It’s been four weeks since gun control activist David Chipman had his all-too-brief confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but so far, there’s been no actual confirmation vote scheduled on the Senate floor (the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked 11-11 on its own confirmation vote on Thursday morning) . We did, however, see Sen. Susan Collins announce her opposition to Chipman’s nomination as ATF director earlier this week, despite hopes by gun control advocates that the moderate Republican might be persuaded to cross the aisle and vote for the Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords alum.
Now a growing number of current and former ATF agents are expressing their opposition as well. Former ATF Director Michael Sullivan told FOX News that Chipman’s years as a gun control activist would cause many to see him and the agency itself as overly politicized, and several staffers who spoke to Newsmax on the condition of anonymity were even stronger in their condemnation of Chipman’s nomination.
A current ATF member who spoke on the condition of anonymity described Chipman as a “bully” during his tenure at the ATF in Detroit, telling Fox News that “his reputation is as an activist more so than anything. I’ve only known two ATF agents out of hundreds whom I would describe as being anti-gun, and Dave is one of them.”
The current ATF member pointed out that, unlike the Drug Enforcement Agency, which regulates commodities that are always unlawful, guns owned by Americans “are more often than not legal.”
A former ATF deputy director, who also spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, said, “it’s not for ATF to determine pro or anti-gun issues. That’s for Congress and the public and the people they elect. It’s not ATF’s mission. Putting someone in charge of the agency that’s coming in with an agenda that’s politically based for the organization that’s charged with managing and overseeing that business entity is just not appropriate.”
He also said if Congress fails to pass gun reform policy, “the administration is then going to turn to ATF and expect them to execute regulatory functions that are probably beyond the scope of ATF’s legal authority potentially.”
Frankly, I think we’re already seeing that with the proposed rules that the ATF has released that would turn millions of AR-style pistols into short barreled rifles that must be registered under the NFA and redefine even incomplete frames and receivers as actual firearms.
With Biden’s gun legislation bottled up in Congress, the ATF is the best tool the president has at his disposal to appease the gun control lobby and anti-gun activists like Michael Bloomberg who spent millions helping him get elected. In fact, I’d argue that its the gun control lobby itself that’s largely directing the Biden administration’s policy on firearms and the Second Amendment, and organizations like Giffords, Everytown, and Brady are salivating over the thought of one of their own in charge of the ATF.
I’m not ready to declare Chipman’s nomination is in trouble, but if 51 senators were ready to confirm him I suspect that Chuck Schumer would have moved ahead with a vote. We still haven’t heard from senators like Joe Manchin or Pat Toomey about Biden’s pick, but I know that they’re both hearing from gun owners in their states. With ATF employees now sounding off about the dangers of putting Chipman in charge of the ATF and Republicans like Susan Collins saying they’ll vote “no” on Chipman’s nomination, I’d say the opposition to Chipman has more momentum at the moment than the gun control groups pushing for his confirmation.