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Giffords Applauds Senate Confirmation of Steve Dettelbach to be ATF Director

Washington DC — Today, Giffords applauded the Senate confirmation of Steve Dettelbach as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). ATF is the primary federal agency responsible for enforcing our nation’s gun laws. It serves a crucial role by implementing federal laws to address gun violence, investigating and stopping illegal gun trafficking, combating gun homicides and shootings, and protecting public safety. Since 2006, ATF has had only one Senate-confirmed director, in large part due to the gun lobby’s fierce opposition to any nominated candidate.

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords:

“The confirmation of Steve Dettelbach as ATF director is an important moment for the gun violence prevention movement. For far too long, this position remained unfilled while hundreds of thousands of people in this country lost their lives to gun violence. I applaud President Biden and the many senators who voted to confirm Director Dettelbach for finding the courage to act to advance this crucial appointment. I look forward to seeing him sworn in and partnering with him on the important work he will do in this role to keep our communities safe.”

Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Giffords:

“We commend the senators on both sides of the aisle who voted to confirm Steve Dettelbach as ATF director. This is a major victory in the fight to protect our friends, loved ones, and neighbors from the threat of gun violence. For years, the gun lobby worked to prevent the confirmation of an ATF director. The refusal to confirm this key position made it harder for the government to hold criminals accountable, prevent firearm trafficking, and enforce gun laws already on the books. Under Director Dettelbach’s leadership, the ATF will be in a stronger position to fulfill its critical mission, combat violent crimes, and save lives.”

Having served as a federal prosecutor for almost two decades, Dettelbach has a long history of maintaining close relationships with law enforcement agencies, which has allowed him to effectively investigate and prosecute violent crimes, including arson cases. Dettelbach has also been particularly involved in prosecuting cases involving attacks on religious groups motivated by hate. 

In 2011, he led the successful prosecution of the bigoted arsonist who set fire to the First Azusa Apostolic Faith Church of God in Cleveland, and in 2012, he played a key role in prosecuting the anti-Muslim extremist who set fire to a mosque in Toledo. He also comes to this role with critical experience as a senior policy advisor within the Department of Justice, having been appointed to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, where he chaired the Civil Rights Subcommittee.

Throughout his career, Dettelbach has also successfully prosecuted murderers, drug dealers, child predators, violent extremists, and human traffickers—all while balancing considerable public and media scrutiny. His vast experience positions him well to engage in his new role as ATF Director.


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