On April 11, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Steve Dettelbach as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Dettelbach is Biden’s second nomination during his presidency. Who is Steve Dettelbach and what are his views on guns? Here’s what gun owners need to know about him.
Who Is Steve Dettelbach?
A native of Ohio, Steve Dettelbach began practicing law 30 years ago. He currently works for the law firm BakerHostetler. He is a co-leader of the White Collar, Investigations and Securities Enforcement and Litigation team, which focuses on corporate criminal defense and enforcement-related litigation. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Dettelbach as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. Dettelbach served as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio for nearly seven years until he resigned to return to BakerHostetler. In 2018, Republican candidate Dave Yost defeated him in the general election for the position of Ohio attorney general.
“Steve is immensely qualified,” Biden stated when he introduced Dettelbach at the Rose Garden. “He served the Department of Justice for two decades. He worked side by side and supported the work of federal and state law enforcement, including ATF agents.”
What Does This Mean for Gun Owners?
In May 2021, Biden nominated David Chipman to serve as the director of the ATF. Chipman had previously spent 25 years working for the ATF. However, after leaving the agency, Chipman became a lobbyist for Everytown for Gun Safety and a senior policy advisor at Giffords. He faced intense opposition due to his outspoken anti-gun views. In September, Biden withdrew Chipman’s nomination.
President Biden likely chose to nominate Dettelbach because he is a less controversial nominee than Chipman. He even remarked during his press conference that Congress unanimously confirmed Dettelbach as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. During the same press conference, Dettelbach expressed his support for the ATF but was vague on the policies he would enact. He only mentioned in passing the alleged “epidemic of firearms violence.” However, when running against Dave Yost for Ohio attorney general, he proposed anti-gun policies, such as reinstating the assault-style weapons ban and advocating for universal background checks. He also took issue with Yost’s proposal to arm teachers and staff who are former military or law enforcement.
Nominated, Not Approved
The good news is that lawmakers plan to closely examine Dettelbach’s stance on guns before approving the nomination.
“I have deep concerns with the radical direction the ATF has been taking over the past 16 months, including an obvious and growing hostility toward Second Amendment rights,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (TX-21) stated. “I’ll need to hear Mr. Dettelbach’s views on this issue in considerable detail.”
The last (and only) ATF director nomination to be confirmed was B. Todd Jones in 2013. He stepped down in 2015. Marvin G. Richardson has been serving as the acting director since June 2021. (UPDATE: On April 20, a White House official confirmed that President Biden intends to name Gary Restaino as the acting director of the ATF. He currently serves as the U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona.)
There’s no need to panic yet, gun owners. Rest assured, our elected officials will thoroughly probe Dettelbach before making a decision. Odds are Steve Dettelbach won’t be confirmed as the next director of the ATF.