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ATF director asked to define an 'assault weapon' — but he makes telling admission instead
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ATF director asked to define an 'assault weapon' — but he makes telling admission instead

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Director Steve Dettelbach was asked a simple question on Tuesday about firearms, but admitted he could not provide an answer.

At a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Texas) asked Dettelbach to define what constitutes an "assault weapon." Dettelbach himself has supported banning assault weapons, Ellzey noted, and the current position of the Biden administration is that assault weapons should be banned.

"In 15 seconds, would you define an 'assault weapon' for me?" Ellzey asked.

Shockingly, Dettelbach — who leads the government agency that is expert in all things firearms and explosives — admitted that he could not because 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," Dettlebach responded. "I, unlike you, am not a firearms expert to the same extent as you may be. 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 chose to make would be an informed one."

At no point did Dettlebach define what constitutes an "assault weapon."

Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosiveswww.youtube.com

What is the definition?

The inability to define "assault weapon" underscores the fear that many gun owners share about the government's push to ban them.

Generally speaking, an "assault weapon" as the term is used by the government may be said to be a semi-automatic firearm that has specific cosmetic features, such as a pistol grip, muzzle flash, and folding stock. On the other hand, "assault rifle" generally refers to fully automatic rifles, which are already outlawed under most circumstances.

But if the definition is overly broad, then most firearms — save for bolt-action rifles, pump shotguns, and revolvers — could be subject to an "assault weapons" ban.

Last year, the Associated Press actually advised journalists to stop using the terms "assault weapons" and "assault rifles" because they are "highly politicized terms that generally refer to AR- or AK-style rifles designed for the civilian market, but convey little meaning about the actual functions of the weapon."

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Chris Enloe

Chris Enloe

Staff Writer

Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News
@chrisenloe →