Here’s what you need to know about Biden’s new ATF Nominee

Harold Hutchison, DCNF

  • Steve Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, has a long history of issuing statements and backing measures opposing gun rights.
  • Dettelbach supported a number of gun control measures during a failed campaign to be Ohio’s attorney general in 2018, including bans on so-called “assault weapons” and universal background checks.
  • The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation both raised concerns about Dettelbach’s record.

President Joe Biden nominated Steve Dettelbach, a former Ohio U.S. Attorney with a record of supporting gun control measures, to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Monday.

Dettelbach has a history of backing gun control measures, promoting several firearms restrictions during an unsuccessful 2018 campaign to become Ohio’s attorney general and making multiple posts on social media calling on America to take action in the wake of high-profile shootings. He told WOSU that he supported universal background checks and bans on so-called “assault weapons” during his campaign.

During the campaign, Dettelbach received endorsements from prominent gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, as well as former President Barack Obama and Biden.

Dettelbach also opposed a plan to arm teachers in the aftermath of the February 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, telling WOSU it was “it doesn’t protect people in any meaningful way it’s more than a day late and much more than a dollar short.”

“Who allows madmen such easy access to firearms?” Dettelbach asked in a 2019 Twitter post shortly after a shooting in El Paso. “Who armed a madmen with enough hate that he would kill people just because they were Hispanic? Those people must also be held accountable.”

Dettelbach retweeted a 2020 post from the Sandy Hook Promise, a group which advocates for certain gun control measures, asking people to sign a “petition demanding action to prevent school shootings.”

The White House called Dettelbach “a highly respected former U.S. Attorney and career prosecutor who spent over two decades as a prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice” in a White House release Monday.

The nomination of Dettelbach comes in conjunction with a crackdown on so-called “ghost guns,” according to the release. The Justice Department announced new rules to target so-called “ghost guns,” including requiring those who make or sell them to get Federal Firearms Licenses and to run background checks.

Biden withdrew the nomination of David Chipman to the ATF in September 2021 after allegations of racist comments and bipartisan pushback over his attitude toward gun owners. Chipman called for banning the AR-15, a popular semi-automatic rifle, and pushed a definition of “assault weapons” that many viewed as more extreme than that of the European Union.

“President Biden’s new pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is a rinse and repeat from his last unsuitable nominee, David Chipman,” Amy Hunter, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, told the DCNF. “The new nominee, Steven Dettelbach, is a dedicated gun controller who has supported gun bans, restrictions on lawful firearm transfers and expansion of prohibitions on who can possess firearms. Dettelbach’s history proves he cannot be trusted to work objectively and fairly with law-abiding gun owners, the firearms industry, or law enforcement — he will serve only to further restrict Americans’ rights.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the gun industry’s largest trade organizations, said it had “significant concerns regarding Dettelbach’s previous public statements supporting bans on Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs), or AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, universal background checks, which are unworkable without a national firearm registry that is already forbidden by federal law, and extreme-risk protection orders, or so-called ‘red flag’ laws, without protections for Due Process considerations” in a statement Monday.

Dettelbach did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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