President Joe Biden faces a decision point when the U.S. Senate returns to Washington, D.C. next week. He would be well advised to withdraw his nomination of David Chipman for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Chipman has proven to be an unworthy nominee to lead the 5,000-person bureau that regulates the firearm industry and enforces federal gun laws. His history as a lobbyist for two major gun control groups should have been enough. The Biden administration, though, was determined to install an idealogue over a practical and qualified nominee. President Biden owes it to the American people to end this nomination.
The ATF needs and deserves a qualified nominee to fulfill this role. Chipman is not that person. The time has come to end this gun control appeasement.
President Biden nominated Chipman to become the ATF director in April, leaning on Chipman’s 25 years as an ATF agent. Questions of his qualifications were immediately raised. Chipman never served in an executive leadership position, or even as a Special Agent-In-Charge of a field division. In reality, those weren’t the qualifications in which the Biden administration was most interested.
Instead, President Biden was intent on delivering someone who would usher in his gun control wish list. At the same time President Biden announced Chipman’s nomination, he also expounded on his prayerful desire to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), the legislation that stops baseless lawsuits, usually filed by lawyers from gun control groups, against firearm manufacturers for the criminal misuse of lawfully sold firearms.
Chipman was supposed to be President Biden’s inside man to punish the firearm industry and throttle Second Amendment rights. It was Chipman’s post-ATF employment that captivated the Biden administration. Chipman was a lobbyist for anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, and later a lobbyist for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He had numerous appearances on Capitol Hill, testifying for everything from banning the most-popular selling centerfire rifle in America – the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) – or punishing those who own them by forcing a reclassification of the firearm under the National Firearms Act, which would require owners to submit photos, fingerprints, a $200 tax stamp fee and the owner would be on a national registry. He is a proponent of universal background checks, age-based gun bans and a national mandatory delay period for firearm transfers.
That wasn’t all, though. Chipman has a record of running fast-and-loose with the facts too. He claimed that .50-caliber rifles were used to down helicopters during the ATF’s siege at Waco, Texas. That never happened, though. He also disparaged first-time gun buyers as “zombie-apocalypse” preppers and compared them to Tiger King. He admonished law-abiding Americans concerned for their safety to, “Secure that gun, locked and unloaded and hide it behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky that you have stored in a cabinet and only bring that out if the zombies start to appear,” in a Cheddar news appearance.
Not Aging Well
Chipman’s troubles didn’t end there. He couldn’t – or rather, wouldn’t – define what he believes is a so-called “assault weapon” to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing, yet said he would ban them. More troubles came to light after the hearing.
Chipman has been accused of making denigrating remarks of fellow African-American ATF agents on two separate occasions when those agents scored well on advancement exams. Chipman testified that complaints were lodged against him but were resolved. It turns out that at least one of the incidents was investigated by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General. Fellow ATF agents sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee telling them that Chipman is unfit to lead the ATF.
That report is now being sought by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The White House, or Chipman himself, could put these allegations to rest by voluntarily releasing his personnel file from his time with the ATF, yet neither has done so. Sen. Grassley is demanding more hearings to put Chipman back under oath and answer these allegations.
So far, The White House and Chipman have remained silent. That silence is now deafening.
President Biden has two choices when the Senate returns to Washington, D.C. next week. He must either send Chipman to Capitol Hill to answer the allegations or withdraw the nomination altogether. The men and women of the ATF have a difficult job already. They deserve a director with the required experience to administer the laws and regulations as they are written.
Chipman has proven he cannot be that person.