According to multiple news reports, the White House will pull David Chipman’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He is the second major nominee to be withdrawn by President Joe Biden, after former Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden also faced opposition from GOP lawmakers.
In this case, the withdrawal of Chipman to head the ATF has been seen as a major victory for supporters of the Second Amendment. Chipman, who worked for a number of gun control advocacy groups after a career as an ATF agent, was staunchly opposed by Senate Republicans but also struggled to gain the support of several Democratic lawmakers.
“Mr. Chipman’s long record as a partisan, anti-Second Amendment activist raised plenty of concerns about how he’d administer federal firearms laws. But that wasn’t the only cause for concern,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa on Thursday. “The record he concealed from Congress, some of which remains hidden to this day, about how he treated his fellow employees while at the ATF confirms his lack of fitness to lead the agency.”
It wasn’t just lawmakers that celebrated the withdrawal of Chipman to head the ATF. The National Rifle Association (NRA) was openly hostile in its messaging regarding the nominee and defeating the confirmation had become a top priority since he was first nominated in April. The NRA spent millions of dollars on grassroots efforts.
On Thursday, the lobby group praised lawmakers.
“This critical win is thanks to NRA members who flooded their senators’ offices with texts, emails, letters, and phone calls voicing their opposition to Chipman’s nomination. Because of their swift action and ongoing opposition over the past several months, the radical gun control advocate will not sit at the helm of the ATF,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “For now, gun owners can rest assured the most immediate threat to their rights has been defeated, and gun control proponents have suffered a huge setback.”
The NRA warned that Chipman’s nomination posed a great threat to the Second Amendment, and noted that the former ATF agent had spent the last ten years employed by gun-control organizations.
“Chipman was the wrong candidate for many reasons,” Ouimet added. “From an administration that claims it wants to be unifying, it could not have picked a more polarizing nominee. The position should be held by someone who can be trusted to work with gun owners, law enforcement, and the firearms industry. Chipman’s record of support for radical gun control left no doubt he would not respect the rights of the American gun owner when overseeing the ATF.”
Not unexpectedly, gun control advocates expressed disappointment in the withdrawal of the nominee.
“This is a boon for gun manufacturers that profit from the weak enforcement of existing gun laws and have spent millions maligning this dedicated public servant,” Igor Volsky, founder and executive director of Guns Down America, told NPR on Thursday.
“It is hugely disappointing and unconscionable that 50 members of the U.S. Senate as well as at least one senator who caucuses with the President’s party would deny President Biden his choice to lead the ATF,” said Brady United President Kris Brown via a statement. “It is even more concerning that they would do so by parroting the talking points of the gun lobby, which has spread misinformation and blatant lies about David Chipman since his nomination was announced.”
It remains unclear who could replace Chipman as a nominee—especially as President Biden had boldly proclaimed that Chipman was “The right person, at this moment, for this important agency.” Clearly, many lawmakers, including some Democrats, disagreed.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.