The White House recently announced that they would be withdrawing President Joe Biden’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The nominee, David Chipman, has faced heavy opposition from Congress lawmakers over his ties to Giffords, a gun control group, and racist comments made during his tenure.
President Biden blamed Congress Republicans in his Thursday statement and accused them of using gun crimes as a “political talking point” instead of taking serious steps to address it. This isn’t the first time Biden has tried to pinpoint gun crime on Republicans.
Biden previously accused Republicans of failing to increase the funding for police departments by voting against his massive COVID-19 rescue package. He said his administration has worked hard to strengthen law enforcement and a crackdown on gun crime while Republicans have opposed it at every turn.
“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,” President Biden said.
Of course, Biden is living in his own reality to think the Democrat Party “strengthened” law enforcement when they spent all last summer trying to strip the department entirely. It hasn’t always been Republican opposition to Chipman’s nomination either. Even some Democrats have warned the White House that they are unlikely to back Chipman.
Sen. Angus King said he was unlikely to back the nomination of Chipman. Sens. Joe Manchin and Jon Tester both shared that they were also ‘undecided.’ Their votes are key to confirming the nomination, with Manchin already turning down the nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
It’s clear that many were not a fan of the Biden Administration’s choice, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describing Chipman as an “anti-gun extremist.” While Republican senators have pointed to Chipman’s failure, it has been Democrats that doomed Chipman.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, applauded the withdrawal of Chipman and said his long record of being a “partisan, anti-Second Amendment activist” has raised plenty of concerns about how he’d administer federal firearm laws and lead the agency.
There were also concerns about how Chipman would treat employees. To this day, there are still records concealed from Congress on how he treated his employees while at the ATF. He worked for 25 years as an ATF agent, as well as the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He said he was a gun owner but in support of banning AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles.
Many Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins, expressed concern for Chipman’s stance and said that it could do ‘significant damage’ to the working relationship between ATF, the firearms industry, sportsmen and women, and other law-abiding gun owners.
Biden, on the other hand, has attempted to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy towards gun owner violations and said he is “grateful” for Chipman’s work to fight gun violence. It was never a good idea to push a vocal opponent of the Second Amendment as a nominee to run ATF, but that’s something the Biden Administration would do.