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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

99 New York Avenue NE., Washington, DC 20226


DIRECTORMarvin G. Richardson, Acting
Deputy DirectorMarvin G. Richardson

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives protects the public from crimes involving arson, explosives, firearms, and the diversion of alcohol and tobacco products; regulates lawful commerce in explosives and firearms; and supports law enforcement, public safety, and industry partners worldwide.


On June 6, 1972, Acting Secretary of the Treasury Charles E. Walker signed an order affecting the Department's organization and procedure. Order No. 221 transferred "the functions, powers and duties of the Internal Revenue Service arising under laws relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives (including the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division of the Internal Revenue Service), to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms . . . which is hereby established." On June 10, 1972, Treasury Department Order 221 was published as a notice in the Federal Register (37 FR 11696).

On November 25, 2002, President George W. Bush approved Public Law 107–296, which also may be cited as the Homeland Security Act of 2002, "to establish the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes" (116 Stat. 2135). One of the other purposes was to separate the functions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The alcohol and tobacco excise tax functions and regulations remained within the Department of the Treasury, and a new bureau became responsible for them. The Act also transferred ATF firearms and explosives functions to the Department of Justice and made the newly established Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATFE) responsible for them (116 Stat. 2274).

The ATFE posts an organizational chart on its website.


"Subchapter XI—Department of Justice Divisions" is part of "Chapter 1—Homeland Security Organization" in 6 U.S.C. Parts 531–533 contain codified statutory material associated with the transfer of the ATFE to the Department of Justice.

Rules and regulations that affect firearms and ammunition, explosives, alcohol and tobacco, and explosive license and permit proceedings are codified in chapter II, parts 400–799, of 27 CFR.


The ATFE enforces Federal criminal laws and regulates the firearms and explosives industries. Directly and through partnerships, the ATFE investigates and deters violent crime involving arson, firearms and explosives, and trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products. The Bureau provides training and support to its Federal, State, local, and international law enforcement partners and works primarily in 25 field divisions nationwide, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. It also has foreign offices in Canada, El Salvador, Mexico, and Europe.

Sources of Information

Archived Records

The "Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States" indicates that ATFE records have been assigned to record group 436.

Career Opportunities

ATFE employees conduct criminal investigations and regulate the firearms and explosives industries. They also assist other law enforcement agencies, help to prevent terrorism, reduce violent crime, and protect the public in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

In 2020, the ATFE ranked 23d among 411 agency subcomponents in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places To Work Agency Rankings.

Contact Information

Contact information for media inquiries is available on the "Media and Congressional Contacts" web page.

Data / Statistics

The ATFE maintains a comprehensive collection of agency-related data from national surveys, State-based surveys, other collected license statistics, and other data sources. The data reflect trends in commerce, firearms, and use of Federal services in the United States.

Federal Register

Significant documents and documents that the ATFE recently published in the Federal Register are accessible online.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The FOIA provides that a person may request access to Federal agency records or information. The ATFE must disclose records that any person properly requests in writing. Pursuant to one or more of nine exemptions and three exclusions that the Act contains, a Federal agency may withhold certain records or parts of them. The FOIA applies only to Federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by the U.S. Congress, the courts, State or local government agencies, and private entities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The ATFE posts answers to FAQs on its "Questions and Answers" web page.


A history timeline is available on the ATFE website.

Social Media

The ATFE maintains accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.