By: Peter Suciu
Last year, then-candidate Joe Biden campaigned on unity, and just days after the election, in his victory speech, Mr. Biden declared, “There are no red states or blue states,” yet on many issues, he has sought to push an agenda even when there is little to no Republican support.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the issue of gun control.
Even as Republican lawmakers have been opposed to new legislation, a sign their constituents oppose such measures, President Biden has pushed forward.
Any chance of unity is impossible, argue GOP lawmakers.
This is clear as dozens of House Republicans are now urging their colleagues in the Senate to oppose Biden’s nomination of David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE – or ATF). Many in the GOP ranks, as well as many gun owners across the United States, have labeled Chipman an “enemy of the Second Amendment.”
Biden nominated Chipman last month.
“He’s the right person, at this moment, for this important agency,” Biden said of Chipman at his Rose Garden address calling for additional gun control measures.
Chipman is a former federal agent and spent 25 years at the ATF. He then worked for Everytown for Gun Safety, and more recently had served as senior policy advisor at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. According to his bio, which is still present on the Giffords.org website, his expertise includes “Ghost Guns, Gun Industry, Law Enforcement, Assault Weapons.”
On his Linkedin profile, Chipman lists himself as a “violent crime reduction strategist” and “gun violence prevention expert.”
His nomination has earned the praise from his current employers.
“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives needs a strong, experienced leader and I am confident that David Chipman will be just that. As a former ATF special agent, David will be able to address the most pressing issues facing the bureau from day one, including reducing gun violence,” former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.
“David has spent his career serving the public, combating violent crime, and striving to make our nation and our communities safer,” added Giffords. “As a responsible gun owner, decorated law enforcement professional, and gun safety expert, David is the perfect choice for ATF director.”
In his own words, Chipman has made it clear he would like to see additional firearms legislation.
“Our weak firearms laws make it all too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands — and since Congress has failed to address these gaps legislatively, ATF must chart a new course to combat the scourge of gun violence,” he wrote in an op-ed for POLITICOin 2013.
Chipman supports banning so-called modern sporting rifles, which he has labeled assault weapons; as well as limiting high-capacity magazines, expanding background checks, and ending the protections firearms manufacturers have from frivolous lawsuits. He has called upon ATF to increase inspections of federally licensed gun dealers.
In other words, he shares many opinions with President Biden.
Traditionall,y those who work in law enforcement are supposed to uphold the law, not support a political agenda, and certainly not of one party. That is true of the FBI as well as the CIA. In this case, Biden’s nominee certainly has an agenda, as noted by his past words and connections.
“This is the first person nominated who can somehow be connected to gun control advocacy of any kind,” William Vizzard, who spent nearly three decades at ATF, told Politico last month. “I’m sure he’ll be attacked right off the bat….ATF has always been very circumspect about showing any real commitment to gun control. They’ve been very cautious.”
Whether Chipman can pass a Senate confirmation hearing is the issue.
On Monday, 69 House GOP members, including House Republican Study Committee Chair Jim Banks (R-Ind.), penned a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). In that letter, which was obtained by FoxNews.com, the House Republicans described Chipman as a “longtime gun control activist and lobbyist.”
They wrote, “His beliefs and hostile attitude toward the rights of gun owners are well known. Thus, we respectfully ask that you oppose his confirmation.”
They also noted that Chipman has called for subjecting all AR-15s and potentially all semi-automatic rifles to the same regulations that automatic weapons must go through under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
“As a former agent of the ATF, Chipman knows all too well that such action would effectively ban the most popular rifle in America as well as most other items regulated under the National Firearms Act,” the House Republicans noted. “If confirmed, David Chipman would use every tool at his disposal to attack American gun owners and we respectfully ask you to oppose any and all action that would advance his confirmation in the Senate.”
It is unclear if the Democrats, who control the Senate by the narrowest of majorities – and which Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote – have the votes to confirm Chipman. Moderate Democratic senators, including those in states that have strong support for the Second Amendment, may not support his nomination.
This could be true of Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Machin has said on the record that Chipman is “well qualified,” but indicated that he’d need more information before he would vote in favor of his confirming him to head the ATF.
Peter Suciu is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Contact him at [email protected].