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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.

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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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyRepublicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Barrett sidesteps Democratic questions amid high-stakes grilling Democrats warn of ObamaCare threat from Barrett, Trump 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 GoodlatteNo documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself USCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction 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 SensenbrennerRepublicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats Scott Fitzgerald wins Wisconsin GOP primary to replace Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner Hillicon Valley: House panel grills tech CEOs during much anticipated antitrust hearing | TikTok to make code public as it pushes back against 'misinformation' | House Intel panel expands access to foreign disinformation evidence 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.”