The director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives resigned suddenly on Friday while the agency is still reeling from its failed “backdoor ammo ban” of the popular 5.56 M855 bullet.
It is unclear if B. Todd Jones’ departure is at all related to that proposed ban. A statement released by the agency only said that he will resign effective March 31 to pursue opportunities in the private sector. ABC News reported that Jones will take a job in New York City, possibly with a professional sports league.
Whatever the reason for his departure, the 57-year-old Jones leaves the agency on a sour note after the ban attempt.
With backing from the Obama administration, ATF sought to prohibit the sale of the M855 — the so-called “green tip” — out of fear that they pose a risk to police officers since they can pierce bullet-proof vests. Green tips were approved by the ATF in 1986, and have become more popular for use in AR-15 pistols.
The agency offered a comment period from the public, but did not advertise the proposal.
Gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association and numerous lawmakers pushed back heavily on what was characterized as a “backdoor ammo ban.”
That outcry forced ATF to temporarily table the idea.
But Jones did little to assuage those groups’ fears after the ban was shelved. Last week he told the Senate Appropriations Committee that all 5.56 rounds pose “a challenge for officer safety.”
That statement was interpreted by many as an indication that the Obama administration has plans to ban more than just the M855.
Jones has served as director of the agency since July 31, 2013. He was nominated by President Obama in January of that year after serving as acting director since August 2011.
“ATF employees are hard-working, dedicated individuals who serve the public to make our nation safer every day,” he said in a statement. “I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to combatting violent crime, ridding the streets of criminals, and leveraging all available resources to keep our communities safe.”
Jones will be replaced by current ATF deputy director Thomas Brandon. He’s been with the agency since October 2011.
“Throughout his tenure as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Todd Jones has cemented his reputation as an exemplary leader, a consummate professional, and an outstanding public servant,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
Holder also said that Jones “has made bold changes, advanced forward-looking policies, and taken innovative steps to strengthen ATF’s investigative capabilities—including ballistic imaging technology that recently played a critical role in the investigation of the shooting of two police officers.”