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Senate Republicans Vow to Oppose Biden’s New ATF Nominee

'If we want to crack down on gun crime and keep our neighborhoods safe, ATF needs a confirmed director...'

(Headline USA) Several Senate Republicans have vowed to oppose former U.S. attorney Steve Dettelbach as President Joe Biden’s new nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, arguing he is just as radical on gun control and the last nominee.

The Senate rejected Biden’s first nominee, David Chipman, for his extreme positions against gun rights, including his endorsement of banning all so-called assault-style rifles. The loosely defined term generally refers to any semiautomatic firearm with a large-capacity magazine.

In announcing Dettelbach, Biden touted him as having a tough-on-crime record during his time with the Justice Department.

“Steve Dettelbach served for decades as a prosecutor, working hand-in-hand with ATF agents to take down gangs and convict criminals,” White House spokesperson Michael Gwin said in a statement. “If we want to crack down on gun crime and keep our neighborhoods safe, ATF needs a confirmed director, and Steve Dettelbach has received praise from across the political spectrum as someone who can roll up his sleeves and get the job done.”

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But some Republicans have pointed out that Dettelbach, like Chipman, supported controversial restrictions that would undermine citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

For example, he previously voiced support for universal background checks and an “assault weapons” ban as recently as 2018, a Senate GOP aide said.

“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,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said. “I’ll need to hear Mr. Dettelbach’s views on this issue in considerable detail.”

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., agreed, and called Dettelbach a “gun-grabbing radical that will put Montanans’ Second Amendment rights in jeopardy.”

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However, Republicans will have to convince a few moderate Democrats to join them in opposing Dettelbach’s nomination if they hope to kill it. 

At least one of the moderate Democrats who refused to back Chipman, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has vowed to closely look at Dettelbach’s history before making a decision.

“As a proud gun owner, Sen. Tester believes ATF needs a strong leader to support the agency’s law enforcement mission,” said his spokesperson, Roy Lowenstein. 

“Before making a decision on this nomination, Sen. Tester will closely review Mr. Dettelbach’s record to ensure he would support our brave law enforcement officers and respect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights,” he added.

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