Who the N.R.A. Really Speaks for
The A.T.F., which has helped convict tens of thousands of gun criminals, has of course been a perennial target of the N.R.A., and the lobbying group has worked relentlessly to limit the A.T.F.’s budget and strangle its operations.
Today’s A.T.F. operates with about the same number of agents as it did 40 years ago, fewer than the number of officers in the Washington, D.C., police force, yet it is charged with investigating violations of federal gun, arson, explosive and other laws nationwide.
Since the N.R.A. seems to loathe the A.T.F., one might think it would work to disband it or have its mission performed by an agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with its more polished and professional public image. But the N.R.A. prefers the hobbled A.T.F. just as it is, and every year it helps ensure that Congress approves legislation banning the transfer of A.T.F. operations to any other agency.