ATF Director Dettelbach Can’t Define ‘Assault Weapon,’ Wants to Ban Them Anyway

Steve Dettelbach, the Director of the Biden Administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), told Congress that he’s “not a firearms expert” during a House Appropriations subcommittee meeting last Tuesday.

Dettelbach was responding to Texas Rep. Jake Ellzey (R) who asked him, “In 15 seconds, would you define an ‘assault weapon’ for me?”

Dettelbach would not define what an “assault weapon” is, despite indicating that he would support a sweeping ban on them.

“I’ll go shorter than that, because honestly, if Congress wishes to take that up, I think Congress would have to do the work,” Dettelbach replied, punting on the question.

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“But we would be there to provide technical assistance. I, unlike you, am not a firearms expert to the same extent as you maybe, but we have people at ATF who can talk about velocity of firearms, what damage different kinds of firearms cause… so whatever determination you make would be an informed one,” he added.

Dettelbach’s admission of his own ignorance is nothing new. He unsuccessfully ran for the Attorney General of Ohio in 2018, discussing gun control during campaign events without defining the term even then.

Reactions to Dettelbach’s statements were, understandably, met with incredulity.

Attorney Kostas Moras wrote on Twitter, “He admits he isn’t a firearms expert, and I appreciate that honesty. But then, why is he head of the ATF? Does he know a lot about alcohol or tobacco or something?” writer Derek Hunter also joked, “’If it looks like anything Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Statham or Willis ever held in a movie it is scary and needs to be banned.’”

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, agreed, “Joe Biden’s ATF Director just testified in a Congressional hearing that he’s not a firearms expert. Wow. Maybe the ATF shouldn’t be regulating your firearms then.”

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  • Kbc kurt May 1, 2023, 2:13 pm

    “Assault weapon: an object utilized by one person to inflict harm to another person with intent.(period)” ..Thus, ban Tigers “woods”, your kitchen knives, basebal bats and the vehicle you drive, also sue the car manufacturer for the DUI inflicted assault as the DUI person “intentionally” utilized the vehicle knowing it may inflict harm to another.. same with swimming pools killing kids in the summer…how stupid are attorney Generals and elected officials, thus stupid people.

  • Rick April 28, 2023, 6:30 pm

    Of course he can’t define it. “assault weapon” is a made-up, B.S. term designed to elicit an emotional response among the ignorant sheeple who know absolutely nothing about firearms.

  • Blue Dog (he/him) April 28, 2023, 9:58 am

    Assault weapons are not that hard to define. I think the definition at dictionary dot com works well, a military rifle that has been reworked to be semi automatic for civilian ownership or reworked to meet other prohibitions on gun ownership for the general population, or otherwise a civilian counterpart to a military weapon, like (but not limited to) M-16s reworked to be AR-15s. One could even rightly call these weapons of war, and when you flood American streets and schools with weapons of war, you bring war with them.

    Another definition of assault weapons is that they are too dangerous. Why leave them too easy for criminals to get? A wise man once said that in some neighbourhoods in the US, it is easier to get a gun than a fresh vegetable.

    • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment April 29, 2023, 11:43 am

      errrr…..that definition is wrong!!! The M-16 is reworked from the civilian Armalite ar-15 by colt for military use! So much for experts and scholars at I guess when one learns from idiots the best they can hope for is to be an idiot….

  • Mark N. April 28, 2023, 1:38 am

    I am GLAD that he cannot define “assault weapon.” It is not his or the ATF’s job to do so, it is solely the responsibility of Congress to do so.

  • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment April 26, 2023, 8:20 am

    Well of course he won’t define that, can’t be held accountable for what they will consider as an assault weapon and can’t be accountable for misconceptions of the public.

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