Altmire Takes Aim at Resigning ATF Director

By Ali Carey, Contributing Writer

Congressman Altmire greeting PA Gunsmith School Director Bob Thacker, Dec. 2008.

Congressman Jason Altmire (PA-04) has long touted his support of Second Amendment rights.   He is also the lead Democratic sponsor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Reform Act (H.R. 1093).  This bipartisan legislation would clarify regulations and remove restrictions on federally licensed firearms dealers and importers in the United States.

Congressman Altmire issued a statement Tuesday in response to the resignation of Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Kenneth Melson.

“Under Mr. Melson’s leadership, the ATF has neglected its most important duty: to prevent the purchase and use of firearms by those who could wreak havoc on our communities.  The ATF needs a fresh start, and I hope the President will use this opportunity to appoint someone willing and capable of working with Congress to responsibly enforce the laws regarding the sale and use of firearms.”

Melson finally resigned after the controversy surrounding two ATF initiatives- “Project Gunrunner” and “Operation Fast and Furious.”  According to a Los Angeles Times report, Melson had been resisting pressure to resign for months.  Earlier this year Congressman Altmire, along with more than 30 Democrats, sent a letter to President Obama expressing their concerns over the lack of response to Congressional inquiries into the ATF’s “Project Gunrunner” and “Operation Fast and Furious”.

The intention of these programs was to monitor weapons purchases by suspected gun smugglers, however recent reports have indicated that ATF allowed these dangerous gun smugglers to illegally buy large quantities of firearms.  The ATF also reportedly lost track of weapons sold in the program, including a firearm used in the murder of a Border Patrol Agent.

In June the ATF was accused of retaliating against an agent who helped publicize the agency’s role in allowing thousands of guns to cross the U.S. border and fall into the hands of Mexican drug gangs.  Gun rights activists have been enraged with the ATF’s performance for months, so it’s no surprise that Altmire is pleased with Director Melson’s resignation.

Gun rights activists including the Citizens Committee For the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) have harshly criticized the ATF for what they argue are anti-gun, anti-Constitutional policies and strategies.

The Department of Justice announced that Melson will be replaced by the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, Todd Jones.

2 Responses

  1. Altman needs to go further. He needs to join the movement to abolish at best, or castrate at least, the ATF.

    The BATFE is an alphabet agency that has no authority enumerated in the Constitution for its existence. Therefore, it shouldn’t even BE.

    Since we are stuck with it for the present, Congress should establish smothering oversight and curtail its frightening authority, and Altman should get on board with such an effort.

    If he REALLY wants people to believe that he’s a Second Amendment supporter, that is.

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