posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 14

Michael Sullivan is serving both as the U.S. Attorney in Boston, and as acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. He was nominated by President Bush to be the permanent Director, but his confirmation has been delayed by Republican Senators who are concerned about his support of BATFE’s abusive tactics against Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL).

Among the Senators blocking Sullivan’s confirmation are Louisiana Senator David Vitter and both Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo. The Boston Globe has reported that Senator Vitter is concerned that “The nominee (Sullivan) seems to support the ATF’s current inadequate policies and exhibits a lack of willingness to address those problems.” Sullivan has been reported to support unreasonably stringent licensing requirements, as well as stiff penalties for clerical errors in paperwork.

A sign that Sullivan is not the person this troubled agency needs is Senator Ted Kennedy’s support of the Sullivan. Senator John Kerry has also shown his support of Sullivan’s nomination stating, “his nomination is now in jeopardy simply because he has responsibly enforced our country’s laws.” Obviously, Sullivan, Kennedy and Kerry all feel that harassment of FFLs is not only business as usual for the BATFE, but conduct that should continue.

While it is good to see Senators taking a position in support of gun owners and honest FFLs who make minor mistakes, in the end it will not make much if any difference. Sullivan will continue to perform the functions of the Director, but with the title of Acting Director. Nevertheless, at least the displeasure with BATFE’s abusive conduct is being highlighted by blocking Sullivan’s nomination. It would not be surprising to see Sullivan nominated again, if the Democrats retake the While House in November.


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