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Tag: ATF

ATF Nominee Dettelbach Makes Case for Leading the Agency

Steve Dettelbach testifies before a Senate committee. Photo: U.S. Senate

By Steve Neavling

President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, Steve Dettelbach, pledged to leave politics out of the job during a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, just two days after a mass shooting at an elementary school shooting in Texas. 

“Politics can play no role in law enforcement. None at all,” he said, according to CNN.

“I worked under Republican administrations, and I worked under Democratic administrations as a federal prosecutor and I have lived that credo and I vow to continue to do it because people need to have confidence that people in law enforcement’s only agenda is to enforce the law – and if you’re at the ATF to catch the bad guys and protect the public,” he added.

In his opening remarks, Dettelbach addressed the rise in violent crime. 

“We face many threats to public safety, both new and old,” Dettelbach said in opening remarks. “Violent crime is increasing, firearms violence and mass shootings are increasing, hate crimes and religious violence are increasing, as is violent extremism. If confirmed, I promise to do everything I can to enforce the law, to respect the Constitution of the United States and to partner with law enforcement to protect the safety and the rights of innocent and law-abiding Americans.”

Dettelbach called the school shooting “unimaginable.”

The ATF has been without a permanent leader since ATF Director B. Todd Jones led the agency from 2011 to 2015. 

After the hearing, the White House said in a statement that it’s critical that the Senate approve Dettelbach to head the ATF. 

“After being vacant for seven years, it’s never been more important to have a tough, experienced, leader like Steve Dettelbach at the helm of ATF to support the agents risking their lives on the front lines every day to protectthe American people. And as we saw with the tragic shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo – where ATF agents have played a key role in the investigations – and with daily gun violence plaguing too many of our communities, now is the time to provide ATF the leadership it needs to redouble its work to enforce our gun laws and make our communities safer.”

Dettelbach 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. He launched an unsuccessful campaign to serve as attorney general in Ohio in 2018. Since then, he has worked in the private sector for BakerHostetler. 

8 Former ATF Directors and Acting Leaders Endorse Biden’s Pick to Lead the Agency

Former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach

By Steve Neavling

Steven Dettelbach, President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, has been endorsed by eight former directors and acting leaders as the U.S. Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings on the nomination. 

The former leaders, who were previously appointed by Republican and Democratic administrations, made the endorsement in a letter obtained by USA Today.

The ATF has been without a permanent leader since ATF Director B. Todd Jones led the agency from 2011 to 2015. 

Jones was among the former directors who endorsed Dettelbach. 

“The single and most logical person to question and to hold accountable both on the policy front and the everyday execution of existing laws would be the Director of ATF,” the officials said. “Without a Director there is no one to hold accountable.”

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.

Gun Sales Tripled in the U.S. in Past 20 Years: ATF Report

By Steve Neavling

Gun sales have reached new highs in the U.S., according to a new ATF report

In 2020, American gunmakers manufactured 11.3 million guns, a three-fold increase over 2000.

The report comes several days after an 18-year-old opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo and killed 10 Black people and wounded three others in what authorities allege was a racially motivated shooting.

The ATF also found that the number of so-called ghost guns has soared. 

The Biden administration is trying to crack down on gun violence, but Republicans continue to block the appointment of a new ATF leader. 

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Endorses Dettelbach to Lead ATF

ATF nominee Steve Dettelbach

By Steve Neavling

Steve Dettelbach, President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, picked up a key endorsement from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. 

The organization, which represents more than 26,000 law enforcement professionals from dozens of agencies, including the ATF, made the endorsement in a letter to senators obtained by NBC News.

In the letter, FLEOA President Larry Cosme said Dettelbach has a “proven history of working with law enforcement agencies, corrections officials, advocates, stakeholders, and elected officials across the political spectrum.”

He added, Dettelbach’s “dedication towards the advancement of public safety initiatives should go a long way towards restoring the public trust.”

Biden nominated Dettelbach, a former Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney, in April. Pro-gun groups immediately opposed the nomination. 

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

The agency has been without a permanent leader since 2015. 

New Jersey Man Admits to Impersonating Federal Agents and Owning homemade Weapons

By Steve Neavling

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Wednesday to unlawfully possessing a homemade short-barrel rifle, a silencer and five counterfeit federal law enforcement badges. 

Jeffrey Backlund, 57, of Waretown, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 13. 

Federal agents first learned of Backlund while investigating a domestic disturbance. Law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant for his house on Sept. 6 and found a gun with no serial number or branding, a silencer and fake ID badges.

The badges were for the U.S. Marshals Service, ATF and the DEA. 

Numerous agencies, including the FBI, ATF, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service, assisted in the investigation. 

Biden to Replace Acting ATF Director with Top Prosecutor in Arizona

By Steve Neavling

President Biden will pick Gary M. Restaino, the top prosecutor in Arizona, to serve as interim director of the ATF until a permanent one is confirmed, the Associated Press reports.

Biden’s administration is removing the ATF’s acting director, Marvin G. Richardson, who has been accused by gun advocates of cozying up to the gun industry.

Richardson will remain at the agency and advise Restaino, the AP reported.  

The move comes about a week after Biden announced he was nominating Steven Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney, to serve as the permanent director.

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

Biden to Nominate Former U.S. Attorney to Serve As ATF Leader

Former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach

By Steve Neavling

President Biden plans to pick a new nominee to lead the ATF after his previous nomination fell short in the Senate last year, Politico reports

The nominee is former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, a Democrat who has advocated for reinstating the assault weapons ban and universal background checks on firearms purchases.

Dettelbach served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio from 2009 to 2016. He ran an unsuccessful campaign to serve as attorney general in Ohio in 2018.  

He has been working in the private sector for BakerHostetler, serving as co-leader of the firm’s national Whte Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations team.  

Dettelbach is married with two children. 

Biden’s first pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, couldn’t get enough votes in the Senate for confirmation. The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation were putting up a fight to stop Chipman’s nomination and have spent more than $4 million in radio and TV ads in the home states of moderate Democrats and Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine.

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

Judges Tosses Retaliation Lawsuit by ATF Agent Who Previously Settled Complaint Over Supervisor with Nazi Tattoo

Former ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge tossed a lawsuit filed by a Black former ATF supervisor in Seattle who claimed she was smeared and retaliated against after she settled a previous lawsuit against the agency. 

Cheryl Bishop, the first woman to serve on the ATF’s Special Response Team, received a $450,000 settlement more than two years ago in a lawsuit in which she alleged the ATF scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Bradley Devlin, who served as the resident agent in charge of the Eugene, and complained about a Nazi-themed tattoo on his arm. Devlin denied being abusive and said he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio. Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

In the latest suit, U.S. District Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez said Bishop failed to demonstrate that she was retaliated against, saying there was no adverse impact on her job, The Seattle Times reports.

Bishop plans to appeal.