The ATF, tasked with regulating the firearms industry, has long lacked resources and stable leadership. operated under a number of acting directors while several nominees did not receive confirmation. The bureau, which has more than 5,000 employees, has also been a punching bag for the gun lobby and other opponents who have stumbled over self-inflicted wounds, including the Obama administration’s botched gun operation known as “Fast and Furious.”
When nominated by President Biden this year, Dettelbach, 56, pledged to fight “an epidemic of gun violence” in America. He takes command of the bureau whose budget exceeds $1 billion at a difficult moment, with the recent shooting sprees in Buffalo, Uvalde, Tex., and Highland Park, Illinois appalling a nation that has become painfully familiar with such mass slaughter.
Deadly gun violence has also increased across the country. A nationwide spike in fatal shootings pushed the rate of firearm deaths in 2020 and 2021 to the highest level in a quarter century. At the same time, gun purchases have skyrocketed, with a Washington Post analysis estimating more than 43 million guns were purchased in those two years.
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B. Todd Jones, the last ATF director to receive Senate approval since it became a requirement for the job in 2006, said Dettelbach’s “challenge will be to focus the bureau’s limited resources” on important issues, such as firearms used in crime and spirit weapons.
Having a confirmed director in place can be important to how others perceive the office, Jones said, because people inherently give an official appointed by the President and approved by the Senate “a certain level of cachet.” to lend. The “acting” label might mean to others that “you’re a placeholder, that you’ve really just maintained some sort of stable operation.” A confirmed director, he said, could be “significant within the bureau” for morale.
Jones, now the NFL’s Special Counsel for Conduct, has served in both capacities and served as acting ATF director from 2011 to 2013 when then-President Barack Obama nominated him for the tenured position following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. Once confirmed, Jones remained in that position through 2015.
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The bureau’s challenges stem not from the title of the person who heads it, Jones said, but from its limited resources and fierce opposition from gun rights advocates. The NRA once ran a full-page newspaper ad denouncing ATF as a “rogue agency,” and there have been calls over the years for the bureau to be abolished altogether or for its work to be merged with another agency.
Dettelbach staunchly defended the office and its staff when he was nominated, saying that “the men and women of ATF and the public they protect deserve better support from us.”
For Dettelbach, the ATF job is a kind of homecoming. He previously worked as a federal prosecutor in Berlin the Department of Justice, the parent agency of ATF. During most of the Obama administration, he served as the US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
During this time, the office worked on a reform agreement with the Cleveland Police Department and prosecuted cases involving an Indiana man who attempted to burn down a mosque in the Toledo area and another man who threw explosives at a city hall and courthouse. a case attempted by Dettelbach himself.
After retiring in 2016, Dettelbach returned to BakerHostetler, the law firm where he was a partner before becoming a US attorney. Before joining the firm, Dettelbach served as a prosecutor in Maryland and Ohio. In 2018, Dettelbach ran for Ohio Attorney General, losing to Republican Dave Yost.
Dettelbach is “very much a consensus leader,” said Carole S. Rendon, a longtime friend who is also a partner at BakerHostetler, served as Dettelbach’s top deputy at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and succeeded him after resigning from leading it.
“He wanted everyone’s opinion and really appreciated people’s input, whether they agreed with him or not,” she said.
After Dettelbach was confirmed, Biden issued a statement praising his “outstanding experience in the prosecution service” and saying “Today’s vote is another important sign that both parties can come together to support law enforcement and.” to stand up against the terrible scourge of gun violence.”
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Dettelbach’s nomination was supported by a number of groups including Giffords, the gun control group headed by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; the US Conference of Mayors, who said he “understands the importance of joint efforts by federal and state law enforcement agencies to combat and prevent violent crime”; and organizations representing police chiefs and federal law enforcement officials.
The National Rifle Association, on the other hand, labeled Dettelbach an “anti-gun,” while the National Sports Shooting Foundation, the firearms industry trade group, said after his nomination that it had “significant concerns” about some of his earlier statements, including that support for universal background checks. A group of more than a dozen Republican attorneys general wrote to senators urging them to reject his nomination, saying, “It appears that he is likely to support the ATF’s attempts to restrict Americans’ rights and undermine constitutional limitations on federal power.” would continue or even accelerate.”
A key challenge for any new ATF leader is becoming familiar with all of the regulatory processes the agency must oversee, said Michael Bouchard, a former deputy director at the bureau.
The ATF plays a pivotal role in assisting local and state law enforcement officials, Bouchard said, and brings “specific types of expertise unmatched by any other federal agency.” A confirmed director chosen by the president, Bouchard noted, will automatically have a prominent seat at the table.
“The ATF will get more resources if they have someone who can speak to the White House,” Bouchard said. “It’s her person. You will trust what this person says.”
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Biden’s previous candidate, David Chipman, spent decades at ATF before joining the Giffords advocacy group.
The White House withdrew his nomination last fall amid opposition from Republicans and some Senate Democrats — and from the NRA, which said it had spent millions opposing Chipman, calling him “a serious threat to the.” Second Amendment,” and said he spent a decade “working for gun control groups and lobbying on Capitol Hill to limit Americans’ rights.”
The recent spate of high-profile mass shootings has prompted the passing of modest gun control legislation on Capitol Hill, despite opposition from the NRA.
The tragedies also appear to be spawning a new wave of grief-fueled advocacy, Repeating efforts that followed earlier shootings in Newtown and Parkland, Fla.
There are too many mass shootings for the US media to cover
On Tuesday, survivors of recent shootings in Highland Park and Uvalde were scheduled to visit Capitol Hill to urge more gun safety measures. Among them was Emily Lieberman, a pediatrician who survived the July Fourth parade attack and fled to safety in a winery bathroom with her 5-year-old daughter and more than a dozen others.
“There is no way to solve this problem until assault rifles are banned for civilian use,” Lieberman said in an interview. “Gun control doesn’t have to be a Republican or Democratic or even a bipartisan issue. That’s not political. This is the security of our country.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/07/12/dettelbach-atf-guns-senate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_national Steve Dettelbach of Ohio confirmed as ATF Director