In 2010, Obama nominated Andrew Traver, head of the A.T.F.’s Denver division, to fill the top spot, but the Senate is yet to hold his confirmation hearings. What may seem like procrastination by the Judiciary Committee is actually business as usual when it comes to its dealing with the A.T.F.
The bureau functioned as an arm of the Treasury for most of its history, until the September 11th attacks persuaded President George W. Bush to bring it under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department. One consequence of the shuffle was a requirement that the A.T.F. director be confirmed by the Senate. Since then, no director has been confirmed.
And it is primarily because the N.R.A. doesn’t want anyone to be in charge of enforcing the gun laws.