ATF Director Can’t Define ‘Assault Weapon’ During Tense House Hearing [VIDEO]

Republicans grilled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Steve Dettelbach on Tuesday about a new ATF rule that would subject short-barreled rifles to additional regulation under the National Firearms Act.

House Republicans contended that the new rule would affect millions of law-abiding gun owners who would be unduly burdened. The National Rifle Association (NRA) concurred with them, saying, “effectively banning firearms with these devices attached would be the largest confiscatory firearm regulation in the history of the United States.”

During one line of questioning, Representative Jake Ellzey, R-Tx. got Dettelbach to admit that he supported an assault weapons ban during his 2018 bid for Ohio Attorney General.

When asked by Ellzey to define an assault weapon, Dettelbach was unable to and admitted he is not a ‘firearms expert.’

“I’ll go shorter than that because honestly, if Congress wishes to take that up, I think Congress would have to do the work, but we would be there to provide technical assistance,” Dettelbach said. “I, unlike you, am not a firearms expert to the same extent as you maybe, but we have people at ATF who can talk about velocity of firearms, what damage different kinds of firearms cause so that whatever determination you choose to make would be an informed one.” He said.

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Dettelbach said that the ATF is trying “to provide clarity as to the features on a weapon that will cause it to be a short-barreled rifle” and has launched a “very significant education campaign” with firearms dealers to educate them about the rule.

The rule has already resulted in lawsuits from gun owners’ advocacy groups and the Indiana Attorney General.

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Tx. expressed concerns that ‘law-abiding citizens’ will be subject to additional regulations and potentially have their guns confiscated. He said that one of the fathers of a victim at Uvalde told him to “make sure my other kids are safe, but make sure they don’t take my guns away.”

Gonzales also echoed the views of other conservatives who said that laws on the books should be better enforced before introducing new burdensome rules and regulations.

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“I would love for you to spend more energy catching the bad guys and less energy hampering those law-abiding citizens that are trying that are filling out all the paperwork,” He said.

The House Judiciary Committee will reportedly vote to overturn the rule as soon as Tuesday.

“There’s a lot that can be done to keep guns out of the hands of felons that does not involve requiring a disabled veteran to register his adapted pistol,” Representative Hal Rogers, R-Ky. said, concurring with his colleagues.

Still, Dettelbach defended the rule, saying that stabilizing braces have been used in several recent mass shootings.

“This isn’t something that just lives in the 1930s with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” said Dettelbach, noting last month’s shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, was done with a short-barreled rifle. “It is our job to try and take what Congress did and make sure that we’re using it to protect the American people.”

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