Grassley urges Biden to move from anti-gun stance to focus on violent crime; questions ATF nominee

Violent crime in cities across the country increased in 2020 and 2021
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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is urging President Joe Biden to move from partisan, anti-Second Amendment rhetoric to address the urgent concern of rising violent crime across the country.

The Iowa lawmaker is also casting doubt on Biden's recently nominated director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steven Dettelbach, whom Grassley says "lack(s) awareness of the circumstances surrounding legal gun acquisition" and favors "expansive gun control."

"A director must, at a minimum, demonstrate that he or she respects the Second Amendment rights of Americans and can deal fairly with the firearms industry," Grassley said in a press release Tuesday. 

Grassley in the release also highlights what he calls Dettelbach's "social media activism" and suggests it raises a red flag for his abilities to perform a role that includes "having an appreciation for thee role that firearms play in the lives of Americans," as well as serving as a liaison to the firearms business community.

Furthermore, the longtime senator criticizes the White House's recent emphasis on the use of so-called "ghost guns," which the administration says could account for 20,000 recovered guns in criminal investigations. However, the ATF's own data – in conjunction with the FBI's – suggests that less than 0.36% of involved ghost guns.

Meanwhile, the number of 2021 homicides in 27 U.S. cities was 5% greater than in 2020 and 44% greater than in 2019, representing 1,298 additional lives lost, according to a study released in January by the Council on Criminal Justice. 

"The administration's focus on ghost guns places rhetoric over fact in combating the violent crime surge," Grassley also said.  "This is merely another attempt to use misleading statistics that lack context to rally support for failing Democratic policies."