Former justice officials ask Senate to confirm Biden’s ATF director to fight gun violence
Steve Dettelbach is President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A bipartisan group of more than 140 former Justice Department officials sent a letter to Senate leaders on Wednesday calling for the confirmation of Steve Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, firearms and explosives.
Dettelbach served from 2009 to 2016 as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Citing “the increase in gun crime in our country in recent years,” the letter stressed the importance of confirming a director who “will help keep our communities safe by removing gun traffickers and other criminals violent people from our streets”.
Among those who signed the letter are former U.S. Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, former Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates and former U.S. Attorney and Senator from Alabama Doug Jones.
The office has been without a permanent director for seven years and has not had a Senate-confirmed director for 16 years.
At the same time, gun violence is increasingly on the rise. The Gun Violence Archive listed 20,726 non-suicidal gun deaths in 2021, more than any year since the nonprofit was founded in 2014 and an increase from 19,510 such deaths. in 2020.
The Biden administration has tackled the issue of gun violence in recent months, including establishing a federal rule classifying so-called “phantom guns” as firearms. Ghost weapons, which are unnumbered and untraceable weapons assembled from kits, have been cited by police departments as playing an increasing role in gun crime.
Biden nominated Dettelbach in April after removing previous nominee David Chapman in September 2021. Chapman had faced unified opposition from Republican senators and a few Democrats.
Dettelbach’s nomination was supported by a range of groups in addition to former justice officials.
America’s top county sheriffs, representing 110 of the largest elected sheriff’s offices in the United States, endorsed his nomination. Sheriff Dennis Lemma of Seminole County, Fla., is the group’s chairman and sent a letter to the Senate noting that Dettelbach has “a proven track record of working with federal, state and local law enforcement in the fight against violent crimes” and has “worked alongside the ATF through cases dealing with domestic terrorism, anti-religion, hate crimes and violent extremism.”
The American Association for Pediatric Surgery call for Dettelbach’s confirmation, specifically citing the importance of reducing gun violence against children.
“ATF’s mission is to protect the public from crimes involving firearms, which too often affect children,” the group said in a letter to Senate leaders. “APSA surgeons speak to the importance of this mission from first-hand experience caring for children who sustain gunshot wounds.”
Gun violence prevention groups are also behind the nomination. Everytown for Gun Safety said confirmation should occur “if senators are serious about reducing gun crime,” while Brady: United Against Gun Violence called the candidate “well qualified” for the role.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said confirmation hearings are “ready to go” as soon as he gets the “thumbs up” from the rest of the committee as he examines the nomination of Dettelbach. .
The momentum for the nomination came at the same time as elected Republicans attacked the very existence of the ATF.
Republican House Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Matt Gaetz (FL), Paul Gosar (AZ), and Ralph Norman (SC) have proposed legislation to “eliminate the ATF”.
The view is shared by Republicans currently in the running, including Senate candidate JD Vance, who recently won his party’s nomination in Ohio.
“All the more reason to get rid of the ATF”, van wrote in response to news of Dettelbach’s appointment.
Published with permission of the American Independent Foundation.