Senate Confirms First ATF Director Since 2013

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee, Steve Dettelbach, Tuesday to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The Senate confirmed him with a 48-46 vote, making Dettelbach the first ATF director to be confirmed since 2015, AP News reported. Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio, voted in favor of his nomination.

The president withdrew the nomination of former David Chipman for pushing misleading claims about the Waco operation on a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread to advocate for restrictions on so-called assault weapons. He also allegedly said black ATF agents must have cheated on an exam to enter the agency.

Former U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones was the last director to be confirmed to the agency in 2013, AP reported. He left the position in 2015.

The Biden administration replaced former ATF acting director, Marvin Richardson, with Gary Restaino, a U.S. attorney in Arizona, the outlet reported. Richardson currently serves as the agency’s deputy director.

Dettelbach’s confirmation has been hailed by Democratic leaders and gun control advocates.

“After years of gun lobby obstruction, the Senate’s finally confirmed a permanent director to lead the ATF in Steve Dettelbach,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “@SenateDems will keep fighting for commonsense gun safety provisions that save lives and take meaningful action to keep communities safe.” (RELATED: What President Biden Owes ATF In A Director Nominee) 

A gun rights advocacy group, Gun Owners of America, sent a letter Tuesday urging the Senate to vote against Dettelbach’s confirmation, citing his support for stricter gun control and an assault weapons ban as being a potential infringement to citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

“Steve Dettelbach is an anti-gun partisan with no knowledge of firearms and a zeal for infringing on the Second Amendment … President Biden’s second ATF nominee is also wholly unqualified to lead this agency given his lack of firearm knowledge,” the letter said. “Dettelbach admitted on the record to never owning a firearm. How can a director lead an agency when he has no experience in the field?”

Dettelbach served as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio under former President Barack Obama’s administration from 2009 to 2016, the outlet reported. He also served as the chairman of the civil rights subcommittee under the advisory committee of former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.