Physicians, healthcare leaders to Senate: Confirm ATF director now

Hospitals, physicians and nurses are calling on the Senate to confirm President Joe Biden's nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a role that has gone unconfirmed in the U.S. for seven years due to political disputes, Bloomberg reports. 

President Biden nominated Steve Dettelbach, a former federal prosecutor, for the post in April after withdrawing his first nominee, who drew fierce opposition from Republicans. A variety of healthcare leaders are now urging the Senate to confirm the nominee and underlining the health risks of gun violence in letters obtained by Bloomberg News. Eight medical organizations issued endorsements for Mr. Dettelbach June 6.

Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell, wrote that there is clear need for swift Senate action in confirming Mr. Dettelbach in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, May 24. 

"While we strongly support Second Amendment rights and the right to bear arms, the national dialog over gun safety — not control — requires the leadership of an ATF director who can identify reasonable solutions and work collaboratively to ensure public safety," Mr. Dowling wrote.

"Regardless of one's political beliefs or stance on the firearm safety issue, it is time for everyone to come together and stand on common ground to create a safer America for our children," Michael Nance, MD, president of the Pediatric Trauma Society, wrote in his endorsement of Mr. Dettelbach. Without a permanent ATF director, "this lack of stable leadership undoubtedly lessens the effectiveness of the bureau to fulfill its safety mandate."

The ATF, which is part of the Justice Department, has not had a Senate-confirmed, permanent director since 2015. ATF is responsible for enforcing federal criminal laws and regulating the firearms and explosives industries.

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