Steven Dettelbach Sworn in As First Senate-Approved ATF Director in 7 Years

ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, left, with Attorney General Merrick Garland

By Steve Neavling

Steven Dettelbach was sworn in Tuesday as the new ATF director, becoming the first Senate-approved leader of the agency in seven years. 

“Thank you, Attorney General Garland, and I also want to say thanks to President Biden for your confidence in me, for fighting for the American people every day and for fighting to provide ATF with a permanent director,” Dettelbach said at the investiture ceremony at the Justice Department.

Dettelbach said the job is his “single greatest honor of my professional life,” but it’s also the “greatest professional challenge of my life.”

At a time of mass shootings and other gun violence, Dettelbach said the ATF has to be willing to take new approaches. 

“We have to be open to new ideas,” he said. “We have to be open to new partnerships. We have to be open to a new and urgent sense of unity.”

Dettelbach acknowledged the job will be difficult.

“Make no mistake, the agency and its mission are challenged as never before. We all know about it,” he said. “Rising crime, rising firearm violence, rising mass shooting incidents and a rising tide of extremist violence that threatens people and safety in this nation. 

“And it’s going to take all of us in this nation, in law enforcement, working together to address those threats.”

He told ATF employees that “you have my heart, my soul, you have everything that I can give to try to join you in this effort.”

Before introducing Dettelbach on Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he had faith in the new director. 

“I know that you will lead this agency, particularly its courageous and dedicated individuals, with integrity and skill,” Garland said.

Watch the ceremony here.

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