Biden nominates Steve Dettelbach for top guns post

Associated Press/John Minchillo

President Biden will nominate Steve Dettelbach, former federal attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Biden called Dettelbach “immensely qualified” for the post, saying at a White House event Monday that his record “makes him ready on day one to lead this agency.”

Dettelbach served as U.S. attorney for seven years after being nominated in 2009 by former President Obama, who was his classmate at Harvard Law School. He currently is co-leader of white collar investigations at national law firm BakerHostetler.

“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. It’s not a new problem, and it has many causes”  Dettelbach said in remarks at the White House. “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 said, if confirmed, he will support the men and women of the ATF. He also spoke about how ATF agents work in anonymity but also are criticized in the public eye, saying they deserve better support.

Biden has not been able to fill the ATF post since the start of the administration. He pulled the nomination of David Chipman in September after he did not receive enough support in the Senate.

“We will be working hard to ensure that Steve Dettelbach receives the fair hearing and confirmation that he deserves,” administration officials said. “He should be a non-controversial candidate because he has a long record of working in law enforcement and for the public safety of the people of Ohio and of the American people.”

Dettelbach previously served as counsel in the Senate Judiciary Committee under former Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and was the Democratic nominee for Ohio attorney general in 2018.

Chipman, whom Biden had nominated a year ago, was an ex-ATF agent who had advised the gun control group Giffords. Republicans unified to oppose Chipman, with Sen. Angus King’s (I-Maine) opposition ultimately ruining his chances of confirmation in the 50-50 Senate.

The Senate has confirmed only one ATF nominee, in 2013, since the position required confirmation from the chamber.

“There’s only been one senate whose confirmed a director of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the bureau’s entire history. It used to be it didn’t require Senate action when I first got to the Senate. But it’s only been one since it became required confirmation,” Biden said.

“The mission of this agency isn’t controversial, it’s public safety,” he added.

Updated at 3:23 p.m.

Tags ATF Barack Obama Biden David Chipman David Chipman Joe Biden Joe Biden Obama Steve Dettelbach

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