By: José Niño

A former employee at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recently spilled the beans on the ATF apparently lavishing millions of unearned bonuses on 94 of its employees.

According to a recent CBS News report, the former ATF employee revealed that the agency paid a special bonus classified as “law enforcement availability pay” (LEAP) to 94 ATF employees. The major catch here was that none of these employees even qualified for the bonuses, and this bonus practice took place across several federal agencies.

Per government regulations, the bonus is reserved only for “criminal investigators” who are on call and are required to work unscheduled, extra hours.

In an email Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), sent out to NAGR supporters, he noted that the ATF has “truly gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Brown listed off several of the infringements:

From unconstitutionally reworking the law to ban stabilizing braces, to scapegoating firearms craftsmen by demanding a registry of all home crafted firearms, they really have out-done themselves in 2021.

The ATF is not just a regular bureaucracy. It’s an unconstitutional agency that infringes on the Second Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Plus, it’s been involved in the Waco Massacre of 1993 and the notorious “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal that saw the ATF funnel weapons to Mexican drug cartels. In the latter case, the ATF’s misbehavior resulted in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. All of this done was on the taxpayers’ dime.

This latest case of major bonus payments taking place within the ATF just shows how unaccountable bureaucracies can become. All government bureaucracies are self-serving entities that always seek to grow at the taxpayers’ expense. This is one of the many dangers of not abolishing, or at least defunding, unconstitutional agencies like the ATF.

The good news is that gun owners scored a solid victory when they scuttled the nomination of seasoned ATF agent and gun control advocate David Chipman to head the ATF back in September. Regardless of the obstacles in front of us, grassroots activists can still make a difference. In the long-term, the goal should be to abolish the ATF. This will require a solid block of no-compromise lawmakers be elected to Congress.

A daunting task, indeed. But it must be done if we want to restore the Second Amendment. The ATF’s continued existence constitutes an existential threat to the right to bear arms.

José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.