Law Dictionary

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Agency ATF
  1. Justice Department agency charged with enforcing and administering laws covering the production, taxation, and distribution of alcohol and tobacco products as well as laws relating to the use of firearms and explosives. The ATF's Compliance Operations section makes plant inspections, issues licenses and permits, oversees tax collection on alcohol and tobacco, monitors advertising and labeling practices, and investigates violations, including, in some cases, those involving environmental protection laws. Its Law Enforcement section investigates the illegal use of firearms and explosive devices and illicit trafficking in firearms, distilled spirits, and contraband cigarettes, and it also assists federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the suppression of arson-for-profit schemes and narcotics operations involving the use of firearms and explosives.


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