President Joe Biden has nominated professional gun control activist David Chipman for director of the federal agency that enforces the nation’s gun control laws (commonly referred
to as ATF). We recall when Biden said he was going to put anti-gun former Congressman Beto O’Rourke in charge of gun control, but if anything Chipman is worse than Beto.
At least Beto was honest when he said, Hell yes I’m going to take your AR-15.
As our friends at the NRA-ILA observed, Chipman’s evasive, contradictory, and dishonest testimony disqualified him from further consideration for the position, but Democrats show no inclination to withdraw his nomination, meaning gun owners are going to have to pullout all the stops in letting their Senators know about Chipman’s disqualifying conduct.
Pro-gun committee members were able to elicit sufficient information to demonstrate that Chipman lacks the professionalism, honesty, candor, and fairness necessary to enforce the law in an unbiased manner to the benefit of the American people.
The most damning testimony that Chipman provided concerned his desire to ban so-called “assault weapons.” Chipman has a long record as a paid gun control advocate of supporting sweeping efforts to outlaw some of America’s most popular rifles, including the iconic AR-15. He is also on record insisting that the prior federal “assault weapons” ban did not go far enough.
Indeed, Chipman’s supposed firearm expertise as a former ATF special agent was meant to lend credibility to the gun control groups that have employed him. These groups include Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety and the oft-renamed gun control lobby associated with former congresswoman Gabby Giffords. If there’s anybody who should be able to provide chapter and verse on the technical aspects of firearms, shouldn’t it be a career ATF professional?
Even now, the gun control group Giffords lists Chipman as a “senior policy advisor” on its website. That organization, in turn, very explicitly describes “key legislative elements” to “provide a framework” for the enactment of “assault weapons” bans at the federal and state levels. It additionally lists jurisdictions whose laws exemplify the elements of this framework.
The Giffords framework stresses a “generic features” approach that describes the weapons to be banned. The exemplary laws it cites all begin from the starting point of a semiautomatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and then set forth a list of additional “features,” the inclusion of any one of which would result in a banned firearm.
These features include such things as a pistol or forward grip; a folding, detachable, or adjustable stock; a barrel shroud; and a threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, compensator, or muzzle break. The framework also suggests supplementing this test with an additional list of firearms that are banned by name, as well as empowering a specified law enforcement official to add to that list on an ad hoc basis, thus further expanding the ban.
Most chillingly, Giffords recommends that firearms lawfully acquired before the ban not be exempted from its scope, raising the prospect of forceful confiscation from those who do not voluntarily relinquish their guns.
Needless to say, nationwide adoption of these standards would affect tens of millions of common firearms owned by people who use them exclusively for lawful purposes, including the wildly popular AR-15. It is as radical a position as can be imagined for a country in which the Constitution has been authoritatively interpreted by the U.S. Supreme to protect firearms “’in common use at the time’ for lawful purposes like self-defense.”
Yet when pressed by committee members to define or describe the types of firearms he would like to see included in assault weapons bans, Chipman refused to display any courage for the convictions he espoused as a gun control advocate or any relevant technical expertise. He simply would not answer the question, as best exemplified in an exchange with Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). “Just give me your definition,” Kennedy pleaded, after confirming that Chipman still supported a ban. When Chipman refused, Kennedy finally concluded in frustration, “I’m done, Mr. Chairman. I don’t think I’m going to get an answer.”
“When a nominee for the top post at the agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s firearms regulations can’t define what he believes an ‘assault weapon’ is, that raises alarms,” said Alan Gottlieb, Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “By the time he actually provided some semblance of an answer, he was merely quoting a policy that essentially applies to every semiautomatic centerfire rifle on the planet. Nobody who subscribes to such a catch-all definition of a firearm that really doesn’t exist should lead the ATF.
“It is equally alarming,” he continued, “that Mr. Chipman has been employed for the past few years by Giffords, one of the nation’s leading gun prohibition lobbying organizations, as a senior policy advisor. There is absolutely no appearance of fairness or objectivity in this nomination, and his performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee leaves serious doubts about his perspective on gun rights and the Second Amendment, and how he would approach the job if confirmed.
“Chipman’s nomination has the appearance of political patronage to an organization that steadfastly supports the president’s gun control agenda,” Gottlieb said. “Out of all the potential candidates to lead the agency, Joe Biden has picked the one individual whose nomination was guaranteed to ignite a political firestorm. At this point, it is fair to question why the president has done this. It looks like the president wants to put the gun prohibition lobby in charge of firearms regulation and enforcement.
“Throughout his political career,” the CCRKBA chief recalled, “Joe Biden has portrayed himself as a tough guy, and here he is deliberately provoking a fight with tens of millions of law-abiding American citizens by nominating a man who seems eager to step on their rights, for no other reason than to show he can get away with it. That’s not the characteristic of a national leader who pledged to bring the country together. That’s something a bully does for an ego boost.
“This is a bad nomination,” Gottlieb concluded. “It’s bad for the cause of unity, it’s bad for the Constitution and it’s bad for the country.”
If David Chipman was that evasive and dishonest during his confirmation hearing imagine how responsive he will be to Congress should he be confirmed. We urge every CHQ reader and friend to use the Capitol’s toll-free switchboard (1-866-220-0044) to call your Senators and let them know that based on his testimony at his confirmation hearing David Chipman lacks the candor and integrity to serve as Director of the ATF.
federal law enforcement
assault weapons ban
Joe Biden nominees
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms