It’s not often I read about a proposed piece of legislation at the Imperial level and think, “hey, that’s actually not a bad idea!” But Wisconsin’s own Jim Sensenbrenner has one such idea – shut down the BATFE. Here’s the bit from his web page:
Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner reintroduced the ATF Elimination Act, legislation that would dissolve the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and merge its exclusive duties into existing federal agencies.
Additionally, the Act calls for an immediate hiring freeze at the agency and requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to eliminate and reduce duplicative functions and waste, as well as report to Congress with a detailed plan on how the transition will take place. Further, it would transfer enforcement of firearms, explosives and arson laws to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products would be transferred to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Under this bill, the DEA and FBI would be required to submit to Congress a plan for winding down the affairs of the ATF after no more than 180 days, and field offices, along with other buildings and assets of the ATF, would be transferred to the FBI. It would have one year to report excess property to the General Services Administration (GSA).
Let’s forget for a moment the inefficient, possibly unConstitutional and scandal-ridden mess that the BATFE has been since at least the late 1980s. Look at the larger precedent set; this bill would shut down an entire Imperial agency largely due to the fact that other, existing Imperial agencies can easily absorb their function, and probably do a better job of it.
This kind of legislation is tailor-made for the incoming Trump Administration’s stated goal of ‘draining the swamp.’ Here, Mr. Trump, is a pretty good puddle to start with. If we can make this happen, let’s get some Cabinet-level agencies up next on the block – say, Energy, Education, Commerce, and a few more.
Personally I stand with Barry Goldwater, who famously said: I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.
We may just have a chance to do that now. I say, let’s get cracking.