ATF Abuse Hearing in Congress

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ATF has been known for its institutional abuse of power throughout history. Now, more than ever, the agency is being weaponized as a means to punish peaceable gun owners and drive small businesses out of the marketplace by inventing creative statutory interpretations surpassing the agency’s authority and scrutinizing federal firearms licensees every actions in a ‘gotcha’ manner.

With the directives from the Biden Administration a simple mistake such as transposing a digit or placing required information in the wrong field results in license revocation, rather than a warning, under the guise of a ‘willful violation’ of the Gun Control Act. This overbearing approach does nothing to support the government’s interest in compliance and destroys livelihoods over innocent mistakes.

Adam Kraut
SAF Executive Director
March 22, 2023

A government regulatory agency for firearms is directly constitutionally prohibited. Alcohol and tobacco regulations is prohibited indirectly because there is no enumerated power which allow it. It will take a lot more litigation but that is a possible, and the correct, outcome of the Buren decision. With the current demonstrations of institutional abuse of power they should be moved to the top of the list of people who should be prosecuted.

If I had my way, ATF would be the name of a convenience store or a church.


8 thoughts on “ATF Abuse Hearing in Congress

  1. True, though it doesn’t requires the Bruen decision to make it clear the ATF is unconstitutional. All that is required, for the reasons you pointed out, is an understanding of plain English words. Specifically, those of Article 1 Section 8, which don’t mention it. And therefore (by the opening sentence of Article 1) it is obviously unconstitutional. No further analysis is required if you take the Constitution seriously. But that, of course, is the problem; hardly anyone in the history of the USA has done so.

  2. If The BATFE had stuck to its enabling legislation as a tax collection agency under Treasury, and the taxes had not been onerously implemented to effect bans rather than raise revenue, there would have been grumbling but nowhere near this level of absolute loathing.

    Congress has an enumerated power to implement taxes, but even that power is constrained by the restriction of the Second Amendment. (Also the First and Fifth Amendments… and if they ever get the idea to require tracking devices in cars, throw in the Third Amendment, too, for being required to ‘quarter’ that ‘virtual troop’.)

    That’s why I think the NFA’34 is vulnerable. As a tax, if it were collected as any other modern tax is, it’d be unassailable. But you’d also pay it at point of sale after passing a background check just like any other firearm purchase, and it’d probably be a percentage of the purchase price rather than a ridiculous fixed fee intended to destroy the market for cheap disposable suppressors. But even the testimony in Congress as they were passing it was about how to get the effect of a ban through a tax because they knew perfectly well in ’34 that an overt ban wouldn’t survive Constitutional scrutiny. The Bruen standard is going to destroy the NFA’34 if the government clings to it as ‘gun regulation’. It’ll get destroyed on a tax basis because it is implemented as a gun ban. If they changed it to be instant-check, percentage of price but not to exceed $200, no-registration retail sales tax, it’ll survive.

    • I don’t believe congresses power to tax or regulate commerce can be used to legally lord over a constitutional prohibition.
      Our forefathers were acutely aware of taxes being used as a weapon of control.
      The NFA was never a revenue bill. It was a behavior modification law. It was billed as a way to stop petty criminals/people from getting guns/products the government did not want you to have by making it too expensive, right?
      It was always a way around the 2A. Both the tax and the red tape. Congressional arguments admit that.
      Beside outright fraud on the part of congress in passing it. It would seem we both have forgotten that they have no place in the firearms business at all.
      And our forefather wisdom in expressing that in the form of 2A is well founded.
      We have forgotten the ancient wisdom they learned the hard way.
      All government is corrupt. It always was. And it always will be. It cannot be fixed, only controlled.
      Ruby ridge and Waco should have put the ATF down for the rabid scum they are, in a sane society.
      It appears it’s our turn in the barrel.
      Bruen is a good decision. But it’s still government weasel works. Just like the NFA.

      • That’s why I laid out what a constitutional tax would look like, because I know the gun-grabbers will never give in to turn it into an actual revenue producer.

        I am preparing for my opponent a golden bridge, to paraphrase Sun Tzu. If they take that bridge, I benefit greatly at less expense, and I am not foreclosed on further pursuit. If they don’t take the bridge, I destroy them utterly, but it may take longer and at more effort. Either way, I plan for their defeat in detail.

      • The power to tax is an interesting Constitutional question. At the time of ratification, the Constitution was attacked because it appeared to include an unlimited power to tax.
        Madison pretended to refute that with the words: “But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon?” (Federalist #41).
        I say “pretended” because the normal English way to read a list punctuated by a consistent punctuation mark (semicolon, in this case) is as a sequence of independent items. It doesn’t make sense to claim that list entry #1 is a generic statement that is then constrained by list items 2 through 12.
        So while the propaganda of the time said that the power to tax is limited, the words don’t really support that. And as we well know, the limitations supposedly required by the Constitution have been generally ignored by politicians of all three branches roughly from the moment the ink on them dried.

        • It would seem no matter how the words were arranged and punctuated. An amendment, amends that which wrote before it.
          If one can still argue congresses “power of taxation”, is not amended by “shall not be infringe over firearms”. Then the whole scheme of limited government falls apart.
          The constitution was ratified because those first 10 strictions on government, governed the constitution.
          Anything else argued is notwithstanding.

  3. Of course the ATF is an unconstitutional agency. ANY agency tasked with infringing on a specific Right, especially one so clearly articulated as the Second Amendment is an illegal entity. But legal/illegal is IRRELEVANT to the people running the Fed Gov. They simply DO NOT CARE. They intend to do what they want when they want because to date there is NOBODY to stop them. Till that changes they will continue doing what they are doing. The Constitution has no more power over corrupt politicians than a court restraining order has over an angry ex spouse. BOTH must be backed up with credible violence….which MUST be used when a violation occurs.

  4. The ATF (before the “F” was added) started as “Revenooers” – the agencies that collected the excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco. That was entirely according to the Constitution, but it was a power to tax, and maybe a power to regulate only to the point of making tax collection easier, not a power to make any regulations they wanted.

    Then they went completely off the reservation with the NFA. With an actual tax, you pay the tax for, say, 1,000 cartons of cigarettes, and they send you 1,000 stickers to mark the cartons as tax-paid. They DON’T get to sit on your money for six months, and then decide whether or not they’ll let you own the cigarettes.

    That’s not a tax, it’s a regulation, which is only made more intrusive by a fee. And it’s regulating something that the Constitution says “shall not be infringed”.

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