Gun Control Activists Lash Out Over Chipman Allegations

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Stephen Gutowski’s latest reporting on the allegations about racially insensitive comments by Joe Biden’s pick to head up the ATF appears to have struck a nerve with the gun control lobby. Kris Brown, the head of the gun control group Brady, is leading the charge on social media to discredit Gutowski; not because there’s anything incorrect in his reporting, but because the report itself is problematic for Chipman’s nomination.

 

There’s a rich irony in watching gun control activists shoot the messenger, which is exactly what Brown is doing here. The issue isn’t Gutowski’s reporting, it’s the comments allegedly made by Chipman when he was working in the ATF’s field office. Chipman himself has acknowledged the existence of two EEOC complaints in his time at the ATF, but he’s said nothing about the details other than to say he wasn’t subject to any disciplinary proceedings after the EEOC investigated.

Even reporters like Christopher Ingraham, who’s not exactly a Second Amendment stalwart, felt the need to chime in and defend Gutowski’s reporting from the gun control lobby’s smear.

At the same time, what Brown and other gun control activists are doing here isn’t exactly surprising. In fact, I predicted this would be the response even before Brown tweeted out her outrage over Gutowski’s reporting.

I think the most likely response from Democrats to McConnell’s demand is to claim that the opposition is purely partisan in nature, accuse Republicans of smearing Chipman’s character, and hope that the nominee can garner a sympathy vote from red state Democrats like Montana’s Jon Tester and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Chipman himself offer up some sort of statement about the complaints that were filed in an attempt to defuse the issue, though I highly doubt that the former ATF agent turned gun control activist is going to provide enough specifics to satisfy Republicans on the Judiciary Committee.

The gun control lobby is going to fight like hell to get Chipman confirmed, because placing a committed gun control activist in charge of the ATF would be a dream come true for the anti-gun movement. They’ve never had an opportunity like this before, and if Chipman’s rejected by the Senate any possible replacement is going to have to be squeaky clean when it comes to associating with gun grabbers in order to get confirmed.

Because the gun control lobby is all in on Chipman, they can’t acknowledge any of the controversies surrounding his time at ATF or his years as a paid gun control lobbyist. So what if some of Chipman’s fellow agents say that he made demeaning remarks about the abilities of black ATF agents? Why, they must be part of the evil gun lobby too!

I continue to believe that Chipman’s views on gun owners, the firearms industry, and the Second Amendment are far more damning to his ability to lead the agency than any bigoted comment that he may have uttered while on the job two decades ago, but that doesn’t mean that these allegations are meaningless or an unfair attack on the nominee. There are real questions raised by Gutowski’s reporting and Chipman’s own testimony, and it’s up to the nominee himself to answer them.

So far, Chipman’s been unwilling to do so, but I’ll stand by my comment on Thursday that I won’t be surprised if he ends up releasing some sort of statement to try to defuse the controversy. After all, he’s just as desperate to be confirmed as his colleagues in the gun control lobby are to see him enshrined as permanent director of the ATF, and if the leaders of the anti-gun movement believe that apologizing for any remark that may have “unintentionally caused offense” will help him get to 50 votes in the Senate, a vague mea culpa is a small price to pay.