Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP Praises President Biden’s Nomination of New ATF Director, Final Ghost Guns Rule
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP Praises President Biden’s Nomination of New ATF Director, Final Ghost Guns Rule

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Biden nominated Steve Dettelbach to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The president also announced that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has finalized a rule to tackle the proliferation of ghost guns, firearms that are privately assembled and do not include a serial number or require a background check to be purchased. In response, Eugenio Weigend, director for Gun Violence Prevention at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement: 

The actions that President Biden announced today are significant steps in the right direction to address the country’s gun violence epidemic. Every day, more than 110 people are killed and more than 200 people are nonfatally injured with a gun in the United States. And from 2010 to 2020, 29 percent of guns recovered in crimes had previously crossed state borders. The ATF has been without a director since 2015 and requires strong leadership in order to carry out its important work to combat gun trafficking and hold the gun industry accountable for any misconduct. As a former U.S. attorney, Steve Dettelbach has the qualifications necessary to carry out the agency’s critical priorities.

The DOJ’s final ghost guns rule also marks a major step toward addressing a growing concern across major U.S. cities. From 2016 to 2020, more than 23,900 ghost guns were reported to ATF as having been linked to a crime, and more than 20,000 were reported during 2021 alone. These untraceable, easy-to-access guns have even been used to target law enforcement officers and schools. By mandating a serial number on gun parts, a background check before the purchase of gun parts, and a license to sell gun kits, the rule facilitates ATF work around firearm tracing and will prevent people who pose a risk to themselves or others from accessing these weapons. 

While these efforts must be complemented by congressional actions on background checks and other fundamental gun violence prevention bills, they represent important steps to prevent gun violence and demonstrate the Biden administration’s commitment to keeping our communities safe.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Tricia Woodcome at twoodcome@americanprogress.org.