Good news: David Chipman won’t lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) after all.
In a stunning move yesterday, the Biden White House announced it was pulling Chipman’s nomination as ATF Director citing growing bipartisan concerns. Joined by all 50 Senate Republicans Senators, Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jon Tester (D-MT) either opposed him or were non-committal—spelling doom for his prospects.
A Giffords senior policy advisor, Chipman was selected for the role back in April. During his Senate nomination hearing, he failed to properly identify an assault rifle and dismissed comments he made disparaging new gun owners.
While good news in the short term, the fight to protect the Second Amendment is far from over.
Reaction to Chipman Nod Withdrawal
Senate Republicans and leading gun rights organizations lauded David Chipman’s withdrawal.
“I’ve been opposed to David Chipman leading the ATF from the start. He’s an anti-Second Amendment, gun-grabbing radical that should not lead the agency that regulates firearms,” added Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). “I’m glad to see President Biden listen to my request and pull this nomination. I’ll always fight to protect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights.”
“David Chipman was the wrong man for the job for multiple reasons, but his ignorance of basic firearm classifications should have disqualified him immediately,” Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) announced in a press release. “The responsible gun owners in my state of Wyoming demand a regulator who understands the things they are regulating, not an idealogue bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights.”
“David Chipman’s opposition to the Bill of Rights earned him the opposition of every Republican senator, and unanswered allegations of racism undermined his support among Democrat senators,” said Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, in a press release. “The Biden Administration should cease all efforts to “find another role” for this anti-constitutional rights activist who failed to earn the support of the United States Senate.”
“We believe strongly that ATF needs a Senate-confirmed director to lead the brave men and women of ATF,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “David Chipman is not that person.”
The Senate Has Only Confirmed One ATF Director Since 2013
Was Chipman’s confirmation doomed from the start? The ATF Director position has been notoriously hard to fill across both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The post was last filled in 2013 when former President Obama nominated then-ATF Director Todd Jones. Jones was the first ATF Director nominee in history confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He then left for the private sector in March 2015.
Chipman may not be heading up the ATF, but who will? Will President Biden appoint a nonpartisan individual independent of the gun control lobby? Or will he appoint an Acting ATF Director aligned with gun control in the interim? Time will tell.
The Fight Marches On
Going forward, the Biden administration will lean on regulatory fiat to enact its gun control agenda.
First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expressed interest in bypassing the 1996 Dickey Amendment—which prohibits the agency from engaging in research that could be used to “advocate or promote gun control.” If they proceed, their efforts will greatly imperil Second Amendment rights and their credibility further.
“I’m not here about gun control,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said. “I’m here about preventing gun violence and gun death.”
Like many of you, I wouldn’t trust anything Walensky says. She’ll be a loyal foot soldier.
Second, President Biden is eager to revoke the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) citing the firearms industry’s alleged blanket immunity protections. As I noted here at Townhall, Biden erroneously claimed, “Most people don’t realize, the only industry in America, billion-dollar industry, that can’t be sued, exempt from being sued, are gun manufacturers.”
Third, the Department of Justice plans to target so-called “ghost guns” rarely used in crimes involving guns. As Heritage Foundation’s Amy Swearer noted, proposed rules changes could encompass the following:
Among other things, the new rules would expand the definition of “frame or receiver” to include any part of a gun that can house even one mechanism of the firing process. They also would regulate partially completed frames and receivers when sold in “weapons parts kits” containing all of the tools necessary to assemble a firearm.
This essentially means that many gun kits and “80% receivers” now would be regulated the same as fully functional firearms and finished receivers: They couldn’t be sold without a serial number or without the buyer undergoing a background check.
Before we pop the champagne over the Chipman news, he sadly isn’t going anywhere.
“We do not have the votes,” a senior Biden administration official told CNN. “We will land him [Chipman] in a non-confirmed job in the administration.”
Nevertheless, the fight to protect gun rights marches on. Arm yourself with the truth and get involved.