President Joe Biden is reportedly expected to nominate former federal agent and gun control activist David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
The president will name Chipman, who previously worked for the ATF as a special agent, during an announcement Thursday, senior Biden administration officials told the Associated Press. Chipman would be the agency’s first permanent director in more than five years if confirmed.
Chipman is currently a senior policy adviser to the prominent gun control group Giffords, founded by former Democratic Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords after she survived a mass shooting. Chipman was also a special agent in charge of the ATF’s firearms division for 25 years.
INBOX: Biden announces six “initial actions” to address gun violence, including nominating David Chipman for ATF Director and ordering DOJ to issue annual report on gun trafficking. pic.twitter.com/T3d7F4rCI0
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) April 8, 2021
Chipman has advocated for an assault weapons ban and other restrictions in the past, according to The New York Times. The Giffords group is similarly opposed to assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, along with open and conceal carry licenses, which the organization regards as “dangers to public safety.”
During an interview with Cheddar news in April 2020, Chipman lamented the reported increase in gun sales during the coronavirus pandemic and claimed first time gun-owners were “putting themselves and their families in danger” because they purportedly did not know how to store firearms.
Chipman described himself as a “proud gun owner” who has sometimes been “mischaracterized as a gun grabber” in a Roanoke Times op-ed published in January 2020. But his prior remarks, along with his advisory position at the Giffords group, suggests he might back sweeping gun control efforts if confirmed.
Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a staunch gun control advocate in the Senate, said Chipman “is exactly what the ATF needs” in a statement Wednesday. He also praised Chipman for serving “on the front-lines in the fight against gun violence.”
His nomination is expected to coincide with a number of executive orders on gun control that the president also plans to sign Thursday. One executive order would require purchasers of so-called “ghost guns,” or homemade firearms without serial numbers, to go through a background check. (RELATED: Biden Will Take New Executive Action On Guns This Thursday — Here’s What You Need To Know)
While progressives and gun control groups may welcome the nomination, he could face a difficult confirmation process if Senate Republicans and moderate Democrats like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin oppose him. Senate Republicans have successfully blocked nominees to lead the ATF in the past, including former President Donald Trump’s pick in 2020.
The nomination also comes as Biden is facing increasing pressure from gun control activists in the wake of two mass shootings last month, though White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters March 26 the administration would prefer legislative action on gun control.