Senate Committee Splits on Party Lines Over Gun Control Lobbyist’s ATF Nomination

Senate Committee Splits on Party Lines Over Gun Control Lobbyist’s ATF Nomination

Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee split along party lines when voting whether to advance the nomination of David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The vote underscored the hyper-partisan nature of Biden’s choice to lead the agency that enforces federal gun control laws and regulates the nation’s network of licensed firearms manufacturers, dealers, and importers (FFLs). Biden likes to stress Chipman’s career as an ATF agent, but it is the nominee’s more recent gun control advocacy that makes him Biden’s ideal choice to lead the recently characterized “crackdown” on federal firearm licensees. Chipman has served as a paid policy advisor for Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety and currently works for Giffords, which lobbies Congress and state legislatures for an ever-expanding list of firearm prohibition measures. The nominee acknowledged at his confirmation hearing that he supports the banning of so-called “assault weapons,” but when asked to define that term, he repeatedly tried to duck the question. He has insisted, however, that the wildly popular AR-15 should be prohibited. Pro-gun Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) characterized Chipman as a “zealot” who is inappropriate to lead an agency “whose mission is to even-handedly apply the law.” He noted he would vote against the nominee out of concern that Chipman would stretch the law to cover an “agenda” not authorized by Congress. Anti-gun Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MI), meanwhile, blamed the NRA for the Senate’s hesitancy to move forward with confirming a permanent ATF director. […]

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