by James J. Devine
For over six years, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been without a full time, permanent director.
Its responsibilities include the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives; acts of arson and bombings; and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products. The ATF also regulates via licensing the sale, possession, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, and explosives in interstate commerce. Many of ATF’s activities are carried out in conjunction with task forces made up of state and local law enforcement officers, such as Project Safe Neighborhoods.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) functions as the FDA of guns. For this reason, pro-NRA politicians have always been hostile to the ATF, a law enforcement agency of the US Dept. of Justice.
In 2006, the Republican Congress decided that the position of director of the ATF must require Senate confirmation. They have since refused to confirm anyone.
The acting director is currently B. Todd Jones, who is also the United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota.
Having a full time, permanent director is the only way the agency can effectively enforce the common sense gun laws already on the books and it is the first step to decreasing the gun violence across the US.
Only obstructionism by extremist Republicans is responsible for the agency’s leadership problem, as every reasonable American would try to agree on common sense laws and regulations in the wake of the murder of 20 children. It is time to demand that Congress confirm President Obama’s nominee for director of ATF.
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