White House renews gun-control push as Minnesotan sworn in as ATF chief

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Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones was sworn in as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Thursday morning, the culmination of a rancorous fight over his nomination, the Justice Department reported.

White House officials used the occasion to push a gun-control agenda. President Barack Obama in a Tuesday meeting with 18 mayors said he'd continue his gun-control push.

Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday swore in Jones, and then said the Obama administration will target members of Congress who oppose its agenda, Politico reported.

“If Congress doesn't act, we'll fight for a new Congress,” Biden said.

Jones' swearing-in was a final chapter in a long political battle in the U.S. Senate over the ATF, and more broadly, U.S. gun policy. The bureau has been without a director for seven years as the Senate bickered over nominations, in part stemming from the influence of the National Rifle Association, the nation's top gun lobby group.

The NRA has successfully lobbied Congress to block every presidential ATF chief nomination since 2006, noted The Hill, a congressional newspaper.

“Today is a historic day for ATF,” Jones said. “The agency is now in line with its sister components and has been given the respect it deserves as a federal law enforcement agency with a permanent director."

Obama's nomination of Jones was met with GOP criticism, especially from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

After a five-hour drama, the Senate finally voted to approve Jones on July 31.

Jones, 56, a Macalester College and U of M alum, had been acting ATF director since 2011, in addition to his U.S. Attorney duties in Minnesota.

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