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Flashback: ATF recruits mentally disabled people to entrap gun store owners
By JD Heyes // Apr 04, 2023

Like most other federal agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives lost sight of its founding mission long ago: Not to 'entrap' Americans into committing crimes but serving as a resource to help them stay out of legal trouble.

Case in point: The ATF began using mentally handicapped people long ago to try and get a gun store owner to commit a crime.

A Milwaukee newspaper reported in 2013 that the ATF had established storefront sting operations, where agents had recruited people with mental disabilities as informants. Initially, the use of such informants was attributed to "rogue agents" in Milwaukee, but it was later revealed that the practice of recruiting informants with "low IQ" was widespread and also employed in Albuquerque, Pensacola, and Wichita, Ammoland reported this week.

But this isn't the only outrage the ATF commits on a daily basis.

The agency also considers all firearms without a legible serial number to be "ghost guns," regardless of whether they are homemade or factory-made firearms that have had their serial numbers illegally altered, defaced or removed. The ATF's classification of all such firearms as "ghost guns" has been criticized by some who argue that building homemade firearms is legal in most states. Additionally, the ATF has been accused of manipulating statistics related to "ghost guns" since the term was coined, the outlet noted further.

The ATF often files administrative criminal charges after another law enforcement agency has made an arrest. If a police officer arrests an armed criminal with a previous felony conviction -- a prohibited person -- they may request the ATF to pursue federal charges that typically carry a higher penalty than state charges. The ATF then takes credit for the investigation and prosecution, attributing it to their Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program, thereby manipulating the statistics, the site added.

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The gun industry also doesn't trust the agency that was established to 'regulate' it.

Manufacturers of bump stocks, aftermarket triggers, and pistol braces have all received determination letters from the ATF stating that their accessories were not subject to regulation by the National Firearms Act, which saved their businesses.

However, after political pressure, the ATF reversed its decision and categorized bump stocks and certain triggers as machine guns, and pistol braces as Short Barrel Rifles. This change in regulation is likely to be resolved in court, but the process will be lengthy and expensive. As a result, some manufacturers are waiting for the next administration before sending anything to the ATF for review, Ammoland noted further.

What's more, the agency's leadership is not well thought of among staffers. Some ATF agents are gun enthusiasts who joined the agency to take criminals off the streets and protect the public, or to qualify for a federal pension.

However, they distinguish between career agents who do the work and politically appointed leadership. In the opinion of many agents, political appointees are responsible for the agency's deadly mistakes, such as Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Fast and Furious, which resulted in the loss of civilian lives, Ammoland pointed out.

"The ATF’s website has no mention of Ruby Ridge, Randy Weaver or the 11-day standoff that killed Weaver’s wife, son and Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan," says the outlet. "Nor is there anything on the website about slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered by a gun the ATF let walk into Mexico as part of its 'Fast and Furious' debacle. The ATF devotes only one page to the deadly siege at Waco, although it is still attempting to deflect blame for the more than 70 deaths."

The ATF, like the FBI and a slew of other federal law enforcement agencies, is more about creating crimes these days than helping to prevent them.

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