Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
Greg Nash

A group of conservative GOP lawmakers called on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to block the nomination of David Chipman as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

In a letter led by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, the lawmakers pressed Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), to oppose Chipman, an ATF veteran who’s said it’s “too easy” to obtain a gun in the United States.

“Mr. Chipman has a long history of advocating against Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” the lawmakers wrote.

“He supports limiting magazine capacity, holding gun manufactures liable if one of their products is used by a criminal in a crime, and banning certain types of rifles – including America’s most popular rifle the AR-15,” they added.

Biggs was joined in his letter by GOP Reps. Thomas Massie (Ky.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Bob Good (Va.), Ted Budd (N.C.), Andy Harris (Md.) Yvette Herrell (N.M.) and Lauren Boebert (Colo.).

The letter’s co-signers include conservative stalwarts such as Biggs and Gohmert but also newcomers such as Herrell and Boebert, first-term representatives from large, Western districts where voters tend to prioritize Second Amendment rights.

Boebert in particular made waves in January by requesting, and obtaining, a rare concealed carry permit in the District of Columbia.

Chipman’s nomination has drawn stiff opposition from the gun lobby, despite his law enforcement history, in part because of his work with former Republican-turned-Democratic New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, a strong advocate for gun control, and former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was seriously wounded by a gunshot in a 2012 assassination attempt.

“Mr. Chipman has consistently worked to advance a radical gun control agenda. Since leaving ATF, Mr. Chipman has worked for extreme organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence,” wrote the lawmakers.

“These groups have supported the dangerous notion that the Second Amendment does not protect a private right of gun ownership,” they added.

Giffords, the wife of Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D), praised Chipman’s nomination as “the perfect choice for ATF director.”

The lawmakers zeroed in on Chipman’s support of so-called red flag laws, controversial measures that in some states to allow a court to strip individuals of the right to possess firearms on a presumption that the individual could pose a danger to themselves or others.

The Biden administration earlier this month encouraged Congress to pass federal red flag laws and released model language for states to do the same.

In the same statement, the administration announced Chipman’s nomination.

The GOP lawmakers in opposition to Chipman compared red flag laws to the edicts of the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

“Red flag laws are more in line with the fiat of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland than with principles of the U.S. Constitution: ‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first – verdict afterwards.’ Supporting Mr. Chipman’s nomination would lead directly to this kind of backwards and outlandish thinking,” the lawmakers wrote.

Tags Andy Harris ATF Bureau of Alcohol Chuck Grassley Dick Durbin Firearms and Explosives Lauren Boebert Louie Gohmert Mark Kelly Mo Brooks red flag laws Ted Budd Thomas Massie Tobacco
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