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Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee

Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee
© 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 DurbinDick DurbinAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel On The Money: Incomes, consumer spending soared in March | Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package | Biden cancels some border wall construction MORE (D-Ill.) and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley asks Blinken to provide potential conflicts involving John Kerry Overnight Defense: Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform | US troops begin leaving Afghanistan | Biden budget delay pushes back annual defense policy bill Gillibrand makes new push for military sexual assault reform MORE (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.

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"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 MassieThomas Harold MassieOvernight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program MORE (Ky.), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertPence to give keynote address at National Conservative Student Conference Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program 136 Republicans get Fs in accountability rankings from anti-Trump GOP group MORE (Texas), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Democrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee MORE (Ala.), Bob Good (Va.), Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' Budd to run for Senate in NC GOP senator introduces bill to make DC part of Maryland MORE (N.C.), Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter HarrisGOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated Heated argument erupts after Rep. Mondaire Jones calls GOP objections to DC statehood 'racist trash' Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee MORE (Md.) Yvette Herrell (N.M.) and Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertMaher on Biden's trillion plans: 'Thank God we got Mexico to pay for that wall' Democrats accuse GOP of new lows in culture wars Boebert takes out space blanket during Biden speech to draw attention to border surge MORE (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.

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"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 KellyMark KellyEx-McSally aide pleads guilty to stealing over 0K in campaign funds Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' Manchin says he doesn't support DC statehood, election reform bills MORE (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.