The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) announced Friday that B. Todd Jones will be stepping down as its director at the end of the month.
President Obama tapped Jones to take the position in 2011 in the aftermath of the Fast and Furious gun running scandal, during which the federal government sold firearms to Mexican gun smugglers. Jones ran the ATF as interim director until he was confirmed by the Senate in 2013. He is credited with bringing some needed reforms and boosting the morale of the bureau during his tenure.
Jones and the ATF became caught up in controversy recently over a proposed ban of M855 ammunition for the AR-15 rifle. The bureau classified the 5.56mm ammunition as “armor-piercing” and intended to criminalize sale of it to the public. A large public outcry followed, which included over 80,000 citizens contacting the agency to comment on the proposed new rule–the vast majority of which were in opposition.
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A group of 53 Republican senators wrote Jones earlier this month to add their voice to those opposing the ban as reported by The Hill:
Second Amendment rights require not only access to firearms, but to bullets…If law-abiding gun owners cannot obtain rifle ammunition, or face substantial difficulty in finding ammunition available and at reasonable prices because government entities are banning such ammunition, then the Second Amendment is at risk.”
The ATF backed off the proposed bullet ban the next day.
Jones was the first ever confirmed director of the ATF. He wrote in statement regarding those he led at the ATF and his departure:
I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to combating violent crime, ridding the streets of criminals, and leveraging all available resources to keep our communities safe…I will truly miss leading and working side-by-side with these men and women in their pursuit of ATF’s unique law enforcement and regulatory mission.
Deputy Director Thomas Brandon will take over as acting director upon Jones’ departure. Prior to taking over as deputy director in 2011, he served as a special agent in charge of the Phoenix field division. One of the ATF agents who helped expose Fast and Furious stated in 2012, after Brandon’s appointment to deputy director, that field agents hold him in high regard.