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United States v. Armstrong

Related Cases

  • Ah Sin v. Wittman, 198 U.S. 500 (1905).
  • Oyler v. Boles, 368 U.S. 448 (1962).
  • Wayte v. United States, 470 U.S. 598 (1985).
  • Hunter v. Underwood, 471 U.S. 222 (1985).
  • Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).
  • Wade v. United States, 504 U.S. 181 (1992).
Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), chartered in 1971, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Treasury headquartered in Washington, D.C. The ATF has wide ranging responsibilities in the areas of regulating alcohol and tobacco, collecting alcohol and tobacco taxes, regulating firearms and explosives, and law enforcement.

By regulating the production and distribution of alcohol and tobacco, the ATF controls advertising and labeling, and directs the relationships between producers, wholesalers, and retailers. The agency inspects factories and businesses, issues licenses, and tests products. The ATF collects billions of dollars in taxes from alcohol and tobacco manufacturers every year.

Likewise, the ATF oversees laws regulating the manufacturers, dealers, and importers of firearms, ammunition, and explosives. In addition, ATF special agents, working closely with other law enforcement agencies, investigate illegal possession and use of firearms and explosives, smugglers, bombers, arsonists, gangs, and criminal organizations.

The agency lost its relative anonymity with its controversial involvement in the siege of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas in 1993. Believing weapons and explosives were stockpiled, ATF blockaded and finally took the compound by force. Eighty-five members of the cult perished. Throughout the 1990s, the visibility of ATF in combating violent anti-government groups substantially increased.


Vizzard, William J. In the Cross Fire: A Political History of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1997.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentUnited States v. Armstrong - Significance, Selective Prosecution Claims, Judicial Vigilance Necessary In Drug Prosecutions, Related Cases, Further Readings