ATF director Jones leaving post at end of March

B. Todd Jones formally took over the ATF in July 2013 but has been leading the bureau since 2011.

By Doug G. Ware

WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- The director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Friday announced that he will resign from the post at the end of March, leaving officials to search for a replacement who will be able to gain Senate approval.

B. Todd Jones, the ATF's director since 2011, said he is leaving the position to go into the private sector. ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon will act as agency chief until a permanent replacement is found, the Washington Post reported.


"Brandon has more than 26 years of experience with ATF," the bureau said in a statement posted on its website. "Rising through the ranks at ATF, he served in many management positions ... His vast experience ranges from participating and leading firearms and explosives enforcement operations to supervising arson investigations."

Jones assumed the ATF's leadership role in August 2011, when the agency was reorganizing after a major controversy involving firearms trafficking resulted in the departure of several top officials. He became the first ATF director confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which became mandatory in 2006 at the insistence of the firearms lobby -- most notably, the National Rifle Association.


"As Director, Jones led the nearly 5,000 ATF employees whose responsibilities include enforcing firearms and explosives laws that protect communities from violent criminals and criminal organizations," the ATF said.

Last month, the ATF attempted to prohibit the public sale of armor-piercing 5.56mm ammunition -- most commonly fired by AR-15 assault rifles -- but ultimately dropped the idea after staunch opposition from gun advocates. The bureau said at the time the ban was designed to add greater protection for the nation's law enforcement officers, since the armor-piercing rounds are now able to be fired in handguns.

Jones' resignation doesn't appear to have anything to do with the proposed ammo ban.

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"ATF employees are hard-working, dedicated individuals who serve the public to make our nation safer every day," he said in a statement. "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."

The White House must now determine a nominee to head the bureau and get that person approved by the Senate. The effort, some speculate, might lead to a political showdown with the NRA because the guns rights organization will have a large influence over who is chosen.


The firearms controversy that engulfed the ATF, called Fast and Furious, was a federal operation to allow weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug traffickers with the expectation they would lead officials to top cartel leaders. The program was heavily criticized in 2010 when one of those weapons was found to be linked to the deadly shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

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