The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) came under heavy fire after trending with a tweet that many interpreted as dangerous and irresponsible.

Twitter became alight with a variety of voices unanimously expressing contempt and criticism for the ATF after it released a Valentine’s Day tweet asking people to submit tips on former romantic partners for alleged “illegal gun activity.”

Valentine's Day can still be fun even if you broke up. Do you have information about a former (or current) partner involved in illegal gun activity? Let us know, and we will make sure it's a Valentine's Day to remember! Call 1-888-ATF-TIPS or email

— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) February 14, 2022

Many political commentators, politicians, and celebrities took to Twitter to torch the ATF for the tweet, bringing up the alleged illegal acquisition of a firearm by Hunter Biden and the ATF’s history with attempted gun confiscations that had deadly effects. Among the litany of criticisms, was the Fast and Furious operation, in which the ATF, under President Barack Obama, saw to the purposeful selling of illegal weapons that were transferred over the southern border

What if it’s your own government for a gun-running op called Fast and Furious? Weren’t you guys involved in that?

— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 14, 2022

I know this person that massacred 70 people in Waco and ran illegal guns to Mexican drug cartels that were used to kill a US border patrol agent.

Her name is the ATF.

— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 14, 2022

Some decided to draw attention to the role the ATF played in the Ruby Ridge siege in 1992, as well as the 1993 killing of 76 members of the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, TX. 

Two weeks after Valentine’s Day in 1993 the ATF went on a rampage against US citizens in Waco. They caused the deaths of 76 people, including 25 children and 2 pregnant women.

Now they want you to swat your ex

— Cassandra MacDonald (@CassandraRules) February 14, 2022

Justin Amash, a former member of Michigan’s House of Representatives, gave a laconic response that was echoed hundreds of times over across Twitter, notably by the Latino Rifle Association. 

Abolish the ATF.

— Justin Amash (@justinamash) February 14, 2022

This is the official page of the ATF encouraging people to snitch on ex-lovers so armed federal agents will “pay them a surprise.”

Abolish the ATF.

— Latino Rifle Association (@LatinoRifleOrg) February 14, 2022

This is basically an invitation to SWAT an ex you don't like. So incredibly dangerous.

Abolish the ATF.

— Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty) February 14, 2022

Many criticized the tweet, saying that the possibility for vindictive retribution on behalf of a scorned former partner was the danger behind proposing “red flag laws.”

Oh, look. The ATF is giving us a PERFECT example of what’s wrong with red flag laws.

Nothing says Happy Valentines Day like having an ex SWATed just because you can’t stand them.

— Beth Baumann (@eb454) February 14, 2022

One of the most common targets of the internet was the son of Pres. Joe Biden, Hunter Biden.

According to reporting done by Politico, The Secret Service was allegedly involved in investigating a pistol that Hunter Biden illegally purchased, after his wife threw the gun in the trash and Hunter was unable to recover it. The ATF investigated the event, and no charges were filed.

You mean like Hunter Biden?

— Honkmaster Poso 🎺 (@JackPosobiec) February 14, 2022

How about we discuss you guys doing nothing about Hunter Biden lying on his 4473 about habitual drug use and criminal behavior?

— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) February 14, 2022

Dear The ATF,

I would like to report my ex, Hunter Biden who was involved in an illegal gun activity.

Happy Valentine's Day Hunter


The Second Amendment

— Matthew Kolken (@mkolken) February 14, 2022

1819 News reached out to the ATF, asking if the criticisms of the tweet were valid and if they believed the tweet to be responsible considering the massive reaction they received.

“The fight to protect the public from firearm-related violence is not just up to law enforcement; it’s a partnership between our communities and law enforcement,” April Langwell, the Chief of the Public Affairs Division with the ATF, said. “We look to those who live within the communities we protect, to provide law enforcement with real-time intelligence as to violent offenders. Like many law enforcement agencies, our tip lines enable citizens to report suspicious activities generally or to provide information about particular crimes.  This tweet was generated to ask our followers to report illegal gun trafficking, which directly impacts violent crime nationwide.”

1819 News also asked if a person would be prosecuted for providing a false report, to which Langwell referred to 18 U.S. Code 1001. The code states that it is a criminal offense to make any false or fraudulent statements or representations in any matter within the jurisdiction of any agency of the United States. The punishments would be a maximum fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years or both.

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