Jul 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Steven Dettelbach confirmed as ATF director

Steven Dettelbach testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee
Steven Dettelbach testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on May 25. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate voted 48-46 on Tuesday to confirm Steven Dettelbach to lead the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Why it matters: Dettelbach's confirmation makes him the first Senate-confirmed ATF director since 2015 and only the second confirmed director since 2006.

The big picture: Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney from Ohio, garnered extensive experience working with ATF officers during his decades as a career prosecutor, the White House said in a statement in May.

  • The White House added that Dettelbach "understands the vital importance of redoubling ATF’s work to fight gun violence and domestic terrorism."
  • His nomination to ATF Director was deadlocked in the Senate Judiciary committee last month, but moved forward after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined Democrats to bring his nomination to the floor.
  • Portman and Collins voted for Dettelbach's final confirmation.

State of play: Dettelbach's confirmation comes as the country has been rocked by a spate of high-profile mass shootings in recent months, including in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, and most recently in Highland Park, Illinois.

  • President Biden announced Dettelbach's nomination back in April in conjunction with new rules to regulate "ghost guns" as part of an effort to stymie the epidemic of gun violence across the country.
  • Biden was forced to withdraw the nomination of his first nominee for ATF Director, former ATF agent and gun control advocate David Chipman, last September due to opposition from Republicans and gun rights groups.
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