I'll just say this. BATFE chose to put their national Ballistics Lab and their Research Lab in Rockville Maryland (where they also house their "gun fingerprint" database) and their Arson Research Center is in Beltsville MD.
Of all the places in the country they could put these labs, they chose Maryland. I think that says volumes as to how the "higher ups" at BATFE feel about firearms
ownership for law-abiding citizens.
Or it could have something to do with their headquarters being in DC.
For your theory to hold water, they would not have put their National Tracing Center (NTC), and their "Brady Branch" (the people who do the NCIS check) in West Virginia where Open Carry is lawful (except for some grandfathered cities) and is a state which proudly wears a consistent "F" rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and has some of the more permissive gun ownership and transfer laws in the nation. No NICS check for any private firearm transfer, rifle or pistol.
I find it quite ironic that the NTC is located here.
For the OP:
1) For the most part, at least the ATF people I've met/shot with are there just to aid in the enforcement of the laws that OUR representatives enacted. In fact I bought my Ruger 10/22 from a GS-13.
2) Kenneth Melson, is the Director, and from what I can remember from watching the Brad Bunch when I was a youngster, he is not from the Brady Bunch.
3) I know of 3 ATF people who regularly carry, sometimes open, sometimes concealed, sometimes "casual". From my talks with them, they really don't care one way or the other.
Having said that, I do believe the very existence of the ATF and its mission(s) is a direct infringement on our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms and the bureau should be eliminated, completely. Including the TFE parts.
What I dislike is the continual bashing of an agency, that by an indifferent populace, has been allowed to exist and the broad brush technique used to paint all ATF (and in a larger sense all .gov) employees based on the actions of a few.
Kind of like when the anti's trot out a school shooting and try to paint all gun owners with the same brush.