Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

Since its inception in late 1790s, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has undergone more changes in titles and responsibilities than any other federal agency. It was established in its current capacity within the Department of the Treasury in 1972 when it was separated from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The ATF has tax collecting, law enforcement, and regulatory authority in the alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives industries.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the ATF employs a staff of 5,000, including special agents, inspectors, auditors, laboratory, and support personnel. Despite the bad publicity resulting from a 51-day armed standoff with Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, in 1993, the bureau's image has improved in recent years, largely due to its counterterrorism activities.

The ATF has four National Response Teams (NRTs) that can be deployed within 24 hours to major explosion and arson sites; this ...

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