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Tag: Guns

Column: ATF Doesn’t Need to Be Dissolved; It Needs to be Properly Funded, Managed

Dan Thomasson
Las Vegas Sun

Here we go again. Rather than fund the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, let’s tear it up and hand it over to the FBI. The cost of that, of course, would be four to six times what just giving the maligned agency the kind of support it needs to carry out its statutory authority would amount to.

That’s the latest attack on the chief federal bulwark against gun violence. What makes this unusual is that it doesn’t come from conservative sources like the Republican right, but from one on the liberal side normally aligned with the Obama administration. The Fund for American Progress, a think tank, has issued a lengthy report that seems to be based more on interviews with ATF’s regulatory officers than those charged with enforcing the law.

Over the decades, ATF agents have faced increasing difficulties in carrying out their mission because of underfunding, lack of direction at the top, harassment from a Congress that would rather have no interference with Second Amendment rights, a policy that has seen the proliferation of firearms from Saturday night specials to the battlefield variety, and a steady increase in the number of Americans who lose their lives each day to firearms.

Examples of that kind of horrific violence have played out in schools, shopping centers, movie theaters and college campuses and on the nation’s streets. Among supposed civilized nations, America has become the chief model of mindless and deadly social disruption supported by constitutional fiat that has no relevance in today’s world. The latest blood bath recently took place in a Texas restaurant jam-packed with motorcycle thugs who reportedly had gone there for recruiting purposes. Before the Waco police, Texas Rangers and state police could get it settled, nine were dead, a number wounded and 170 or so arrested.

The only visible federal law enforcement presence was represented by those with the big ATF acronym on the backs of their jackets. Only a few days earlier, these men and women had been called to the scene of a mysterious fire in an upscale neighborhood where the bodies of four people were found — three adults and a 10-year-old. It took only a short time for ATF’s arson experts to determine the fire was deliberately set obviously in a botched attempt to hide the slayings. This kind of expertise has been developed over years of dedicated hard work.

To read more click here. 

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Bloomberg: Time to Put ATF Out of Its Misery, Consider Folding into FBI

By Bloomberg 
Editorial Board

Many members of Congress seem to view the U.S.’s most deadly criminals — those who carry guns — as a protected class. For decades, they’ve tried everything imaginable to cripple the agency charged with enforcing federal laws against illegal gun buying, trafficking and possession. Meanwhile, advocates of stricter gun-law enforcement have fought a losing battle to strengthen the agency’s hand. Now, it may be time to admit defeat and change the strategy.

The ATF, as it’s known, is charged with overseeing federally licensed firearms dealers, most of which are responsible and law-abiding — but not all. Criminals know the difference, but even when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has figured it out, it has lacked the resources and leadership to crack down.

A new report by the Center for American Progress recommends that the ATF be merged into the FBI. It’s worth considering. It would be hard to do worse than the status quo.

The ATF has long been a political punching bag, maligned by gun-rights advocates as an unnecessary intrusion on the Second Amendment. Just last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would stop the ATF from requiring licensed gun dealers in four border states — where Mexican gun-running is a problem — to report when someone buys multiple semi-automatic rifles. Merging the ATF into the FBI wouldn’t stop this sort of meddling, but the FBI director would be in a stronger position to rebuff it.

The ATF has been a target for Republicans — and many Democrats, too — ever since 1980, when presidential candidate Ronald Reagan promised to abolish it. They’ve had plenty to shoot at: The agency has a record of poor management, although Congress is partly to blame for making the agency go years without an executive director. During President Barack Obama’s first term, when the ATF badly botched an investigation into gun trafficking across the Mexican border, criticism reached a fever pitch, and has barely abated since.

Merging into the FBI might push the ATF out of the congressional crosshairs. The FBI, for all its troubles, is generally well-regarded by both parties, and its reputation could give the enforcement of gun laws greater credibility.

True, a merger would carry risks. Layering a poorly run organization onto one that works reasonably well could lower morale and harm performance. It could also distract the FBI from its most important work, including counterterrorism. There’s no doubt it would be a mammoth management challenge, but the two agencies have missions that are largely compatible, and a merger would streamline their overlapping responsibilities. The FBI and ATF both target violent street gangs. They both oversee forensic training programs for explosives, and operate forensic labs to process evidence from violent crimes. They both have response teams trained to handle hostage and explosives-related investigations. And while the FBI operates the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used for guns sales by dealers, the ATF licenses the dealers.

Lawyer: Federal Air Marshals Should Not Use Gun Ranges That Aren’t Lead Free

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal air marshals should not be using gun ranges that aren’t proven to be led free, the top attorney for the marshals told TSA on Tuesday.

The Seattle Times reports that a letter from attorney Lawrence Berger, who represents the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, was sent to to the agency expressing the concerns.

The letter following an April 13 investigation by the Seattle Times that revealed TSA has endangered hundreds of employees by having them use commercial ranges that have lead contamination.

“FLEOA demands that the Transportation Security Administration immediately cease and desist contracting with or otherwise utilizing any gun range that has not been inspected by or received an up-to-date clearance from OSHA that the range is safe from toxic poisoning,” Berger said.

The Seattle Times wrote:

When lead-based ammunition is fired, lead vapor and dust spread into the air and onto surfaces. If a range doesn’t have proper ventilation and fails to adequately clean the range, air marshals can be overexposed to lead. Shooters might also track the metal home and contaminate others. Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning.

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Border Patrol Agents Say Gun Shortage Forces Them to Share Rifles

istock photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A gun shortage at the Border Patrol has forced about 400 agents to share 100 rifles, one agent told Fox News.

That means agents aren’t able to calibrate their weapon.

“We are left to check out rifles that were unzeroed to us,” a border patrol agent told FoxNews.com. “This practice needs to be outlawed, as it could cost someone their life.”

One agent said it’s important to have a calibrated rifle.

“Imagine you are out in the mountains of Arizona, walking a trail known to be used by drug smugglers.As you walk up a ridge, a group of smugglers crest over the mountain on the same trail 100 yards away – coming straight toward you, armed with AK-47s,” he said.

The shortage was prompted by the agency’s desire to weed out M4 carbine rifles because of fears that they would malfunction.

Number of Weapons Seized at Airports This Year Increased 20% Over Last Year

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The number of weapons seized at airports this year have increased 20% over last year, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

TSA agents have confiscated 2,164 guns as of Christmas, which marks the seventh consecutive year of increases in the number of weapons seized.

So what’s the deal? Haven’t people been warned enough since Sept. 11, 2001, that they won’t be able to board a plane with a weapon?

It appears not, TSA officials said.

The agency launched a public-relations campaign last month to remind people during the holidays to leave their weapons at home.

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Record Number of People Trying to Board Planes with Guns; TSA Braces for Holiday Travel

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

No matter how many warnings the TSA issues, people are trying to bring guns onto airplanes at a record rate, Channel3000.com reports.

So far this year, more than 1,930 travelers were found with a gun – the most ever calculated in one year. The number caught with guns all of last year was 1,813.

Expecting 24.6 million travelers during the Thanksgiving period, the TSA is bracing for a surge in people bringing guns in their carry-ons.

The reasons for the influx are varied.

“Some people just aren’t using common sense,” said George Hobica, founder of the travel advice web site Airfarewatchdog.com. “What’s really scary is that eventually some of these will get by TSA and misused.”

TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said most travelers who are caught with guns claim they forgot they had their weapon.

“Perhaps we need stronger penalties for people who try to bring them, or forget to remove them, in carry-ons,” Hobica said. “That might jog peoples’ memories to not try to bring them on planes.”

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Border Patrol Agents Forced to Share Rifles After Problems Found with M4 Carbines

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some U.S. Border Patrol agents are being forced to share their rifles while on patrol near Tucson because the agency is inspecting the quality of the M4 carbines, KVOA reports.

“There’s a lot of agents that are pretty upset over it,” said Art del Cueto, president of the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector union. “We know it’s a dangerous job. We know what we signed on for but we want to have as much of the equipment as we need to perform the job.”

M4 carbines are used by Border Patrol agents and the U.S. military and have been common for the agency’s tactical unit, BORTAC.

Without their own weapons, some agents can’t personalize the settings on their rifles.

“The problem is they are now pool guns so what happens is instead of having their individual ones they have sighted in they’re having to use a pool weapon that you don’t know who used it before you,” del Cueto said.

Customs and Border Protection released a statement to the News 4 Tucson Investigators last week, stating: “CBP’s Offices of Border Patrol and Training and Development are jointly inspecting the serviceability of M4 carbines throughout Border Patrol Sectors nationwide. Some of (the) inspected M4 carbines were deemed unserviceable and removed from inventory to alleviate safety concerns. Inspections will continue to ensure the unserviceable M4 carbines are repaired or replaced for reintroduction into the field. No further information is available at this time.”

TSA: Number of Guns Discovered at Airports Increases for Third Straight Year

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of guns seized at airport security checkpoints has increased for the third straight year, Skift reports.

Security already discovered more guns this year than it found all of last year.

The number of guns reached more than 1,813, which is how many guns were discovered in 2013. In 2012, TSA found 1,550 guns.

“We don’t want to find a firearm,” TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein told Skift. “It slows down the line for everyone.”

States that have lax laws about carrying guns into public places typically have airports with the most seizures. They are airports such as Houston, Denver, Dallas and Atlanta.

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