The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives brings fewer than a hundred alcohol and tobacco cases a year, says the Wall Street Journal. It plays second fiddle to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on explosives. Its skill at catching firearms violators is in doubt after the flawed probe known as Fast and Furious. No wonder the agency’s boss, acting director B. Todd Jones is looking to reinvent it, and maybe even change its name.
Gun-rights supporters are wary of the agency, yet they are loath to see firearms regulation move to the FBI. “We’re the entity that everyone loves to hate,” says Jones, a 55-year-old former Marine. Jones, who doubles as the U.S. attorney in Minneapolis, sees a “sweet spot” for the agency in tackling violent crime, particularly in big cities like Philadelphia that have seen an increase in murders and drug-related shootings. Top ATF officials have talked about ditching the agency’s anachronistic seven-word name and rebranding it the Violent Crime Bureau. A change would require congressional approval. The bigger point, Jones says, is to improve the morale and professionalism of agents who often grumble about being overshadowed by the FBI.