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Former Ohio US Attorney is Biden's pick to lead Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Former federal prosecutor Steve Dettelbach, then the Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General, toured the state with other candidates on October 25, 2018, a little over a week before the general election. Dettelbach lost that race to Republican Dave Yost.
Former federal prosecutor Steve Dettelbach, then the Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General, toured the state with other candidates on October 25, 2018, a little over a week before the general election. Dettelbach lost that race to Republican Dave Yost.

The former US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio is President Biden’s pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

And if Steve Dettelbach is confirmed, he’ll be working on the Biden administration’s plan to take on gun violence.

The former federal prosecutor and Cleveland lawyer talked about his support for background checks when he was the Democratic nominee for Ohio Attorney General in 2018.

“Somebody who is running a legitimate firearms license dealer has to run a background check to sell a weapon. You shouldn’t be able to buy that exact same weapon still in the shrink wrap without having a background check,” said Dettelbach.

Dettelbach, who was endorsed by gun control groups in that unsuccessful 2018 campaign, is Biden’s second pick – the first withdrew after opposition from gun rights groups.

If he’s confirmed, Dettelbach will try to move gun control proposals, including banning so-called “ghost guns” – untraceable weapons assembled from components without serial numbers bought online.

Dettelbach has been in private practice in Cleveland since 2016, specializing in white collar investigations and securities enforcement. He was the US Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio for seven years, appointed by President Obama in 2009. He was a federal prosecutor for almost 20 years before that, and never lost a federal criminal trial.

Dettelbach has strong backing from gun control groups, and has gained early support from law enforcement and prosecutors.

But one of the seven Ohio Republicans running for the US Senate has announced her opposition. Former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken called Dettelbach an "anti-gun activist" and said she'd work to defeat him, as she did in 2018.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.