Steve Dettelbach is the nominee of President Biden to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It is both a regulatory and law enforcement agency. Part of its mission is to serve as the primary agency regulating the firearms industry. Another part of its mission is combating violent crime.
As I posted earlier in the week, the Senate Judiciary Committee tied 11-11 on whether to advance Dettelbach’s nomination. It still can go forward as the Senate Majority Leader can bring him up for a vote in case of a tie. Prior to voting on Dettelbach, the committee held a hearing as well as submitted written questions for the record.
You would assume that anyone charged with regulating an industry have some knowledge of it and its products. In this case you would be wrong.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) (among others) submitted a number of questions. The answers that Dettelbach gave somewhat astounded me.
Have you ever owned a firearm?
Have you ever been issued a firearm in a professional capacity?
As to whether Dettelbach has ever shot a firearm, here is his answer to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Have you ever used a firearm? If so, when and under what circumstances?
RESPONSE: Yes. As a youth, I engaged in target shooting with rifles on numerous occasions. In my time as a Department of Justice employee, on several occasions I was hosted at federal and local law enforcement shooting ranges and afforded the opportunity to target shoot with different types of firearms. Finally, as an adult, I have taken my son to shoot targets with rifles several times.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Ranking Member and former Chair of the Committee, asked a number of questions of Dettelbach including this one:
The Director of the ATF should be familiar with firearms. To that end, have you ever shot a firearm? How many times have you shot a firearm in the last five years?
RESPONSE: As a youth, I engaged in target shooting with rifles on numerous occasions. In my time as a Department of Justice employee, on several occasions I was hosted at federal and local law enforcement shooting ranges and afforded the opportunity to target shoot with different firearms. Finally, as an adult, I have taken my son to shoot targets with rifles several times. I am not sure of all the dates, but I believe at least one such occasion was within the last five years.
Sen. Grassley also asked if Dettelbach had any meeting or communications with Everytown, Giffords, or the Brady Campaign. He reports that he didn’t have any meeting with Everytown but did have one remote meeting each with people from Giffords and the Brady Campaign. Both of those meeting were about him giving his background and them giving a presentation of their goals and objectives.
My concern is not really that Dettelbach has not owned a firearm. That is his choice. However, his experience, if you read between the lines, seems to be with .22 rimfire rifles. His lack of experience with firearms makes him dependent upon the so-called experts at BATFE. The same experts who once upon a time defined a shoelace as a machine gun and that concerns me.