A top Republican House member on Wednesday proposed eliminating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, writing a bill that would freeze all hiring at the troubled agency and require the Justice Department to come up with a plan for transferring its duties to other agencies.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who wrote the bill, called it both a chance to streamline government and to clean up an agency that’s been criticized from the right and the left for botched gun-running operations.

“The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal ridden agency that lacks a clear mission. It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership,” said Mr. Sensenbrenner, who is a former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

ATF came under heat for the Fast & Furious operation that saw agents knowingly let guns get into the hands of cartels who trafficked them across the border into Mexico, where they were used in a number of crimes. Weapons from the operation also turned up at the scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed.

Congress is still investigating that operation, as well as another ATF sting operation that used storefronts to try to catch gun traffickers — but which ended up losing weapons and targeting mentally challenged individuals for prosecutions.

Mr. Sensenbrenner’s ATF Elimination Act would transfer firearms enforcement to the FBI, and send alcohol and tobacco duties to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

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