Gun Control Activists Still Spinning Chipman's Defeat

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

It’s been over a week since the Biden administration reluctantly cut loose David Chipman, the gun control activist and former ATF agent who Biden had nominated to head up the agency where he once served, and the gun control lobby is still having a hard time coming to terms with their defeat.

Griffin Dix, who helps run the Oakland chapter of Brady, complains in a new column that Chipman would have been confirmed if it weren’t for the “enduring corrupt power of the U.S. gun lobby.”

To block Chipman’s nomination, Donald Trump Jr. and the corporate gun lobby spent millions on TV, radio and internet disinformation campaigns attacking Chipman and his family.


Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., called him “an anti-Second Amendment, gun-grabbing radical that should not lead the agency that regulates firearms.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., agreed: “Absurd that a vocal opponent of Americans’ constitutional rights was ever picked to run ATF.”


This is nonsense. The real point of opposing Chipman’s nomination was not to protect the Second Amendment, but to protect gun trafficking. It was to make sure the gun industry can sell as many guns as possible, even to dangerous “prohibited persons” who cannot legally purchase them.

Talk about nonsense. Does Griffin really believe that the millions of gun owners who objected to the idea of installing a gun control activist as top dog at ATF did so because they want to protect firearms trafficking? Of course not. He just can’t admit that there’s more passion on the part of Second Amendment activists than there is to be found among the “gunsense” crowd, particularly in states like Maine, West Virginia, and Montana. There was no way that Chipman was going to get confirmed without the support of red state Democrats, and as it turns out those Democrats like Joe Manchin and Jon Tester (along with independent Angus King of Maine) were hearing a lot more from gun owners opposing Chipman’s nomination than gun control activists demanding his confirmation.

Soon you’ll hear the same senators who would not confirm Chipman complain about crime being rampant in our streets and cities. But when they had a chance to do something about it, they didn’t.

This is gobsmackingly stupid. We saw a steady decline in violent crime between 2005 and 2019, and only had a permanent director of the ATF for a couple of those years. The idea that David Chipman was needed at ATF to reduce crime is laughable. It’s the gun control lobby that needed him there; not to go after violent criminals, but to target the firearms industry and responsible gun owners.

Chipman was well-qualified for the job. He served 25 years as an ATF special agent, and received a prestigious award from the U.S. Department of Justice for his contribution to community partnerships around public safety. But all of the Republican senators — and a few Democratic ones from rural states — opposed him.

The fact that even now roups like Brady are downplaying Chipman’s role as a paid gun control lobbyist says a lot about why Chipman was defeated in the first place. They simply couldn’t be honest about who Chipman was and his contempt and hostility towards Second Amendment activists and the firearms industry, not to mention his alleged racist remarks while serving in the Detroit ATF field office. Instead, activists like Griffith portrayed Chipman as the consummate professional; a guy who wasn’t interested in advancing the gun control lobby’s agenda, but someone who’d simply follow the lead of Congress when it came to enforcing our nation’s gun laws.
It’s such an absurd argument that it was never going to fly in the states where the nomination was going to be the most problematic, and frankly, the gun control lobby did a terrible job of countering the argument that an activist like Chipman wasn’t an acceptable or appropriate choice to head up the ATF. I’m of the belief that the anti-gun activists who pressured Joe Biden to name Chipman as his choice to run the agency convinced themselves that the nomination could be rammed through on a party-line vote before they ever spoke to Joe Manchin or Angus King. Griffith can complain all he wants about the power of the gun lobby, but what he and other gun control activists are really angry about is the fact that groups like Brady, Giffords, and Everytown for Gun Safety don’t appear to be the slightest bit effective at persuading undecided senators to go along with their agenda.