May 20, 2022
The U.S. Senate confirmation hearing for Steven Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s latest anti-gun nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), could start as early as next week. So, now’s a good time to take another look at Dettelbach, what he stands for and the battle ahead for Second Amendment advocates.
As a reminder, Biden nominated Dettelbach at a White House ceremony on April 11, just seven months after he was forced to withdraw his nomination of David Chipman for the ATF leadership role. A devout anti-gun advocate, Chipman favored all kinds of strict anti-gun measures, and strong opposition to the nomination finally convinced the president he wouldn’t be able to get Chipman confirmed.
However, Biden apparently wasn’t able to take the hint. Reports both before and after Dettelbach’s nomination paint him with much the same brush as Chipman. His track record of support for a variety of new gun control laws, especially during a failed run for Ohio attorney general back in 2018, is troubling to many pro-gun advocates.
Following the nomination, the National Shooting Sports Association (NSSF), the firearm industry trade association, immediately expressed concern about the nomination.
“NSSF is committed to a thorough examination of Dettelbach’s record and qualifications and will listen carefully to his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” the organization announced in a statement released shortly after the announcement. “NSSF has significant concerns regarding Dettelbach’s previous public statements supporting bans on Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs), or AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, universal background checks, which are unworkable without a national firearm registry that is already forbidden by law, and extreme-risk protection orders, or so-called ‘red-flag’ laws, without protections for Due Process considerations.”
In fact, Dettelbach had been actively advocating for unconstitutional gun control laws long before the 2018 Ohio campaign. Nearly a decade ago, in a 2013 op-ed that he co-authored and that was posted at Cleveland.com, Dettelbach made no secret of his support for so-called “universal” background checks.
In that op-ed, titled “Requiring universal background checks makes sense,” Dettelbach even lied about federal regulations concerning gun shows and internet sale of firearms.
“[Universal background checks] would make people buying guns online or at gun shows follow the same rules as a hunter buying a rifle at a sporting-goods store,” Dettelbach wrote. “That process is quick and easy. The dealer supplies the person's name to a database maintained by the FBI. This check usually takes about five minutes and every year prevents about 80,000 people forbidden from having a gun from getting one.”
As we all know, legal gun sales by licensed dealers online and at gun shows require the same background check as all other sales by dealers, no matter where they are located. And being a U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio at the time, Dettelbach was certainly aware of that fact.
While statements from Dettelbach’s opposition are enlightening, a look at those supporting the nomination says a lot, too—especially when his supporters, like so-called Everytown For Gun Safety, are active in pushing further restrictions on lawful gun owners.
“Steve Dettelbach is the right person to provide the leadership the ATF needs,” Everytown says on its website. “As ATF director, he would implement President Biden’s gun violence prevention priorities and truly fulfill the agency’s mission.”
While Everytown is not known for telling the truth, this time they’ve hit the nail on the head. The admission that Dettelbach would implement the president’s gun control platform is scary indeed. And it is a great reason for gun owners to contact their senators today and voice their opposition to the nominee.
Firearms News will provide coverage of the hearings when they get underway.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.