Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms

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Topic: Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)

Here in the United States, there are a variety of agencies that focus on different aspects of safety and protection for our homeland. Some are easily recognizable, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, and so on. But one of the lesser known agencies, and the one I will be discussing in this research assignment, is Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF for short. However, make no mistake that the ATF performs an important function in maintaining safety and security in the United States.

The ATF, started is a federal law enforcement organization within the United States Department of Justice. Formed on July 1st, 1972, its responsibilities include the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives; acts of arson and bombings; and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products. The ATF also regulates via licensing the sale, possession, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, and explosives in interstate commerce. Many of the ATF’s activities are carried out in conjunction with task forces made up of local and state law enforcement officers. The ATF also operates a unique fire research area, where full-scale mock-ups of criminal arsons can be reconstructed.

The ATF was originally part of the United States Department of Treasury, having been formed in 1886 as the “revenue laboratory” with the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Internal Revenue. When the Volstead Act, which established prohibition in the United States, was repealed in December of 1933, the unit was transferred back to the Department of Treasury, where it became the Alcohol Tax Unit. The ATU included several members from the “Untouchables”, such as Elliot Ness. From 1942 to 1973, the ATU was given responsibility over enforcing federal firearms laws, federal tobacco tax laws, and...
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