May 25, 2022

Durbin Delivers Opening Statement at Judiciary Committee Hearing on President Biden's Nominee to Lead ATF

Today’s nominations hearing also includes two Circuit Court and two District Court nominees

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nominations of Steven M. Dettelbach to be Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Sarah A.L. Merriam to be United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit; Lara E. Montecalvo to be United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit; Tiffany M. Cartwright to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Washington; and Nina Nin-Yuen Wang to be United States District Judge for the District of Colorado.

Key quotes:

“Yesterday, 19 little girls and little boys—just like my granddaughter—did not come home from school.  Two teachers lost their lives.  Some shooter managed to buy, at age 18, two semi-automatic weapons and turned them into killing machines, killing innocent children in the classroom.”

“It is devastating that this kind of mass shooting can happen here.  It is unconscionable that it happens over and over.  It is unforgiveable that we, as leaders, have come to the point where we mouth words and do nothing.”

“Of course our prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones.  Our thanks go to the first responders, as they always do, several of whom reportedly were fired upon themselves.  Prayers and thanks, and then we return to our normal lives and wait for the next gun tragedy, which we know is coming.”

“After every horrific shooting there is a debate over whether one reform or another could have prevented it.  That debate misses the point.  It’s too late to prevent the last shooting.  We’ve already failed those victims and families.  We need to act to prevent the next shooting.  We need to identify the risks and threats and finally do something.”  

“This is the Senate Judiciary Committee.  I’m proud to Chair it.  This Committee has the jurisdiction, under the rules of the Senate, to consider the measures that could make this a safer America.”

“Today we are holding a hearing on the nominee to head ATF, the lead federal law enforcement agency when it comes to responding to gun crimes… do you know when the last time was that there was a head of this agency? … Seven years ago… Why?  Because the gun groups want it to go vacant.”

“We have a well-qualified nominee in Steve Dettelbach who is here today, who spent seven years as a U.S. Attorney in Cleveland.  His nomination is supported by a long list of law enforcement organizations.”

“In addition, he has the backing of a bipartisan group of 141 former Justice Department officials—including several Trump appointees who won unanimous Republican support in the Senate—and the support of eight former Directors and Acting Directors of ATF.”

“This overwhelming support for Mr. Dettelbach is a recognition of his capabilities and his experience, but also of the need to do something to address gun crimes.”

“It is high time for the Senate… to confirm an ATF Director—not to take guns away from responsible, stable, qualified, law-abiding Americans, but to help stop straw purchases, combat gun trafficking, and ensure that families can send their kids to school safely and law enforcement officers can return home each day to their loving families.” 

“This Committee will treat this nomination with the urgency it deserves and give Mr. Dettelbach prompt consideration and a vote.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

-30-