WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) plan to take on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) overreach by hitting Director Steve Dettlebach where it hurts most, the pocketbook. The two members of the pro-gun House Freedom Caucus plan to take Congressional action to attempt to zero out Dettlebach’s paycheck.
The two Republicans announced the move on Monday at a field hearing in Florida, where people talked about the ATF’s abuse of power. The Bureau has been criticized for tactics many consider heavy-handed and intended to make an environment hostile to the gun industry and firearms owners. Under the Biden administration’s anti-gun plan, the ATF has used its power to curtail the Constitutionally protected rights of Americans to bear arms. These attacks on Americans’ rights include the reclassification of pistols with stabilizing devices as short-barreled rifles that must be registered with the federal government in accordance with the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). Another attack is the ATF’s attempt to shut down the American tradition of making your own firearm. The ATF changed rules to reclassify unfinished frames and receivers as firearms reversing a history of ATF classification letters.
Multiple federal courts have determined the ATF violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and the rule of lenity by instituting the new rules. Multiple injunctions have been issued by District and Circuit courts blocking the new rules from affecting a large percentage of the population. Although the battle continues, most legal scholars do not think the rules will hold up.
The ATF has also launched an attack on federal firearms licensees (FFL). FFL revocation has increased under Dettlebach’s leadership by a mind-boggling 500%. The ATF has started stripping gun stores of their right to sell guns for minor paperwork errors. The ATF claim to be an industry partner with gun shops, but under Dettlebach’s reign, the Bureau has taken an adversarial role. Many in the industry think President Joe Biden is using the ATF to make it harder for Americans to exercise their constitutionally protected rights.
The ATF has also shown up in force at a local Georgia gun store with out-of-state industry operation inspectors for a massive inspection. The inspection was so out of the ordinary that Rep Taylor Greene responded to the country’s largest gun shop to confront the agents about the inspection. Rep. Taylor Green saw this ATF inspection as ATF overreach.
Rep. Gaetz said the move to eliminate the ATF director’s salary was to “constrain resources that would otherwise be used to put people out of business and to harm our fellow Americans.”
The duo plan on using the Holman Rule to eliminate Dettlebach’s paycheck. The Holman Rule lets members of Congress add amendments to spending bills that can reduce or eliminate funding for programs already authorized by Congress. The act also includes the elimination of salaries for certain government employees, including Directors of federal agencies.
The Holman Rule was resurrected by Speaker of The House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as a part of a deal with the House Freedom Caucus during tense negotiation during McCarthy’s bid to capture the Speaker’s gavel. The Freedom Caucus has increased its power in recent years and has used that power to force votes on things such as disavowing the ATF’s pistol brace rule.
It is unknown if the move to zero out Dettlebach’s paycheck will succeed, but it does show a willingness to confront the ATF by certain House members, and those members call the ATF’s top brass to the carpet.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.