“Our weak gun laws make guns all too easy to get into the wrong hands – and since Congress has not legally closed those loopholes, ATF must find a new way of tackling the scourge of gun violence,” he wrote in one op-ed in POLITICO in 2013.
Chipman’s numerous interviews, testimonies, and testimonies have earned him praise from supporters who have long pushed for firearms restrictions, as well as from ATF veterans who described his nomination as historic.
“This is the first nominee who can be in any way associated with the gun control advocacy of any kind,” said William Vizzard, who has spent nearly three decades with ATF. “I’m sure he will be attacked immediately … ATF has always been very careful when it comes to showing a real commitment to gun control. They have been very careful.”
But the same traits seem destined to cause trouble in the Senate. 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, which will consider his nomination. Chipman, probably noticing this, recently made his Twitter account private. In previously archived tweets, Chipman retweeted criticism of former President Donald Trump and former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, specifically on firearms issues.
Moderate Senators, including Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) And Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Did not provide an explanation of the nomination or respond to requests for comments. The White House gave advance notice of Chipman’s nomination to some lawmakers, a Hill aide said, but they didn’t respond to questions about whether it alerted Manchin or Sinema. Late Thursday, Manchin told CNN that Chipman was “well qualified” but said he needed more information.
Biden announced Chipman’s nomination on Thursday at the White House as part of a package of executive action to curb gun violence, immediately lauded by groups pressing for restrictions and criticized by organizations opposing change.
At ATF, Chipman helped with high profile cases, including bombings at the World Trade Center in 1993 and Oklahoma City in 1995, and was eventually named special agent for firearms programs.
After leaving the government, Chipman worked at Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that campaigns for gun restrictions, and ShotSpotter, a company that campaigns for police strategy changes. He is now a senior consultant in Giffords, a group formed by former MP Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) after she was shot and seriously wounded. He will stay with Giffords until his confirmation vote.
On his LinkedIn profile, Chipman lists himself as a “Violent Crime Reduction Strategist” and “Expert on Gun Violence Prevention”. He says he is “committed to developing, implementing and evaluating strategies to reduce violence against firearms in order to keep neighborhoods safe”.
“Right now he’s the right person for this important agency,” Biden said of Chipman Rose garden announcement, with Giffords in the audience along with fellow gun violence survivors, members of Congress and lawyers. Biden supports many of the policies that Chipman has publicly endorsed, including banning offensive weapons and expanding the background checks that are requested show are popular with the majority of Americans.
Right-wing criticism was quick. National Rifle Association spokeswoman Amy Hunter said the appointments of Attorney General Merrick Garland and Chipman showed, “Biden has made it clear that he wants to curtail the rights of law-abiding gun owners while ignoring criminals and foregoing substantive action taken by Americans actually protect. ”
Dudley Brown, president of the National Gun Rights Association, said Chipman is “shouting for gun confiscation at Gun Control Inc.” and that he “accepted every hair-raising gun control system proposed”.
And Newsmax TV presenter John Cardillo tweeted“Every Republican senator who confirms Chipman as ATF chief is at the top of our ‘must-have’ list.”
Biden’s aides and allies are confident Chipman can get a narrow Senate vote. However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether she is confident he could be confirmed in response to questions asked Thursday.
“It’s up to the Senate,” she said. “The president can choose who to nominate. He nominated someone who is qualified. He has decades of experience. He owns a gun himself, and it is up to the Senate to decide whether to move forward with his nomination. “
Chipman didn’t reply to messages. The White House and Giffords did not make him available for comment.
Chipman has written and spoken extensively about gun safety, and at times mentioned his own work and life.
“I am also a proud gun owner who has sometimes been misrepresented as a gun catcher, first in my career serving my country and now as a gun safety attorney,” he wrote in one last year op-ed in the Roanoke Times.
In the same article, Chipman, who lives in Virginia, criticized law enforcement officers in the state for declaring their locations “second amendment sanctuaries” exempt from the Richmond legislature’s gun laws.
“The second change is that firearms are” well regulated “and individual sheriffs are not empowered to decide whether a particular regulation is constitutional – that is the job of the courts,” he wrote.
In other comments, Chipman expressed support for so-called red flag laws, which would allow the courts to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who could pose a danger to themselves or others. to the regulate the semi-automatic rifle AR-15 such as machine guns; and for further regulation of silencers.
At a congressional hearing in 2019 following consecutive mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, Chipman repeated described the balance between the individual’s right to own weapons and the individual’s right to be safe.
“Our nation’s current gun violence crisis has made two things very clear. First, it is far too easy for violent people to get their hands on violent weapons,” he said. Second, the American people overwhelmingly want Congress to act now to make its communities safer.
But in an undated one Powerpoint presentationChipman advised other gun control proponents to focus on guidelines that most Americans can support.
“Gun rights advocates want you to talk about guns – without preventing gun violence,” he said. “Always adopt sensible political solutions that are supported by the majority of Americans.”
ATF has had mostly acting directors since the position was confirmed by the Senate in 2006. Todd Jones was confirmed as ATF Director in 2013 after serving years as Acting Director. If this were confirmed, Chipman would be the first permanent director since 2015.
“David Chipman has spent a quarter of a century serving his country fighting for safer communities at ATF, disrupting arms trafficking and investigating horrific bombings and arson,” said Jones. “His decisions made an impact on the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of agents, but he never wavered in his beliefs or leadership skills.”
Daniel Payne, Betsy Woodruff Swan, and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.