The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) claims a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) complaint improperly targets them. In their response, which you can view here, they claim:
“The ATF is not an ‘agency’ within the meaning of the F.O.I.A., 5 U.S.C. § 552 (f) (1), and is, therefore, not a proper party defendant”
The complaint, which was filed June 23, 2015, in the US District Court for D.C., is demanding an order to force the ATF to comply with a Freedom Of Information Act request filed in March that was ignored, violating Federal Law. The FOIA sought copies of policies & rulings relied on in enforcement & determination actions is being sought to ensure consistency in rulings, policies and compliance enforcement.
David T. Hardy is the attorney who filed the case. Plaintiffs include the President of Historic Arms, LLC, Len Savage, who said:
“If, as they claim, they are not an agency under Title 5 FOIA, then why do they have a disclosure division? How is an FFL supposed to comply with ATF policy that is kept secret? Perhaps that’s the point, to not be able to comply?”
If we look up the definition of “Agency” according to F.O.I.A., we see the following:
Additionally…. I’m perplexed because the ATF calls its self an ‘agency’ in it’s fiscal 2016 Congressional budget submission:
Established as an independent Bureau in 1972, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the Federal agency charged with enforcing the Gun Control Act (GCA) and the National Firearms Act (NFA)
And if that wasn’t proof enough, they directly address the matter of FOIA obligations on their website. Hysterically, they say there:
Like all federal agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) generally is required under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to disclose records requested in writing by any person. However, agencies may withhold information pursuant to nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the statute. The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies. Each state has its own public access laws that should be consulted for access to state and local records.
Or, how about Acting Director Thomas Brandon’s biography page on the ATF website:
As Acting Director, Mr. Brandon is responsible for the unique law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Justice charged with enforcing firearms and explosives laws and regulations that protect communities from violent criminals and criminal organizations.
Or…finally (at risk of sounding like a broken record) ATF tells this airsoft toy-gun-shop owner that he needs to file a FOIA request if he wants to see documentation -they claim- proves that toy guns can, with minimal effort, be transformed into fully-automatic “military grade” rifles…enjoy.
By their own admission – they’re an agency…until it comes time to reveal information to the public at large. Now? They’re not. But, I suppose the doubters are right, the ATF has nothing to hide, right? That big, bold letter title of “AGENT” on the jacket of the image above is just for show. They’re not an agency…but you have nothing to worry about. They’re the Government. They’re here to protect you help.