- If President Joe Biden’s budget is approved, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) budget will reflect a nearly $700 million or roughly 50% increase in funding compared to the end of the Obama era fiscal year 2017 budget.
- The ATF’s budget is currently proposed at $1.9 billion for fiscal year 2024, a 13.6% increase from the fiscal year 2023 budget
- The agency has introduced pistol stabilizer rules, ghost gun rules and a “zero tolerance” policy for gun dealers during Biden’s presidency.
President Joe Biden is seeking to beef up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) budget to $1.9 billion in fiscal year 2024, a $663 million increase in funding compared to the end of the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2017 budget.
Under Biden’s proposed fiscal year 2024 budget, the ATF would receive $1.9 billion in federal funding, an increase of roughly 50% or $663 million compared to the end of the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2017 budget of $1.237 billion. Biden’s budget coincides with several gun control measures, including pistol stabilizer rules, ghost gun rules and a “zero tolerance” policy for gun dealers. (RELATED: Republicans Helped Biden Implement ‘Backdoor’ Universal Background Checks, Gun Advocates Say)
“Especially through the Department of Justice, and in particular with the ATF, this administration has declared all-out-war on the Second Amendment,” director of federal affairs for Second Amendment advocacy group Gun Owners of America (GOA), Aidan Johnston, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Whether it’s their demands for significant increases in funding for enforcement, by arbitrarily changing statutory definitions via executive fiat, or by implementing a zero tolerance policy to shutdown firearms dealers and expand an illegal gun registry, President Biden and his anti-gun cabal are doing everything they can to harass, discourage, and chip away at gun owners and the community as a whole.”
Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget would provide additional funding to the ATF to further regulate the firearms industry, create gun trafficking strike forces, enforce background checks and implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, according to the budget. Alongside the DOJ and ATF, the FBI will receive $51 million to support the continued implementation of enhanced background checks required by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
If the proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 is passed, the ATF’s budget would increase by 35.7% or $500 million compared to the final year 2020 budget of $1.4 billion when Biden took office. Year over year, the budget would increase by $200 million, a 13.6% increase from the fiscal year 2023 budget.
“Instead of increasing its funding and power to ‘nearly $2 billion,’ Congress should cut ATF funding to pre-Biden Administration levels or lower,” Johnston said. “Additionally, ATF should be made to exclusively focus on alcohol, tobacco, and explosives crimes and only be allowed to enforce firearms-related laws against violent criminals.”
Yep. You read that right—almost TWO BILLION for the ATF.
That’s a 13.6% increase over the 2023 budget. 🤯
If passed, the ATF would have grown 35.7% LARGER during the Biden presidency & 50.9% LARGER since the Obama Administration. pic.twitter.com/Vj76evbc9u
— Gun Owners of America (@GunOwners) March 9, 2023
The Biden administration’s ATF has implemented several restrictive firearm measures. After taking office, Biden announced the “zero tolerance” policy for Federal Firearm License (FFL) gun dealers.
The policy added updated language to define what can be classified as a “willful” violation, leaving FFL revocations at a 16-year high. The prior guidance said that the ATF “may” revoke FFLs while the new “zero tolerance” policy says that the ATF “will” revoke FFLs for initial violations.
The increase in license revocations, 92 in 2022 alone, is also due to the updated procedure that the ATF follows, as it no longer always go through a multi-step process, often opting to pull licenses for a multitude of “willful” violations, according to a GOA fact sheet and leaked documents on the updated policy.
“Back in the day there was a process that they would go through when they discover a mistake or an incorrect record, and it starts with a warning letter. They work with the FFL, and then on second inspection, if they find more mistakes, they’ll do a work conference and actually talk to the FFL,” Johnston previously told the DCNF. “Then, if they still are uncompliant, after that they would do a license revocation hearing,”
The agency has also added two final rules on the definitions of firearms. The first rule, announced in April 2022, defined the “frame and receiver” portions of ghost guns in an attempt to track custom, un-serialized firearms.
In November, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction against the rule, saying it is likely unconstitutional and causes an undue burden on the parts maker.
Following the ghost gun final rule, the ATF announced the stabilizing brace final rule. The rule, announced in January, will void all previous guidance on pistols braces, opting to redefine “rifle” as any weapon “designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” forcing pistol brace owners, many disabled, to register their pistols as short barrel rifles (SBR) with the federal government.
Second Amendment advocacy groups and Republican lawmakers have opposed the ATF measures, with Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb saying the ATF is in “confiscation mode.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and GOA filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration and ATF saying the stabilizing brace rule is “dangerous” and “unconstitutional,” according to a release.
Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Thomas Massie requested that ATF Director Stephen Dettelbach testify before Congress in April.
“Just last year, the United States Supreme Court held in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency that under the major questions doctrine, ‘given both separation of powers principles and a practical understanding of legislative intent, the agency must point to ‘clear congressional authorization’ for the authority it claims,’” the lawmakers wrote.
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