In a recent interview with Washington Post reporter Leigh Ann Caldwell, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach said while he supports banning certain firearms, any bans would have to be approved by Congress.
Dettelbach told Caldwell that while the Second Amendment protects the right of Americans to defend themselves, it is important to remember that the ATF and other government agencies also defend citizens.
He said he hoped that the United States will be a country where law enforcement and “the greater community” are protecting people from violence rather than a country where people are “left to their own devices to protect themselves.”
When discussing gun bans, Dettelbach told Caldwell that any ban would have to be passed by Congress. He added that the ATF is willing to provide lawmakers with any information or technical expertise they might require.
Caldwell, clearly a gun control activist, noted that Dettelbach is the first ATF director since 2015 to be confirmed by the US Senate. She suggested that the lack of a Senate-confirmed ATF director was proof that Congressional Republicans were trying to weaken the agency.
When she asked Dettelbach if the lack of support from Congressional Republicans was putting pressure on the agency, Dettelbach said it was part of the Second Amendment debate and said the ATF would remain focused on its mission.
Dettelbach said the job of the ATF is to put to use whatever comes from the ongoing debate on guns. He said the agency would not be pressured by either side in the gun debate.
Caldwell also managed to inject former President Donald Trump’s indictment in Manhattan into the interview, asking Dettelbach if the ATF was playing any role in preventing violence from those protesting in New York.
Dettelbach said the ATF has no role in stopping potential violence from protests, but added that the agency would assist in any potential investigations that might stem from it.