The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is being mocked for a recent photo it shared on social media that showed an alleged ATF agent loading what appeared to be an MP 40 submachine gun while it was pointed directly at his own genitals.
The ATF Houston branch tweeted the photo last week, noting that the ATF Austin Office was “out on the range” with “special guests” from the “local U.S. Attorney’s Offices.” The photo, which appears to have been taken at an indoor shooting range in Austin, Texas, has been viewed over a million times on Twitter and has received intense criticism from gun owners.
Twitter users mocked the photo, as some claimed the ATF’s tweet was “photographic proof the ATF shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near firearms.” Social media users blasted the ATF for violating one of the most basic gun safety rules, which is to always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction.
Many Twitter users pointed out that while the ATF is in charge of regulating firearms in the United States, the agent photographed from the Austin office was not even responsible enough to “treat every gun as if it is loaded.”
One Twitter user said, “My 12 year old practices better gun safety. And these are the folks bossing us around?” Another user tweeted, “Zero muzzle discipline. Loaded or not, some things are just not pointed at your junk.”
Mocking the ATF agent, Aidan Johnston, a gun lobbyist, captioned the photo, “Whenever I go shooting, I too load my magazines while standing down range & with my OPEN BOLT machine guns pointed straight at me.”
The Federal Affairs director of Gun Owners of America blasted the ATF for not only taking a photo of an ATF agent “blatantly ignoring-or not knowing-basic firearm safety,” but also posting the photo on social media. In a statement on social media, Gun Owners of America suggested that the incident was a “reflection” of the ATF’s “ineptness.”
“While ATF may be tasked with enforcing federal gun control, their staff obviously have no understanding or respect for even the basic rules of firearm safety,” the organization said. “Gun owners have always known the anti-gun movement knows nothing about the firearms they want to ban—but to post it on Twitter is a new level of stupidity.”
In addition to mocking the ATF for not handling weapons with proper care, Twitter users criticized the ATF for posting a picture that allegedly included a Glock switch in a gun case on the table, which would be a violation of federal law.
One Twitter user commented on the situation, stating, “As usual, law enforcement is exempt from gun laws. I’m seeing multiple felonies in one picture, not to mention violation of the most basic safety procedures.”