Gun lobby pulls trigger on nominee

In a case that shows the enduring corrupt power of the U.S. gun lobby, on Sept. 9 President Joe Biden was forced to withdraw his nomination of David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman was well-qualified for the job. He served 25 years as an ATF special agent, and received a prestigious award from the U.S. Department of Justice for his contribution to community partnerships around public safety. But all of the Republican senators — and a few Democratic ones from rural states — opposed him. At Chipman’s Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing, he indicated that he would enforce the nation’s (weak) federal gun laws and work to reduce gun trafficking. He was grilled by senators about a comment he’d jokingly made the previous year that during the pandemic, among the large number of first-time gun purchasers, some were buying guns in preparation “for end times and zombie apocalypses.” It was blunt but true. In fact, the unprecedented surge in gun sales overwhelmed the background check system. So many people were purchasing guns that nearly 600,000 background checks on buyers could not be completed within the three-day limit. That allowed many dangerous felony criminals, who could not legally purchase or own guns, to obtain them. Moreover, unregulated online gun sales had also skyrocketed, along with the sale of do-it-yourself ghost guns, which have no serial number and cannot be traced. According to ATF, about 30% of guns recovered from crime scenes in […]

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