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Jim Hartman: Biden's ATF 'anti-gun man'
David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (AFT), is a zealous anti-gun activist whose Senate confirmation now is in jeopardy.
Chipman has a very narrow path to confirmation, with all 50 Senate Republicans certain to oppose him. His fate is in the hands of four undecided moderate Democrats, all representing sizeable gun-owning states. To win confirmation, each will have to vote for him.
After spending 25 years at the ATF, Chipman went to work as an anti-gun paid lobbyist for numerous organizations, including those founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D. Ariz) and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
While there’s nothing inherently unethical about gun-control activism, opponents argue it’s another matter to appoint such an ardent political operative to run the agency tasked with fairly administering gun laws.
The former ATF agent has a long record of exaggerated claims and factual untruths.
Chipman has long claimed he supports bans on “assault weapons” because they are “nearly identical to those used by the military.”
He argues that the 1994 ban on assault weapons had “mixed results.”
In fact, sales of weapons like AR-15-style rifles rose during the era of the assault weapons ban and sky-rocketed when it was lifted in 2004.
A 2004 report for the Justice Department found that the ban’s “effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” Congress that year let the ban lapse with little debate.
In his June confirmation hearing, Senator John Kennedy asked Chipman to define what “assault weapon” meant — the guns he advocates banning. He couldn’t or wouldn’t answer.
Chipman continues to advocate for a complete ban on the country’s most popular semiautomatic rifles — those “in common use” by law-abiding citizens.
He advocates a policy that would compel millions of existing AR-15 owners , those having already gone through background checks, to register their weapons with the federal government. In many minds, that’s a prerequisite to gun confiscation.
Chipman has not only proven hostile to existing gun laws but extremely antagonistic to lawful gun owners.
During the COVID pandemic, the former ATF agent urged American governors to unilaterally shut down gun shops, noting “people who hoarded the guns might decide six months from now — once they see no zombies around, but they’ve run out of tuna and beef jerky — that they needed the money to buy food.”
When speaking about the estimated 8.4 million new gun-owners last year, Chipman compared legal gun buyers to meth-smoking criminals.
American gun owners would be unable to trust someone to lead the ATF who rudely demeans and disparages them so completely.
Moderate Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) warns that Chipman would likely do “significant damage” to the relationship the ATF has with sporting and gun groups.
Senate GOP Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) observes the ATF nominee has “an almost open hostility toward gun owners in this country. He seems to be so far out of the mainstream that he’s got problems even among some Democrats.”
Among Senate Democrats, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) is reportedly undecided. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is also undecided and hints the Chipman nomination might be withdrawn.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) is under intense pressure from sportsman’s groups in his state to oppose Chipman. He’s currently uncommitted. The other notable holdout is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), a perennial swing vote.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin concedes “there are a lot of issues” surrounding Chipman’s nomination.
The Biden administration envisioned Chipman as ATF chief being their point man on guns. His confirmation defeat or withdrawal would be a major setback.
Chipman’s background conclusively demonstrates — both temperamentally and professionally – that he’s unsuited to be ATF Director.
Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa, Nevada. Reach him at [email protected]
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