Democratic AGs write to Senate backing Biden ATF nominee

Former ATF agent and Giffiords policy advisor David Chipman testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in 2019
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Seventeen Democratic attorneys general wrote to top senators on Tuesday urging them to confirm President Biden’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a position the president has said will be critical to slowing gun violence.

The attorneys general wrote in support of David Chipman, who spent more than two decades as an ATF special agent before joining Giffords, a gun control group formed by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) after she survived a 2011 shooting.

“As the chief law and law enforcement officers in our respective states and territories, many of us regularly work with ATF to combat violent criminals and gun trafficking in our communities,” the attorneys general wrote.

“Our partnerships with ATF have proven invaluable in eliminating criminal organizations, fighting gun trafficking, and ensuring that the reasonable restrictions placed on gun possession are enforced without harming law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Mr. Chipman understands the agency inside-and-out, having served there for 25 years,” they added.

The letter was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and signed by 16 others, including the attorneys general of New York, Virginia, Iowa, Rhode Island, California, Vermont, Nevada, Illinois and the District of Columbia. 

It was sent to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees Chipman’s nomination.

“In short, David Chipman is uniquely qualified to lead ATF. He has deep experience at that agency, and he is ready to work with law enforcement, the communities most heavily impacted by violence, and others to make our nation safer while upholding Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” the letter states.

Biden nominated Chipman to lead the ATF in April, days after mass shootings in the Atlanta area and in Boulder, Colo., renewed the debate over gun laws.

Chipman has faced skepticism from some Republicans, who point to his work with Giffords as a potential deal breaker given the group has pushed for stricter gun laws. 

He will need to be confirmed by the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats have a slight edge with Vice President Harris casting a tie-breaking vote when needed.

Tags ATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Charles Grassley Charles Schumer Chuck Grassley Dick Durbin gun laws Gun reform Joe Biden Mitch McConnell

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