As part of a Valentine’s Day Promotion, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) called for Americans to turn in their former (or even current) partners. On Monday morning, the agency took to social media and encouraged people to share any information about others who may have been involved in 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 ATFTips@atf.gov,” the ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) tweeted.
That message was retweeted by the Department of Justice, and comes as the Biden administration has called for increased gun control measures to reduce crime nationwide.
By Monday afternoon, the tweet had nearly 4,500 likes and was retweeted more than 1,800 times. However, the response may not have been entirely what the agency had in mind.
Little Love on Valentine’s Day
An ATF spokesperson told Fox News that the tweet was simply a call to encourage citizens to report suspicious gun-related activities. Yet, even while it was meant to be light hearted and poked fun, many on social media found little humor in it, and there were those who suggested it was un-American to “rat out” former partners.
Some went even further and evoked the 1993 Waco standoff, as well as the infamous Operation Fast & Furious.
Spike Cohen (@RealSpikeCohen), former Libertarian Party VP candidate, tweeted, “Hi yes, I’d like to report someone who set an entire compound full of children and their parents on fire, and shot anyone who escaped. Then they went and trafficked guns to Mexican cartels, who used those guns to kill innocent Americans and Mexicans. They should be disbanded.”
“This Valentine’s Day, the ATF wants you to know that if you’re mad at your ex(es), you can have them assassinated on tax payers’ dime,” wrote the Libertarian Party of New York (@lpnyofficial).
The Blaze contributor Jessica O’Donnell (@heckyessica) tweeted, “looks like the ATF is going full ATF today.”
A few on Twitter suggested the tweet could violate Twitter’s terms of service, while still others warned that it could encourage false reporting by disgruntled exes.
Political activist Beth Baumman (@eb454) wrote, “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.”
“This is basically an invitation to SWAT an ex you don’t like. So incredibly dangerous,” posted the official account for the Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty).
Congressional candidate for the California’s 28th district Beatrice Cardenas (@RealBetyCardens) offered, “This is very slimy of you guys to try to twist this day for your own benefit by encouraging people to turn on one another.”
Media contributor Joel M. Petlin (@Joelmpetlin) tweeted, “If you don’t really like the #ValentinesDay Hallmark card, candy, jewelry or floral bouquet from your boyfriend, why not punish him with the gift of a no knock search warrant of his home, courtesy of the US government. Call: 1-800-ARREST-MY-BOYFRIEND. ATF agents are standing by.”
Such responses were likely not what the ATF expected, but this should be a reminder that even when poking fun, it can be all too easy to have the audience turn on you on social media.