Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Director Steven Dettelbach spoke at length with The Washington Post about his responsibilities at the helm of the federal agency charged with overseeing the firearm industry.
The Post is unabashedly antigun and pushes gun control propaganda whenever possible. During the discussion, however, Dettelbach took the opportunity to highlight the firearm industry’s efforts to reduce crimes committed with firearms and lower firearm accidents, praising the ATF’s two-decades-long partnership with NSSF on firearm safety initiatives.
The ATF’s own data, and data from the firearm industry, show the industry’s Real Solutions. initiatives have a positive impact on communities, all while protecting the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. It was a welcomed plug by the director on the efforts by the industry to reduce criminal firearm acquisition and misuse.
When questioned about rancor and the heightened temperature in today’s political discourse, Dettelbach brought the conversation back to his role and what is most important: keeping Americans safe.
“You know, things are at very high temperature now… Everybody ascribes to everybody else, you know, horrible motives, and there’s a lot of very heated rhetoric,” the director said. “I was in St. Louis this week with–doing an event with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, right? That’s the organization that represents the gun industry. It’s about educating firearms dealers not to allow straw purchases to happen.”
Dettelbach continued, “So, we found something to work on together to help protect people. Maybe there’s a lot of disagreement between different groups of people. But my hope is that we can keep things calm and lower the temperature and try to work on solutions together.”
The event in St. Louis the director referenced was a public education and media campaign announcement led and funded by the firearm industry, in partnership with ATF and the Department of Justice (DOJ), called Don’t Lie for the Other Guy, to remind the public it’s a crime to illegally straw purchase a gun for someone else.
Don’t Lie is a more-than-20-year partnership between the firearm industry, ATF and DOJ to remind the public about the stiff penalties they face if they break the law, lie on the ATF’s Form 4473 and corresponding FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification to buy a gun for someone else, especially someone they know is prohibited from purchasing the gun on their own.
NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi praised the local neighborhood firearm retailers, like Ultimate Defense Firing Range & Training Center, where the announcement was held, for their efforts to be eyes and ears on the ground.
“Local firearm retailers, like Ultimate Defense, are critical in this effort. They are the first line of defense against illegal straw purchases,” Bartozzi said.
At the event, Dettelbach was asked about the wide and differing opinions on firearm policies and how to reduce criminal gun misuse best. It’s a criticism President Joe Biden’s administration and Dettelbach have faced from national gun control groups who have demanded an end to the NSSF/ATF partnership on firearm crime prevention initiatives. Dettelbach ignored the criticism, repeated the compliment to local retailers as frontline defenders, and kept the focus on the mission of the day.
“Any successful strategy to reduce gun violence requires preventing the diversion of lawful firearms into unlawful commerce,” he said. Referencing the partnership between ATF, NSSF and DOJ, he continued, “But we can work together to protect the community from something everyone agrees is a crime and needs to be stopped.”
Need The Proof?
The mainstream media echo chamber normally cites data on criminal gun misuse that comes directly from gun control advocacy groups that push flawed and restrictive policies that far too often do not include holding criminals who commit firearm crimes accountable for their actions.
Looking at industry surveys and data from the FBI and ATF demonstrate the folly of gun control groups demanding the ATF sever ties with the firearm industry on these critical initiatives.
The Don’t Lie initiative, also recently launched in Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, and Richmond, Va., strives to reduce illegal firearm straw purchases. Other industry programs under Real Solutions. Safer Communities. umbrella is effective too. ATF data shows firearm burglaries and thefts from neighborhood firearm retailers have trended down over the past few years thanks to the ATF and industry’s partnership in Operation Secure Store. Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 296,000 free firearm safety kits, that include gun cable locks, throughout the country just since January 2022 through partnerships with over 15,000 local law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. That number totals more than 40 million in the program’s history. Including industry-led efforts to reduce the tragedy of suicide, especially among military veterans, the number of unintentional firearm fatalities and accidents have reached the lowest levels since data was first recorded in 1903.
While gun control groups shout for more unconstitutional restrictions on firearms that do little to reduce actual firearm crime and instead only infringe on the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans, the firearm industry will remain committed to the meaningful and impactful work required to reduce the loss of innocent life.
That includes working with ATF, DOJ, local law enforcement, and neighborhood firearm retailers who recognize the importance of these vital partnerships.
About The National Shooting Sports Foundation
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org