Dissolve the ATF?

Legislation introduced Wednesday in the House would dissolve the federal government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 

Rep. Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerLive coverage: Mueller testifies before Congress Tech executives to take hot seat at antitrust hearing Big tech braces for antitrust crackdown MORE’s (R-Wis.) ATF Elimination Act would transfer the bureau’s responsibilities to other agencies housed at the Justice Department. 

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“The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal-ridden agency that lacks a clear mission,” he said. “It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership. For decades it has been branded by high profile failures.” 

The ATF has become a GOP punching bag in recent years after it was revealed the agency lost track of hundreds of guns, some of which ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, part of the infamously botched Operation Fast and Furious. 

The Sensenbrenner bill would transfer the agency’s enforcement of firearms, explosives and arson laws to the FBI. ATF would cede jurisdiction over cases involving the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products to the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

The two agencies would be tasked with delivering a report to Congress within 180 days of the bill’s enactment for how to wind down ATF operations completely. All ATF buildings — including its field offices around the country — would be transferred to the FBI. 

Already, there is significant overlap between the ATF and the other agencies, Sensenbrenner said. 

“At a time when we are approaching $18 trillion in debt, waste and redundancy within our federal agencies must be addressed,” he said. “Without a doubt, we can fulfill the role of the ATF more efficiently.”