Sarah Guy, Manager, Legislative and Media Affairs, IACP
There is a legislative proposal in the works that would dissolve the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) strongly opposes any proposal that would abolish or diminish the ATF.
The ATF is, and has always been, a vital partner to state and local law enforcement in the shared mission of safeguarding citizens and reducing violent crime in U.S. communities. The close working relationship between the ATF and state and local law enforcement agencies is essential in continuing efforts to protect neighborhoods from violent criminals and organized criminal organizations, prevent the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, and combating the illegal use and storage of explosives and bombs that can be used in acts of terrorism. Years of effective partnership between ATF and state and local law enforcement have created a force multiplier that has been highly successful in reducing violent crime.
By dissolving the ATF, state and local law enforcement in the United States would lose a key federal partner and potentially leave communities vulnerable to further violence.
With the U.S. Congress out of session for the month of August and a limited number of days when both chambers will be in session in September, the time remaining to pass the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 spending bills before the end of the fiscal year on September 30 is quickly running out.
A government-wide continuing resolution is likely, with Congress resuming work on the appropriations bills after the November 2014 elections.
Planning to Meet with Your Congressional Member?
While U.S. House and Senate members are back in their home states and districts during the August recess, you may be planning to sit down to speak with them about key legislative issues effecting your department. If so, you may want to mention the following items.
Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Grant Act: The BVP Grant Program, a lifesaving program whose charter expired in 2012, provides federal funds to state and local law enforcement departments to assist in the purchasing of personal body armor. Ask your congressional member to support and sign on to the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act (S. 933/H.R. 988).
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Inform your senators and representatives of the importance of ATF’s partnership with law enforcement and voice your opposition to any proposal that diminishes the power and/or effectiveness of the agency.
Military Surplus Program (1033 Program): There have been discussions around legislative proposals that would reform the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) 1033 Program that permits the Secretary of Defense to transfer excess DOD supplies and equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies for use in their law enforcement duties. Potential reforms could include preventing the transfer of the following items: automatic weapons, including those that are .50 caliber or greater; tactical vehicles, including highly mobile multi-wheeled vehicles, armored vehicles, and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles; armored drones; and aircrafts. If your agency has procured equipment from the Military Surplus Program, it is important that you inform your congressional delegation of the program’s importance to your agency and how the equipment under question has been beneficial in your operations.
- If meeting with your senator, ask that during Senate floor consideration or conference of the FY 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that he or she support an amendment similar to the one authored by Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA) to provide funding for the COPS Technology Grant Program. The COPS Technology Grant Program awarded grants to more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States until 2010. The amendment would restore the program and allow law enforcement agencies to purchase advanced technologies to help make officers safer, better informed, and more effective and efficient.
- When meeting with your U.S. House or Senate member, tell him or her you are opposed to any amendment or proposal that would prohibit the Department of Justice from spending any funds to enforce U.S. federal laws related to marijuana in states that have passed medical marijuana initiatives. The IACP advocated against the passage of this amendment, referred to as the Rohrabacher (R-CA) amendment in the House CJS Appropriations bill; however, it passed. Your delegation needs to hear from you so the Senate does not pass a similar amendment and the conference bill is devoid of the Housepassed amendment.
- The U.S. House–passed FY 2015 Transportation-HUD Appropriations Bill included an amendment authored by Representative John Fleming (R-LA) that would prohibit federal funds from being used to purchase and acquire automatic license plate readers or any camera that collects or stores vehicle license plate numbers. Let your representative know that you were opposed to the passage of this amendment, and explain how license plate readers are an effective tool for your agency and law enforcement. In addition, ask your senators to not pass a similar amendment or agree to the House-passed amendment at conference.
- Ask that your U.S. House and Senate members oppose an amendment or proposal that would restrict local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies from buying or operating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). ♦
Please cite as:
Sarah Guy, “IACP Opposes Any Proposal to Dissolve the ATF,” Legislative Alert, The Police Chief 81 (August 2014): 10.