn’t exist, to quote Grandpa again, gai gezinta hai (read: who cares?)

Who Says I Can’t Protect Myself With An F-15?

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              Now that Joe is moving his attention into what has always been sacred GOP territory, i.e., crime control, he’s also taking on the so-called gun lobby over the issue of how the ATF tries to regulate guns. And here’s the key sentence from yesterday’s speech: “The point is that there has always been the ability to limit — rationally limit the type of weapon that can be owned and who can own it.”

              Wait until Gun-nut Nation figures out how to respond to that one. Here’s the President of the United States saying that we can pass laws to regulate not only who can own guns, but what kind of guns they can own. That’s not just a violation of the 2nd Amendment, it’s an infringement on our God-given ‘rights’ to defend ourselves or whatever else we want to do with an adult toy that we refer to as a ‘gun.’

              And who is going to make sure that these beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ are no longer so beloved or even allowed to be thought of as ‘right?’ The ATF.

              And what is the ATF going to do to make sure that the 2nd Amendment will sooner or later completely disappear?

              They will go after all those ‘rogue’ gun dealers who are, to quote Joe, the “merchants of death” who are “breaking the law for profit.”

              To back up Joe’s decision to send the ATF out to all those gun dealers who are ‘willfully’ selling all those guns to all those guys who use those guns to commit crimes, Joe cited an ATF  study published in 2000 which found that 90 percent of illegal guns picked up at crime scenes were sold by 5 percent of gun dealers.

              Actually, what the study really showed was that 4.2% of all retail dealers accounted for 72.5% of all guns that were traced by the ATF, whether the trace was done for a gun connected to a crime, or for any other reason. It should be noted, by the way, that less than 25% of all traces conducted by the ATF each year are for guns which were used to commit a serious crime.

              What all this data being used to spot those rogue dealers does not explain, however, is the degree to which the gun dealers who receive most of the trace requests also happen to be the gun dealers who sell most of the guns. Know the old 80-20 rule which says that 20% of retailers make 80% of all retail sales? 

In the gun business, the rule is closer to 95-5. That’s right. Most gun ‘dealers’ are retired guys who rent a small retail space because the wife got fed up one day with him just sitting around the house and said, “Why don’t you take all those friggin’ guns out of the house and open a shop?”

So, the guy goes into town, finds some empty storefront that is available for a couple of hundred bucks a month, and now he can sit there all day long, shoot the sh*t with his friends and oh, by the way, he doesn’t have to do all those chores around the house because, after all, he’s got a business to run.

Think I’m kidding? Next time you drive past Joe’s Gun Shop, park your car and walk in. I can guarantee you that 95% of the members of Gun-control Nation have never been in a gun shop, not even once.

I have yet to see a study of all those rogue gun dealers selling all those crime guns which compares the shops getting most of the trace requests to the shops which just happen to sell most of the guns. Until someone at the ATF figures that one out, the idea that we know which dealers the ATF should go after because so many guns from their shops wind up in the ‘wrong hands’ is just so much talk.

That being said, Joe’s speech was still a good speech, particularly when he told the jerks who claim they need an assault rifle to fight the government that what they really need is an F-15.

Keep it up Joe, keep it up.

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Want To Go Into The Gun Business? Machine Guns Are Fetching A Good Price.

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              There’s a guy down in Texas who’s my kind of guy.  He’s 73 years old and still trying to make a living in the gun business. I’m 76 years old, so this guy’s in my league when it comes to sticking around in Gun-nut Nation until you croak.

              The guy’s name is William Scott Simms, and he lives in McAllen, TX, which is all part of the problem. Because McAllen happens to be located right smack dab next to the ol’ Rio Grande, which means that the town’s southern border happens to be Mexico. Which means you just walk down ol’ South Depot Road a bit, hop across the railroad tracks and you’re in the land of tortillas and fried beans.

              You’re also in the land where Americans have been selling machine guns that allegedly fetch a better price over there than over here, at least this is what the U. S. Government is saying is the reason they arrested ol’ boy Billy Simms. He was indicted back in May for getting’ ready to take eleven machine guns that he manufactured and sell them south of the border for – ready? – $10,000 apiece! 

              That’s a hundred grand for sittin’ in the kitchen, slapping together some plastic and metal parts that you can buy online for a couple of hundred bucks, then plopping a full-auto sear into the metal band above the trigger, attaching the sear to a loading spring and you’re good to go. In case you’re interested folks, I just told you how to make a machine gun.

              Billy Boy Simms was not only charged with the possession of ‘unregistered’ machine guns, which means the guns didn’t have serial numbers, which means they are so-called ‘ghost guns,’ he is also charged with exporting these guns to Mexico, which is a violation of export laws.

              As to the fact that the guns didn’t have serial numbers, the DOJ press release says that “On April 8, President Biden issued executive orders specifically targeting the manufacturing and transfer of ghost guns.” Uh-oh. Our man Simms is now in real deep doo-doo because he’s going up against a regulatory system which finally is going to get rid of those ‘ghost’ guns.

              Except the statement happens not to be true. Joe can issue all the executive orders he wants to issue about ghost guns or anything else, but if the order requires a change in the Federal code or the wording of any Federal law that defines the behavior of any government agency, such a change can only be made after a 90-day period which allows for the public to make comments about the new text has elapsed.

              When it comes to illegally exporting guns to Mexico, the Federal Government has machine guns on the brain.  You may recall that between 2006 and 2011, the ATF forced gun dealers in Arizona to make illegal sales of semi-automatic rifles which were then allegedly turned into full-auto guns in a car repair shop in Phoenix that would then be sold in Mexico as machine guns, i.e., the ‘Fast and Furious’ mess.

              The whole thing turned out to be nonsense, not a single machine gun was ever found anywhere, and if the Republicans sitting on the Senate Judiciary Committee hadn’t been so ga-ga about using their investigation to embarrass Obama and instead done some clean-up of the ATF, maybe we’d actually have a government agency responsible for regulating the gun business that would get something done.

              These days, everyone seems to have machine guns on the brain. The Associated Press just ran a story about how almost 2,000 military guns seem to have disappeared, including more than 1,000 rifles, all of which are full-auto guns. And here’s the headline: Some Stolen Military Guns Used in Violent Crimes.” Except if you actually read the story, you discover that a) we have some 2 million military guns sitting around so how could we not be missing a few, and b) the only military gun used in crimes is the Beretta M9 pistol, which is a semi-automatic gun.

              Now how come I can’t seem to find the full-auto sear that I want to plop into my AR-15?

Gun Trafficking in America (Guns in America) (Volume 5): Weisser, Mr. Michael R.: 9780692386125: Amazon.com: Books

Want To Have An Honest Debate About Gun Violence?

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I have been blogging and writing about gun violence since 2012, and while it’s easy to take pot-shots at Gun-nut Nation, I tend to focus my concerns more on what my gun-control friends have to say. This is because I hold our side to a higher standard. After all, the other side is chiefly in the business of selling guns.

So, while I often aim my laser-sharp views on what researchers and journalists in the gun-control camp have to say, I try to do it with some degree of restraint because I believe that my friends in Gun-control Nation are engaged in a sacred task.

Violence happens to be the only threat to the human community which we still do not understand and hence, cannot control. We know what to do about global warming, we know what to do about hunger. We don’t know what to do about violence, which can be found in some of the early chapters of the Old Testament, such as the description of Sodom and Gomorrah in Chapter 19.

Every once in a while, however, my Gun-control Nation friends forget what they should be doing and wander off in a direction that doesn’t help us understand gun violence at all and worse, promotes responses to gun violence that will only make things worse.

I am referring to the article about the ATF which appeared in last week’s The Trace. The article is based on facts which are wrong and worse, pushes out a remedial strategy which can only help to increase the anger felt by proponents of gun ‘rights,’ thereby reducing the chance that a viable solution to gun violence will ever emerge.

The article includes a complete list of every gun shop inspected by the ATF from 2015 through 2017. The readers are invited to search this database for “law-breaking firearm businesses” in the locations where the readers live. The article then says, “many violators go unpunished,” which is a not-so-slight invitation for members of Gun-control Nation to take matters into their own hands.

Luckily, my ATF inspection occurred in 2014, or my gun shop would be on the list. And in my case, the ATF found more than a thousand violations, every one of which was a ‘threat’ to community safety. Want to know what those threats consisted of? In the book where we listed who shipped us guns, we abbreviated the name of our one wholesale supplier more than one thousand times.

If the ATF’s inspection of my shop had started in 2015, I could drive down to the shop today and find myself confronted with an angry group of folks from the local Brady chapter, the MOMS group, some local anti-violence group, or all three. If they demonstrated in front of my shop for a couple of weeks, I could close down the shop and disappear.

I wouldn’t blame these folks for getting all hot bothered because here was a local retailer who was selling a dangerous product and not even following the law. After all, they knew ‘for a fact’ that I was running an illegal gun business because they had read about me in The Trace.

In fact, the appearance of my gun shop on the ATF inspection list wouldn’t have been proof that I was running any kind of rogue operation at all. The demonstrators yelling ‘close him down’ would have been reacting to the fact that we abbreviated the name of our wholesale supplier again and again.

If the journalists at The Trace want to incite gun-control advocates to make life difficult for someone who’s selling guns, the least they can do is get their facts straight. As for folks who read The Trace because they are concerned about the violence caused by people who attack themselves or others with guns, I have a different bit of advice.

 I think it’s time for Gun-control Nation to cut the bullsh*t and stop pretending they have any concern for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Let’s have an honest debate about guns in America. Either we want them, or we don’t.

The Deadliest Pathogen: Guns and Homicide (Guns in America): Weisser, Michael R.: 9781792317866: Amazon.com: Books.

Do We Know How Many Gun Dealers Obey The Rules?

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              Yesterday I wrote a comment about how our friends at The Trace have published a rather interesting piece about the ATF’s policy covering gun shop inspections and basically gotten It all wrong. Today I’m going to continue my little exercise in correcting mistakes made by journalists who think they understand the gun industry when they don’t understand it at all, covering yet  another issue that The Trace discussed which adds up to zilch.

              I’m referring to the following statement about the scope of the ATF’s regulatory activities: “The ATF is responsible for policing the 78,000 gun dealers, manufacturers and importers in the U.S. In the 2020 fiscal year, as the coronavirus pandemic snarled government operations, the ATF inspected only 5,827 licensed dealers, or 7.5 percent — the lowest annual inspection rate since 2004.”

              The ATF can’t even inspect one out of every ten retail stores? That’s a pretty piss-poor job if you ask me. Because if 90% of the gun dealers can go a whole year without having to worry about running their business in a legal and legitimate way, no wonder so many guns wind up in the street and are used to commit so many violent crimes.

              Ready? Here we go.

I have been listening to this nonsense about how the country is inundated with gun dealers for years. The statement has absolutely no connection to the reality of the gun business at all. Not one bit.

The fact that someone sends the ATF $300, passes a background check, and is issued a federal dealer’s license doesn’t mean that he will ever sell a single gun to another soul. On the other hand, if I want to open a retail store and sell products to the public – guns, coffee, cat litter, anything else – getting a license from the Feds because it’s guns I’m going to sell is the least licensing requirement I need to worry about.

Before I open my doors to my first customer, I’m going to need to register with the state revenue people because I have to charge, collect, and remit sales tax. In most jurisdictions I’ll also need a local and/or state business license, along with insurance, a commercial bank account and maybe I should register as a corporation just in case.

How many of those almost 80,000 people holding those ATF dealer, manufacturer and importer licenses have gone to the trouble of actually setting up a place to do business, going out and getting all the licenses and fulfilling all the other paperwork and commercial requirements that have to be met before they can sell one, blessed thing?

              Take my state, which is Massachusetts. Right now, there are 364 residents in Massachusetts who hold a current gun dealer’s license from the ATF.  Presently there are 36 retail gun dealers doing business in this state.

              The ATF says it conducted 11 inspections in Massachusetts from 2015 through 2017. So, if we follow the argument made by The Trace, it looks like the ATF inspected 3 percent of the gun dealers in Massachusetts over those three years. In fact, they inspected roughly one-third of all the locations where someone can actually purchase a gun.

              Nearly all the folks holding federal gun licenses use these licenses to buy guns for themselves either directly from other dealers or from wholesalers because on such a direct purchase they will save upwards of 30 percent or more of what they would pay if they walked into a gun shop and bought the same gun over the counter in a retail sale.

Mail-order sales to individuals across state lines were outlawed by the federal gun-control law passed in 1968 (GCA68), because that’s how Lee Harvey Oswald acquired the rifle which he used to assassinate JFK. And which Federal agency did GCA68 designate to regulate dealer-to-dealer movement of guns? That’s right – the ATF.

I am still waiting for the first gun journalist who writes about the shockingly large number of gun dealers selling all those guns that end up in the ‘wrong’ hands to sit down and take the trouble to figure out how many physical locations actually exist where someone can legally purchase a gun.

This exercise has not yet been performed by my friends at The Trace, but they know ‘for a fact’ that the ATF only inspects less than 10% of all gun dealers every year.

They know. Yea, right.

Want To Fix The ATF? Don’t Ask The Trace What To Do.

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              Last week our friends at The Trace published a long article based on nearly 2,000 reports of gun shop inspections conducted between 2015 and 2017. The authors note that the ATF is coming under ‘scrutiny’ because a former ATF staffer, David Chipman, is going to start running the agency, and since he previously worked for Gabby Gifford’s group, he’s certainly going to change how the ATF operates and turn what The Trace considers a ‘toothless’ regulatory agency into a tough, go get ‘em outfit that will finally make a dent on violence caused by guns.

              Why do the authors of this totally contrived and error-filled article conclude that the ATF’s activities give gun dealers “immunity” from serious punishment and allows them to “enjoy layers of protection unavailable to most other industries?” Aside from the fact that these authors have obviously never worked for a bank or a brokerage house, the entire argument is based on this: “A single violation is enough to shutter a gun shop if ATF officials can prove that the store willfully broke federal regulations. In the vast majority of the cases analyzed by The Trace and USA TODAY, the ATF gave violators the lightest penalty available.”

              Of course, the so-called gun experts who wrote this nonsense never took the trouble to figure out how the ATF decides that a gun dealer has committed ‘willful’ violations in how he sells guns. And since the ATF only shut down 3 percent of the dealers who committed these horrible, willful violations, obviously gun retailers are being regulated by an agency which doesn’t know how to do its job.

              The article goes into great detail about some egregious examples of gun shops that were allowed to stay in business while they kept selling illegal guns. It starts off with a story about a West Virginia gun shop named Uncle Sam’s, which was allowed to stay in business despite numerous warnings about willful violations over multiple years while the shop operated as the “backbone of a sprawling gun trafficking scheme.” Obviously, the moment a gun dealer starts committing ‘willful’ violations, he’s another Uncle Sam’s and should be shut right down.

               My gun shop underwent a full ATF inspection in 2014.  The ATF team visited the shop numerous times, reviewed somewhere around 4,000 transactions of guns coming in and going out, they also examined hundreds of 4473 FBI-NICS background checks covering retail sales and other documentation covering guns sent to dealers, sold to tax-exempt agencies as well as the forms we filled out whenever anyone purchased multiple guns.

              At the end of this tedious and seemingly-endless exercise in the examination of thousands of pages of paperwork, it was determined that we could not produce requisite documentation on the transfer of – ready? – three guns. It doesn’t mean the paperwork didn’t exist. We just couldn’t produce the paperwork at the time the inspection occurred.

              Several weeks later, I received an inspection report from the ATF.  The report detailed the fact that the inspection team had found more than 1,000 ‘willful’ violations, each of which was considered a ‘threat to public safety’ and could result, under law, in shutting me down. On the other hand, if I showed up for a conference at the ATF, said my mea culpa’s and promised to do a better job, I could continue to operate my gun shop.

              The thousand ‘willful’ violations consisted of one violation repeated more than a thousand times: we didn’t write out the full name and federal license number of the same wholesaler from whom we purchased most of our guns. What made these violations ‘willful’ was the fact that when we received our license in 2002, an ATF agent delivered the license and also made some comments about how to fill out the forms. Incidentally, the two kids who ran the shop and had committed those thousand ‘threats’ to community safety weren’t even in the shop when the ATF agent showed up and allegedly delivered his spiel.

              I wouldn’t be so upset by this half-assed journalism if it weren’t for the fact that this story, reprinted in USA-Today, will become the new narrative used by Gun-control Nation to frame their demands for how the ATF needs to clean up its act.

              More on this tomorrow. 

Are Ghost Guns A Threat?

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              Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Justice published a rule on ‘ghost guns,’ which follows from a promise made by Joe that he was going to require more regulation of these particular types of adult toys. Want to build a coffee table for your living room? Go over to Home Depot, buy some wood and maybe some shellac, make sure you have a hammer and nails sitting around in the garage, and you’re good to go.

              Want to build your own Glock? Go on the internet, do a google for ‘build a Glock’ and you’ll come up with website after website that will sell you all the necessary parts. They’ll also send you directions for putting the parts together, drilling a couple of holes in the frame to fit the screws, and in a couple of hours you own a Glock.

              What’s the difference between the new coffee table you stuck in front of the couch as opposed to the new Glock you built and now keep under a pillow on the couch?  The difference, legally speaking, is that there is no difference, because both items were made by you for your own, personal use.

              On the other hand, if you hold a tag sale to get rid of some of your household junk, you might get a few bucks for the coffee table. But if you give or sell the Glock to anyone else, and the gun is traced back to you, there’s a good chance you’ll get convicted of a federal felony, and that’s no fun even if you don’t go to jail.

              Ever since the feds passed their first gun law in 1934, the concept and practice of assigning a unique serial number to every, single manufactured or imported gun has taken on almost mythical proportions for aiding cops in their unending fight against crime. And who’s ever going to argue against helping the cops fight crime?

              There’s only one little problem with this reverential concern for putting serial numbers on guns, namely, since we don’t have any kind of system for registering guns, the odds that the serial number of a gun will help the cops solve a violent crime range from zero to none.

              The ATF loves to pat itself on the back about the hundreds of thousands of gun traces it does every year, in 2019 alone they claim to have used serial numbers to trace 450,000 ‘crime’ guns. In fact, most of those traces, probably at least 80%, had nothing to do with crimes at all. And even if the ATF actually ran traces on 90,000 real ‘crime’ guns, I notice they never give out a number for how many of those traces result in somebody getting arrested for committing a crime.

              The new rule published yesterday by the DOJ requires that any federally licensed gun dealer who sells a ‘ghost’ kit must first log the kit into his Acquisition & Disposition book, give the kit a unique serial number and require that the buyer fill out a 4473 form and pass a background check. The same rule will apply to a licensed gunsmith who repairs a kit.

              So, the DOJ has just given the ATF some more work, ditto the NICS call center run by the FBI. Nobody has any idea about the actual number of ghost guns that are floating around, but the DOJ justifies this new rule, in part, by noting that between 2016 and 2020, the ATF received 23,906 reports of guns without serial numbers being connected to crimes. How many of those guns were given serial numbers by manufacturers and then the numbers were rubbed off? Who knows?

              The FBI estimates that somewhere around 300,000 guns are stolen every year. That’s 1.5 million guns that disappeared during the same timeframe that 24,000 ghost guns were picked up by the cops. Between homicides, aggravated assaults and armed robberies, there are probably 150,000 serious crimes committed each year with serialized guns.

              Want to use an elephant to swat a fly? Just tell the ATF to come up with a new rule for regulating guns. They’ll wheel out the elephant every time.

Buy at Amazon: Why Are Guns Lethal: 9781536814002: Reference Books @ Amazon.com.

What Does The ATF Really Do?

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              Want to read an article about gun violence which contains so many misstatements that it qualifies as ‘fake news?’ Try the article published in The New York Times about Joe’s decision to appoint David Chipman to run the ATF.

              I have nothing against Chipman. He and I have talked several times, and he’s a decent, stand-up guy. He retired from ATF and now does a gig with Gabby’s gun-control group.  He’s hardly the ‘fiery’ former agent that the NYT claims him to be.

              The inaccuracies in the NYT article run much deeper than whether they have created a false impression about David Chipman. The bottom line is that this article simply doesn’t show the slightest understanding of what the ATF has done or hasn’t done about gun violence over the last nearly fifty years.

              The ATF was assigned its current regulatory role over guns in the government’s most sweeping gun law to date – the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA68). The agency enforces the regulation of gun commerce, i.e., the interstate movement of guns. This happens to be the proper role of all federal regulatory agencies, whether the agency regulates the interstate movement of guns, cigarettes, money, potato chips, or anything else.

              Meanwhile, even though just about every gun which is used in an act of gun violence crossed a state line at some point in time, the control of gun violence, at the point where gun violence actually occurs, is left up to the individual states. That’s what federalism is all about, right?

              The GCA68 preamble says the law is intended to help law-enforcement agencies do a better job of dealing with crime. So, the ATF, from its very beginnings in the gun thing, operates in a kind of no-man’s land. The agency’s only statutory authority is to make sure that the behavior of the individuals who engage in gun commerce – manufacturers, wholesalers, dealers – follow the rules which define how guns move legally from one state to another state. When it comes to guns being used to commit gun violence, such events have little to do with the activities of the ATF at all.

              My gun shop was inspected by the ATF in 2014. Three agents from the regulatory division showed up and examined the paperwork covering more than several thousand transactions which had occurred in my shop over the previous years. At the end of this exercise, which went on for several months and involved at least a dozen separate visits to my shop, I couldn’t produce the requisite paperwork on the sale of – ready? – three guns.

              To complete the inspection, I had to call the ‘stolen-missing gun’ lady at the ATF’s Atlanta office, give her the serial number of those three guns, which she then put on some master list which presumably is used to figure out something about missing or stolen guns.

              One of the three ‘missing’ guns was the frame of an old Mossberg shotgun which couldn’t be fired because it didn’t have a barrel, or a trigger, or a stock. But the frame had a serial number which made it a gun. Another of the ‘missing’ guns was a 22-caliber, Iver Johnson revolver, which was manufactured sometime before World War II.

According to GCA68, my failure to produce the requisite paperwork on these two ‘weapons’ constituted a ‘threat’ to public safety. Such threats are felonies, punishable by up to five years in jail.

The NYT article follows  closely from a long, detailed report on the ATF published by the Center for American Progress (CAP) in 2015. That report was based on interviews with more than 90 staff from the FBI and ATF.  The NYT story was based on interviews with 50 ATF staffers and others. Neither the CAP report, nor the NYT article referenced an interview with a single individual – dealer, wholesaler, manufacturer – whose business activities are regulated by the ATF.

How do you determine the effectiveness of a regulatory agency without talking to at least one person whose entire business activity is controlled by what the regulatory agency does or doesn’t do?

You don’t.

Buy on Amazon: Gun Notes: Research on Guns (Guns in America): Weisser, Michael R.: 9780578453149: Amazon.com: Books

Biden Goes After Gun Violence.

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              So, Joe’s now making good on his campaign promise to do something about gun violence, and the first something he’s doing is nominating a former ATF agent, David Chipmen, to head the agency which regulates guns.  I’ve had several brief interactions with Chipman and he strikes me as a bright, responsive guy who’s not trying to prove to anyone how important he is. It remains to be seen, however, whether he has the management skills and temperament to clean up the ATF mess.

              I wrote a book about the ATF several years ago in which I pointed out that the agency has machine guns on the brain, among other things. They knew ‘for a fact’ that the Branch Davidians were building machine guns in their compound outside of Waco, but after the building was burned to the ground causing the death of 75 members of the sect, not a single machine gun or even parts for a machine gun could be found.

              The ATF also knew ‘for a fact’ that some guys were building machine guns in a car-repair shop in Tucson and then smuggled the gun over the border into Mexico, the resulting ATF investigation causing the death of a U.S. border agent even though no machine guns ever turned up.  This little ATF fandango was known as ‘Fast & Furious,’ a completely unnecessary and stupid exercise whose only purpose was to justify the agency’s attempt to get approval for a federal wiretap so that the ATF could take its place alongside the FBI and the DEA as a first-class law enforcement agency on the crimefighting front.

              The ATF has one statutory responsibility which it acquired thanks to the Gun Control Act of 1968. Namely, it’s a branch of the Treasury Department which regulates the interstate commerce of ammunition and guns. Which means that it regulates the behavior of federally licensed gun dealers, and all its other so-called responsibilities just reflect the way that given half the chance, any bureaucracy will find a way to expand its size and its budget in order to justify how it does its job.

              There’s only one little problem, however, when it comes to this approach as regards the ATF. Because even though the ATF has been allegedly regulating gun commerce for more than 50 years, the rate of gun violence keeps going up. And there has never been one, single study which shows any connection between what the ATF is doing out there and whether what they are doing out there makes any difference in terms of gun violence or not.

              The ATF, of course, insists they could do a better job if they were just given the money and resources they need. Let me tell you a little story about their staff and their resources, okay? 

              The night after the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook, the ATF dispatched a squad of agents in full battle dress and carrying live guns to invade the gun shop owned by Dave LaGuercia, which happened to be the shop that had sold the AR-15 to Nancy Lanza which her son then used to shoot up the Newtown elementary school.

              The transfer of the AR-15 from Dave’s gun shop to Nancy Lanza was done entirely correctly and in fact, it was Dave who first called the ATF to inform them that he had sold the AR-15 and a Sig pistol to the mother of the shooter at Sandy Hook. So, after a completely legal sale, these ATF militia spent the whole night tearing Dave’s shop apart and looking for God knows what.  The entire military exercise was put on hold for an hour, however, while the troops ordered and then wolfed down a generous supply of pizza pies, paid for of course, by the American taxpayer, folks like you and me.

              If Shipman wants to help solve the problem of gun violence, he can try to make the ATF into an agency that spends taxpayer dollars to regulate gun commerce instead of blowing its own horn. It would be a welcome and long-overdue change.

There’s another petition up there. Please sign: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow

Will Funding ATF Reduce Gun Violence?

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              I normally don’t write a Friday column but the news out of Washington yesterday is so distressing that I can’t let it go through the weekend without a response. What I am referring to is the decision by the House Appropriations Committee to increase the ATF budget by $122 million, money evidently earmarked “to improve the agency’s oversight of Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and operations.” The quote is from a press release issued by our friends at the Brady Campaign.

              The Brady release quotes a committee member, Grace Meng, who states: “Gun dealers who are knowingly breaking the law need to be held accountable, and I am firmly committed to ensuring ATF has every resource necessary to do their jobs.” Congresswoman Meng represents a large swatch of the New York City borough of Queens, which includes what used to be a high gun-violence neighborhood known as Jamaica. The committee chair, Jose Serranno, represents The Bronx as well as upper Manhattan, neighborhoods which also used to experience epidemic-like rates of gun violence year after year.

              Note the fact that both Meng and Serrano represent districts which “used to’ suffer from gun violence.  Know why I put it in the past tense? Because all of New York City has, of late, seen an unbelievable decline in gun violence, at a time when many urban centers throughout the United States continue to see gun violence rates going up. In 2018, the NYPD recorded 753 shootings and 289 homicides.  The gun-violence numbers for 2018 in Chicago, respectively, were 2,948 and 561. New York City has three times more residents than Chicago and suffers 1/4th the number of shootings that occur in the Windy City and half as many violent deaths.  Get it?

              Does this comparison in any way, shape or form have anything to do with how many gun dealers the ATF inspects every year?  Not one bit. And the idea that the bumbling idiots who work for the Industry Operations division of the ATF make any difference in gun-violence rates as they bumble around various gun shops is a complete and total joke.

              I went through an ATF inspection in 2013 which took somewhere around three months. After examining close to 5,000 transactions, I could not produce the requisite paperwork to account for a whole, big, three guns. I was also cited for several thousand infractions, each infraction defined as a possible ‘threat’ to public safety. Know what these public-safety threats consisted of? I had forgotten to list the FFL number of the wholesaler from whom I purchased most of my new guns. The wholesaler happens to be located thirty miles from my shop and sends a daily feed to the ATF of all guns it ships to retailers like me. 

              My gun shop represented such a source of crime guns that, on average, I received two trace requests every – year! Not every week, not every month, every year. The ATF says it doesn’t employ enough inspectors to conduct sufficient audits to insure public safety?  The public needed an audit of my shop like the public needed a hole in its head.

              I’m not opposed to the regulation of gun dealers by the ATF or anyone else. What I am opposed to is the idea that politicians like Grace Meng and Jose Serrano can make it appear (to an unsuspecting public) that their response to gun violence is the proper way to go. What they should be asking themselves is how to use their legislative and fiscal authority to really make an impact on gun violence throughout the United States. And the answer is very simple.

              Why doesn’t Congress fund a program which will help other police departments in high-crime cities develop and maintain the kind of policing that has basically made New York City a crime-free town? With more resources and better training, NYPD’s ‘precision policing’ and more effective community relations could easily be replicated anywhere and everywhere.

              Reducing gun violence isn’t rocket science, okay?

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