Questions Arise Over Fatal ATF Shooting

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives vest | Image by ATF/Facebook
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives vest | Image by ATF/Facebook

Congressional lawmakers are questioning the policies and protocols of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives after a fatal encounter with an alleged gun dealer in Arkansas.

ATF agents led a pre-dawn raid against Bryan Malinowski, an airport executive, in March that ended in a firefight between them and the 53-year-old. Malinowski died, and one federal agent was injured.

A two-day investigation into the deadly operation kicked off last week with the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government interrogating prosecutors, attorneys, and ATF Director Steve Dettelbach.

According to the search warrant obtained by ATF agents, Malinowski faced charges of “dealing with firearms without a license” and “unlawful acquisition of a firearm,” per Townhall. An investigation had allegedly found that he had sold 150 weapons between May 2021 and February 2024, six of which had later been used to commit crimes.

Bud Cummins, an attorney representing Malinowski’s family, testified that the executive director of the Little Rock airport had always been an avid gun collector. When he started collecting guns, he began doing what many collectors do: selling them on occasion to others at gun shows.

By law, it is unnecessary to have a federal firearms license to engage in such commerce as a collector or hobbyist, Cummins said, per Townhall.

Dettelbach was interrogated by subcommittee members on the tactics employed by ATF during the raid, which included deploying 10 carloads of agents.

“Why did you put the tape on the doorbell camera? Why did you cut the lights? And why didn’t [the agents] wear the bodycams? And what are you trying to hide?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked, per The Washington Times.

While elaborating on general ATF tactics and policies, Dettelbach claimed that funding restrictions had led to a slow rollout of outfitting agents with bodycams. Just one-third of agents have them despite a mandate issued three years ago.

“Currently, with what we have now, without anything else, we will be implemented across by the end of 2026,” he said, per KARK. “If there’s more resources, we can try to speed that up.”

As Dettelbach explained, ATF will conduct its own probe into the incident after the Pulaski County prosecutor’s office wraps up its criminal investigation.

“The reason that we called for the investigation is we’re not trying to hide anything. The reason I’m not going to talk about what’s going on in that investigation is to respect its independence,” he said, per The Washington Times.

According to Cummins, during the raid, Malinowski mistook the agents for home intruders and opened fire. As a result, he was shot in the head. He died two days later in a hospital.

“I would suggest that the tactics that were used in the Malinowski search would be incompetent and reckless if it was a very serious crime,” Cummins said, per Townhall. “It’s even much more offensive because this is not a serious crime that they suspected. It’s probably the lowest level crime that would even be drug into a United States attorney’s office.”

As covered extensively in The Dallas Express, there have been growing accusations of federal agencies, from the FBI to the IRS, overstepping their mandates and being weaponized against particular groups of American citizens, including supporters of former President Donald Trump, some Christians, gun enthusiasts, and potentially “extremist” gamers.

Just recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton secured a temporary restraining order that halts new ATF regulations that prohibit the private sale of firearms by sellers who are not licensed by the federal government. He referred to the rules as an illegal move to “overturn Americans’ constitutional rights and nullify the Second Amendment.”

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