David Chipman’s nomination process as permanent director of the ATF isn’t going nearly as well as gun control activists anticipated it would. Not only have moderate Republican senators like Susan Collins and Pat Toomey come out against Chipman’s confirmation; red-state Democrats like Joe Manchin and Jon Tester are getting barraged with opposition from gun-owning and Second Amendment-supporting constituents. What was supposed to be a “thank you” gift from Joe Biden to his anti-gun allies has now turned into a political headache for the administration, which is trying to bill itself as a voice of moderation and restraint while also trying to install a committed gun control activist in the top spot at ATF.
Rather than acknowledge Chipman’s baggage and the legitimate concerns of millions of gun owners, his employer contends that all the opposition is coming straight from the firearms industry (which, by the way, also has plenty of legitimate concerns).
The biggest opponent to David Chipman’s nomination for ATF Director?
It’s not gun owners—it’s the gun industry.
Chipman’s confirmation is literally a matter of life or death—but to the NSSF, it’s about their ability to sell more weapons. https://t.co/RzLlatyBsA
— Giffords (@GiffordsCourage) July 23, 2021
If Giffords’ was hoping that the responses to the tweet would help push their narrative, the group was sorely mistaken. Grassroots gun control activists were few and far between, while Second Amendment supporters and Chipman opponents had quite a bit to say in response.
Yes, @NSSF is opposed b/c your employee is unqualified. Tell me, if President Trump had nominated Chris Cox are you telling me you wouldn't have been opposed? We have supported every nominee to get out of Senate Judiciary Cmte Sorry but we don't think it's right to politicize ATF
— Larry Keane (@lkeane) July 23, 2021
Yep, that’s the senior vice president and general counsel of the NSSF weighing in and correctly pointing out the problem with Chipman’s nomination. It’s not the 25 years he spent as an ATF agent. It’s the almost ten years that he’s spent working for the gun control lobby.
I am a private citizen and I vehemently oppose David Chipman becoming the Director of the ATF. Because based on his own words he does not respect neither the Constitution or the rule of law.
— Michael Johnson (@MichaelPaladin6) July 23, 2021
All those letters, calls and emails opposed to putting an anti-gun lobbyist in charge of the ATF aren't just "the industry". It's just a bad nomination on so many levels
— Who Onfirst (@WhatOn2nd) July 23, 2021
Oh really? Weird, I guess the hundreds of tweets, facebook posts, and reddit posts (with thousands of likes/upvotes) I've seen are all from the "gun industry" huh?
You guys really can't accept that millions of Americans support a strong Second Amendment, can you?
— Konstadinos Moros (@MorosKostas) July 23, 2021
No, they really can’t. Of course Giffords isn’t alone in that regard. There are plenty of voices on the Left who insist that the opposition to Chipman is being ginned up by the NSSF and NRA and that there’s nothing controversial at all about the idea of putting a gun control activist in charge of the agency that oversees the firearms industry and our nation’s gun laws, rules, and regulations.
Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said: “The NRA have taken so many body blows and yet their political voice appears to still be intact.
“I think they’re looking for basically symbolic issues to show themselves to be relevant. Anyone that the Biden administration nominates who’s going to be serious about gun control, at a time when gun violence is up in America, is going to be targeted by the NRA and its supporters in Congress.”
Jacobs added: “It’s kind of a case study on what’s wrong in America, Just following the mass shootings in America you would think that there would be a reasonable response and yet that’s not possible because you’ve got organisations whose financial health depends on using the issue to gin up membership and donations.”
There’s nothing symbolic about Chipman’s nomination; not on the part of the Biden administration, the gun control lobby, and certainly not from the perspective of Second Amendment supporters. Chipman could do real damage to the right to keep and bear arms, as well as weaponize the ATF against the firearms industry and millions of legal gun owners.
Of course Jacobs also apparently believes that cracking down on legal gun owners is a “reasonable response” to the rise in violent crime around the country, and that the only reason why Congress hasn’t passed gun control legislation is because of groups like the NRA riling up its members about nonexistent threats.
The truth is that the NRA and other 2A groups exist because of millions of Second Amendment activists, not the other way around. If Jacobs is such a hack that he can’t even acknowledge that reality, he has no place heading up a body like the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance… just like David Chipman has no place heading up the ATF.
It’s pretty clear that gun control activists are worried that Chipman’s nomination is in trouble, and they’re lashing out in response. Let them. We need to keep up the pressure on senators like Manchin, Tester, Angus King of Maine, and even Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (who I suspect will ultimately go along with voting for Chipman, given that he works for the group co-founded by Sinema’s fellow Arizona senator Mark Kelly). We haven’t won anything yet, and until Chipman is either defeated or his nomination is pulled, we need to continue to use our First Amendment rights in defense of the Second Amendment.