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Biden Nominates Ex-U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach to Lead ATF

Former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach

By Steve Neavling

President Biden on Monday nominated Steven Dettelbach, a former Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney, to lead the ATF. 

The nomination came on the same day that Biden’s administration announced a crackdown on ghost guns. 

Biden’s first pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, couldn’t get enough votes in the Senate for confirmation last year. 

It’s too early to say whether Dettelbach will have an easier time getting confirmed. He was confirmed by the Senate to serve as attorney for the U.S. District Court in Northern Ohio, a position he held from 2009 to 2016. 

Chipman came under fire for his support of firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. He’s also a former adviser at the Giffords, a gun control group. 

Dettelbach has advocated for reinstating the assault weapons ban and universal background checks on firearms purchases.

“Steve is immensely qualified,” Biden said Monday.

“Steve also partnered with the community leaders and law enforcement to help prevent violent crime. He’s worked with the police to combat domestic extremism and to take violent criminals off the street. Steve’s record makes him ready on day one to lead this agency.”

Dettelbach praised the work of the ATF. 

“I’ve seen firsthand the work that so many at the ATF do to protect us from violence,” he said. “They’re dedicated, they’re professional, and they’re effective.  They don’t write the laws; their mission every day is just to go out and enforce those laws and protect the public from a wide range of threats.” 

Dettelbach said the ATF plays an important role in protecting communities at a time when gun violence is out of control. 

“As we emerge from this pandemic, we’ve got to recognize that many Americans still face fear and isolation not because of a virus, but because of an epidemic of firearms violence,” Dettelbach said. “It’s not a new problem, and it has many causes. That’s why it’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck-partnership approach to address that issue. And the ATF will be there.”

Dettelbach, who ran an unsuccessful campaign to serve as attorney general in Ohio in 2018, has been working in the private sector for BakerHostetler.

Dettelbach is married with two children. 

The ATF’s acting director, Marvin G. Richardson, has been accused by gun control advocates of cozying up to the gun industry.


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