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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the Investiture of ATF Director Steven M. Dettelbach


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Delivered

Thank you Reishia, and hello everyone.

Last month, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of ATF’s founding as an independent agency.

Today, I am thrilled to mark another historic day for ATF – the investiture of Steve Dettelbach as the agency’s second-ever Senate-confirmed Director. [Applause]

First, I want to recognize and offer my enormous gratitude to Director Dettelbach’s family, including his wife Karil, who is here with us today, and his children, Allie and David, who I understand are here with us virtually somewhere.

All of us in public service know that our careers are made possible by the support of our families, who sacrifice so much that we may serve. Thank you so much for joining us and thank you for your support of Steve.

I also want to offer my gratitude and congratulations to Steve for coming back to the Justice Department.

As a career prosecutor and the former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Steve understands the importance of ATF’s mission to protect our communities from violent crime and the scourge of gun violence.

And critically, he understands that ATF’s mission has never been more urgent than it is today.

Time and again this year, we have been tragically reminded of the essential role that ATF plays in the fight to protect our communities from gun violence.

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Highland Park on July 4th, it was ATF that traced the gun found at the scene, helping to identify and capture the suspect.

In April, after 10 people were shot in a Brooklyn subway, it was ATF that traced the gun from the scene to the alleged gunman, this time through a series of years-old transactions.

And earlier this year, after a string of shootings of homeless people in New York and Washington, D.C., ATF established that the same shooter was responsible for all of them. That evidence ultimately helped lead to the identification and arrest of the alleged shooter.

These are just a few examples of the extraordinary work that ATF does every single day, most often outside of the public’s view.

ATF’s agents, investigators, and professional staff are fundamental to the Justice Department’s efforts to keep our communities safe.

You investigate and disrupt illegal gun trafficking networks and help prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

You work to ensure that our regulations keep pace with the ever-changing technology of firearms. And you conduct crucial research and analysis that helps solve and prevent crimes involving firearms, arson, and explosives.

You watch and work in close partnership with law enforcement agencies across the country, providing your expertise to trace guns and ballistic evidence recovered at crime scenes.

You help identify and hold accountable those responsible for the greatest gun violence.

You sacrifice time with your families, you work nights and weekends, and many of you risk your lives.

I am deeply grateful to all of you.

I am also deeply grateful to U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino, who is now back in Arizona, but who led ATF with skill these last few months even as he continued his job as the United States Attorney for Arizona. The Justice Department and the American people are fortunate for his continued leadership and service.

Deputy Director Marvin Richardson could not be here today due to a long-standing family commitment. I know all of us, or that I speak for all of us when I say that we are grateful to Marvin for his decades of service to ATF and for standing up to lead this agency when he was needed the most. I have worked directly with Marvin quite a bit this last year and a half, and it is an honor – and it has been an honor – to work with him.

Through every tour of duty that I have had at the Justice Department, I have seen how important ATF’s work is. As I said, its mission has never been more urgent than it is now.

As we begin this new chapter in ATF history, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to keep our communities and our country safe.

Thank you, Director Dettelbach, for your continued service to the Department and our country.

I know that you will lead this agency, particularly its courageous and dedicated individuals, with integrity and skill.

Now, I would like to ask Director Dettelbach and his wife Karil to join me onstage for the passing of the ATF flag and his oath of office.

Updated July 19, 2022