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Tag: paul helmke

Could Latest Scandal Kill ATF?

By Josh Gerstein
Politico

WASHINGTON — The unfolding scandal over a gunrunning investigation allegedly botched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could do what years of criticism of the long-beleaguered agency never quite accomplished — result in its demise.

That, at least, is the view of some former ATF employees and advocates on both sides of the gun control debate who have watched the agency struggle to contain the damage from an operation intended to trace the traffic of illegal guns to Mexico that has reignited the harsh criticism often directed at the ATF in the past.

The agency, which moved from the Treasury Department to the Justice Department in 2003, has been without a permanent director for nearly five years. Nominees offered by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have languished without approval from the Senate after drawing strong opposition from the National Rifle Association, which for years has been the agency’s loudest critic.

Now, with ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson hobbled by the scandal over Operation Fast and Furious and by indications he’s at odds with senior Justice Department officials, many are saying a breakup of the storied agency could just be a matter of time.

“I think something like that is likely to happen,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Unless they take some action to give it a director, it’s inevitable it’s going to have to get to that stage. It cannot continue the way it’s going now. … Right now, ATF is so weak it’s amazing.”

To read full story click here.

Gun Advocates Oppose White House Nominee to Head ATF

Andrew Traver/zerocancer.org photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — ATF and the NRA are two acronyms that seldom play together well.

So it’s no surprise that the NRA — the National Rifle Association — and other gun rights advocates aren’t happy with the White House’ nomination of Andrew Traver to head the agency. Traver currently heads up the ATF Chicago office.

USA Today reports that gun rights advocates see Traver as an anti-gun zealot, and they oppose his nomination.

“Traver has been deeply aligned with gun-control advocates and anti-gun activities,” the NRA said in a statement, according to USA Today. “This makes him the wrong choice to lead an enforcement agency that has almost exclusive oversight and control over the firearms industry, its retailers and consumers.”

But Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has a different take.

“I see (Traver’s nomination) as a very big opportunity for the administration,” Helmke told USA Today. “Since this administration took office, they have run from the gun issue. … They need to fight for this.”

Traver’s nomination has yet to be scheduled for Senate consideration.

His nomination comes in wake of the Tucson shooting, which triggered a renewed national debate over gun control.

To read more click here.