“People don’t think,” [ATF agent Charlie Houser] tells me. He’s a trim guy, 51, full lips and a thin goatee, and he likes to wear three-piece suits. They fit loose, so the overall effect is awkward innocence, like an eighth grader headed to his first formal.  I get e-mails even from police saying, ‘Can you type in the serial number and tell me who the gun is registered to?’ Every week. They think it’s like a VIN number on a car. Even police. Police from everywhere. ‘Hey, can you guys hurry up and type that number in?’ ”

So here’s a news flash, from Charlie Houser: “We ain’t got a registration system. Ain’t nobody registering no damn guns.”

Jeanne Marie Laskas on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The fact that the ATF is disallowed, by legislation bought and paid for by the NRA in 1986, to computerize any gun ownership records tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity of the “responsible gun ownership” argument…