Biden Nominates Another Anti-Gunner for ATF Head

posted on April 12, 2022
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

With Monday’s nomination of Steven Dettelbach to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), President Joe Biden (D) has made it clear that he’s determined to put an anti-gun advocate in the position.

Biden’s nomination of Dettelbach comes just seven months after the president withdrew his nomination of another gun-ban advocate, David Chipman, for the position after NRA rallied its millions of members in opposition to that terrible selection.

“Today, to lead and support the dedicated men and women of the AFT [sic], I’m proud to nominate Steve Dettelbach [grossly mispronounced] as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” Biden stammered during a long, sometimes nearly incoherent speech about gun control. “Steve is immensely qualified … Steve’s record makes him ready on Day 1 to lead the agency.”

A prepared statement from the White House stated: “Dettelbach is 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. He has received bipartisan praise and support from law enforcement for his work.”

What Biden and the White House failed to mention about the nominee, however, is his track record of support for radical gun control policies, especially during a failed run for Ohio attorney general back in 2018.

As NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) pointed out in an action alert, based on Dettelbach’s stated position on important gun-control issues during that campaign, he’s no friend to America’s gun owners and must not be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“Like Chipman, Dettelbach is a dedicated gun controller with a background that proves he would be neither fair nor objective as head of the ATF,” the ILA alert stated. “When running for Ohio attorney general in 2018, Dettelbach endorsed gun bans, restrictions on lawful firearm transfers and further expansion of prohibitions on who can lawfully possess a firearm. In short, it’s unclear what gun control measures Dettelbach doesn’t support.”

Dettelbach’s anti-freedom statements and anti-gun promises made during that campaign prompted the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) to give the candidate the lowest grade possible.

“This led NRA-PVF to award Dettelbach an ‘F’ for his positions on the right to keep and bear arms,” ILA stated. “Notably, Michael Bloomberg’s astroturf gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety (David Chipman’s former employer) endorsed Dettelbach in his bid to become Ohio’s attorney general.”

In fact, Dettelbach had been actively advocating for unconstitutional gun-control laws long before the 2018 Ohio campaign. In an op-ed that he co-authored and that posted at, 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.”

Of course, 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 as he was a U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio at the time, Dettelbach was certainly aware of that fact.

The National Shooting Sports Association (NSSF), the firearm industry trade association, also expressed concern over 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 the end, it seems that President Biden didn’t learn his lesson after the resounding defeat of Chipman last September. Doubling down by nominating another gun-ban advocate for the position shows not only ill intent on the president’s part, but also poor judgment.

Just like Ohio voters rejected Dettelbach at the polls in 2018, U.S. Senators must overwhelmingly reject his nomination to head the ATF. And there’s no doubt that, once again, the NRA will be leading the charge in opposing Biden’s latest anti-gun nominee and working to get the nomination defeated.


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