David Chipman is the nominee to head the ATF. David Chipman is also donated a lot of money to Democrat causes. That’s not surprising since he worked for a gun control group that campaigned heavily for Democrats to win this past November.
Yet Democrats continue to defend the man. In their mind, he represents no threat at all. Of course, he doesn’t. Not to them, at least.
To the rest of us, though, there are serious problems with his nomination.
Unfortunately, some people just don’t get it. Take this letter to the editor which sums up an argument I’ve seen repeatedly.
The bureau is charged with combating illegal gun trafficking. In the past, Mr. Chipman has taken strong positions in favor of gun safety, and Mr. Poliquin finds him objectionable for this reason. But as head of ATF, Mr. Chipman promises aggressive enforcement of existing laws, precisely what gun-rights advocates have repeatedly called for.
The writer goes on to argue that Congress makes the laws, not the ATF.
This isn’t isolated, either. Take this tweet from Thursday.
Do you know how ridiculous you sound when you say law-abiding gun owners are the target? No, of course you don't. "Law-abiding" means just that. Only Congress can change the laws that Chipman would be enforcing. You seriously don't know how any of this works, do you?
— Extrapolate (@not_boob) June 24, 2021
Of course, this is common enough thinking. In theory, they should be correct. However, gun laws are far more complicated than that.
You see, while Congress is supposed to create the laws, they sometimes pass the buck on that. In particular, they created a set of parameters and charge the ATF with determining whether new products meet those parameters.
Such famous examples of the past include things like bump stocks and pistol braces.
In both instances, the ATF found that they did not violate existing law. Those who developed these devices then set out to sell them, building production facilities and selling them to tens of thousands of law-abiding gun owners.
Then, the ATF decided to change their minds after a single incident–the Las Vegas shooting in the case of the bump stock, the Boulder King Soopers shooting in the case of the pistol brace. These were legal products sold to law-abiding citizens, but with a stroke of the pen, these weapons were now considered Class III weapons under the National Firearms Act.
What Chipman brings to the table, though, is an anti-gun mindset where there’s little doubt what his interpretation might fall. Firearms that previously were legal may find themselves suddenly illegal. New products seeking ATF approval won’t get it, either.
In short, Chipman will stifle innovation in the firearm industry, likely bog down the bloated and overworked NFA application process, and otherwise do anything he can to make life difficult for the law-abiding gun owners he thinks so little of.
See, the ATF doesn’t just enforce the laws passed by Congress. They also get to determine whether some things comply with that law or not. They have way too much power over the firearm industry and over gun owners in general as it stands, but we can deal with someone who isn’t rabidly anti-gun.
An ATF head who can be trusted to run the bureau fairly won’t determine things are illegal just because.
It’s theoretically possible that Chipman would actually do what he says, that he’d run the ATF fairly and in an unbiased manner. The problem, though, is that what he may think of as “fair” and “unbiased” likely to be something unfair to a draconian degree and biased as hell. That’s because most people don’t see their own biases. Take a look at the media sometimes for an example of bias that thinks it’s unbiased.
Comments like those above aren’t the result of people calling out paranoia. They’re prime examples of someone not understanding what degree the ATF controls the entire firearm industry.
And that is why we oppose Chipman so vehemently.