Despite widespread knowledge that its efforts to track illegal gun activity by putting guns in the hands of criminals have failed, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is still conducting “gun-tracking operations.”
According to the ATF’s Inspector General, the agency has failed to fix problems associated with the straw purchase storefronts it operates throughout the nation where undercover agents sell guns to criminals.
“ATF failed to devote sufficient attention to how it was managing its undercover storefront operations,” the IG said, adding that the agency “needs to consolidate its storefront expertise and ensure that it is fully engaged in each operation.”
One of the biggest problems with the ATF storefront operations is the same issue that led to the deadly failure of the agency’s Fast and Furious operation: It’s inability to keep track of the guns it sells to straw purchasers and how the sales are being made.
From the report:
We determined that ATF’s Firearms Enforcement Program Order, Order 3310.4C, which establishes ATF procedures for tracing firearms, does not require agents to perform traces on firearms taken into ATF’s custody “at the earliest time practicable,” as required in a memorandum issued by the President to all federal law enforcement agencies in January 2013. In addition, ATF’s Storefront Investigations Manual does not specify a time limitation or other 91 expectation concerning when agents should perform traces in storefront operations.
Media reports back in 2014 blew the top off a scandal involving the ATF storefronts, showing that agents in six different cities “took advantage of the mentally ill, set up stings near churches and schools and made decisions which some claim actually increased crime in their neighborhoods.”
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