A machine gun is like obscenity: We can’t define what it is, but everyone says they know it when they see it.
Well, that appears to be the case with the agency of the federal government formerly called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, anyway. According to a statement issued yesterday by the Gun Owners of America (GOA), “The Bureau has never published a manual detailing how they determine what is, or is not, a machine gun.”
If your main reason for existence is controlling weaponry like machine guns, shouldn’t the criteria for determining what a machine gun is be publicly known?
But the reason for the bureau itself is a bit iffy. Known (un)popularly as the “ATF,” it’s been in operation (in one form or another) since 1886. Ronald Reagan infamously dubbed it a rogue agency. Since then, the ATF has slogged through multiple scandals, and a major umbrella department change, moving from Treasury to Justice. And that iffiness has been exacerbated by recent investigations by the House Oversight Committee.
Indeed, in part based on the results of those investigations, the GOA now advocates getting rid of the agency— you can read the details in yesterday’s communiqué.
The group has a point. Recent ATF activity includes another of its weird attempts at entrapment, which ended up supplying a huge amount of guns to the Mexican drug cartels.
Another federal agency doing the opposite of its mission?
Not unheard of. Call it a typical misfire.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.