gun trace

Lawmaker Moves to Restore ATF Enforcement Powers

A new House bill would restore former enforcement powers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and remove the requirement for Senate to confirm its director.

Don Beyer, D-VA, introduced the ATF Enforcement Act (H.R. 4905) in an effort to ameliorate “procedural blocks” from Congress that restrict the agency’s ability to enforce gun laws  by removing limitations on operations and day-to-day functions, reports GovExec.

In other words, the bill would relax policies such as the one barring the ATF from using gun trace data to crack down on bad actor gun dealers whose firearms end up being used in crimes.

The bill also seeks to remove current checks and balances of a Senate confirmation vote on the agency’s director.

“Gun violence kills over 30,000 people each year, yet gun-lobby-backed congressmen and women took advantage of procedural tricks to handicap the ATF from enforcing our gun laws,” Beyer said in a release on the bill. “Since the ATF director position was first made subject to Senate confirmation in 2006, lawmakers backed by the gun lobby have refused to confirm the nominees of both Democratic and Republican presidents. This vacuum at the very top severely hampers ATF’s ability to carry out its mission.”

With nine other Democratic co-sponsors, the bill is unique among other recent Republican bills that propose either cutting ATF funding, or abolish it all together.

Meanwhile, each director of the Department of Justice’s other law enforcement arms – the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, and Drug Enforcement Administration – is nominated by the president and confirmed by Congress. The Senate approves even the head of DOJ’s 400-person Office of the Inspector General.

Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said he thinks the ATF director job should receive the same treatment.

“We believe ATF should be respected and treated like a first rate federal law enforcement agency on par with the FBI and have a Senate-confirmed director,” Keane said.

Posted in General News

Tags: ATF, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Senate

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