The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (commonly known as ATF) is one of the most controversial bureaucracies of the federal government. For decades, it has been the subject of intense criticism and numerous congressional investigations. It has become for the most part a rotten fruit, crippled with technocracy, politics, and corruption.
Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted every year on the Bureau and none of our elected officials are willing to do anything about it. Even though Washington is going through a checkbook crisis that requires Congress to make as many spending cuts as possible, the ATF still remains intact.
But it shouldn't, because the Bureau's goals are both unconstitutional and wasteful. It began decades ago, in the first years of our nation, as a tax collector on alcoholic drinks. It then grew as a branch of the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service, before growing largely in size thanks to the Volstead Act, which made it a primary enforcer of the Prohibition. It took its current form in the late 1960s, when it became an independent agency of the Treasury Department.
Since 2002, the ATF is part of the Justice Department. But it continues collecting federal taxes over firearms, a task that could easily be taken over by the IRS, a more appropriate branch of government for the matter. Another function of the Bureau is to regulate the ownership of firearms, but this function is already unconstitutional. The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights clearly states the federal government shall not pass any laws against the people's right to own a weapon, and choice-restricting regulations made by the ATF goes exactly against this principle. In addition, all 50 states already have plenty of firearm regulations in place.
The Bureau is also in charge of regulating the sale of alcohol and tobacco. However, this duty is also unconstitutional. The federal government tries to justify this multi-million dollar function with the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but the Supreme Court's ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius last summer put an end to the unrestricted and dubious use of this obscure clause.
There are already countless regulations on the state and local levels across the United States to restrict the use of alcohol and tobacco. So the federal government has no need to regulate these products. But even more importantly, we need to remember that in a free society, a government, a whatever level, should never restrict our use of certain substances as long as we do not harm someone else.
As for the explosive regulating function of the ATF, it could easily be consolidated within the Federal Bureau of Investigation, effectively lowering the size of the ATF's bureaucracy.
Throughout its history, the Bureau has caused hundreds of deaths, many of which voluntarily. The Ruby Ridge and Waco Siege are both chapters of our history that shall live in infamy, especially because they eventually led to the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995. More recently, the Fast and Furious failed operation gave thousands of firearms to drug cartels who used them to kill dozens of Mexicans and numerous American citizens in Arizona.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives wastes almost $1.2 billion every year. In our times, this is an irresponsible budget for such a bloody and unconstitutional agency. It is time to abolish the ATF, fast and furiously.
Day 6 Summary
Leave NATO = $800 million
End CPB funding = $445.2 million
Privatize NASA = $17.8 billion
End the CFA = $189.5 million
Stop subsidizing cultural exchanges = $587 million
Abolish the ATF = $900 million
(Total Saved = $20,721,540,000)