May 29 • 05:35
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Should the ATF be abolished?

June 26, 2011
It is a generally accepted proposition, except in some government bureaucracies, that clearly incompetent employees should be removed from the organization. There is also a maxim in organizational development that says something to the effect that every effective organization on occasions needs to be pruned or it will become like an unruly plant in a tight space. Someone (we wish we could remember where we heard it) said that organizations like houses need to have a yard sale from time to time. It is a fact of reality that if an organization does not purge itself of the deadwood from time to time, and specifically when an atrocity, occurs that it will eventually become incapable of reform because the unacceptable has become acceptable.

Such seems to be the case with the ATF—the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

You can read about the ATF and the latest debacle by clicking here.

We think the ATF should be abolished and the actually competent members moved to other better managed agencies. The functions that the ATF performs that are actually needed can and should be performed by other existing agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI etc.

The reason abolishing the ATF is so important is that it would send a message to other government agencies that the people within an organization have to protect the organization from the unacceptable becoming acceptable. An organizational culture can become so dysfunctional that the ethos of the organization must be completely revamped.

Fast and Furious should never have happened. But simply replacing the few who were directly responsible and those who should have been supervising them is not sufficient. There were entirely too many people who knew this was wrong and did nothing. Thus, the problem in the ATF is a cultural problem, not just a matter of a few isolated misfits. Pruning it is not sufficient and will actually do more long term harm than to do what is necessary….abolish it. Cut the tree down, bulldoze the roots and permanently destroy it.

But there is still a pruning job needed. And that is at the Justice Department. The Attorney General needs to be pruned out of that organization.

  1. reply print email
    Sr VP and General Counsel, Nat'l Shooting Sports Foundation
    June 28, 2011 | 06:04 PM

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), as the trade association for America's firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, has called for a complete investigation into the very serious allegations which have come to light regarding Operation Fast and Furious. If the investigation(s) establishes the allegations are in fact true, clearly significant changes would be in order and those responsible should be called to task for their decisions. We think that would be a serious mistake and overraction to abolish ATF. To do so would be unwise and counterproductive. ATF, while far from perfect - no organization is -- has the unique role of being both a regulatory body and a law enforcement agency. Neither the FBI, nor the Dept. of Homeland Security have the knowledge, organizational experience or culture to take on the role of regulator. They are, as they should be, law enforcement focused. The firearms industry works everyday with ATF on regulatory matters. We wouldn't want to be addressing these issues with FBI special agents.
    Lawrence G. Keane
    Editor's response--While we are not informed enough to argue with you about the effectiveness of the regulatory mechanism for firearms, ammunition etc. we stand by our opinion that the ATF is inflicted with a systemic malady that must be corrected. We saw what happened at Waco. And we have seen similar, athough less tragic, abuses of power locally by ATF. We think there comes a time when the tree must be pulled up, root and branch and discarded, not just pruned. Fast and Furious is not the only instance but it most definitely should be the last abuse of power by this agency.

  2. reply print email
    Culture of unaccountability
    June 29, 2011 | 11:04 AM

    We really need a major re-organization of all federal departments, agencies, and bureaus, not just Bureau of A.T.F.E. But, first we need to deal with this latest atrocity. This time, we must follow the rat holes to the top and start making people accountable from top down. In the Fast and Furious fiasco it is difficult to believe the Secretary of Justice and the President of the United States had no involvement or knowledge. If they didn't that would be damning too (incompetence), but that seems unlikely, because all involved are in heavy cover up mode. This is not an isolated incident. This is not the first time the ATFE has been the instrument of an abuse of power. Remember the attack on Randy Weaver's family (U.S. Marshals, FBI, ATF) and the burning of the Waco compound (ATF)? This culture of unaccountability will not get better by itself.

    Charles Hickman III
  3. reply print email
    The Purpose of the 2nd Amend is so we can protect ourselves from
    November 21, 2012 | 06:59 PM

    The term "Well Regulated" in the Second Amendment meant "Well Manned and Equipped " in 1791 as was determined in the 1939 United States v. Miller case after referencing the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The concept of Government Regulation, as we understand it today, did not exist at the time. United States v. Miller also determined that the term "Arms" refers to "Ordinary Military Weapons". American Citizens have the right to Keep and Bear, which means Own and Carry, any weapons that a soldier carries into battle. That includes past, present and future weapons. A Militia consisted of all able bodied men. The American people still have some work to do with regard to taking back their rights.

    Pocono Shooting
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