Joe Biden could have picked a career agent or someone non-partisan to head up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but instead he decided to go with a former agent who’s spent almost a decade entrenched in the gun control movement, ensuring a bitter confirmation battle.
House Republicans launched a verbal salvo against David Chipman’s nomination to serve as permanent director of the ATF, blasting the veteran of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Giffords as an enemy of the Second Amendment.
Fox News obtained a letter House Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Banks, R-Ind., and 68 other House GOP members penned to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. R-Ky., on Monday.
In the letter, the GOP members described Chipman as a “long time gun control activist and lobbyist.”
“His beliefs and hostile attitude toward the rights of gun owners are well known,” the wrote. “Thus, we respectfully ask that you oppose his confirmation.”
Republicans cited Chipman’s record, saying that in October 2018 he argued in favor of subjecting all AR-15s and potentially all semi-automatic rifles to regulation under the National Firearms Act.
“As a former agent of the ATF, Chipman knows all too well that such action would effectively ban the most popular rifle in America as well as most other items regulated under the National Firearms Act,” they wrote.
That’s right. Chipman wants to re-classify all modern sporting rifles as prohibited items, forcing tens of millions of gun owners to pay a $200 tax for every gun they register under the NFA. Any gun owner caught with an unregistered AR-15 would be subject to a potential ten year prison sentence and a $100,000 fine for every firearm in their possession.
As the Republican House members point out, such a move would “threaten the landscape of firearm ownership for generations of Americans to come.” For anti-gun Democrats, however, that’s not a bug but a feature of Chipman’s nomination.
While the House GOP sent their letter to Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, I hope they sent copies to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema as well. It only takes 51 votes to confirm Chipman to his position, so even if every Republican in the Senate opposes Biden’s ATF nominee, we need a Democrat to cross over and reject the nomination in order to scuttle it.
According to press reports
, Manchin has “expressed tentative support” for Chipman, as have Republican senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Susan Collins of Maine. The National Rifle Association has launched a multi-million dollar campaign targeting those senators
and urging gun owners in those states to contact their senators to oppose Chipman’s nomination, and as gun owners we need to point out Chipman’s hostility towards Second Amendment advocates and the right to keep and bear arms, which Chipman seems to view as more of a privilege
Chipman is squarely in the “ban and arrest our way to safety” camp, as evidenced by comments he made in an “Ask Me Anything” thread on Reddit
last year. Chipman was up front about the fact that he believes it should be a crime for anyone to sell a gun without going through a commercial firearms dealer, arguing that even opening up the NICS system to allow private sellers access isn’t enough.
Sell a gun to your friend or neighbor without first finding a gun store that will conduct a background check on the sale? Chipman thinks that should be a criminal offense, and under the universal background check bill approved by the House, violators could face up to a year in a federal prison for doing so.
Frankly, even Democrats should oppose Chipman’s nomination, particularly if they’re supporters of criminal justice reform and de-incarceration. Chipman (and Biden’s) approach to addressing “gun violence” is to slap some new federal laws on the books and throw people in prison for violating their new, non-violent, possessory offenses. If Democrats are serious about “reimagining policing”, they need to imagine someone else in charge of the ATF. Chipman’s nomination should be rejected on a bipartisan basis and the Senate should send a message to Biden: put a professional in charge of the agency, not a gun-control activist.