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Biden Withdraws Chipman as ATF Director Nominee

President Biden has withdrawn David Chipman as the nominee for the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Bipartisan concern developed regarding Chipman’s past as a gun-control advocate. 

Biden nominated Chipman in April. In his statement withdrawing him, the President maintained that Chipman would have made “an exemplary director of the ATF and would have redoubled its efforts to crack down on illegal firearms traffickers and help keep our communities safe from gun violence.”

Chipman worked as an ATF agent for 25 years before taking positions with Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which advocate for gun control. He has supported banning AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles.

Biden accused Congressional Republicans of planning “to use gun crime as a political talking point instead of taking serious steps to address it.”

“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,” he added.

To secure his nomination, Chipman needed support from every Democrat and independent after Senate Republicans came out in collective opposition.

According to The New York Post, “Biden didn’t mention [in his statement] that Chipman’s long-stalled nomination failed to gain the support of centrist Democrats who were essential to confirmation in the evenly divided Senate.”

Two Democrats, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Jon Tester of Montana, remained publicly undecided. In addition, Maine’s Independent Senator Angus King did not come out in support of Chipman.

“Mr. Chipman’s long record as a partisan, anti-Second Amendment activist raised plenty of concerns about how he’d administer federal firearms laws,” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. 

“But that wasn’t the only cause for concern,” he added. “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.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who is largely acknowledged as a centrist, stated, “I am concerned that [Chipman’s] confirmation would do significant damage to the collaborative working relationship that must exist between ATF, the firearms industry, sportsmen and women, and other law-abiding gun owners exercising their Second Amendment rights.”

Ultimately, “the result means the ATF will be without a Senate-confirmed boss yet again. The agency hasn’t had a confirmed director in six years. It’s had only one since Congress made the position subject to Senate confirmation in 2006,” per NPR.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there were “active discussions” with Chipman regarding what position in the federal government “might be of interest to him.”

Chipman, a gun owner, said that pro-gun advocates have mischaracterized him.

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