Why the Federal Firearms Agency Can’t Find a Permanent Director

Why the Federal Firearms Agency Can't Find a Permanent Director

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) remains without a leader after President Joe Biden’s selection of David Chipman to lead the organization was pulled on Sept. 9 after weeks of speculation and Chipman’s nomination languishing before the Senate. And with the U.S. continuing to deal with high levels of gun violence , questions continue to swirl about the agency’s future and the feasibility of its leadership. Marvin Richardson, who in 2019 was appointed the ATF’s deputy director, continues to serve as its acting director. As a federal agency, the ATF is supposed to enforce the nation’s gun laws. This includes addressing interstate gun trafficking and working to stop the flow of illegal weapons both into and around the country. But since its leadership became a Senate-confirmed position in 2006, the ATF has only had one permanent director—Byron Todd Jones, who served during President Obama’s administration from 2013 to 2015 (and had previously served from 2011 to 2013 as acting director). Obstacles in the director’s confirmation process are due in large part to pressure from gun advocates and conservatives who fear that the organization will go after “gun rights.” David Chipman testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on May 26, 2021. David Chipman testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on May 26, 2021. Graeme Sloan—Sipa/AP Chipman, who prior to his nomination, had worked most recently as a policy advisor at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, had spent 25 years as […]

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