In 2006, Congress ruled the Senate must approve any nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) before taking on the role. The ATF is responsible for enforcing all federal firearms laws. Including firearms trade, issuing FFLs and tracing firearms, it’s also responsible for reducing gun violence. Naturally, 2A advocates are leery of any Democratic appointee or nominee. After seven years of embarrassing stand-ins, Obama’s nominee, B. Todd Jones, finally won the Senate’s vote.
On Wednesday, July 30 2013, the Senate voted 53-42 to appoint Jones as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. All 54 Senate Democrats voted for his nomination.
Appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder, Jones has been the acting director since 2011, one of six acting directors in the last six years. He served as acting director part time, while serving full time as U.S. District Attorney for Minnesota.
He walks into the position at a highly mistrusted and misdirected agency full of controversy and problems. The ATF is currently understaffed and its budget is tight, not to mention the unsolved Fast and Furious debacle. It will be difficult to fix all the problems and perceptions of the ATF.
Jones received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Macalester College in 1979, then proceeded to law school. In 1983, he finished his Juris Doctor at the University of Minnesota Law School. He served in the United States Marine Corps and spent time in private law practice. Jones served twice as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. Once appointed by President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001, and again from 2009 until 2013. He gave up the office for his full time position at the ATF.
Jones is not without his own controversy. The day before voting, the Senate met to question Jones on a slew of accusations, in which an internal investigation had just ended. When questioned on the agency’s Fast & Furious scandal, Jones replied it was a “catastrophic failure of leadership.” Breitbart reports allegations of Jones’ mismanagement of his duties as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, as well as violations against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Further, Jones is accused of retaliating against whistleblowers. Accusers point out an agency-wide video made by Jones that threatens any potential whistleblowers. Jones’ states in the video:
…if you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences…
A retired special agent for the FBI, Donald Oswald wrote an accusing letter about Jones stating that as US Attorney for Minnesota, there was a decrease of prosecutions by 40 percent. Oswald wrote, “I, and many others, have concluded B. Todd Jones is substantially motivated by personal political gain and not by doing what’s in the best interest of the citizens he is sworn to protect.” Further, the Department of Justice has a 1,200-page document on a quid pro quo suit involving Jones. However, most of these allegations have been dismissed. Not found true or false, mind you, just dismissed. Jones claims surprise at the allegations.
As acting director, Jones has already replaced six of the ATF’s top assistant directors. He was also the sitting acting director when Operation Fearless failed. During a 10-month botched sting operation, ATF agents allowed $35,000 worth of merchandise and three guns, including a fully automatic rifle, to walk. The undercover operation failed to make any significant arrests. The Department of Justice remains silent on the subject.To read the extended story, visit JS Online.
Gun control groups have supported Jones, including the Brady Campaign and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, while pro-gun advocacy groups walk the fence. “We have never found Mr. Jones himself to be disagreeable,” states NSSF General Counsel Lawrence Keane. The NRA has (so far) refused to take a stance on Jones’ nomination. On the other hand, Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt disagrees, “He’s no friend of the Second Amendment.” Jones claims he is a man of change. We will have to wait and see.
What do you think about B. Todd Jones? Tell us in the comment section.