Biden Administration Withdraws Nomination of David Chipman to Lead the ATF
Chipman was a controversial pick who failed to secure support from conservatives or key moderates in the Senate
In a huge reversal, the Biden Administration has withdrawn its controversial nomination for David Chipman to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the White House announced today. Chipman is a 25-year veteran of the ATF, and has also worked as a senior policy advisor for Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence lobbying group, and he’s also served as an advisor for Everytown for Gun Safety.
“Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend to use gun crime as a political talking point instead of taking serious steps to address it,” reads President Biden’s statement. “That’s why they’ve moved in lockstep to block David Chipman’s confirmation, and it’s why they side with gun manufacturers over the overwhelming majority of the American people in opposing commonsense measures like universal background checks.”
During a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this summer, Chipman acknowledged his support for a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”
When Biden first announced the Chipman nomination, he called Chipman “the right person, at this moment, for this important agency.” But Republicans opposed Chipman’s nomination from the beginning, and several key Democrats never publicly supported him. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has supported many of Biden’s executive nominees, praised the withdrawal.
“Glad to hear reports the White House is taking my advice and pulling the terrible nomination of David Chipman,” tweeted McConnell. “Absurd that a vocal opponent of Americans’ constitutional rights was ever picked to run ATF. This is a win for the Second Amendment and law-abiding American citizens.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was also in favor of the withdrawal.
“Mr. Chipman’s long record as a partisan, anti-Second Amendment activist raised plenty of concerns about how he’d administer federal firearms laws. But that wasn’t the only cause for concern,” he said. “The record he concealed from Congress, some of which remains hidden to this day, about how he treated his fellow employees while at the ATF confirms his lack of fitness to lead the agency.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Senate holdouts may have been at the center of Chipman’s nomination withdrawal. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jon Tester (D-MT) were silent on how they might vote on Chipman.
In his confirmation hearing Chipman said, “With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as has been presented in a Senate bill and supported by the president…It’s a particularly lethal weapon, and regulating it, as other particularly lethal weapons, I have advocated for… As ATF director, if I’m confirmed, I would simply enforce the laws on the books and right now, there is no such ban on those guns.”
This divide primarily along party lines over an ATF pick isn’t new. According to Biden’s statement, there has only been one Senate-confirmed ATF director in the Bureau’s history.