DOJ Budget: Taxpayer Dollars for Gun 'Buybacks,' Seizure Programs
The budget request from the White House is seeking millions of taxpayer dollars from Congress for the Justice Department to tackle guns in a progressive way.
The Fiscal Year 2022 DOJ budget, totaling a whopping $35.3 billion, goes to pay for everything from federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and DEA as well as the court system. However, tucked away in the request sent by the Biden-Harris administration to Capitol Hill are big outlays spent on anti-gun efforts.
“This budget proposal advances the Justice Department’s three overarching goals: keeping Americans safe, adhering to the Rule of Law, and seeking equal justice under law for everyone,” said recently appointed U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. "Our request will increase public safety through investments in policing and criminal justice reform, as well as by dedicating funds to combating gun violence."
In addition to taking "bold action to root out systemic inequities in the Nation’s justice system," making "major investments in environmental justice," and "redressing longstanding injustice," the DOJ budget from the White House has lots of progressive buzzwords aimed at the gun conversation in America.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stands to gain an additional $23.4 million for "targeted efforts to halt gun violence." This includes $5.3 million for Crime Gun Intelligence associated with the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network, $4.3 million for Forensic Services to conduct DNA analysis on fired cartridge casings, and $12.7 million for Federal Firearms Licensee Outreach and Compliance to enhance regulatory and industry partnerships.
Then there is a request for $40 million for an incentivization program for so-called "red flag" and gun licensing laws. Of note, red flag laws, which allow for gun owners to have their Second Amendment rights put on ice as sort of a "pre-crime" measure, are in increasing use in 19, mostly blue, states and the District of Columbia but have been blasted by 2A groups as being rife for abuse. As such laws push to "get the guns first," they can leave lawful firearms owners to have their collection seized by law enforcement, setting the stage for the subject of the order to wage an uphill fight to get them back – on their own dime.
Meanwhile, gun licensing programs are largely a throwback to Jim Crow-era controls that predate the current background check system and seen by many as obsolete in the 21st Century. The first state to adopt mandatory gun licensing, New York, did so under the Sullivan Act, a 1911 law that required anyone desiring a firearm small enough to be concealed to first obtain a license at a time when the telephone was still seen as a novelty in some areas. Even a century later, the law has been subject to legal challenges as licenses can be elusive, with applicants often waiting years or denied outright for no reason. In New Jersey in 2015, the case of a woman killed in her front yard by her ex-boyfriend while she was still waiting for her application for a firearm permit to be granted made national headlines.
Finally, the DOJ is looking to pick up some guns, specifically through often-ridiculed "buyback" programs. Critics of such events argue they amount to a sort of feel-good "security theater" that does little to curb street crime, pointing out they are often conducted in conjunction with police who could be better used elsewhere. Most buybacks publicize a haul of condemned, broken, or otherwise low-value firearms and non-guns such as air rifles and starter pistols. In short, the federal government is set to get into the junk gun business.
Banner image: S&W K-frame Model 64-1s in the Guns.com Vault, retired ex-police trade-ins up for grabs. (Photo: Samantha Mursan/Guns.com)