The Real Problem With David Chipman's Chinese State TV Appearance

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The path towards confirmation as ATF director keeps getting rockier for David Chipman, and once again he has only himself and his desire to pursue a post-agency career as a paid gun control activist to blame. FOX News reported on Wednesday that Chipman failed to declare his appearance on Chinese state-run news outlet China Global Television Network shortly after the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut and a mass stabbing of students at a school in China’s Henan province in December of 2012; an appearance that focused entirely on the shooting in the United States and allowed for the state-run “news” network to minimize coverage of the violent crime that took place within its own borders.

As bad as it is that Chipman, (who incidentally was first identified by the anchor as a current ATF official before he corrected her and noted that he was currently working for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the gun control group that was founded by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and is now part of the Everytown for Gun Safety organization) allowed himself to be used as anti-US propaganda produced by the Communists in charge of China, it’s what he actually said that could prove devastating to his already tenuous confirmation prospects. After briefly acknowledging that the focus in the immediate aftermath of the shooting should be on the victims and their families, Chipman ignored his own advice and wondered aloud if the shootings were going to be a “senseless and meaningless act, or, in the weeks to come is our government going to take action that will change the playing field with gun violence?”

Never let a crisis go to waste, in other words. Even worse, Chipman sickly suggested that the deaths of 20 children and seven adults would be imbued with some deeper meaning or purpose if only the Obama administration could implement gun control laws as a result.

“[Will] we look back on this and say ‘Oh, there was meaning in this killing. It suffered a horrible loss but we took actions that made a difference? At Mayors Against Illegal Guns we believe there are certain actions that can be taken that could contribute to a safer America.”

The host then asked Chipman what more could be done, and the gun control activist was quick with a reply, though he was careful to avoid any specific call to action.

After 25 years with the government, certainly I’ve seen frustrations in that service, but I can tell you with certainty; when the American government has been determined on an issue there have been changes that have made this country safer. An example, after 9/11 we made sure that changes were made that airline travel became safe again. After Oklahoma City, I could tell my children that Dad was going to be safe in a federal building. And I am absolutely certain that our government at this moment in time will step forward with experts and determine what it will take to make kindergartners safe. And when we do that we will look back and say that these children didn’t die for nothing at all.

Why didn’t Chipman call for a ban on so-called assault weapons, universal background checks, or any other specific policy action? My guess is that he didn’t want to get out in front of his boss. It wasn’t until after Chipman’s appearance on Chinese Communist Party-run TV that Mayors Against Illegal Guns head Michael Bloomberg made his demands known.

Bloomberg, who is the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group of more than 700 mayors dedicated to getting illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, called on Congress and the president adopt “common-sense measures” to reduce gun violence.

First on the agenda, Bloomberg said, is to require background checks on private sales of firearms. He called the process “neither onerous or intrusive” but a matter of making sure guns aren’t falling into the wrong hands.

Bloomberg also called for an “enforceable and effective assault weapons ban” to be passed, including the banning of high-capacity magazines, which are designed to kill people.

Finally, he asked that Congress and President Obama begin work today to make gun trafficking a felony.

Chipman wasn’t going to start talking specific policies before the man who signed his paycheck did, so he contented himself with a general call to action; even demurring to other unnamed “experts” would find the answers without offering any of his own, despite the fact that he was a useful talking head for the gun control lobby because of his supposed expertise on gun issues from his 25 years at the ATF.

Along with the grotesque obsession about giving the deaths of children meaning via gun control is Chipman’s made another damaging statement, at least as far as his current nomination as ATF director is concerned, at the end of the interview.

“We cannot prevent every act of violence, but we can prevent many of them. That’s what I dedicated my life to in government service, and that’s what I will dedicate my life to now with a whole host of people who say today ‘enough is enough’.”

Becoming permanent director of the ATF would wed Chipman’s two previous careers as an ATF agent and gun control lobbyist in an unholy matrimony. Remember, during his confirmation hearing, Chipman told senators that despite his almost ten years as a paid gun control lobbyist, if confirmed as ATF director he would merely enforce the gun laws passed by Congress and wouldn’t engage in any activism as director. His statement was ridiculous at the time, given the broad power of the ATF to write rules and regulations governing the activity of legal gun owners and the firearms industry, but his 2012 statement shows that Chipman sees no contradiction between his gun control activism and his government service. In fact, he views them as complementary to each other.

Chipman believes that he knows what can reduce violent crime; a lot more gun control. Even worse, Chipman has said that lives lost to “gun violence” can have meaning, at least if their deaths result in additional gun control restrictions. If confirmed as ATF director he’ll be in a position to implement many of the policies that his former boss demanded in the days after Chipman’s appearance on Chinese state-run media in 2012, including a backdoor ban on AR-15s imposed via ATF regulations and not legislation in Congress. Based on Chipman’s comments in 2012, he’s either a true believer in the cult of gun control that sees some sort of redemptive power in restricting the exercise of a civil right, or he’s a craven cynic willing to exploit the deaths of school children to get a political win. Either way, Chipman’s revealing conversation on Chinese state-run TV shows he shouldn’t be anywhere near the levers of power at the ATF.