U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Piercing the Shields of Justice: Inside the ATF

NCJ Number
W J Burgess
Date Published
224 pages
Based on the life and experiences of a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), U.S. Treasury Department, this autobiographical presentation details the author's ATF investigations and his frustration, as well as that of other ATF agents, in dealing with the agency's bureaucracy and the wider political influences that sought to undermine the agency's work.
Using a story-teller style that includes dialog quotes, the author provides an account of the criminal investigations in which he was involved while he was an ATF agent. The investigations involved undercover operations, the serving of search warrants, and cooperating with Federal prosecutors to prepare a case for trial. Other issues with which the author had to deal as an ATF agent included office politics and governmental politics and their impact on investigations; mismanagement and incompetence in the agency; the National Rifle Association; supporters of gun control; and the U.S. Congress. He notes that a large contingent of agents have slowly left ATF for a number of reasons, including inequity of pay among Federal agencies, political pressure brought for performing legislatively mandated duties, incompetent supervisors perpetuated by the "good ole boys" network, and inadequate funding by Congress. The author also discusses the proposal to abolish ATF and transfer its functions to the Secret Service. The book includes photographs of undercover operations as well as surreptitious photographs inside an outlaw motorcycle gang involved in illegal drugs and gun possession.