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Tag: Bloomberg

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.

Bloomberg Column: Republicans Need Quick Course in ‘Shutdown Showdown 101’

By Jonathan Bernstein
Bloomberg

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security is about to expire, and Republicans are bickering about what to do next. It’s time for a quick course in Shutdown Showdown 101.

House Republicans passed a funding bill last month loaded with veto bait — riders that would block President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Senate Democrats (with support from one Republican, Dean Heller of Nevada) have filibustered, not even allowing the Senate to begin work on the bill. If nothing is resolved by the end of the month, Homeland Security will technically shut down. Most of its functions are “essential” so will continue anyway, though others won’t, and some employees may not be paid until the impasse ends.

But these (partial) shutdown showdowns always end. In this case, it may be before the department is set to close, or sometime later in March or even April. And some final agreement will be supported, however reluctantly, by the Republican House speaker, the Republican Senate majority leader and the Democratic president.

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell know that. So they also know tea-party types will blame one or both of them as sellouts and squishes. If they had only fought longer or with sufficient grit (the demagogues will say), the Democrats would have caved, and Republicans could have claimed a complete victory.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

NY FBI Sending Agents to Uganda to Help Probe Bombing

ugandaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI in New York plans to send agents to Uganda to help investigate the deadly bombing that reportedly was carried out by a group aligned with al Qaeda, news sources reported.

“The New York Joint Terrorism Task Force is in the process of deploying a team of agents and forensic experts to assist Ugandan authorities in their investigation,” FBI spokesman James Margolin told Bloomberg.

The bomb killed at least 74 people.

AOL News reported that the radical Islamist movement al-Shabab claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were revenge for Ugandan soldiers being in the Somali capital. It reported that the group is aligned al Qaeda.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Blagojevich Hated His Job (Washington Post)
NM Gunman Shoots Girlfriend and Kills 2 at Plant (AP)
Mich. Woman Gets Prison For Having Sex With Teen Son (AP)
Fire Ruins Martha’s Vineyard Coast Guard Station (AP)
Prosecutors Say Ark. Doctor Masterminded Bomb Attack (AP)
2 Chicago Area Men Sentenced in Ohio Soldier Plot (AP)
Opposition to Airport Body Scanners Growing (USA Today)

LA Times Editorial: Feds Need to Crackdown on Illegal Gun Sales at Gun Shows

gun

By The Los Angeles Times
Editorial Page
LOS ANGLES — For shock value, they may not rank with the videos released last month showing ACORN workers giving tax advice to a couple of undercover investigators posing as a prostitute and her pimp. But New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s covert recordings of what really goes on at gun shows are appalling nonetheless.

In the midst of a reelection campaign in a Democratic-majority city, the Republican (sort of) Bloomberg has latched on to an issue that appeals mainly to liberals: gun control.

Though New York state has fairly restrictive gun laws, Bloomberg believes firearms bought out of state play a big role in Gotham’s crime problems. So he sent private investigators to seven gun shows in three states between May and August and posted the results, including video shot with hidden cameras, on a city-sponsored website.

“So no background check, right?” the investigators ask. “Because I probably couldn’t pass one.” The response, over and over, is laughter, a shrug or even admissions from gun sellers that they couldn’t pass one either. Out of 30 vendors approached, 19 sold guns to people they knew were barred from owning them.

To Read More