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Tipsheet

Biden's ATF Director Was Asked to Define 'Assault Weapon' and It Didn't Go Well

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Steve Dettelbach, the man President Biden chose to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), followed in the footsteps of other Biden administration officials who have been stumped by seemingly straightforward questions from lawmakers, questions that deal with subjects within what is supposed to be their purview. 

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On Tuesday, Director Dettelbach was asked by Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX) to give a brief, 15-second definition of the term "assault weapon," the thing President Biden and Democrats have demanded must be banned within the United States in order to reduce the frequency of crimes committed by individuals with guns. Dettelbach, however, came up completely empty during his testimony in the House Appropriations Committee's hearing focused on the ATF's FY2024 budget.

"I’ll go shorter than that because I, honestly, if Congress wishes to take that up, I think Congress would have to do the work, but we would be there to provide technical assistance," Dettelbach told Ellzey. Huh? So, the man in charge of ATF doesn't even have a guess when it comes to defining a firearm type that is mentioned and demonized almost daily by the White House?

"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 that whatever determination you chose to make would be an informed one," Dettelbach added, confirming that President Biden had put forward another entirely unqualified person to lead a powerful wing of federal bureaucracy. 

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Here's Dettelbach's exchange with Rep. Ellzey:

President Biden, his administration, and Democrats in Congress have insisted that "assault weapons" be banned, even though the term is only a buzzword that Biden's own ATF director — and likely Biden himself — can't define. That's because anything can be an assault weapon. A rock, a rifle, a handgun, a person's fist, a squirrel swung with enough velocity. 

But the lack of specificity of the term hasn't stopped Democrats from renewing their push to ban "assault weapons." Nor has the fact that the previous iteration of the ban on "assault weapons" did not — according to the federal Department of Justice and other left-of-center studies — cause a reduction in the number of gun crimes nor the lethality of those crimes. Biden claims to be the previous ban's mastermind, but it didn't work — no matter how many times the Biden administration claims the opposite is true. 

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So, the Biden administration is wrong about the efficacy of bans on "assault weapons," the Biden administration can't even define the term, and its ATF director is — by his own admission — lacking basic knowledge about firearms. 

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