ATF chief handled bullet ban 'sloppily,' Dem says

Rep. Steve Israel isn't shedding any tears for the outgoing director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after he pulled the kill switch on a controversial bullet ban.

ATF Director Todd Jones, who is resigning at the end of the month, angered Democrats last week when he backed down from a controversial plan to ban certain types of armor-piercing ammunition for AR-15 rifles amid pressure from Republicans and gun rights groups.

The bullet ban was handled “sloppily,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said Friday, but he is hoping to revive the plan under the new ATF director. 

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“This was sloppily handled and as a result the outcome was surprising, disappointing and even confusing,” Israel told The Hill. “I hope under the new leadership the ATF can have a more transparent and responsive process.”

Israel’s remarks come following the ATF’s announcement Friday that Jones will be resigning at the end of the month “to pursue other opportunities in the private sector.”

A House Democratic aide said it is “interesting timing” that Jones’ resignation comes just a week after the bullet ban flap. 

But Israel is looking to capitalize on Jones’ resignation. He is hoping to meet with ATF deputy director Thomas Brandon, who will be taking over for Jones, in the coming weeks to inquire about why the agency dropped the bullet ban and whether he will bring it back.

Israel and several other Democrats are also backing legislation that would prohibit all forms of armor-piercing ammunition, including the type of bullets the ATF had proposed to ban.

He took over the ATF in the wake of Operation Fast and Furious, but Republicans say he let the agency’s former leadership off the hook for the failed gun-tracking scandal.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa) said Jones “failed to address many of those problems” once he took over.

“Nearly four years ago, Director Jones was tasked to lead an embattled agency marred by controversy over the Fast and Furious gun trafficking operation,” House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.) added. “Under his leadership, many of those responsible for Fast and Furious never faced any consequences for their actions. We many never know the full scope of the fallout.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerProtecting the fundamental right of all Americans to have access to the voting booth Republicans compare Ron Johnson to Joe McCarthy: NYT GOP puts pressure on Pelosi over Swalwell MORE (R-Wis.) is using Jones’ resignation as a platform to push legislation that would eliminate the ATF altogether.

“The ATF is largely duplicative and beset by scandal and controversy, including its recent attempt to ban certain ammunition,” Sensenbrenner said. “The resignation of Director Jones is further proof that the ATF should be eliminated.”