The Senate will vote this week to confirm or reject David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Chipman is a senior policy adviser at Giffords, an anti–gun rights group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) after she was severely injured in a mass shooting in 2011. Prior to that position, he was a senior adviser at Everytown for Gun Safety, which pushes misleading information on school shootings to gin up anti-gun hysteria.
On paper, Chipman looks like the ideal candidate to head ATF. Before his work in the private-sector anti-gun industry, he was an ATF agent for almost 25 years. Chipman’s service at ATF included involvement in the aftermath of the 1993 Waco Massacre of Branch Davidians. The botched ATF arrest attempt of the Branch Davidian sect leader, David Koresh, led to a months-long siege of the religious compound.
The siege ended only when the FBI set the compound ablaze and bulldozed it. Seventy-six people, including 25 children and two pregnant women, died in that assault, one of the worst massacres in U.S. history. In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) thread, Chipman lied about the events of the siege, claiming that the Branch Davidians shot down two Texas Air National Guard Helicopters with .50-caliber machine guns, something that never occurred.
In that same AMA, Chipman made other troubling statements. Chipman said, “While at ATF I conducted studies involving people who failed background checks to determine how many later committed crimes with a gun — many did. This is a perfect opportunity to arrest people before committing crimes rather than responding after the fact.” Chipman takes a page from Minority Report in wanting to prosecute crimes that haven’t yet been committed. The Biden administration has prioritized pushing red-flag laws at the national and state level, and as ATF director, Chipman would play a crucial role in pushing this unconstitutional agenda.
Chipman is also a strong opponent of Americans owning AR-15-style rifles. In the AMA, Chipman said, “Clearly AR-15s play an outsized role in mass shootings,” but added that he recognizes that mass shootings are not the cause of the majority of gun deaths. The majority of gun deaths are suicides, and a substantial percentage are gang violence–related. In reality, mass shootings account for a minuscule 0.2 percent of gun deaths, but Chipman and the anti-gun establishment are mainly focused on these anomalous events.
An anti-gun extremist is exactly who Democrats are looking for to head the ATF. In addition to Senate Democrats, identitarian police organizations, including the National Black Police Association, Women in Federal Law Enforcement, and the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, have signaled support for Chipman’s confirmation.
Republicans and gun rights groups have pushed back against Chipman’s nomination. Earlier this month, House Republicans sent a letter to Senate leaders that reads, “David Chipman has made it no secret that he is an enemy of the 2nd Amendment.” In Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz asked Chipman if he supported the banning of AR-15 style rifles. Chipman replied, “I support a ban.”
Since 2006, when Senate approval became required for the post, only one ATF director has been approved: B. Todd Jones, who served from 2011–15. President Trump’s nominee, Chuck Canterbury, was withdrawn due to Republican opposition to his past involvement in gun control efforts. With the Democrats holding 50 seats in the Senate, Chipman will likely become ATF director without any Republican support.
If Chipman is confirmed as ATF director, he will likely achieve more than anything even Beto O’Rourke could accomplish. This experienced operator within the ATF bureaucracy will play a crucial role in the Biden administration’s efforts to dismantle Americans’ right to defend themselves.
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