2A Activists, Opponents React To Withdrawal Of Chipman Nomination

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

For the most part, gun control groups been pretty mum in the hours since word broke that the White House was pulling David Chipman’s nomination as permanent director of the ATF, but those who’ve been opposed to Chipman’s confirmation from the get-go are speaking out with praise for gun owners who fought the nomination as well as leveling criticism at the Biden administration for nominating a gun control activist in the first place.

The National Rifle Association calls Chipman’s withdrawal a major victory for its members and gun owners across the country.

“This critical win is thanks to NRA members who flooded their senators’ offices with texts, emails, letters and phone calls voicing their opposition to Chipman’s nomination. Because of their swift action and ongoing opposition over the past several months, the radical gun control advocate will not sit at the helm of the ATF,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “For now, gun owners can rest assured the most immediate threat to their rights has been defeated, and gun control proponents have suffered a huge setback.”

The Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb also praised gun owners for their activism in defeating Chipman’s nomination, telling Bearing Arms via email:

“I want to thank every gun owner and concerned voter who contacted their Senators and helped us stop this dangerous nominee from being confirmed. This is a great grassroots victory for the Second Amendment. Gun rights lobby 1 Biden gun ban lobby zero!”

Gun Owners of America’s Director of Federal Affairs, Aidan Johnston, says that the Biden administration shouldn’t place Chipman in another non-confirmable position.

David Chipman’s opposition to the Bill of Rights earned him the opposition of every Republican senator, and unanswered allegations of racism undermined his support among Democrat senators.

Chipman’s disgust for the Second Amendment makes him uniquely unqualified to direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives—or any other public office for that matter.

The Biden Administration should cease all efforts to “find another role” for this anti-constitutional rights activist who failed to earn the support of the United States Senate.

Today is a victory for the millions of gun-owning grassroots activists and GOA members who voiced their opposition to Biden’s indefensible ATF Director nominee.

The Firearms Policy Coalition weighed in as well:

Republicans in Congress are also sounding off, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who recently urged Biden to pull Chipman’s nomination.

Meanwhile, the anti-gun group Brady calls Chipman’s withdrawal “hugely disappointing“, and casts blame on the Senate for its “inaction.”

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“David Chipman is a tested law enforcement expert with over two decades of experience at the ATF. He is eminently qualified to lead the agency. It is hugely disappointing and unconscionable that 50 members of the U.S. Senate as well as at least one senator who caucuses with the President’s party would deny President Biden his choice to lead the ATF. It is even more concerning that they would do so by parroting the talking points of the gun lobby, which has spread misinformation and blatant lies about David Chipman since his nomination was announced.

It is immoral and indefensible that the only agency with regulatory oversight over the gun industry has been permitted to persist for so many years without leadership, because of the outsized influence the gun industry has over what used to be considered “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” The people who are at fault for this moment are the at least 51 senators who refused to vote for or commit to vote for an exponentially qualified candidate. These Senators have let their constituents down.

They’ve spent months telling us that the gun lobby was losing power and influence, but now they’re back to spinning the “outsized influence” of gun owners. And something tells me that the West Virginians, Montanans, and Mainers who are calling their senators’ offices today aren’t going to be complaining that they were let down by the refusal of Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, and Angus King to go along with the big plans of the gun control lobby to install one of their own as the top dog at ATF.

The real blame for Chipman’s defeat, of course, lies at the feet of the gun control groups who believed that they could ram his nomination through an evenly divided Senate, as well as the Biden administration for going along with their desire to have a committed anti-gun activist as ATF Director. Opposition to Chipman was strong in red states like West Virginia, Maine, and Montana, and it was always going to be a heavy lift to get an outspoken gun control activist confirmed with voters and gun owners so engaged on the issue.

Meanwhile, as of early Thursday afternoon, the gun control group Giffords, where David Chipman is currently employed as a lobbyist and “senior advisor”, hasn’t released any statement about their golden boy going down to defeat without a vote in the Senate. Their silence speaks volumes, though I’m sure they’ll offer up something along the lines of Brady before long. Gun control groups won’t acknowledge their own hubris in backing Chipman, and they can’t really say anything bad about the Biden administration since it’s basically the only avenue to try to impose new federal restrictions on gun owners at the moment. Instead, they’ll try to pin the blame on the Senate for the gun control disaster of their own devising.

***UPDATE*** 

Giffords has now released its statement, and as expected, they are indeed blaming the Senate for Chipman’s failed nomination. Well, the Senate and the “baseless conspiracy theories of the gun lobby”.

Statement from Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director: 
“The Senate had the opportunity to confirm a supremely qualified and dedicated public servant as ATF director. Instead, the gun lobby’s campaign of baseless conspiracy theories and outright lies succeeded in blocking him. David Chipman would have worked tirelessly with local law enforcement to curb the current spike in gun violence ravaging communities by enforcing the gun laws on the books. Instead, the end result is a weakened ATF, which is a win for a gun industry that profits from fear-mongering.

“The gun lobby’s extremism, corruption, and dishonesty are well known to regular Americans, so it’s shocking that senators would not only accept the self-interested arguments of industry groups like the NSSF and NRA, but go so far as to parrot their lies. This is a shameful day. We are less safe as a result of the Senate’s failure to confirm David Chipman.”

No conspiracy theories were responsible for derailing Chipman’s nomination, and I’m not sure what “lies” Ambler’s referring to in his statement. Chipman himself acknowledged that he was the subject of at least two EEOC complaints during his time at ATF, though he refused to discuss specifics during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The biggest lie told about Chipman came from the gun control lobby itself; that he was a consummate professional who’d respect the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.