In the world of guns, the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (which really should be a convenience store. I’m just sayin’) carries a lot of weight. As we’ve seen in recent years, the ATF can ban any number of things with little more than a stroke of the pen. While no agency should have that much power to regulate our rights, the fact remains that they’ve been granted it by Congress and until the Supreme Court smacks it out of their hands, the ATF can and will do as it wishes on guns.
Because of that fact, the individual who heads that department has a lot of questions to answer regarding guns.
Unfortunately, President Trump’s nominee for that post hasn’t offered up very satisfactory answers. It’s been so bad that GOP senators have been described as frustrated over it.
The withdrawal was announced to Congress on Tuesday. [Chuck] Canterbury is the former president of the Fraternal Order of Police and was nominated by the president to head the ATF last year. During his confirmation hearing last July, Canterbury upset some Republican lawmakers for being evasive about his answers on gun control.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham had called the vote on Canterbury’s nomination “very problematic,” according to the Washington Times. “I’ll have that up to them, but I think that one will be a problem,” the South Carolina Republican said.
During his hearing, Canterbury was repeatedly asked about his personal views on major gun control issues, but he only responded by saying he couldn’t express views outside the Fraternal Order of Police’s positions.
Which, of course, is a huge problem. After all, as head of the ATF, he wouldn’t be acting on the FOP’s positions, but his own. Unless he’s saying that the FOP’s positions are the exact same as his own, the FOP’s positions are completely irrelevant.
For the record, the only gun legislation the FOP has any position on is the Veterans’ Heritage Firearms Act which “would allow individuals, veterans, law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies to register firearms they possess which were prohibited by the enactment of the Gun Control Act of 1968.”
In other words, Canterbury’s refusal to answer the questions can’t be interpreted as a good thing in the least. After all, the one position the FOP seems to have on guns currently is a pro-gun position. If he simply shared the FOP’s stance, why not say that he was pro-gun?
The only answer one can reasonably reach is that he’s not pro-gun, yet knows he’d never be confirmed for the post if that came to light.
That’s certainly my take and, I suspect, what a lot of the senators believed to be likely as well. As a result, they weren’t going to confirm him without a straight answer.
As a result, President Trump did the only thing he possibly could. He rescinded the nomination.
Now, at least, the president has an opportunity to fill the role with someone who is legitimately pro-gun and who will work to help maintain at least some semblance of Second Amendment freedom during their tenure. I really don’t think Canterbury would have been interested in that, so here’s hoping the next guy is.