In an examination of the history of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), writer Kathryn M. DeLong concludes that, “Like many aspects of the federal government, ATF has a long history of corruption.”
Ms. DeLong is the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month for September.
In nominating her for the Award, John M. Snyder, CCRKBA Public Affairs Director, noted she “writes regularly in a pithy fashion in defense of the individual Second Amendment civil right to keep and bear arms. She works to expose to public view the various fallacies of anti-gun owner arguments, and deserves this Award for her efforts.”
Ms. DeLong is a student at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is a political science major preparing for law school and writes a weekly column for the Guns and Politics section of HumanEvents.com.
In a recent statement, Ms. DeLong noted that while the facts revealed about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious have been the source of a great amount of public scrutiny, “this is only one of the many instances when ATF has acted recklessly and irresponsibly.”
She recalled the famous case of Randy Weaver when he and his family became the targets of a federal investigation after the FBI and Secret Service reportedly found out about what was allegedly Weaver’s involvement in the white supremacist movement.
“In 1990,” Ms. DeLong wrote, “Weaver was approached by an ATF informant, Kenneth Fadeley. Fadeley convinced Weaver to shorten the barrels of two shotguns and sell them to him. Once in possession of the firearms, ATF brought charges against Weaver, citing that the length of the guns did not comply with federal law. ATF tried to cut a deal with Weaver, saying that if he became an informant, the charges would be dropped. Weaver denied the truth of the charges and rejected ATF’s proposal.
“Weaver’s refusal to cooperate prompted ATF to report false information about him to other agencies involved, leading to label him as an extremely dangerous criminal. Because of this information, Weaver was summoned to court, which he missed due to a U.S. Probation Officer mistakenly telling him the wrong date. This resulted in a violent confrontation between the Weaver family and the U.S. Marshals and FBI, leaving four dead – a U.S. Marshal, Weaver’s 14-year-old son Samuel, his wife Vicki, and his pet dog.”
Ms. DeLong declared that, “Had it not been for ATF’s dishonesty, the bloody siege at Ruby Ridge would not have occurred.”
She noted that, “In a similar display of irresponsibility, ATF’s failure to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian ranch in Waco, Texas led to a 50-day siege, which ultimately led to the deaths of 76 people – more than 20 of which were children.”
Ms. DeLong stated “there have been many reports of ATF directors and agents behaving badly. In 2002, the chief of the ATF Iowa Field Office was arrested for public intoxication after threatening a group of teenagers with a loaded gun. More recently, in 2008, an ATF special agent was charged with hitting a woman with his vehicle and leaving the scene of an accident. Also in 2008, an audit was released in which the Department of Justice reported that 76 firearms were lost, stolen, or missing from ATF between 2002 and 2007.
“In 2009, the director of industry operations at ATF in Houston was arrested after a trip to New Orleans for official business. According to reports, Russell Vander Werf disabled a hotel fire alarm and replaced a bedroom door with a piece of plywood containing a ‘glory hole.’ Instead of firing Vander Werf, ATF simply reassigned him to the field office in Washington.”
Just last year, reported Ms. DeLong, “an agent was charged with second-degree murder after he emptied his gun on a neighbor in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also in 2010, an agent was convicted of stealing money from a house during a drug raid. Another agent was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession of illegal drugs, money laundering, and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense.
“If we cannot trust these people to abide by the law, how can we trust that they will ensure others are abiding by the law? Now, in the wake of yet another ATF scandal, it is especially clear that we need to take action to reform the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The number of negative incidents involving ATF agents seems to be growing; yet the agency itself is still expanding. Expansion means increased regulation, which is a concern – especially in regards to firearms.”