Biden expected to announce new ATF nominee, ghost gun rules

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Following the disaster that was the David Chipman nomination, President Joe Biden has been looking for a new sacrificial lamb ATF director nominee.

The president has also been talking about new rules for ghost guns–rules he’ll undoubtedly expect his new nominee to fully support. At least when he settles on one, though it might be tricky to find someone willing to go through the sausage grinder of a Senate confirmation.

It seems, though, Biden found someone.

President Biden on Monday is set to announce his new nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after the White House was forced to pull its first ATF nominee in September due to concerns from lawmakers.

Mr. Biden will nominate Steve Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, to run the federal law enforcement agency. “[Dettelbach] should be a noncontroversial candidate because he has a long record of working in law enforcement,” a senior administration official said.

Chipman was a former ATF agent. You can’t get more “working with law enforcement” than that. He was controversial as hell.

That said, Dettelbach is likely a less controversial pick primarily because, at least to the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t gone to work for a gun control group and said increasingly incendiary things about gun owners.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be controversy surrounding Dettlebach.

In 2018, Dettelbach lost his race to be Ohio’s attorney general. During the campaign, he advocated for universal background checks for those who wish to purchase guns, reinstating the assault weapons ban, and restricting guns for people with serious mental health problems, according to WOSU.

So, yeah, there are problems with Dettlebach. There would be problems with pretty much anyone Biden would care to nominate.

And Dettlebach’s nomination won’t be the only anti-gun move made by the Biden administration today, either.

The Biden administration on Monday is also announcing a new rule to regulate the manufacturing and sale of “ghost guns” — homemade firearms that lack serial numbers, making them difficult for law enforcement to trace. The new rule will require the guns — which can be made with 3D printers or sold as assembly kits — to be treated like other firearms made and sold in the U.S.

We’ll have more on those after they’re announced later today, of course, so we’re mostly going to stay focused on Dettlebach.

The truth of the matter is that Dettlebach is about the best we can expect from the Biden administration. I’m not saying he should be confirmed, mind you, only that because he’s not David Chipman, he’s a damn sight better than what we’ve seen.

I half expected him to try and nominate Shannon Watts to the seat.

Yet the problem is that being as anti-gun as he is, there’s no reason he should be confirmed. After all, he’s called for legislation to restrict our Second Amendment rights. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t use the opportunity as director of the ATF to restrict them unilaterally, even if only on a smaller scale.

As such, this is another nominee that should find himself unconfirmed.