[W]hile ATF agents may only be doing their jobs, the regulations they enforce should never have been allowed in the first place. Public opinion has been far less kind with other groups who did their jobs and followed orders...
Now that we're off topic, this happens to be one I've wondered about. When I was a military officer I considered myself an "Oath Keeper," but few people in the military have been confronted with an order to violate their oaths to support and defend the Constitution.
I like to think that I would refuse under any circumstances to take a job with the BATFE or other law enforcement agency where my duties involved enforcing unconstitutional laws and regulations. But I wonder if some of those people are "just trying to put bread on the table," and reason that if not them somebody else would be in the same position, "enforcing the laws, not making them." Heck, think of the NFA branch: In a way they're actually doing us a favor by (one hopes) trying to process our transfers and registrations as expeditiously as possible so we can all comply with those laws and stay out of jail. If they didn't handle that paperwork we'd be worse off in practice, even though we're all going through a process with plainly unconstitutional elements.
Of course we have seen that there are plenty of thoughtless and even malicious law enforcement officers, and I think its outrageous that they stand behind such a fortress of law and bureaucracy protecting them from personal liability. In an absolute reckoning they would be treated like the criminals they are. But the typical officer takes an oath he can't or doesn't understand, and the rest probably say, "Gees, even politicians and scholars can't agree on whether this is constitutional. Making this call is above my pay grade."
In an ideal world we'd hold people to their oaths and say, "If you don't understand the plain meaning of the Constitution don't take this oath and don't do this job." But the government shields them from consequences in even some of the most egregious cases for "just carrying out orders." As with RKBA restrictions in general the status quo is an outrage, but the governments have built such a barrier to challenging it that I don't see any civil response that would move the needle of liberty.
: I knew I had read something pertaining to this before and just found it: This is an interesting discussion of the problem as well as possible solutions