Republican proposes abolishing the ATF amid bullet ban controversy

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Rep. Jim SensenbrennerJames SensenbrennerThe tough on crime era needs to end Shift in care could reverse the opioid epidemic Republicans hammer Lynch for ceding Clinton decision to FBI MORE (R-Wis.) has reintroduced legislation to do away with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Sensenbrenner, a senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the policies under ATF's jurisdiction could be easily incorporated into other agencies. Moreover, he argued, the ATF has become embroiled in too many controversies in recent years, like the botched "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation.

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"The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that lacks a clear mission. Its 'Framework' is an affront to the Second Amendment and yet another reason why Congress should pass the ATF Elimination Act," Sensenbrenner said in a statement.

The ATF has drawn the ire of Republican lawmakers for its proposed ban on an armor-piercing bullet used in AR-15 rifles. Republicans say that hunters frequently use the bullets. The bureau says it initiated the regulation to help protect law enforcement officers from bullets that can pierce armored vests.

Sensenbrenner's bill would transfer the ATF's functions related to guns, explosives and violent crime to the FBI. Meanwhile, responsibilities regarding alcohol and tobacco laws would fall under the Drug Enforcement Administration's jurisdiction.

The ATF director would have 180 days, or about six months, to submit a plan to Congress on how to wind down the agency.

Dissolving the ATF hasn't always been a priority for just Republicans, who generally oppose gun restrictions. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, previously introduced a bill in 1993 to turn over the ATF's duties to other parts of the Justice Department.