Biden’s ATF nominee Steve Dettelbach says he hugged his kids a ‘little bit harder’ after Texas massacre and insists politics should NOT be involved in law enforcement at his Senate confirmation hearing
- The Uvalde school massacre overshadowed Wednesday’s Senate hearing
- Biden’s pick to lead the ATF Steven Dettelbach appeared before senators
- ‘Last night was a night where parents everywhere hug their kids just a little bit harder,’ he said. ‘At the end of the day, I know I did.’
- The school killings have intensified pressure to act on guns
President Joe Biden‘s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said Wednesday that he hugged his children a little tighter after hearing about a massacre of schoolchildren on the day before his Senate confirmation hearing.
The murder of 19 children and two teachers loomed large as Steven Dettelbach fielded questions from senators.
‘I think for me, and for many, last night was a night where parents everywhere hug their kids just a little bit harder,’ he told them in his opening statement.
‘At the end of the day, I know I did.
‘My thoughts are very much with the community in Texas, that are suffering so deeply and with other communities, because this event can be a catalyst for other people who have gone through this to relive some of the great pain that they feel.’
He was speaking a day after Salvador Ramos opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The 18-year-old gunman killed 21 people before being shot by police.
The massacre in Uvalde, Texas, overshadowed Wednesday’s Senate hearing to confirm President Biden’s pick Steven Dettelbach to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Families gathered at the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center, where students were transported from Robb Elementary School in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s shooting
Two teachers and 19 children were killed when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire
THE UVALDE SHOOTING VICTIMS, SHOT DEAD IN THE SAME CLASSROOM
All of the children killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday were in the same fourth grade classroom when gunman Salvador Ramos opened fire with an AR-15 he legally bought on his 18th birthday.
Ramos killed 19 children under the age of 11 and their teachers before being shot himself by police.
The victims named so far are:
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Uziyah Garcia, nine
Makenna Elrod, 10
Xavier Lopez, 10
Eliahana Torres, 10
Ellie Lugo, 10
Tess Marie Mata
Rojelio Torres, 10
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Jaliah Nicole Silguero
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Anabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Irma Garcia, 46 – fourth grade teacher
Eva Mireles, 44 – fourth grade teacher
The tragedy shocked the nation and increased pressure on Congress and Biden to take action, even though Democrats know that Republican opposition will stymie legislation.
President Joe Biden immediately responded by signaling a fresh push on gun reform, while leading Republicans said it was too soon to turn to politics.
The two most senior figures on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican addressed the massacre at the start of the hearing.
‘Before we begin, I want to express my condolences to those affected by the shooting in Uvalde, Texas,’ said Sen. Chuck Grassley.
‘The killing of innocent children is sickening and heartbreaking.’
And committee chairman Dick Durban, an Illinois Democrat, said he planned to schedule hearings on gun violence after the Memorial Day recess.
He also described Dettelbach as ‘well qualified’ for a key post.
‘This is an agency which has the technical capacity to help us to solve gun crimes and to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,’ he said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, opened the questioning of Dettelbach by asking how he would use his background as a prosecutor in the role of ATF director.
‘Senator, I spent the vast majority of my career as a prosecutor, over 20 years… and it is a core value of mine … Something that I have lived with and that I will continue … politics can play no role in law enforcement, none at all,’ he said.
‘I worked under Republican administrations and I worked under Democratic administrations as a federal prosecutor.’
Key Republicans have already signaled their opposition to Dettelbach.
And his nomination follows the withdrawal last year of the nomination of David Chipman to head the ATF after his past positions on gun control worried some moderate Democrats as well as Republicans.
President Joe Biden appeared beside Dettelbach in the White House rose garden in April, as his nominee to lead the ATF outlined measures to combat gun crime
Law enforcement personnel at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday after the shooting
Dettelbach has also previously said he backed universal background checks and assault weapons during a run to be Ohio attorney general in 2018.
However, he does not need any Republican votes if he secures the backing of all 50 Democratic senators with Vice President Kamala Harris tie-breaking vote.
Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, used his time to express outrage that the ATF has not had a Senate-confirmed director since 2015 and urged Dettelbach to push Congress for more resources to tackle gun crime.
‘This is despicable,’ he said.
‘That the same people that tried to accuse us wrongfully of defunding the police have taken one of the most important law enforcement agencies to protect Americans, to protect our children, our churches, our mosques, our synagogues,our parks our supermarkets is not allowed to do their job.
‘And we yet again are sacrificing our children on the altar of inaction.’
Senator Alex Padilla took aim at some Republicans who have suggested the answer is to have more guns on school campuses.
‘In the last two weeks we have experienced at least 22 mass shootings across the country,’ he said.
‘No other developed country has to deal with this. But we do.
‘Now some folks suggest that arming teachers or providing more armed presence on school campuses will make them safer.
‘If more guns were the answer, the United States would be the safest nation in the world.’
‘When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?’ President Joe Biden’s address to the nation in full
Good evening my fellow Americans. I had hoped when I became president I would not have to do this. Again
Another massacre, Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent, second, third, fourth-graders. And how many scores of little children, see their friends die, as if they’re on a battlefield for God’s sake. Gotta live with it the rest of their lives.
There’s a lot we don’t know yet. But there’s a lot we do know.
The parents who will never see their child again. Never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them Parents who will never be the same.
To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest you feel like you’re being sucked into it. And never going to be able to get out. Suffocating. And it’s never quite the same. It’s the feeling shared by the siblings and the grandparents and the family members and the community that’s left behind.
Scripture says – and Jill and I have talked about this in different contexts, in other contexts – the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
President Joe Biden delivered remarks from the White House Tuesday night about the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas after returning from a five-day trip to South Korea and Japan
So many crushed spirits.
So tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them.
And give the parents, siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now.
As a nation we have to ask, when in God’s name are we doing to stand up to the gun lobby?
When in God’s name will we all do what we know in our gut needs to be done?
It’s been … 3,448 days, 10 years, since I stood up at a high school in Connecticut – a grade school in Connecticut, where another gun man massacred 26 people, including 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Since then, there have been over 900 incidents, gun fires reported on school grounds – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Santa Fe high school in Texas, Oxford high school in Michigan, and the list goes on and on and the list grows – when we include mass shootings at places like movie theaters, houses of worship – as we saw just 10 days ago at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
I am sick and tired of it.
We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.
I spent my career as a senator and a vice president working to pass common-sense gun laws.
We can’t and won’t prevent every tragedy, but we know they work and have positive impact.
When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down, when the law expired, mass shootings tripled.
The idea that an 18-year old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.
What in God’s name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone?
Deer aren’t running through the forest with Kevlar vests on for God’s sake. It’s just sick.
And the gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.
Here’s what else I know.
Most Americans support common sense laws, common sense gun laws.
I just got off a trip from Asia meeting with Asian leaders. And I learned of this while I was on the aircraft. What struck me on that 17-hour flight, what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world.
Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why we we keep letting this happen?
Where in God’s name is our backbone?
To have the courage to deal with, to stand up to the lobbies.
It’s the time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen of this county, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country, it’s time to act.
For those who obstruct or delay or block the common sense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget. We can do so much more, we have to do more.
Our prayer tonight is those parents lying in bed trying to figure out, will I be able to sleep again? What do I say to my other children? What happens tomorrow?
May God bless the loss of innocent life on this sad day.
And may the lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit becaue they’re going to need a lot of help, a lot of our prayers. God love you.