It’s not often that I agree with gun control activist Igor Volsky, but… no, actually, I don’t agree with him here either. The founder of Guns Down America told the Bloomberg-funded pro-gun control “news” outlet The Trace that the defeat of David Chipman’s nomination as ATF director is a sign that gun control just isn’t that important to Joe Biden and his administration.
“This system is designed for us not to have a robust head at the helm of ATF. The fact that we’ve only had one since it became a Senate-confirmable position is an indication of that,” said Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America, part of a coalition of groups pressing Biden to create a gun violence prevention office headed by a cabinet-level staff member.
But Volsky said the White House’s failure to muster the kind of campaign needed to secure Chipman’s confirmation showed that gun violence prevention was not truly a high priority for the president.
Is it really the case that the Biden just doesn’t care that much about gun control? If so, then why did he nominate Chipman in the first place? It would have been much easier to trot out a candidate that didn’t have years of experience working for gun control groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Giffords, but Biden went with the gun control lobby’s golden boy instead. In fact, Biden announced Chipman’s nomination the same day that he declared the ATF would be implementing new rules targeting home-built firearms and pistols with stabilizing braces attached; two areas of regulation that the gun control lobby had been urging the president to address.
I think gun control is a priority for Joe Biden, but it’s obviously not the only one. As the administration was trying to shepherd Chipman’s nomination through the Senate it was also trying to pass trillions of dollars in new spending as well as trying to spin away its failures in the Afghan pullout and the crisis along our southern border. In that sense, Chipman’s confirmation probably did become less of a priority for the administration, especially as it became clear that the gun control activist’s critics in the Senate weren’t budging.
Still, this is an interesting little factoid.
As waves of personal attacks from the gun industry and a misinformation campaign fueled by viral memes went unanswered, Chipman found himself alone, with no contact with the White House. His only support was a DOJ staffer who coordinated appointments with Congress.
He said never spoke with Biden himself.
Now, there’s no reason why Biden should have called Chipman in to the Oval Office for a pep talk and strategy session, but if Chipman’s only contact with the administration throughout the confirmation process was a low-level DOJ staffer, that could show a lack of effort on the part of the White House. Of course, it could also be another indication that the Biden administration isn’t exactly a well-oiled machine. Frankly, given the incompetence on display since Biden took office, that seems like the most likely possibility.
Besides, we do know that Biden called Sen. Angus King of Maine in attempt to apply some pressure, so he was clearly willing to put forth some effort on Chipman’s behalf. The problem for Chipman wasn’t that Biden didn’t pick up the phone and call him, but that Biden couldn’t move the needle when he tried to twist the arms of the senators needed for confirmation of the anti-gun activist. Some of that may have to do with Biden himself, but more than anything I think it was David Chipman’s own past that helped propel his nomination off a cliff.
So no, I don’t buy Volsky’s claim that Joe Biden doesn’t care about gun control. I think he cares a lot, but that doesn’t make him competent at delivering results, particularly when gun owners are organized and engaged in opposition.