Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steve Dettelbach admitted Wednesday that his expertise lay far more in criminal prosecution than firearms, despite his agency’s name.
Republican California Rep. Darrell Issa asked Dettelbach during the House Judiciary Committee’s Wednesday ATF oversight hearing whether he considered himself a firearms expert. Dettelbach recounted telling military veteran Republican Texas Rep. Jake Ellzey in an April 18 House Appropriations Committee hearing that he was “not a firearms expert to the same extent as you maybe,” with Ellzey having cited his own status as 20-year gun owner.
“I don’t hold myself out as a technical expert in every aspect of firearms, but I’m an expert in dealing with violent crime,” Dettelbach told Issa. Dettelbach worked as a federal prosecutor from 1992 to 2006 before becoming northern Ohio’s U.S. Attorney from 2009 to 2016. (RELATED: ATF Issues Warning To Firearm Industry, Signaling No Tolerance For ‘Willful’ Violations)
Dettelbach said he is “certainly not an expert to the same extent” as veteran firearms experts at his agency who investigate gun mechanics and physics. Issa also asked if he was a tobacco or explosives expert, with Dettelbach saying he had spent his career prosecuting gang members, violent criminals and cartel operatives.
“I have prosecuted cases involving the attempted terroristic bombing of a bridge in Ohio, near Cleveland, where you’re from. I have dealt with a firebombing of the Mansfield, Ohio, courthouse,” Dettelbach said. Issa confessed he was “trying not to get frustrated over not getting an answer to ‘yes or no.’”
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