Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF or BATFE) is a law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice mandated to enforce federal criminal laws concerning the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives, as well as acts of arson and bombings, and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products. The ATF also regulates the firearms and explosives industries via licensing. The agency was formerly the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in the Department of Treasury, but was renamed when moved to the Department of Justice on January 17, 2003.[1]

The ATF works directly, and through partnerships with local law enforcement agencies to investigate and reduce crime.[2] The ATF employs approximately 5000 people across America and has a budget of nearly 1 billion dollars. Since 2001 the ATF has trained almost 6000 bomb technicians and investigators.

The ATF was severely criticized in the 1990's following several botched investigations and high profile shootings and deaths, including the Waco Siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. During the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, the ATF conducted "Operation Fast and Furious" which involved selling rifles to Mexican drug cartels. A gun sold through the operation was later used to kill a US agent, and others were associated with various murders in Arizona and Mexico.

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External links


  1. Title XI of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Public Law 107-296.
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives