The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE or ATFE) is a law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice. Its responsibilities include enforcing certain federal laws, adminstering certain federal crime prevention programs, protecting the public and reducing violent crime.
The ATF enforces the Federal laws and regulations relating to alcohol, tobacco products, firearms, explosives, and arson. It also is the program source for GREAT or Gang Resistance Education and Training.
Two incidents in the early 1990s brought criticism to the agency, the Branch Davidian raid in Waco, Texas, and the incident at Ruby Ridge. In both cases, the FBI later took over what began as BATF operations.
On November 25, 2002, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 split the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms or BATF or, more commonly the ATF, into two different parts.
The changes took effect in March 2003.
The ATF was originally formed from the IRS or Internal Revenue Service and the Bureau of Prohibition following the end of Prohibition with the repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933.