Biden ATF nominee says he called for assault weapons ban without defining what it means

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President Biden’s choice to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Steve Dettelbach admitted Wednesday that he doesn’t have a definition of the term “assault weapon,” even if he called for their banning when he presented himself as a lawyer from Ohio. general in 2018.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dettelbach was questioned by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who called him out for supporting an assault weapons ban during his campaign, although he doesn’t know what that would mean.

“When I was running for office, I talked about restrictions on assault weapons. I didn’t define the term. And I didn’t go through the process of defining that term,” acknowledged Dettelbach.

President Biden's choice to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Steven Dettelbach, testified Wednesday, May 25, 2022 before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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President Biden’s choice to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Steven Dettelbach, testified Wednesday, May 25, 2022 before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(Video Pool)

“So you’re running for public office and you’ve called for a ban on assault weapons, but you don’t have a definition of assault weapons?” Cotton asked.

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Dettelbach explained that deciding which weapons fall into the category of “assault weapons” is the job of lawmakers. He acknowledged that it “would be a difficult task” to define what assault weapons are, because too narrow a range “would not offer the protections intended”, while too broad a definition “would unnecessarily infringe on the rights citizens”.

Steve Dettelbach, candidate for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on April 11, 2022.

Steve Dettelbach, candidate for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on April 11, 2022.
(Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Cotton argued that “assault weapons” is a coined term used by “politicians and lawyers in Washington”. He noted that firearms have classifications such as pistol, rifle and shotgun and each has set characteristics, but not assault weapons.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., questions President Biden's choice to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Steven Dettelbach, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., questions President Biden’s choice to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Steven Dettelbach, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(Video Pool)

“I think it’s very telling that you’re appointed head of the ATF and you don’t have a definition of an assault weapon. And the thing is, there really isn’t a category weapons called assault weapons,” the senator said. mentioned.

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Cotton recalled that Congress defined assault weapons with a 1994 ban, but Dettelbach admitted he was “not particularly familiar with it.”

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