The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be eliminated under a bill in the works from U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).
Citing ATF’s recent operational failures and its overlap with other federal law enforcement, Sensenbrenner is preparing a bill to dissolve the agency and have existing agencies in the U.S. Justice Department take on its duties.
“By absorbing the ATF into existing law enforcement entities, we can preserve the areas where the ATF adds value for substantially less taxpayer money,” Sensenbrenner said. “While searching for its mission, the ATF has been plagued by decades of high-profile blunders….We cannot afford to ignore clear changes that will greatly enhance the government’s efficiency.”
A new Government Accountability Office report on the ATF released Wednesday found an agency trying to redefine itself while struggling with high personnel turnover and problems tracking its own criminal investigations.
The GAO report is the latest in a series of documents and studies going back more than two decades that are critical of the agency’s overlap with other law enforcement. At least two of those reports have called for the ATF to be dissolved and its responsibility folded into other federal agencies. The ATF received $12 billion from Congress between 2003 and 2013.
ATF spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun declined to comment on Sensenbrenner’s proposal, saying she first needed to see a bill.
Abolishing the ATF is being considered on both sides of the political spectrum.