USA Today & The Trace Team Up To Push Chipman Nomination

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

The quest to confirm former ATF agent and current gun control activist David Chipman as head of the agency overseeing the nation’s gun laws is still slowly inching along, but most of the work to advance Chipman’s nomination isn’t happening on Capitol Hill at the moment. Instead, it can be found in the pages of USA Today, where the paper (in partnership with Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun news outlet The Trace) has published a follow up to its original report a couple of weeks ago that aimed to portray the ATF as a weak agency in thrall to the firearms industry. The clear implication in the paper’s reporting was that the ATF was in dire need of a “reformer” like Chipman, and in their new story USA Today and The Trace quote a number of anti-gun politicians who took the bait.

When the New York Legislature took up a bill to crack down on errant gun dealers last week its author, Sen. Zellnor Myrie, praised the “explosive report” by The Trace/USA TODAY. Myrie said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is a disgrace for not providing stricter oversight of the firearms industry.

“You can read through these reports and see state-by-state the guns flowing to New York,” the Democrat said. “The ATF has not been up to the job, and the industry has been immunized from coming to court. If the ATF won’t take on these bad actors, then the victims should be able to do it themselves.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle, a Democrat from upstate New York who has authored legislation to bolster the regulations governing gun dealers, vowed to continue pushing for budget increases to help the ATF conduct inspections on a more consistent basis. He said the USA TODAY/The Trace investigation showed him there were systemic issues within the agency that couldn’t be solved by money alone.

… Morelle said he was considering asking the Justice Department for more information about issues highlighted in the USA TODAY/The Trace report. He urged President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, to make reforming the inspections program a priority if the Senate confirms his nomination.

This type of “journalism” is becoming an all too common feature of the Biden administration. Take the recent leak of IRS tax records from some of the country’s wealthiest individuals to the news organization ProPublica, which also seems conveniently timed.

As the National Shooting Sports Foundation points out in a new blog post, putting a committed gun control activist like David Chipman in charge of the ATF wouldn’t lead to “reform” of the agency, but its weaponization against the firearms industry.

To understand what a future ATF would look like under Chipman working as a gun control henchman for the Biden administration, one only needs to look back to the scandals during the Obama administration. 

The Biden administration would return the ATF to the same problems when the bureau was embroiled in the ill-fated “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal that cost the life of U.S. Border Patrol Brian Terry. The ATF’s involvement was revealed to be under the direction of the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice when the bureau allowed illegally purchased firearms to cross the United States-Mexico border and failed to track them. Firearms from that bungled operation were recovered at crimes scenes on both side of the border, including a .50 caliber rifle recovered during the arrest of Mexican drug lord and cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

ATF inspectors of mom-and-pop retailers would turn from inspections that assist small business retailers to comply with federal laws and regulations to one that would revoke licenses for minor administrative errors. The ATF would become a political tool to drive an antigun agenda instead of a regulatory agency that ensures compliance. 

This is, of course, what USA Today and The Trace want. Now that they’ve published their reports, they’ve got U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) calling for Chipman’s confirmation because of “systemic issues within the agency that couldn’t be solved by money alone.”

Chipman isn’t the cure. Politicizing the ATF to drive an agenda and circumvent Congress’s legislative authority isn’t the fix. It’s the problem.

We’ve already seen how the ATF is trying to use its rule making authority to turn millions of legally owned firearms into prohibited items that must be registered under the National Firearms Act, and that’s before Chipman has received a confirmation vote. Imagine how empowered the agency will be with a gun control activist at the helm.. and with a press that’s ready and willing to work hand-in-hand with the gun control organizations that lobbied so hard to put him there.