U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Fifteen Republican state attorneys general have signed a letter to Capitol Hill opposing the confirmation of Steve Dettelbach to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the man who lead the effort—Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen—spoke exclusively to Ammoland to detail the issue.
“This is a guy who has publicly affiliated himself with (gun control groups),” Knudsen said in a telephone interview.
In Montana, Knudsen said all eyes are actually on Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, to see which way he will vote. Many observers are predicting a Dettelbach confirmation, but Knudsen and his fellow attorneys general are determined to have their voices heard.
In the four-page letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the top state law enforcement officials recall last year’s nomination of David Chipman, which turned into a debacle for the Biden White House.
“Rather than find a qualified individual with a law enforcement background,” Knudsen and his colleagues wrote, “the President returned to the same well and nominated Steven Dettelbach. As the Attorneys General of our respective states and on behalf of our constituents, we ask you to oppose his confirmation. Now more than ever, we should be prioritizing Americans’ safety over the pursuit of ideological hobbyhorses.”
Knudsen, who unabashedly describes himself as “a gun guy,” told Ammoland there has been silence from Capitol Hill since the letter was sent June 21.
“We didn’t get anything about Chipman, either,” he recalled from the last go-round of opposition to a Biden nominee. “I don’t expect to get anything from the administration.”
Knudsen, a Montana native who grew up on ranch near the Montana-North Dakota border, said the letter was drafted and sent around for his colleagues to study and offer suggested edits, but he cannot recall anyone offering any serious changes.
The second paragraph comes out swinging:
“President Biden has repeatedly displayed his own ignorance when it comes to firearms and Americans’ right to keep and bear them.”
This statement is immediately followed with another bristling remark,
“Misleading at best, even liberal ‘fact checkers’ have repeatedly called his statements false. This underscores the importance of an ATF director who will enforce existing laws in an unbiased manner and not merely rubber stamp the President’s partisan anti-gun platform.”
The letter notes that Dettelbach “has a long history of activism to restrict Americans’ gun rights, going back to at least 2013 when he appeared alongside representatives from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the predecessor organization to Everytown for Gun Safety.”
Back on June 16, the Senate voted 52-41 to bring the nomination up for a Senate vote. It appears the Senate will take up that issue when it returns from the July 4 recess.
Where Chipman was sometimes incendiary during his hearing last year before the Senate Judiciary Committee—leading to the withdrawal of his nomination by the White House—Dettelbach is not as vocal, Knudsen acknowledged. But his background is, to say the least, troubling to the 15 attorneys general who signed the letter.
In addition to Knudsen, those officials are Treg R. Taylor, Alaska; Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas; Mark Brnovich, Arizona; Christopher M. Carr, Georgia; Theodore E. Rokita, Indiana; Derek Schmidt, Kansas; Jeff Landry, Louisiana; Eric S. Schmitt, Missouri; John M. O’Connor, Oklahoma; Alan Wilson, South Carolina; Jason R. Ravnsborg, South Dakota; Ken Paxton, Texas; Sean D. Reyes, Utah, and Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia.
These people make it clear in the closing paragraphs of the letter they take their jobs seriously.
“The Second Amendment reaffirms our God-given rights to defend our lives, families, property, and freedoms. It has ‘justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic’…And it is the right upon which all others depend. As state Attorneys General, we have taken oaths to uphold all the rights guaranteed to our constituents by the Constitution of the United States. ATF’s director will operate under a similar oath, and that presents a unique challenge, because ATF regulates in an area that squarely implicates Second Amendment rights. Every official action should therefore be retrained and refined to ensure that those rights remain intact.
“Given that serious responsibility—and the current nominee’s track record—we ask you to reject Mr. Dettelbach to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives,” the letter states. “As Americans continue to suffer from the crime wave, the ATF desperately needs a director who will crack down on violent criminals and organizations—not one who will pursue an anti-gun political agenda under the guise of law enforcement.”
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