The White House announced today that David Chipman will not be the next director of the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The position will remain open once again, as it usually is.
President Biden released a statement on the nomination withdrawal, largely placing blame on Republican members of Congress who opposed Chipman outright.
Biden first noted Chipman’s history as an ATF officer, stating, “He’s a gun owner himself, and someone who has the backing of law enforcement groups. And, he’s spent most of last decade as a leading voice for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation that will save lives.”
Continuing, Biden asserted that Chipman “would have been an exemplary director of the ATF.” Immediately following this claim, Biden sidesteps to comment on the Congressmembers whom he feels deserve the blame for another botched ATF director nomination.
“Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend 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.” Biden stated.
The blanketed displacement of blame here is somewhat untruthful, as not everyone who opposed Chipman’s confirmation was a Republican. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Montana’s Jon Tester, and Maine’s Angus King, none of whom are Republicans, are among those who considered Chipman as too divisive for the position.
Since 2006, when the Patriot Act was adjusted to include Senate confirmation as a prerequisite for appointing an ATF director, there has only been one director that was officially appointed. That was B. Todd Jones, nominated to the position by President Obama in 2013.
Controversy over Chipman
Many have pointed to Chipman’s “involvement” in the 1993 Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas as the reason for why he wouldn’t mesh well with the duties of the position. Despite all of the rumors, the evidence points to Chipman not even being in Texas at that time.
The following photo has circulated far and wide on social media. Many of those who shared it claim that it depicts Chipman at the sight of the fire that concluded the Branch Davidian siege that killed 76 people, a substantial portion of which were children.
Despite the claims, records indicate that Chipman was in Norfolk, Virginia at the time of this photograph; nearly 1,500 miles away from Waco. Chipman did not even arrive in Texas to investigate until weeks after the siege was over.
Topping each of these considerations, the man depicted in the photograph was a member of the FBI Hostage Rescue team at the scene, not the ATF.
ATF is critical to helping confront our nation's gun violence epidemic, yet some on the political fringe are seemingly trying to sink Mr. Chipman’s nomination, including peddling baseless claims about his role in Waco, TX.
WATCH David Chipman clarify the truth: pic.twitter.com/sg0rzeYS3I
— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) May 26, 2021
The other primary reason many disavowed Chipman as a viable nominee is because of his connection to gun-control advocates. Specifically, his work as an senior policy advisor for the gun control PAC, Giffords. This prompted politicians and commentators alike to swarm the internet in order to denounce Chipman as a “Gun grabber.”
We defeated this anti-2A gun grabber and we'll defeat all of Biden's attempts to restrict our Second Amendment rights!
Report: Joe Biden to Withdraw David Chipman Nominationhttps://t.co/ndlfh5MLKG
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 9, 2021
Each of these considerations contributed to the withdrawal of Chipman’s nomination. It remains to be seen if there will ever be another ATF director that manages to fit into the standards of both sides of the aisle in the senate.