Blog 11/17/23

Weekly Spotlight 11/17/23 – 11/20/23

ATF Director Reverses Course and Joins Chorus of Gun Control Activists

Steve Dettelbach, the controversial Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), recently appeared at a “Gun Violence in America” event at Harvard University, where he reversed course on promises he’d previously made to Congress regarding his authority and priorities.  At the talk, which was moderated by a “Women, Gender, and Sexuality senior lecturer,” Director Dettelbach said he supports pursuing so-called “universal background checks” and an “assault weapons” ban.  

Why is this significant?  

In previous testimony before Congress, Director Dettelbach claimed he would “use the tools Congress gives me” in enforcing laws they pass, rather than advocating for new ones through his position in the federal bureaucracy.  Flash forward mere months, and he’s on the public speaking circuit voicing support for brand-new gun control laws.  This is not only a reversal of previous testimony under oath but also a break from the tradition of previous ATF directors, who’ve typically remained silent in advocating for new laws. 

The ATF is meant to be a law enforcement agency.  It’s not a legislative body, meaning it has no constitutional authority to draft legislation or create new laws.  While Director Dettelbach might have paid lip service to the constitutionally designated legislative process, this break from precedent could signal future moves to circumvent Congress and implement new gun control measures.  Time will tell. 

With regard to the policies he advocated for at the Harvard talk, “universal background checks” is a nebulous term that even its proponents have a difficult time defining.  Moreover, background checks already happen for every single gun purchase through a federally licensed firearm dealer.  More than a million background checks happen every single month.  As for bans on so-called “assault weapons,” Director Dettlebach himself has refused to specify what that term means.  And now he wants to implement a sweeping ban on a category of firearm he won’t even define? 

It’s clear that Director Dettelbach is not keen on keeping his promises to only apply and enforce the laws that Congress writes.  We encourage responsible gun owners to stay informed about the proper legislative process, instances of federal overreach, and future attempts to strip law-abiding citizens of their right to protect themselves and their loved ones.  The USCCA-FSL Action Fund is here to help you stay on top of these issues and be your strongest advocate. 

Send a letter to your member of Congress urging them to OPPOSE more gun control


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