ATF cultural heritage

I saw this tweet from the ATF this morning and the picture stuck with me.

What sour looking faces they have. Is it because they hate their jobs? Is it because they hate people who drink alcohol? Something else?

Whatever the reason I can’t help but wonder if the prohibitionist culture is still alive and well at the ATF. Alcohol and tobacco are still regarded by many as at least somewhat “sinful”. By lumping firearms in with them doesn’t that create some sort of “guilty by association”? The FBI and your local police force deal with people as potential problems. People commit crimes and are fined and/or sent to jail as needed to punish them.

If alcohol and tobacco are considered harmful substances and must be controlled then is any stretch to think it would better if they were banned? Certainly a ban on alcohol reached a critical mass in popularity during the early 20th Century. The “founding fathers” of the ATF were the enforcers of that ban. This Tweet could lead one to believe the some people in the current organization are proud of their “founding fathers”.

I remember discussions about potential bans on cigarettes in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. And handgun bans were certainly being discussed during the same time frame. Wouldn’t the agency charged with regulation of these “sins” attract people more inclined to them being banned?

They may have changed their name but I can’t help but wonder if culturally it still is the “Bureau of Prohibition”. Certainly their anti-gun supporters want them to be that and it would explain some of the nasty things they have done to gun sellers and owners.


14 thoughts on “ATF cultural heritage

  1. Actually, I thought DEA was the successor to the prohibition bureau. Its original boss invented the drug problem as a way to continue to earn his parasite paycheck.

    • It kind of split up – the immediate successor to prohibition was the National Firearms Act. They had to do something to put all those G-men to work. The T-men that had worked Prohibition switched over to ATF.

      DEA wasn’t chartered until 1973, by Nixon. GCA ’68 was already in effect and Ken Ballew had already been shot (in 1971) by the Treasury’s Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Division.

    • Yes, but the predecessors of DEA started around 1937 or so, with Harry “reefer madness” Anslinger running the show.

  2. As regards the facial expressions, I think this is more an example of men trying to “look serious” for the camera in an age when people were largely clueless about how photographic imagery worked and had little experience being photographed.

    • You could have made that point in the 1860s, when photography was still fairly uncommon and required very long exposure times, meaning a person had to be very careful not to move during the process. Odd poses were common then.

    • You are correct. I collect vintage photos and I can vouch for the fact that people didn’t smile much in those days unless they were being silly with their friends. Most people tried to look serious in business photos (and these guys were at work).

      By the way, the earliest Brownie camera took round photos. I’ve never seen that many of them so I don’t think the camera was a common item.

  3. Quite possible.
    Then again, the question made me think of Neil Smith’s interesting observation, in a closely related context: ‘…take a good hard look at any major advocate of victim disarmament — Sarah Brady will do quite nicely — and then ask yourself: “Has this person ever had an orgasm?”‘ (

    • Sure they do. They were beside themselves with joy when they first started torching the Waco residence. It was obvious in the video footage that the Batboys were in an orgiastic frenzy.

  4. The cultural heritage is Progressivism

    They’re cultural police. Agents of Progressivist hatred of the dirty, disgusting, eating and breeding “masses”.

    They were an early step. Get the people accustomed to being herded. Get us looking to them for solutions, as we are right now, begging for more funding for them so our NFA applications can be processed faster.

    Put Tokenkopf (death’s head) emblems on their collars and the image would be more revealing.

    It’s been a long time to wait for the Progressives’ fulfillment of their dream of re-making humanity and so they’ll be getting impatient by now. Two steps forward, one step back. Two steps forward, two steps back. Repeat. This is what they’ve had to endure for over 80 years and it’s beginning to grate on them. That is one of the weaknesses of the Progressive method of slow, incremental communist revolution– they can’t all hold themselves back forever. Meanwhile it gives us time to study their history and see the patterns.

    Look for more attacks on internet freedom and communications in general. This is their biggest fear, that they’ll be largely outed before they’re ready. As long as we can easily acquire information and spread it around, they are in peril. Without a stranglehold on information, their movement is weakened.

    The general tactic is to entrench as much “infrastructure” (tools, organizations and resources of power, along with massaging public opinions) as possible, quietly, slowly, until they have us in a desperate situation. So far it has been working wonderfully, but more people are beginning to catch on.

    This internet thing wasn’t supposed to happen. They’ve lost much of their former media network monopoly. They’re going to have to do something about that, either by accelerating the timetable (moving hastily or prematurely) or by picking away at new media. I see both happening, right now.

    What they really need is a serious, national emergency as a pretense to clamp down harder and faster, and that too is in the works.

    The next obvious milestone is the midterm election this fall, and both parties will be very nervous about that, right about now.

  5. That guy on the left looks a bit like Putin. They may not have family ties, but they would be soul mates.

  6. The ATF (and, frankly, ALL traditionally “Treasury” law enforcement agencies) have suffered from the same cultural bias — they are crusaders. Their corporate culture is that Elliot Ness was a HERO. They fight evil bad THINGS, and any tactic is acceptable.

    Contrast that with the cultural myth Hoover very successfully (if hypocritically) managed to impose on the FBI — even the guys pulling black bag jobs on civil rights leaders “knew”, deep down, that they were _supposed_ to be the White Knights and above reproach. And it lasted, even for a long time after Hoover died.

    Corporate culture matters — the Marines have known this for hundreds of years, and it shows.

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