ATF Director Declares Gun Control Activism a 'Patriotic Duty'

Oliver Contreras/Pool via AP

If Joe Biden had his way, gun control activist and former ATF agent David Chipman would be in charge of the agency right now, but thanks to Chipman's toxicity to a handful of Democrat senators like Joe Manchin and Angus King, it's gun control fan and former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach who's running the show. 

From a practical perspective, I'm not sure that there would be much difference between an ATF helmed by Chipman versus the agency under Dettelbach's watch. In the past couple of years we've seen the ATF try to rewrite federal gun law to come up with a new definition of a firearm, declare that pistols equipped with stabilizing braces are actually short-barreled rifles, and taken aim at private gun sellers through their proposed rule redefining who is "engaged in the business" of selling firearms. And it's not like Dettelbach himself has shied away from calling for new gun laws, even though his job is to enforce the laws that are on the books, not lobby for new ones. 

Dettelbach's been on a swing through New England in recent days, and he hasn't been shy about advocating for gun control in his public appearances. More than anything, though, Dettelbach is stumping for others to demand more restrictions on our Second Amendment rights. 

Dettelbach, whose agency is responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws, met for nearly two hours at Central Maine Community College with relatives of those killed and survivors of the Lewiston shooting. An AP reporter also attended, along other with law enforcement officials. Some expressed frustration about missed red flags and questioned why the gunman was able to get the weapon he used. Dettelbach told his audience that they can be a powerful catalyst for change.

"I’m sorry that we have to be in a place where we have to have these horrible tragedies happen for people to pay attention, but they have to pay attention,” Dettelbach said. “I can go around and talk, but your voices are very important and powerful voices. So if you choose to use them, you should understand that it makes a difference. It really makes a difference.” 


Dettelbach, in the AP interview, declined to comment on the specifics of Card's case, which an independent commission in Maine is investigating. But he said it is clear that the nation needs to make it harder for people "that everyone agrees should not have firearms, who the law says are not entitled to have firearms, to get them because it's too easy to get them now."


“Each one of these shootings is a tragedy that takes lives and changes other lives forever. And that’s whether it makes the news or not, whether it’s the suicide of a child or a drive by in the city, whether it’s a massacre at a parade, a spray bullets on a subway, whether it’s a man who kills his family, murders police” or a student with a rifle “shooting up their school,” he said during a speech at Dartmouth College on Wednesday. 

“I submit to you that it is our patriotic duty as Americans to respond, to think of these people, to have their backs, to view this tough news as a call to action.”

I submit to you that it's time for Steve Dettelbach to resign from the ATF, given his intent on turning the ATF into a gun control group with law enforcement powers. Dettelbach doesn't think it's our patriotic duty to respond to the victims of these shootings as friends and neighbors. No, the "patriotic" response is for us to channel Michael Bloomberg and demand Congress enact gun control laws that target the law-abiding. 

As the Associated Press notes, Dettelbach refused to get into the specifics of the Lewiston shooting when talking to family members of the victims and survivors of the attack, but there's plenty of evidence that the attack could have been prevented without a single new gun control law. The killer was so clearly disturbed that friends, family, and coworkers were all concerned that he would do something violent, and his fellow Army reservists even took him to a hospital in West Point, New York just a few months before he opened fire, where he stayed for two weeks because of mental health concerns. 

Despite that hospitalization, the killer wasn't prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm, and local law enforcement never tried to utilize the state's involuntary commitment law or it's "yellow flag" statute, despite repeated warnings from family members and friends last summer and fall. The murders in Lewiston were a failure of government, not the result of a lack of gun control laws, and Dettelbach should be well aware of that.  

In Dettelbach's world, the only "patriots" are those willing to sacrifice our fundamental civil right to protect ourselves and our loved ones under the false promise of increased security at the expense of our freedom. His twisted view of the Constitution and our Second Amendment rights should have no place in any administration, but there's no daylight between his positions and those of his boss. A second term for Biden would be a nightmare for our Second Amendment rights, even if Congress remains gridlocked. Biden has already demonstrated that he'll abuse his executive authority to enact more gun control regulations, and he' and his lackies will be even more empowered to infringe on our rights if he defies the odds and gets another four years as the gun-banner-in-chief.