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Editorial: ATF Left Without Teeth to Enforce Gun Laws

San Francisco Chronicle
Editorial

One of the gun lobby’s favorite mantras is that the nation doesn’t need any more laws to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals; it needs to start by enforcing those that are on the books.

But that argument evaporates upon closer inspection of the federal government’s systems for tracking and restricting gun sales. Congress, under pressure from the gun lobby, has made it about as cumbersome as possible for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to do its job.

As the New York Times reported last week, ATF has been operating without a permanent director for six years, mostly because the Senate has stalled confirmation proceedings. ATF’s budget has remained stagnant throughout a post-9/11 period in which almost all other law enforcement and national security endeavors have been showered with resources.

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