By: Robert Davis
Following his confirmation hearings on July 31, calls to remove Chuck Canterbury, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from consideration for the post grew louder as he expressed his support for more stringent federal firearm regulations, including universal background checks and a federal assault weapons ban.
“The best information we can have in the [National Instant Criminal Background Checks System] is great, but as far as the legislation of universal background checks, I would need to look at the exact language to have a firm opinion on that,” Canterbury said in response to a question from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) about his support for universal background checks. “But, I do believe that local agencies should be encouraged to get quick, concise, and accurate information into the NICS system.”
In late May, the White House announced that the president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) would be nominated to lead the ATF, a move that raised eyebrows in the gun rights community.
Since that announcement, Canterbury has proved why gun owners believe he is a risky choice to lead the Bureau.
During his testimony, Sen. Lee asked if Canterbury has any positions that are tangibly separate from the FOP’s policy positions relating to firearm regulations. Canterbury continued to say that as the president of the Fraternal Order, his personal opinions on firearm policies are not important.
“I have my own opinions based on my experiences,” Canterbury said. “But as the head of a law enforcement agency, it is very difficult. My positions that I held at the FOP were the positions of the FOP. That was my job.”
During his tenure, the FOP supported anti-gun measures such as S. 875, The NICS Denial Act, which would require the Department of Justice to notify state and local agencies if a prohibited person attempts to purchase a firearm in their jurisdiction.
Gun rights groups such as the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) argue that this bill, coupled with the broad authority the ATF Director has to regulate firearms, would be a slippery slope towards restricting the rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment.
Canterbury also supported the nomination of anti-gun Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor and former Attorney General Eric Holder, who was the figurehead of the Obama Administration’s controversial Fast and Furious campaign. Under the disastrous plan, the ATF allowed the sales of illegal firearms around the country so they could theoretically track the sellers and purchasers of those firearms in hopes of catching those who were connected to Mexican drug cartels.
“Any federal gun regulation, current or proposed, will have to go through [Canterbury], and following his botched responses on the Second Amendment, he cannot be trusted,” Dudley Brown, president of NAGR, said in a press release.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him with tips or comments at RobertDavis0414 (at) gmail.com.