ATF Director B. Todd Jones prepares to testify before a Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Dirksen Building on proposed FY2016 budget estimates for the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, DEA, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, March 12, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) / Getty
The director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has resigned amid a firestorm around a so called “bullet ban,” which Congressional Republicans and guns rights groups vehemently opposed, reports The Hill.
The ATF announced on Friday that Director B. Todd Jones is resigning at the end of the month “to pursue other opportunities in the private sector.” Jones is the first African American to run the embattled agency.
Congressional Republicans recently opposed the ATF’s controversial attempt to ban certain armor-piercing bullets used in AR-15 rifles. The ATF maintained that it would protect the police, but 53 GOP lawmakers believed the ban restricted the second amendment right to bear arms, and wrote a letter to Jones saying so. That coupled with “tens of thousands of public comments opposing the move” forced the agency to withdraw the proposal.
The outgoing director has been widely credited with stabilizing the ATF following the Fast and Furious controversy, improving morale at the agency and cleaning up some of the management practices that allowed the program to move forward despite risks to the public.
The operation started during the George W. Bush administration and lasted into the early part of President Obama’s tenure. It allowed weapons from the United States to pass into the hands of suspected firearms traffickers, with the goal of tracking the weapons to the upper levels of Mexican drug cartels.
Controversy arose after a gun linked to the program was found at the scene of the fatal 2010 shooting of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Jones was the first ATF director to be confirmed by the Senate in July 2013. Yet, The Hill reports that in recent weeks, GOP lawmakers have introduced legislation seeking to tamp down on the agency’s authority — and to abolish the ATF altogether.
Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement announcing the resignation and lauded Jones for his service.
“As the first ever Senate-confirmed Director of ATF, his indelible legacy will serve as an inspiring example for all those who follow him,” Holder said in a statement.
ATF deputy director Thomas Brandon will take over as acting director until the agency finds a replacement.