Bloomberg Law
July 12, 2022, 8:21 PM

Top US Gun Regulator Gets First Confirmed Leader in Seven Years

Seth Stern

The Senate confirmed Steve Dettelbach to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Dettelbach, a former US attorney in Ohio and BakerHostetler partner, was confirmed Tuesday by a 48-46 margin. He will be the first Senate-confirmed head since 2015 to lead the bureau, which plays a critical role in enforcing the nation’s gun laws.

The Bureau never had a Senate-confirmed head under former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden’s first choice, David Chipman, withdrew his nomination in September due to opposition from gun rights groups and mostly Republican lawmakers.

Dettelbach was endorsed by eight former ATF directors and acting directors.

Dettelbach drew criticism from Republicans for his support of a ban on “assault style” firearms as a candidate running to be Ohio’s attorney general in 2018. At a recent hearing, the nominee pledged to defer to congressional directives in the enforcement of gun laws.

Dettelbach joined BakerHostetler’s Cleveland office as a partner in 2016 after nearly seven years as US attorney. He also once served as counsel to the Judiciary Committee.

—With assistance from Nancy Ognanovich and Zach Cohen

To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at

To contact the editor: John Crawley at

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