Biden nominates new ATF chief, announces slate of gun reforms

Tony Dejak/AP Photo

The White House on Monday unveiled a new slate of measures aimed at curbing an increase in gun violence and announced the nomination of Steve Dettelbach to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

President Joe Biden previously announced David Chipman, an official at the gun control group Giffords, to serve as ATF director last April. But Biden withdrew the nomination last September amid resistance from centrist Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.

POLITICO reported last week that Biden was expected to announce a new nominee as early as this month and that Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, was under serious consideration for the post. The ATF has not had a permanent director since 2015.

On Monday, the White House said in a statement that Dettelbach “has a proven track record of working with federal, state, and local law enforcement to fight violent crime and combat domestic violent extremism and religious violence — including through partnerships with the ATF to prosecute complex cases and take down violent criminal gangs.”

In addition to Dettelbach’s nomination, the White House announced that the Justice Department has issued a final rule to help stop the spread of so-called “ghost guns” — homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers.

The final rule “bans the business of manufacturing the most accessible ghost guns” and “clarifies that these kits qualify as ‘firearms’ under the Gun Control Act,” according to the White House. It also will “help turn some ghost guns already in circulation into serialized firearms.”

Furthermore, the White House said the final rule requires firearms dealers “to retain key records until they shut down their business or licensed activity,” and it “ensures that firearms with split receivers are subject to regulations requiring serial numbers and background checks.”

Biden and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco are scheduled to address the administration’s new measures later Monday in the White House Rose Garden.