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Biden’s Pick to Lead ATF Faces Criticism Over Position on Gun Control

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

David Chipman, President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, faced strong criticism from Senate Republicans during a confirmation hearing Wednesday over his position on gun control. 

Chipman, a gun owner and former ATF agent, has advocated for firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. 

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chipman said he supports a ban on AR-15s, an assault rifle used in many mass shootings. 

“I support a ban as has been presented in a Senate bill and supported by the president. The AR-15 is a gun I was issued on ATF’s swat team and it’s a particularly lethal weapon and regulating it as other particularly lethal weapons, I have advocated for,” Chipman said, The Hill reports.

“As ATF director, if I’m confirmed, I would simply enforce the laws in the books and right now, there is no such ban on those guns,” he added.

At the beginning of the hearing, committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill, warned Chipman that he would face criticism from Republicans. 

“Buckle your seat belt. You want to be the head of the ATF. Hang on tight. They’re coming after you, buddy,” Durbin said. “It’s going to be rough at times.”

And at times, it was. 

Chipman was questioned about an interview last year in which he compared the rampant increase in gun ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic to a zombie apocalypse. 

“Many see putting a committed gun control proponent like David Chipman in charge of A.T.F. is like putting a tobacco executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services, or antifa in charge of the Portland Police Department,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said.

During the hearing, lawmakers began getting news alerts about a mass shooting in San Jose, Calif. 

“It is not lost on me that there is another mass shooting,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. 

In April, the NRA announced its plans to oppose Chipman’s nomination as part of a $2 million campaign to fight gun-control measures. https://www.ticklethewire.com/2021/04/22/conservative-republicans-nra-wage-battle-against-bidens-nominee-to-head-atf/

President Biden has faced pressure by gun control groups to pick someone to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2015 as the nation continues to grapple with mass shootings. 

As vice president, Biden recommended in 2013 that President Obama pick a Senate-confirmed ATF director. Obama followed through with the confirmation of B. Todd Jones in 2013, but Jones resigned in 2015, and the agency has been without a permanent director since. 

Whether Biden can muster the 51 votes required to confirm a permanent leader is an open question. Republicans have blocked ATF candidates who were far friendlier to the pro-gun base. 


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