President Barack Obama has nominated Andrew Traver to lead the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and based upon the reaction to the nomination by the shooting industry, you might have thought he nominated a pedophile to run the local PTA. There’s a good reason for that.
Traver isn’t just any nominee, but the special agent in charge (SAC) of the ATF’s Chicago field division, after previous stints in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and San Francisco. He lacks any prior experience as a senior-level executive, and considering his Chicago ties, there is every reason to believe the nomination is entirely political in nature, providing the president an opportunity to enact gun control measures without risking his already dismal approval ratings.
Inexperienced and politically connected, Traver has developed a reputation as a gun control advocate. Like President Barack Obama, Traver has been tied to the left-wing Joyce Foundation, which bankrolls various anti-gun organizations and which counts among its many initiatives an attempt to subvert Second Amendment scholarship. Traver lent his voice to a deceptive NBC News article, purposefully blurring the lines between fully automatic military machine guns and civilian-legal semi-automatic rifles that fire one bullet when the trigger is pulled. Traver is also member of the anti-gun International Association of Chiefs of Police.
As noted by Only Guns and Money, Traver was a participant in the 2007 Great Lakes States Summit on Firearm Violence, which generated a report titled “Taking a Stand: Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities.”
Recommendations in the report involved a string of liberty-infringing proposals, including:
- Requiring that all gun sales take place through federal firearms license (FFL) holders with mandatory background checks.
- Enacting an effective ban on military-style assault weapons, armor-piercing handgun ammunition, .50 caliber sniper rifles, and other weapons that enable criminals to outgun law enforcement.
- Repealing the Tiahrt Amendment, which hinders investigation of illegal gun trafficking.
- Destroying guns that come into police possession once their law enforcement use has ended.
- Mandating safe storage of firearms by private citizens and providing safe facilities where gun owners can store their weapons.
- Mandating reporting of lost and stolen firearms.
- Developing a best practices protocol for voluntary gun surrender programs.
- Congress should restore funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program for state, local, and tribal agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of gun trafficking and gun violence.
- The federal government should increase funding to ATF for personnel and technical assistance to combat gun violence.
- Congress should enact legislation to allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry.
Unsurprisingly, the proposals that came from the summit’s report are rehashed gun control talking points focused on shredding the personal liberties of law-abiding Americans. They have very little to do with actually reducing gun violence. All of the proposals are controversial and potentially deadly. Proposals to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment have been blasted by police organizations because repealing the law would put the lives of undercover officers and police informants at risk.
Battle lines are clearly drawn regarding the Traver nomination.
The anti-gun Brady Center is strongly behind the nomination, stating: “If Mr. Traver is confirmed, we are hopeful that he will be a strong voice for the strengthening and effective enforcement of our gun laws.”
The National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment groups are predictably opposed to the Traver nomination, with the NRA going so far as to warn President Obama to withdraw the nomination.
But the most damning charges against Traver don’t come from outside groups, but from ATF watchdog message boards (again documented at Only Guns and Money). At CleanUpATF.org, Traver has been heavily criticized by ATF agents most familiar with his work. They cite his inexperience and, most damningly, his alleged lack of professionalism.
Andrew Traver promises to bring inexperience, arrogance, bad judgment, radical politics, and the “Chicago way” to Washington, D.C. The ATF has been an object of widespread scorn and derision since the incompetence displayed at Ruby Ridge and the disaster at Waco, in which a botched ATF investigation, raid, and siege led to the deaths of 80 Branch Davidians (including 25 children) in their Mount Carmel compound. ATF’s reputation for bizarre and sometimes absurd rulings since then has continued to tarnish the agency’s image.
With Traver at the helm, the beleaguered agency’s reputation can only get worse.