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October 2015


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Lengel: President Obama Needs to Show Backbone and Nominate an ATF Director

Thomas Brandon

Thomas Brandon

By Allan Lengel

President Obama gets very angry and expresses frustration when he talks about how common mass shooting have become in this country. He wants America to get tougher and implement stricter gun laws.

Enough talk. Step up, Mr. President. Show some backbone.

Start by standing up to the NRA by nominating acting director Tom Brandon as permanent director of ATF, you know, the agency that is tasked with enforcing the current gun laws and fighting gun violence. Show the public that you’re willing to expend some political capital and take on the NRA, a bully-organization that has done everything it can to undermine gun control and ATF’s mission.

In general, the NRA has historically opposed confirmation of a permanent director for ATF, its nemesis. Lawmakers on the Hill – and presidents for that matter – have bowed to the NRA, which realizes ATF is weaker without a director.

Why is this directorship issue so important?

Politico reports that the Obama administration has no plans to name Brandon permanent director for the agency. It doesn’t want to expend political capital on what would be a tough battle. And mind you, Brandon is one of the best to come along. He was named Fed of The Year in 2011. It’s not as if the President would be fighting for a candidate that’s not worthy (and believe me, there have been some that have not been).

By law, Politico notes, that Brandon can’t hold that interim title for longer than 210 days. It runs out Oct. 27. That means after that date, Brandon will still run the agency, but ATF will not officially have a director. He’ll be the deputy director.

That’s not good.

First off, it’s bad for morale for agents not to have a director.  It sends a message that the President and Congress don’t think much of the agency.  That can impact funding, staffing and mission. The DEA was without a permanent director for years, and I think that hurt the agency and morale.

The White House would never leave the FBI director’s post open. Why? Because it believes that agency’s mission is far too important.

In this case, the message is: We fear the NRA far more than we respect ATF.

Don’t be mistaken:  To be sure,  ATF is not the answer to our gun violence. Yes, we need tougher federal gun control laws that apply uniformly across the county.  And the president needs to push again for tougher laws and see what he can accomplish through executive orders.

That being said, ATF is part of the answer.

So President Obama, if you really care about the gun crisis in this country, you need to show it.

Talk is cheap. And with these mass shootings, so are lives.

Have some balls. Keep pushing for tougher gun control laws. And while you’re at it, nominate Tom Brandon.

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