Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  966 Words
Date:  2022-05-09

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is a United States law enforcement agency in the Department of Justice. ATF protects the communities against criminal organizations, violent criminals, trafficking and illegal use of firearms, acts of arson and bombings, illegal storage and use of explosives, acts of terrorism, and illegal diversion of tobacco and alcohol products through investigation and prevention measures (Krouse, 2011). ATF is headquartered in Washington D.C. ATF has a long history dating back to 18th century. In 1791, the Congress imposed a tax on distilled spirits with the aim of raising income for offsetting American Revolution debts. However, the tax was unpopular and led to 1794 uprising known as Whiskey Rebellion. As a result, tax laws reformed until the 1860s when the government was authorized by law to fund detectives that would be in charge of identifying, capturing and punishing tax evaders. These tax reforms gave rise to antecedents of ATF. In 1952, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division (ATTD) was established to enforce laws related to manufacture and distribution of these substances after the prohibition era. The scope and responsibilities of the agency expanded following the passage of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. ATTD was then empowered to enforce laws relating to criminal storage and use of explosives, and it was renamed Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division (ATFD). Over the years, ATF was assigned more responsibilities including investigating cigarette smuggling and arson (the 1970s), antiterrorism and explosives violation (1990s) and terrorism investigations and prevention (2000s) (Parsons & Gerney, 2015).

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

ATF operates under its mission to regulate the legal commerce in firearms as well as enforcing Gun Control Act with the aim of ensuring that the guns do not get to black market (Krouse, 2009). Consequently, ATF engages in four main activities towards fulfilling its mission. First, ATF monitors interstate illegal trafficking of guns and develops criminal investigations to act as surveillance of interstate illegal gun and drug trafficking. Second, much of the ATF work is on investigations. It investigates special venues for diversion of guns into the black market. It investigates gun shows and internet to spot any illegal gun market. Third, ITF concentrates on criminal investigative resources that aid in identifying, investigating and apprehending the lethal end users of illegal firearms. The agency involves local enforcement parties on this front. Fourth, the agency regulates the firearm industry by acting as an oversight agency that ensures federal licenses comply with the law (Krouse, 2009).

Apart from firearm-related work, ATF has also developed its secondary mission and accompanying responsibilities. In the secondary responsibilities, the agency involves itself in regulating the explosives. In this regard, ATF agents work together with Federal Bureau Investigators to regulate the explosives incidents. Also, the agency actively investigates arson incidences. This responsibility is undertaken alongside the four National Response Teams which respond to emergencies around the country. The emergencies are related to arson or explosives. To a limited extent, ATF engages in trafficking of contraband tobacco and alcohol products (Parsons & Gerney, 2015).

In ensuring that these challenging activities are adequately undertaken, ATF has positioned its field offices throughout the country and its territories. The offices are equipped with highly trained and specialized agents who investigate the federal law violations relating to explosives, firearms, arson, alcohol and tobacco products. The specialized ATF agents or officers undertake their investigations through surveillance work, interviewing witnesses and suspects, arresting suspects, searching for physical evidence as well as obtaining and executing search warrants (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, n.d.). The ATF officers are tough both mentally and physically. They undergo rigorous training, personal risks, extensive travel and irregular hours. The special agents of ATF investigate criminal violation relating to federal law and under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. They also investigate violation relating to arson, explosives, alcohol and tobacco diversion, prepare concise investigative reports, testify in court on behalf of the government and present evidence gathered through seizures, arrests, and variety of other means (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, n.d.).

Currently, ATF experiences poor coordination regarding gun control and this is the major challenge to the operations of the agency. Naturally, American citizens own guns and are guaranteed by the Second Amendment. However, these guns have been used for criminal activities and exchanged through trafficking. Gun laws vary among states which call for ATF agents to coordinate with various law enforcement agencies in different states. When the coordination is not effective, the investigative activities of the agency relating to trafficking become challenging (Parsons & Gerney, 2015).


Overall, ATF plays a critical role in the Department of Justice in preventing criminal activities relating to firearms, arson, explosives, trafficking, alcohol, tobacco and illegal use of arms. In attaining this role, the agency recruits specialized agents and officers who investigate, monitor, arrest and prosecute those engaging in criminal activities relating to firearms. The agency also regulates the use of firearms and alcoholic and tobacco products to ensure that users do not violate the federal laws. They also oversee licensing to ensure that they comply with the law. However, roles of the agency such as investigating interstate trafficking are often undermined by lack effective coordination with local enforcement agencies.


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.atf.gov/careers/becoming-special-agent

Krouse, W. J. (2009). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Budget and Operations. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.

Krouse, W. J. (2011). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Budget and Operations for FY2011. In Congressional Research Service Report for Congress R41206.

Parsons, C., & Gerney, A. (2015). A review of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a proposal to merge it with the federal Bureau of Investigation. Center for American Progress.

Cite this page

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Essay. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/bureau-of-alcohol-tobacco-firearms-and-explosives-essay

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism