David Chipman was nominated to head the ATF. If that’s not evidence that President Joe Biden has a few screws loose, I don’t know what is.
The long-time professional gun control advocate was hardly the first choice anyone expected by a president who claimed he’d try to heal the deep political wounds in our nation. Why he thought such an obviously partisan hack was a good idea is probably a mystery even to himself.
Unsurprisingly, the nomination stalled because there just aren’t enough votes there. It’s not enough to nominate someone to head the agency, they also have to get confirmed, and Chipman was pretty much unconfirmable from the start. Then allegations about his alleged comments about black agents popped up, making it even less likely he’d get the nod.
So, Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation wrote, it’s time for Biden to withdraw the nomination.
President Joe Biden faces a decision point when the U.S. Senate returns to Washington, D.C. next week. He would be well advised to withdraw his nomination of David Chipman for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Chipman has proven to be an unworthy nominee to lead the 5,000-person bureau that regulates the firearm industry and enforces federal gun laws. His history as a lobbyist for two major gun control groups should have been enough. The Biden administration, though, was determined to install an idealogue over a practical and qualified nominee. President Biden owes it to the American people to end this nomination.
The ATF needs and deserves a qualified nominee to fulfill this role. Chipman is not that person. The time has come to end this gun control appeasement.
President Biden nominated Chipman to become the ATF director in April, leaning on Chipman’s 25 years as an ATF agent. Questions of his qualifications were immediately raised. Chipman never served in an executive leadership position, or even as a Special Agent-In-Charge of a field division. In reality, those weren’t the qualifications in which the Biden administration was most interested.
Biden wanted someone to head the agency that would be just as vehement in their anti-Second Amendment beliefs as he is and saw Chipman as that guy. The problem for Biden is that Republicans get a vote.
At no point has Chipman really done anything to quell concerns about himself. Yes, he said he’d enforce the law, which is part of what you expect from an ATF director, but the problem really lies in the interpretation of the law.
If federal gun laws were written as absolute, with no mechanism for interpretation of what is and what isn’t illegal, Chipman heading the ATF wouldn’t really matter all that much. He couldn’t do anything except enforce existing laws, which would kind of be his job.
Unfortunately, the ATF also has the power to interpret a lot of things, to determine if a new device is or isn’t a machine gun. Look at one Rare Breed Triggers is dealing with, for example. All their product does is use recoil to get a faster reset on the trigger, and the ATF is trying to classify it as a machine gun.
Now, imagine Chipman as head of that organization.
That’s partly why his nomination met so much opposition. The directorship of the ATF wasn’t just an administrative position. He wouldn’t just be signing forms and shuffling personnel around.
The other part is, as Keane notes, he’s not really qualified. He spent 25 years in the ATF and doesn’t have any significant leadership experience from that time.
That ought to tell you something.
Regardless, it should be clear now that Chipman isn’t getting confirmed. The smart move for Biden now is to start fresh with someone Republicans might be willing to consider. In fact, a smarter move would be to include Republicans in the nomination process in order to find someone they can live with.
Anyone want to lay odds on that happening?