Among its duties, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) monitors firearm manufacturers, importers and dealers for compliance with record-keeping requirements; conducts traces on the commercial paths of individual firearms at the request of law enforcement agencies; interprets firearm importation law; and administers transfers of firearms regulated by the National Firearm Act of 1934.
The BATFE was used by the Clinton administration to reduce the number of firearm dealers, and by the administrations of presidents G. H. W. Bush and Clinton to restrict “assault weapons” by misinterpreting firearm importation law. The agency’s tracing data, sometimes useful in identifying persons involved in illegally trafficking firearms, have been mischaracterized by gun control supporters in the context of their campaigns against “Saturday Night Specials” and “assault weapons,” and in favor of making state gun laws more restrictive.
BATFE has been widely criticized for its role in the “Ruby Ridge” and “Waco” tragedies, and Operation Fast and Furious, in which the agency knowingly allowed firearms to be bought by straw purchasers and other traffickers, and thereafter smuggled from the United States to Mexico, where they made their way to violent drug cartels.
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.