The ATF Has Resumed Openly Murdering Americans

Many people who know anything about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE, or ATF for short) will know they started off as a “harmless” tax collecting agency that eventually turned into a law enforcement agency in its own right. In other words, they evolved from a bunch of glorified robbers with mechanical calculators and spreadsheets into a gang of violent thugs with guns and badges. This transformation became obvious to the world in the famous Ruby Ridge (1992) and Waco (1993) incidents, both having had heavy ATF involvement and with the latter event culminating in an open massacre of the Branch Davidians that included women and children.

Later as they have cooled their trigger fingers, the ATF’s side gig of deliberately allowing guns to flow into Mexico for “tracking purposes” was exposed in the Fast and Furious scandal after two of these guns turned up near the scene of the killing of Brian Terry, a border patrol officer, in 2010 (a whole of lot of good this “tracking” did).

In more recent years, ATF’s favorite pastime has been to send several car-loads worth of thugs LARPing with full tactical gear to raid and intimidate American licensed gun dealers for supposed infractions of federal firearms laws and confiscate their property. Jim Skelton had his business raided in 2021 after a federal entrapping weasel lied on the federal background check forms and successfully purchased several firearms (a whole lot of good this “background check” did). Russell Fincher was raided at his home in 2023, one of the reasons being that he sold firearms without a Federal Firearms License (FFL), even though he had one. He was yelled at, threatened, and ultimately intimidated into giving up his license.

However, lately the ATF must have been having the blues and reminiscing about the good ol’ days when they could get some solid trigger time on some innocent Americans instead of just yelling at them and stealing their stuff, because just a couple of months ago they raided the home of Bryan Malinowski and shot and killed him.

Malinowski, executive director of the Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, was an avid gun collector and would frequent gun shows to buy and sell firearms with other private individuals, which is completely legal and does not require an FFL. His frequent buying and selling of guns prompted the ATF to consider him as “engaging in the business of selling firearms” and therefore violating a federal law by not having an FFL (what the actual threshold is, nobody knows). They thus obtained a search warrant and proceeded to serve it in the most dangerous way possible.

Even though they knew his workplace, work schedule, and phone number, they showed up at Malinowski’s house completely unannounced over an hour before sunrise, covered up the doorbell camera, cut their electricity, and then loudly banged on his door before breaking it down while Malinowski and his wife were asleep. The ATF deliberately created a situation in which any reasonable person would assume his home is being invaded by a gang of violent thugs (which was true in this case, but with the caveat that they had badges) and would be legally and morally justified in taking appropriate self-defense measures by shooting the intruders, which Malinowski did. One ATF agent was hit, but the gang (of which there were roughly ten carloads) returned fire, hitting Malinowski in the head. Naturally they confiscated a bunch of his property afterward.

Just recently a Congressional hearing was held regarding the ATF raid, in which members of Congress engaged in the usual partisan theatrics for our amusement in front of some cameras. One Stacy Plaskett (D-VI) took the opportunity to rant about Donald Trump and mass shootings (totally relevant to the ATF raid). Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) argued that the ATF was being over-zealous with its recent increased rate of revocations of FFLs (as if some “ideal” amount of zealousness exists in enforcing a ridiculous and pointless licensing scheme).

Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) expressed his anger that they were “criticizing the ATF because they retaliated with deadly force” after someone shot an ATF agent (who at the time was a violent intruder). Rep. Debbie Schultz (D-FL), remarked that there are “far too many loopholes” when buying a gun (like when entrapping weasels lie on federal background check forms) and then later said “isn’t it true that clerical errors can often be serious problems that cause guns to fall into a criminal’s hands?” (like when the ATF itself let a bunch of guns fall into criminals’ hands in Mexico).

Later in a separate hearing with ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, Jordan put Dettelbach’s feet to the proverbial (special effects) fire by questioning him about the policy of federal officers while executing search warrants to have body cameras on, which were distinctly missing in the Malinowski incident. Dettelbach replied that because the policy had a “phased implementation,” only about a third of all ATF agents had them (The policy was only over 20 months old at the time; give them a break!). Of course, when the ATF issues its various arbitrary and capricious rulings, such as the infamous bump-stock, pistol-brace, and frame-definition rules, we common plebs must obviously comply immediately or face the prospect of federal charges, while the ATF itself can take its sweet time to implement something as novel and intricate as body cameras! How convenient it must be to be the enforcer of one’s own rules.

In the end, I think the ATF is unlikely to face any consequences of note for breaking into an innocent American’s house and murdering him. It is noteworthy that the Malinowski raid, which was premised on the excuse that he was considered an unlicensed gun dealer, took place roughly two months before a new rule was to go into effect (it has been stayed as of this writing). This rule “clarifies” who is to be considered as “engaging in the business” as a gun dealer. However, in typical government fashion, the only thing that is really clarified is the fact that the ATF intends to further confuse the public and exercise increasingly arbitrary power to terrorize and prosecute American gun owners. There is really only one remedy. Abolish the ATF.

Originally Posted at https://mises.org/

By Mises