An Insight into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

Topics: United States, Economy of the United States, Federal Bureau of Investigation Pages: 7 (2420 words) Published: November 8, 2008
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is a United States federal agency, but more specifically a specialized law enforcement and regulatory organization within the United States Department of Justice. The ATF has had a very dynamic history changing its name and duties many times. It was originally part of the United States Department of the Treasury. It was formed in 1886 as the "Revenue Laboratory" within the Treasury Department's Bureau of Internal Revenue. Following its formation, the ATF changed its name to encompass its responsibilities, ending finally as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after President George W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 in regards to the 9/11 attacks. This act also shifted the ATF from the Treasury department to the Justice department and gave the organization jurisdiction over all “explosive” related occurrences. The name of the organization makes it obvious that it is comprised of three divisions: alcohol and tobacco, firearms, and explosives. The ATF oversees almost all of the actions that coincide with their divisions. It’s 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. Additionally, with licensing, the ATF regulates: the sales, possession, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, and explosives in interstate commerce (ATF, 1). From all of its duties we can see that the organization has a significant impact on the United States economy. Whether it is the regulation of the sales and distribution of tobacco, alcohol and firearms, or the protection from harm we can see the economy alter in response to the actions of this organization. Critics argue both ways concerning the ATF’s actions. The ATF has made some decisions that have benefited the economy, while at the same time they have made some that have stirred controversy. All three of the ATF’s divisions are influential in United States economic affairs. The first of which is the alcohol and tobacco division. This division’s main focus is to prevent illicit activity dealing with alcohol and tobacco. This division is seen to have the most noticeable impact on the economy due to the magnitude of the distribution of tobacco and alcohol within the United States. The second division focuses entirely on firearms in hopes of reducing the amount of crime that involve the use of a firearm. The firearm division is very busy, with the rising number of gun-related deaths in the United States, the division must solve a number a complex problems. The third and final division deals with arson and explosives. This division enforces the Federal laws and regulations regarding explosives and arson. Together these divisions work to prevent terrorism, reduce violent crime, and protect our Nation. Just as with the firearm division, this division is seeing an increased level of activity due to the rising issue of terrorism occurring within the United States. Following the attacks of 9/11 the masses became more aware of the dangers that a terrorist can inflict upon a nation. The ATF now has the responsibility of helping to provide a safer future for many (ATF, 1).

The division of alcohol and tobacco has many goals. The first of which is to disrupt and eliminate criminal and terrorist organizations by identifying, investigating and arresting offenders who traffic in contraband cigarettes and illegal liquor. In order to do this they conduct financial investigations to seize and deny access to assets and funds utilized by criminal enterprises and terrorist organizations. By stopping the flow of illegal alcohol and tobacco the ATF significantly reduces tax revenue losses to the United States. The alcohol and tobacco division also influences the economy by preventing criminal encroachment of the legitimate...

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2. Hunter, Michelle. Feds shut gun shop they link to violence. [Online] 15, May, 2007. URL <>.
3. New York Times. Defense Contractor in New Mexico Faces Weapons Charges After Seizure of Warheads. [Online] 15, May, 2007. URL .
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