Did Chipman Lose His Weapon While Serving As ATF Agent?

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

To say that the gun rights community has a less than favorable view of ATF Director nominee David Chipman would be putting it far too mildly. The man is a rabid anti-gunner who has been nominated to serve in a role that will allow him to make every gun owner’s life far more miserable.

It’s a less than ideal situation.

However, there are issues with Chipman that go beyond his personal politics, including allegations that Chipman lost his service firearm while serving as an ATF agent.

David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s nominee to head up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), claimed before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week he never lost his firearm as an employee. Yet a group familiar with the situation that spoke to his former colleagues told GOP senators they learned differently.

Judiciary ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah pushed Chipman on whether he had ever lost possession of his assigned gun while employed at the ATF for more than two decades. Chipman wrote in his testimony a negative to the question, but leadership at the American Accountability Foundation told The Federalist the nominee’s former supervisors and peers at ATF remember Chipman getting his gun stolen.

“We were told multiple times by his former colleagues that he had lost his service weapon,” Tom Jones, co-founder of the group, said in an interview. “We shared this information with the Senate, who has taken up the matter. Often a federal employee’s personnel file is made available to the Senate and would clear this and other disciplinary matters up. This week, Chipman refused the Senate’s request to provide his personnel file, which raises questions on this matter and what else he is hiding.”

ATF employees are told not to store firearms in their vehicles. According to those who spoke to Jones, Chipman left his weapon in his personal vehicle one night, and allegedly a handyman broke in and stole it.

No wonder Chipman is convinced that every gun owner is irresponsible. It’s called “projection.”

To be clear, these are still just allegations. Without the personnel record, it’ll be impossible to know for certain just what transpired. The fact that Chipman doesn’t want the Senate to have that, though, is troubling.

See, if it’s not something like this – something that could possibly be handled – then there’s another reason that file isn’t sitting on senators’ desks. While I tend not to agree with the whole “you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide” philosophy, it’s a little different when you’re set to take an important federal law enforcement directorship. The fact that the record isn’t available for the Senate suggests there is, in fact, something to hide.

What’s in that file is important.

If Chipman is lucky, an incident of allowing his service weapon to be stolen will be the extent of it. I can’t imagine it would help his post-ATF career as a gun control consultant – after all, he failed to secure a weapon in accordance with policy, so how can he claim people will follow mandatory storage laws? – but if there’s anything worse, it might sink everything for him.

Not that I’m saying there is anything there, just speculating.

Either way, this doesn’t look good for Chipman. These are senators already predisposed to dislike him. If they get evidence that a vehement anti-gunner like him couldn’t hold onto his own service weapon, well…we won’t have to worry about Chipman again.