A still salty Chipman weighs in on Biden's new ATF pick

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Gun control activist David Chipman clearly hasn’t gotten over his failure last year to be confirmed as permanent director of the ATF, and his continued saltiness is easily discernible in a new interview he gave to the Daily Beast. Chipman, who’s still a senior lobbyist at the gun control group Giffords, has previously blamed the White House for not doing more to drag his nomination across the finish line, and he took another shot at the Biden administration while passive-aggressively praising them for how they’ve handled the rollout of Steve Dettelbach’s nomination.


Since Chipman’s nomination was quietly withdrawn, he hasn’t been quiet about what he saw as shortcomings from the White House during the confirmation process. He characterized his ATF nomination as being somewhat under the radar, whereas with Dettelbach, it’s been more of an open launch.

“It started out differently. You know, this nominee was invited to speak at the White House when his name was announced. So, that’s good. That’s not how they played it with me,” he said.

Does anyone really think that having Dettelbach on hand for the announcement of his nomination is going to be a significant factor in whether or not he’s confirmed by the Senate? Better yet, does Chipman honestly think that he would have been confirmed if only the White House had trotted him out before the press when his nomination was announced?

Actually, Chipman might be that delusional, now that I think about it, but I suspect he’s just still butthurt that he didn’t get the full West Wing dog and pony show. I wonder if he’s ever considered the possibility that was by design; that perhaps the White House believed that the more the public was exposed to Chipman’s toxic blend of arrogance and anti-gun ideology, the less likely his confirmation would be?


Chipman doesn’t just blame the White House. He’s also still bitter that few Senate Democrats vocally supported his nomination, and compared his confirmation hearings to that of recently-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson; saying this time around Dettelbach needs more love from the left than he received.

“Whatever that playbook was… It’s that fight that they’re going to need to make. It’s going to take impassioned speeches in [the Senate Judiciary Committee] in support of the nominee…” Chipman said. “It seemed like the impassioned speeches that I witnessed during my confirmation were Republicans lining up to bash me.”

Which says at least as much about Chipman as it does Senate Democrats, but the gun control activist is so full of himself that he could never admit he was the biggest reason his confirmation as permanent director of the ATF failed.

Chipman also applauded the recent demotion of acting ATF director Marvin Richardson, who has been criticized by gun control activists for being too friendly with the firearms industry. The Daily Beast cites a text by the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s senior vice president and general counsel Larry Keane, who told the New York Times that he was “disappointed” Biden hadn’t tried to elevate Richardson to permanent director.


By removing Richardson from the acting position, Chipman said, the gun lobby loses that argument.

“They can’t point to, ‘Oh, there’s a great person already at the helm representing their interests.’ Now, they have just another, you know, Biden person, right?,” Chipman said. “So it changes the dynamic. Now, they’ll have to figure out some other way to at least publicly try to undermine these nominees.”

Beyond revealing that Chipman’s fragile ego still hasn’t recovered from the confirmation process, the only real newsworthy bit in the Daily Beast article is a brief aside about the White House pre-screening Dettelbach’s nomination with one of the senators who objected to Chipman.

Some Democratic senators also remain wildcards. A spokesperson for [Maine Senator Angus] King, who opposed Chipman’s nomination, told The Daily Beast the senator is still reviewing Dettelbach’s track record. Unlike Chipman, the White House vetted Dettelbach’s nomination with King before announcing, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has yet to weigh in on the nomination, and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), another moderate in the Senate majority, is also still reviewing the nomination, a spokesperson said.

If Chipman was unacceptable to King and Manchin, Dettelbach shouldn’t fare any better. After all, he has the same anti-Second Amendment ideology as the gun control lobbyist, only instead of getting a paycheck from gun control groups he received their endorsement and campaign cash during his failed run for Ohio Attorney General in 2018. But what “should” be the case isn’t always so, especially in politics, and I hope that gun owners in Maine are continuing to talk with King about why Dettelbach (or any other anti-gun ideologue) is the wrong choice to head up the ATF.


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