Column: Why the ATF has got to go

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Green tip, M855 5.56mm ammunition is photographed Monday, March 2, 2015, in Fort Washington, Md. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is proposing the ban of “M855 green tip” or “SS109” rounds with certain types of metal cores. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Green tip, M855 5.56mm ammunition is photographed Monday, March 2, 2015, in Fort Washington, Md. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is proposing the ban of “M855 green tip” or “SS109” rounds with certain types of metal cores. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Published: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 2:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 2:59 p.m.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can’t seem to do anything right.

Sputtering and wheezing like an asthmatic with a sucking-chest wound, the ATF lurches from one high-profile disaster to another, starting fights it can’t finish, and then meekly calling on other federal agencies to help pick up the pieces and accept the blame.

Lest you forget, in addition to epic failures at Waco and Ruby Ridge, this group of rudderless bureaucrats decided that selling weapons to the Mexican drug cartels was a sound investigative strategy. It would almost have been laughable, except that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered by one of ATF’s Fast-and-Furious weapons, along with many Mexican nationals.

That ATF is sick.

It needs to be put out of our misery.

The latest debacle is an unfathomable yet fast-tracked plan to restrict one of the most popular types of ammo designed for the country’s most popular rifle.

The gun-walking goons actually want to ban 5.56mm M855 “Green Tip” ball ammunition, because if the mistaken belief that its armor-piercing. It’s not, and that’s a key point, since the “Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act,” or LEOPA, of 1986 bans any round that can penetrate an officer’s soft body armor and be chambered in a pistol.

The fact that many cops carry Green Tip rounds in their duty and personal carbines was evidently never a consideration.

Millions of sportsmen who use the round already are feeling the effects of the proposed ban.

The price of an M855 round has already skyrocketed, thanks in part to hoarders, speculators and outright conmen.

This proposed ban comes on the heels of a similar ban of Russian military 5.45x39mm ammunition, which was popular among AK-74 shooters, albeit while it was cheap and plentiful.

That the Russian ammo ban sneaked through with little hoopla seems to have emboldened the misanthropes in charge of the agency, who are all very well known for their lack of common sense, their decided lack of loyalty to their agents, and their preoccupation with flashy headlines.

Well, headlines they are receiving, and they’re far from flashy.

Thousands of hunters and shooters are taking advantage of ATF’s public comment session, which several gunrights groups believe should be extended, to speak out against the proposed Green Tip ban.

I doubt it will do any good, since it’s a fait accompli. Any real action will have to come from Capitol Hill.

Senators and Congressmen are already signing on to strongly-worded letters that will be sent to ATF Director Byron Todd Jones.

The lawmakers want answers, and they question the reasoning behind ATF’s new-found desire to regulate ammo.

So do I.

Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Florida, has introduced legislation that would strip the agency of its ability to regulate ammunition.

Kudos, to Rep. Rooney and the other pols, but while these are all good ideas, I don’t think they go far enough.

It’s time to end ATF as an institution — defund them now — and parcel out their responsibilities to other federal agencies.

Besides, unless ISIS is fueling their fleet of pickup trucks with revenues obtained by bootlegged cigarettes, I think the country can survive without ATF’s tobacco enforcement.

At best, the ATF has proven itself to be an anti-gun institution regulating the firearms industry.

Either that or they’re simply incapable of standing up to the administration’s anti-gun efforts.

Either scenario should be fatal for the organization.

The ATF agents with badges and backbones would likely be welcomed by FBI, DEA or even IRS.

But ATF’s senior staffers should not get off Scott free.

They should be stripped of their authority immediately, a move which might start to repair some of the damage the mismanaged agency has wrought.

If we don’t run into each other at the range, you can reach me at (941) 361-4975, by email at lee.williams@heraldtribune.com or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can also follow me on social media at www.facebook.com/TheGunWriter or www.Twitter.com/ht_gunwriter

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

4 Comments

  1. Timothy Wheeler, MD on

    Thank you Lee. Others have said the same thing. This latest attempt to circumvent Congress by banning ammunition should be the last nail in the coffin of this mismanaged and dangerously out-of-control agency. Eliminate ATF.

    Timothy Wheeler, MD

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