WASHINGTON, D.C. -(Ammoland.com)- Steve Dettelbach has become the first confirmed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Direct since the George W Bush administration.
The Dettelbach nomination was President Joe Biden’s second choice for ATF Director. His first choice was rabid anti-gun advocate David Chipman. Chipman worked for several anti-gun groups and was seen as too extreme by most of the U.S. Senate.
Two Republicans, Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH) crossed the aisle to vote to confirm Dettelbach, who was confirmed by a margin of 48 to 46.
Dettelbach’s former career as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio was uneventful regarding firearms-related cases. After his time in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he took a job at BakerHostetler on the White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations team. He has no official record on firearms when working for BakerHostetler.
Even though Dettelbach doesn’t have any official record on gun control, he has spoken about several of his beliefs. Dettelbach believes in banning most semi-automatic rifles, which he calls “assault weapons.” He would like to see the Clinton-era assault weapons ban return with an expanded definition of an assault weapon.
Dettelbach also believes in universal background checks for firearms purchases. He believes the practice of private transfers should end. In many states, a firearm can be transferred through a private sale without the buyer going through a background check. Dettelbach would insist that all transfers be done through a federal firearms license (FFL) holder.
Most disturbingly for gun owners, Dettelbach believes in a firearms registry.
Earlier this year, the ATF admitted to having nearly one billion records at itsOut of Business Office in Martinsburg, WV. When an FFL goes out of business, the FFL must turn over all records for the past twenty years to the ATF. That will be expanded to all records, even those over twenty years old, in the new rule surrounding the definition of a firearm. That regulation is going into effect in late August of this year.
Over a year ago, when AmmoLand News was investigating Walmart turning over records of gun sales to the ATF, we uncovered that the ATF was using optical character recognition (OCR) to digitize the records. A year later, Gun Owners of America (GOA) verified this claim and determined that just under 700 million records have been digitized, with the ATF hard at work to get one billion records it holds scanned.
The ATF calls this a searchable database and claims the names field is not searchable. Although this claim is technically true, the search function in the field is just disabled. AmmoLand News determined that this function could be turned on in under 10 seconds with three clicks of a mouse. Many gun rights advocates consider this a firearms registry. Since Dettelbach believes in a registry, many gun rights activists worry about how the new Director will abuse the system.
Anti-gun groups celebrated the confirmation. Brady and others released statements of support.
“The importance of a Senate-confirmed director cannot be overstated,” Brown Kris, Brady United President, said, saying ATF is important to “enforcing the nation’s gun laws and reduce gun trafficking and the supply of firearms that are fueling our nation’s gun violence crisis.”
Gun rights groups have also taken to social media to decry the situation. They see Dettelbach as nothing more than a puppet of Biden’s anti-gun agenda.
“Politicians are showing what they really think of the 2A,” said Aidan Johnston, Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America (GOA). “Confirming an anti-gunner to lead an agency that works to restrict rights by creating a national gun registry & banning certain firearms is a disgrace to our Constitutional government.”
Dettelbach claims he will not let politics seep into his role as ATF Director, but only time will tell.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.