Is The Endgame Near For Chipman Nomination?

The Reload‘s Stephen Gutowski joins Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co today to talk about the latest in the troubled and troubling confirmation fight over gun control activist David Chipman’s nomination as permanent director at the ATF. Stephen’s latest piece focuses on the Republican members on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who’ve once again demanded a second hearing for Chipman in order to address several issues that have emerged since his first appearance several months ago; including allegations of racist comments made while he was in the Detroit field office of the ATF and the revelation that Chipman appeared on Chinese state-run media shortly after the Sandy Hook murders to exploit the murder of children and to help the Chinese government downplay a mass stabbing of school children that took place the same day in Henan Province.


During today’s meeting of the Judiciary Committee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was among several Republicans highlighting the troubling reports about Chipman’s past behavior.

There’s no doubt that Chipman’s been left damaged by these reports, but as Gutowski points out, he also hasn’t tried to defend himself. I honestly figured that Chipman would have released some nothingburger of a statement apologizing if any black ATF agent had taken offense to comments that he couldn’t recall making, but gun control’s golden boy has kept his mouth shut for the most part ever since his confirmation hearing took place.

I say “for the most part,” because there’ve been multiple reports that Sen. Joe Manchin hosted an online townhall for constituents with Chipman, though neither Gutowski or I have been able to find any recording of the event online. It’s also unclear how constituents were informed of the event, or how many folks took part. I’ve asked those questions of Sen. Manchin’s press office, but did not receive a reply before this story was published. I’ll be happy to update this piece with any additional information I might get from the senator’s office, however.


Despite Manchin’s help, which also includes setting up a meeting between Chipman and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, as of Thursday afternoon the senator was still telling reporters he remains undecided on the nomination. The same goes for Montana’s Jon Tester and Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats. And though advocates for Chipman were calling for a floor vote before the Senate recesses in just a few days, CNN reported Thursday afternoon that the chances of that happening are slim to none.

President Joe Biden’s pick of David Chipman to serve as the head of the ATF is nearing collapse, with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus withholding support and the chamber unlikely to hold a vote to advance the nomination before the August recess.


Publicly, the White House and Senate Democratic leaders are not giving up on the nomination. But privately, the assessment is far grimmer. At best, it appears Chipman’s nomination may be forced to be punted past the August recess, which makes the prospects for his confirmation even less likely.


“Never over until it’s over, but it certainly looks uphill,” a senior administration official told CNN.

The CNN report quotes unnamed White House officials as saying they’re confident that if they can get King on board, Manchin and Tester won’t be a problem, though that could simply be bluster from the Biden administration. As for King, his colleague Susan Collins has already said she will not vote to confirm Chipman, and the Sportsman’s Caucus of Maine, which has considerable clout in the state, is urging King to follow suit.


If the Senate recesses without holding a vote on Chipman, it’s almost certainly game over for the gun control activists trying to install one of their own as the head of the ATF. Chipman’s nomination may get quietly pulled, or the administration may just quietly leave it open-ended for a few months, but as Stephen Gutowski told me on today’s show, it’s highly unlikely that any new information is going to come out about Chipman that will make senators feel more comfortable voting to confirm him.

For now though, it’s still critically important for gun owners in Maine, Montana, and West Virginia to contact their senators, particularly if they haven’t already done so. Gun control activists are trying to rally their volunteers as best they can, because they know that the endgame is approaching and they’re running out of time. If you’re represented by one of these red state Democrats, I hope you’ve let them know that you can’t support anyone who would put an anti-gun zealot like David Chipman in charge of the agency overseeing our nation’s gun laws, regulations, and the firearms industry itself.

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