Name Change For The ATF

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 7 months ago

From WSJ.

As Evan Perez reported in the WSJ last month, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been thinking about turning its unwieldy seven-word name into something a little snappier. At the time, he wrote that Violent Crime Bureau was a candidate.

Now, quietly, the name change has happened—at least a little bit. For a few days now, the bureau has featured the new name at the top of its home page (, just below the old name. The site’s top banner reads, “Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives / The Violent Crime Bureau.”

The new name doesn’t have any legal status yet. Asked about changing names Wednesday, ATF acting director B. Todd Jones said, “That’s a concept that we batted around.” He added that the agency was focused on returning to its fundamental mission and said, “How it’s labeled is less important than what it does.”

The Violent Crime Bureau moniker reflects the agency’s ambition to take the lead in tackling violent-crime outbreaks in big cities such as Philadelphia that have seen an increase in murders and drug-related shootings. The agency’s current name is something of an anachronism because it brings fewer than a hundred alcohol and tobacco cases a year. And its reputation as a firearms regulator took a hit because of the Fast and Furious scandal …

So a name change has been “batted around” within the DOJ/ATF in order to save their battered reputation?  That’s how the new head is spending his time and energy?  My idea is somewhat different.  Leave firearms regulation entirely to the states, and hand ATF employess their pink slips.  All of them.  It would save money, and my bet is that it wouldn’t cause one iota of difference in crimes.

It would more closely comport with the doctrine of federalism so important to our founders, it would help to protect our constitutional rights, it would decrease federal meddling in the lives of U.S. citizens, and it would sweep yet another bloated and wasteful federal bureaucracy out of the way as we press towards streamlining of the system.  What’s not to like about it?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On September 21, 2012 at 10:42 am, Glen Tschirgi said:

    Better yet, elimination of ATF would give the Chief Executive one less goon squad to use a Praetorian Guard.

  2. On September 21, 2012 at 10:52 am, Herschel Smith said:

    That too. We could just keep piling up the positive features of this proposal.

  3. On September 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm, Manuel said:

    I could think of a lot more names that would be much more accurate, but I don’t think any of them would be something the ATF would be interested in putting into print.

  4. On September 24, 2012 at 9:53 am, Paul A'Barge said:

    uh oh.

    Now, with a name change and a newly added focus, someone is going to have to admit that young african-americans in urban areas have become gang bangers and are going around inflicting violence on their neighborhoods.

    Is that about right?

  5. On September 24, 2012 at 9:54 am, comatus said:

    Fifty-five emperors reigned with the Praetorians. Of those, the Guard killed ten.
    Not very good odds for a modern Chief Executive.

    I don’t disagree with what you say. It’s just kind of unfair to actual Praetorians.

  6. On September 24, 2012 at 9:56 am, Ne Oublie said:

    Why not mix it up a bit. How about Firearms, Alcohol, Tobacco and Explosives, or F.A.T.E. There aren’t any frightening connotations working there, right?

  7. On September 24, 2012 at 9:58 am, Cromagnum said:

    They should auction off the name rights of “ATF” as a trademark.

    It would be an awesome nationwide convenience store.

  8. On September 24, 2012 at 10:31 am, D.A. said:

    Well they are very good at committing violent crimes…

  9. On September 24, 2012 at 10:42 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Yea, or at least enabling others to do the same …

  10. On September 24, 2012 at 11:04 am, Inquiring Minds said:

    1) In light of Fast and Furious, Violent Crimes Bureau seems about right to me.
    2) Eliminating the BATFE would impact crime; it would decrease the crime that they manufacture through the bureaucratic minefield they have created for legal FFLs and gun shops.

  11. On September 24, 2012 at 11:09 am, DonM said:

    Keep in mind that the ATF is the police agency in charge of legal things.

    It is legal to own firearms. It is legal to make, consume, and transport alcohol. It is legal to produce, transport, and consume tobacco. It is legal to produce, transport and set off explosives.

    These activities are taxed, and through the taxes, are regulated. The ATF dances on the edge of ‘the taxes do not infringe’ the right to arms, while pretending that they have the authority to infringe the right to arms to people who do not pay the tax.

    Similar arguments for alcohol and tobacco.

    If they were gone, noone would notice.

  12. On September 24, 2012 at 11:10 am, DonM said:

    Remembe Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Fast and Furious. Yes, they are the violent crime bureau.

  13. On September 24, 2012 at 11:13 am, Herschel Smith said:

    I would add to this point by saying that the more I learn about ATF regulations the more disdainful I become. For example, I can purchase a long gun from FFLs across state lines in adjacent states, but not hand guns. It’s illegal to own a short barrel long gun (e.g., purchase a handgun with a barrel shorter than 16″) by adding a stock to a handgun, but of course, it isn’t illegal if I pay $200 tax stamp and tell the ATF when I want to carry it across state lines. It’s all about power, taxation, and jobs for government employees.

  14. On September 24, 2012 at 11:27 am, Arch said:

    The second amendment explicitly protects our right to keep and bear arms from infringement by the Federal Government.

    Where in Enumerated powers set forth in Article I Section 8 does the Federal Government (Congress) have the right to regulate alcohol, tobacco, and explosives?

    Answer: The right to regulate these items reside with the States.

  15. On September 24, 2012 at 11:59 am, Tyrone Slothrop said:

    Two incidents provide more than enough reason to shutter ATF– Waco and Ruby Ridge. There are many, many more cases of false arrest and unwarranted harassment of gun dealers and owners.

  16. On September 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm, Scott said:

    Apologies for the lengthy response….

    The ATF never really had a legitimate purpose to begin with, and even if they did its since been squandered away in one atrocity after another (Ruby Ridge Assault, Waco Massacre, Fast & Furious, etc.).

    I suggest that we come up with a new national gun control law – one that would make sense and at the same time completely replace all existing federal gun control laws on the books.

    For instance:

    – Feds retain authority over international import/export activity.

    Said authority would be restricted to taxation/tariff purposes and at the rates allowed by congress and once the firearm was in the hands of the importer it would be beyond federal reach. Feds would have no ruling authority to restrict the importation of a firearm, and ‘sporting purpose’ clauses would be eliminated. Arbitrary restrictions on importation (simple paperwork errors) would be voided and at the same time result in a reduction in the following year’s budget for that agency.

    – Feds would guarantee that the interstate transport of firearms is protected from hostile municipalities and states.

    The Justice Department would be obligated to take up and defend the gun owner in all cases wherein a private citizen was denied their 2nd Amendment rights by states or municipalities.

    – The Executive Branch would be forbidden from promulgating any executive orders regarding firearms.

    This eliminates Bush the Elder style executive orders banning guns like the Chinese AK.

    – The federal government would continue to operate the instant check system, but the states would have a choice as to whether to utilize that resource.

    – The feds would get out of the business of weapons classifications, as well as the direct taxation of weapons types, entirely.

    If Alaska allows shotguns with 12″ barrels, and Kansas allows belt fed fully automatic weapons, and North Carolina allows silencers, then the feds take a hands off approach and each individual state determines what kinds of gun control regulations they will accept and no federal paperwork is necessary.

    The 1986 machine gun ban would be voided, along with all other federal restrictions on weapons including short barreled shotguns and silencers. If the state allows legal possession of machine guns, then let the machine guns be manufactured!

    I see no reason the US can’t follow Europe on the subject of silencers and literally sell them over the counter with no paperwork involved.

    God knows we could use the industrial economic activity!

    FFL’s would no longer be necessary unless a specific state decided to retain that requirement, and the USPS (if you trust them) can deliver mail ordered firearms once more right to your front door.

    Basically, regulation of firearms would become a state issue. The 14th Amendment is the vehicle that extends recognition of the 2nd Amendment onto the states the same as the federal government, so even then the states will still be limited in what they can or can’t do regarding private ownership of firearms.

    – The feds could still restrict the 2nd Amendment right in the case of federally convicted felons, and the states could likewise restrict that right for the mentally incompetent as well as those convicted of state level felonies.

    Not sure what else the feds could arguably claim they need power for in this area of interest…..

  17. On September 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm, tom swift said:

    Very odd. A clear case of NewSpeak. ATF has very little to do with violent crimes. It was originally concerned with collecting taxes on alcohol, and so, quite logically, was part of the Treasury Dept. As part of the Homeland Security reorganization it ended up partly in Treasury and partly in Justice, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s moved again since. I have to deal with ATF occasionally but fortunately it doesn’t matter much to the end user which federal branch it’s operating under. Sometimes ATF does some legitimate law enforcement. Ten or twenty years ago there was a case of crooked Chicago cops selling confiscated guns and drugs back into the criminal market. As I recall ATF broke that case. But that’s police corruption, not violent crime.

  18. On September 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm, scott s. said:

    “For example, I can purchase a long gun from FFLs across state lines in adjacent states, but not hand guns.”

    The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (title IV) was the first law creating a title 18 crime of gun sales. It prohibited buying a handgun from an out of state licensed dealer (The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 created licensing of dealers as a regulation of commerce under title 15) in order to prohibit “mail order gun sales”. The prohibition was extended by the Gun Control Act of 1968 to long guns, with the “contiguous state” exemption (recall the concern about the Carcano used by Oswald). The Firearms Owner Protection Act of 1986 got rid of the “contiguous state” rule for long guns and substituted an “in person” transfer exemption. Some states I think, though, still have contiguous state laws and I don’t know the status of those.

  19. On September 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Yes, Scott, I know that the ATF regulation is implementing a law that Congress enacted. Perhaps I should have been clearer about that. The law is ridiculous, just like the Senates laws concerning “sporting use,” which I have argued to the ATF can only be defined with circular reasoning (presupposing the conclusion), and essentially has no meaning in modern firearms applications.

    So you’re right, in addition to the laws that should be changed (and should never have been enacted), there is also a problem with the regulation that enforces those laws.

    And as for the 1968 act, I just cannot say enough what a dark day that was. 1986 did little to make it better.

  20. On September 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm, Federale said:

    New name, same jackboots.

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This article is filed under the category(s) BATFE,Obama Administration and was published September 21st, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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