“This is the first person named that can in some way be linked to an advocacy for gun control of any kind,” said William Vizzard, who spent nearly three decades at ATF. “I’m sure he will be attacked from the start… The ATF has always been very wary of its real commitment to gun control. They were very careful.
But these same attributes seem doomed to cause difficulty in the Senate, split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, who will consider his nomination. Chipman, probably realizing this, recently made his Twitter account private. In previously archived tweets, Chipman retweeted criticisms of former President Donald Trump and former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, particularly on gun issues.
Moderate Senators, including Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Have not made a statement on the nomination or responded to requests for comment. The White House gave some lawmakers advance notice of Chipman’s appointment, an aide to Hill said, but they did not answer questions about whether she alerted Manchin or Sinema. Late Thursday, Manchin told CNN that Chipman was “well qualified” but said he needed more information.
Biden announced Chipman’s appointment to the White House on Thursday as part of a wrap executive actions to reduce gun violence that were immediately hailed by groups calling for restrictions and criticized by organizations opposing the changes.
At ATF, Chipman assisted in high-profile cases, including bombings at the World Trade Center in 1993 and Oklahoma City in 1995, and was eventually appointed as a special agent in charge of firearms programs.
After leaving government, Chipman worked at Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization that lobbies for gun restrictions, and ShotSpotter, a company that advocates for changes in policing strategies. He is now a senior advisor at Giffords, a group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) after being shot and seriously injured. He will stay at Giffords until his confirmation vote.
On his Linkedin profile, Chipman describes himself as a “violent crime reduction strategist” and “gun violence prevention expert”. He says he is “dedicated to developing, implementing and evaluating gun violence reduction strategies aimed at making neighborhoods safe.”
“He’s the right fit, right now, for this important agency,” Biden said of Chipman to his Announcement of the rose garden, with Giffords seated in the audience alongside other gun violence survivors, members of Congress and advocates. Biden supports many policies that Chipman has publicly supported, including the ban on assault weapons and the expansion of background checks, which Display are popular with a majority of Americans.
Critics from the right were swift. National Rifle Association spokeswoman Amy Hunter said the appointments of Attorney General Merrick Garland and Chipman show that “ Biden has made it clear that he is aiming to restrict the rights of respectful gun owners to the law while ignoring criminals and forgoing substantive measures that will actually keep Americans safe. “
Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said Chipman “is renouncing firearms forfeiture with Gun Control Inc.” and that he had “adopted all proposed gun control schemes.”
And Newsmax TV host John Cardillo tweeted, “Any Republican Senator who votes to confirm Chipman as ATF boss tops our ‘must be primary’ list.”
Biden’s aides and allies are hopeful that Chipman can get close Senate approval. But White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether she was convinced he could be confirmed in response to Thursday’s questions.
“It depends on the Senate,” she said. “The president chooses who he wants to propose. He appointed someone who is qualified. He has decades of experience. He owns a firearm himself and it is up to the Senate to decide whether to nominate him.
Chipman did not respond to the messages. The White House and Giffords have not made it available for comment.
Chipman has written and spoken extensively on gun safety, sometimes mentioning his own work and life.
“I am also a proud gun owner who has sometimes been referred to as a gun grabber, first in my career serving my country and now as an advocate for gun safety.” , he wrote last year in a editorial in the Roanoke Times.
In the same article, Chipman, who lives in Virginia, criticized state law enforcement officials who declared their localities “Second Amendment sanctuaries” that were exempt from gun laws passed by lawmakers. of the State in Richmond.
“The Second Amendment sees firearms as ‘well regulated’, and individual sheriffs do not have the right 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 alert laws that would allow courts to order the temporary withdrawal of a person’s firearms who could pose a danger to themselves or to others; for regulator the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle in the same way as machine guns; and to continue to regulate gun silencers.
In a 2019 congressional hearing following consecutive mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, Chipman repeatedly described the necessary balance between the right of individuals to own firearms and the right of individuals to be safe.
“The current armed violence crisis in our country has shown two things very clearly: 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 their communities safer.”
But in an undated PowerPoint presentation, Chipman advised fellow gun restriction advocates to focus on policies most Americans can support.
“Gun rights advocates want you to talk about guns – not gun violence prevention,” he said. “Always pivot towards reasonable political solutions supported by the majority of Americans.”
ATF has had mostly interim directors since the position was confirmed by the Senate in 2006. Todd Jones was confirmed as ATF director in 2013 after spending several years as interim director. If confirmed, Chipman would be the first permanent director since 2015.
“David Chipman has spent a quarter of a century serving his country and fighting for safer communities at ATF, ending gun smuggling operations and investigating horrific bombings and fires, ”Jones said. “His decisions have affected the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of officers, but he never wavered in his conviction or his leadership abilities.”
Daniel Payne, Betsy Woodruff Swan, and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.