Steve Dettelbach, who serves as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), drew laughter and ridicule alike after he refused to define what a so-called assault weapon is before adding that he is “not a firearms expert.”
These comments of not being proficient in understanding firearms came from Dettelbach at a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday and were made despite his own stated support of a so-called assault weapons ban.
During that hearing, Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX) asked Dettelbach: “In 15 seconds, would you define an ‘assault weapon’ for me?”
“I’ll go shorter than that, because 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 replied. “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.”
A clip of the comments was shared online by the pro-freedom organization
Young Americans for Liberty, which quoted the exchange and posted a few upside-down smiley face emojis:
Q: "Would you define an 'assault weapon' for me?"
ATF DIRECTOR: "I'm not a firearms expert…"
— Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty) April 18, 2023
Just The News pointed out that Dettelbach has refused to explain his definition of an assault weapon in the past.
When Dettelbach was getting confirmed last year, the now-ATF director admitted to neglecting to provide a definition for the term during a 2018 run to be the attorney general of Ohio.
“When I was a candidate for office, I did talk about restrictions on assault weapons. I did not define the term. And I haven’t gone through the process of defining that term,” Dettelbach explained at the time, per Fox News.
An incredulous Tom Cotton asked a similar question once more in an effort to clarify the remarks, with Dettelbach simply replying that the task of defining such a term lies solely with lawmakers.
Numerous prominent conservative voices publicly ridiculed Dettelbach over his remarks. One was former National Rifle Association spokesperson and radio host Dana Loesch, who commented, “He’s not an expert but he’ll eagerly propose regulation to be followed like law anyway.”
He's not an expert but he'll eagerly propose regulation to be followed like law anyway https://t.co/38fTSRm5FX
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) April 18, 2023
Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) appeared to concur, writing, “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.”
Joe Biden’s ATF Director just testified in a Congressional hearing that he’s not a firearms expert.
Maybe the ATF shouldn’t be regulating your firearms then.
— Congressman Troy E. Nehls (@RepTroyNehls) April 18, 2023