As the United States Senate prepares to vote today on President Biden’s nomination of Steve Dettelbach as the next director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives, a coalition of faith-based organizations has issued a public statement in support of the nomination.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation joined other national groups, including Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and ecumenical movements working with Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, in urging the Senate to approve this timely nomination.
The ATF bureau has not had a permanent director in seven years; indeed, only one person has served as a permanent director since 2006, that being Byron Todd Jones from 2013-2015, during the Obama administration. In September 2021, President Biden’s nomination of David Chipman was withdrawn from Senate consideration after months of inaction.
In its letter to the Senate, Faiths United members said:
We should not have to take it for granted that violence will erupt in our public spaces and communities. For too long, gun violence in our communities has been ignored and Congress has turned a deaf ear to the many voices clamoring for change.
Faiths United members, including FOR, have expressed support for the recent gun violence legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law by President Biden, which broke an almost-three-decades-long deadlock of resistance to addressing this issue legislatively in Washington. However, there is widespread belief that the Safer Communities Act is a very modest first step and needs to be reinforced by additional measures, including the appointment of Mr. Dettelbach, new stronger legislation, and treating gun violence as a public health crisis necessitating action by the CDC and other federal agencies.