ATF’s definition of “is”?
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives says it’s not an “agency” within the meaning of a Freedom of Information Act statute cited in a civil suit over a records request.
“The ATF is not an ‘agency’ within the meaning of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(f)(1), and is, therefore, not a proper party defendant,” the agency wrote in its answer to a complaint filed in federal court in June.
Since it was unclear if the answer meant that the ATF operated under a different FOIA statute or if the plaintiffs simply cited the wrong law, we sought clarification from attorneys representing the ATF, but efforts were unsuccessful. However, we were able to reach legal experts who specialize in the gun and constitutional law.
Attorney and Second Amendment scholar, David Kopel, said he didn’t know the reasoning behind the ATF answer. “I have no idea what ATF’s argument on that point is,” he said. “There is no separate FOIA law for ATF, and they are plainly an agency within the meaning of the statute.”
Attorney Stephen Halbrook, who has represented several pro-gun clients such as the National Rifle Association and has been representing gun maker Sig Sauer in a suit against the ATF over federal regulations for more than a year, agreed that the ATF fits the definition of “agency” as described by the law.