ATF head steps down amidst gun scandal

Tuesday - 8/30/2011, 7:46pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The head of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau is resigning after the Justice Department found an ATF program was knowingly selling high-caliber weapons to "straw buyers," reports CBS News.

ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson is stepping down immediately, according to his resignation letter today. He will move to the Justice Department and assume the position of senior advisor on forensic science, Office of Legal Programs, CBS reports.

"I am confident that the men and women who serve the Bureau are, individually, and more importantly, collectively very capable of overcoming the many challenges that are frequently placed in your way," Melson wrote in his letter.

His replacement is B. Todd Jones, currently a U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

The so-called operation "Fast and the Furious" uncovered that the weapons sold to straw buyers were tied to at least 12 violence crimes in the United States and countless more in Mexico, CBS reports.