Pavlich: Democrat senators must oppose Chipman’s ATF nomination

Former ATF agent and Giffiords policy advisor David Chipman testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in 2019
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In an effort to bury President Biden’s dubious nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) recently combined the confirmation hearing for David Chipman — a longtime gun control activist — with three other nominees for different positions within the federal government. This gave senators just five minutes to ask Chipman about his record and plans for the bureau.

Despite the effort to bury the nomination in hopes senators would wave him through, Chipman’s testimony was quite revealing and reinforced concerns about his anti-Second Amendment activism.

“With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as has been presented in a senate bill and supported by the president,” Chipman said when asked if he supports a ban on AR-15. “As ATF director, if I’m confirmed, I would simply enforce the laws on the books, and right now there is no such ban on those guns.”

When asked to define “assault weapon,” Chipman declared a broad swath of commonly owned firearms eligible under a ban.

“Any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22, which would include the .223 which is largely the AR-15 round,” Chipman said.

Chipman’s broad definition of “assault weapons,” is unacceptable and based in activism, not the law or data used to combat crime.

Further, Chipman’s view was just thoroughly refuted by U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California. Benitez recently ruled the Golden State’s 30-year ban on modern sport rifles is unconstitutional.

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle, the AR-15 is the kind of versatile gun that lies at the intersection of the kinds of firearms protected under District of Columbia v. Heller,” Benitez wrote in his opinion on the case. “Yet the State of California makes it a crime to have an AR15 type rifle. Therefore, this Court declares the California statutes to be unconstitutional.”

“This case is not about extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection. The banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machine guns. Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes. Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles. This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,” he continued.

On the political front, recent polling conducted by Cygnal about Chipman’s nomination in Arizona, Maine, West Virginia and Montana shows he is strongly opposed by a majority of likely voters.

“Chipman’s false claims about the ATF raid at Waco, support for the government forcibly closing firearms retailers during the pandemic, and mocking words about first-time gun buyers all garner a very negative response from voters. Majorities of voters in West Virginia, Arizona, Maine, and Montana are less likely to support Chipman’s nomination after hearing each of these statements,” Cygnal said about recent polling on Chipman’s nomination.

“After hearing that ‘President Biden has nominated David Chipman for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also known as ATF. Chipman has been a registered lobbyist for the two largest gun control groups in the nation — Everytown for Gun Safety and his current employer the Giffords Organization,’ most likely voters oppose the nomination of David Chipman. Opposition peaks in West Virginia,” Cygnal continues. “After hearing these facts about Chipman’s record, opposition to his nomination increases by 7-10% in each state. Majorities of voters in West Virginia (60%), Arizona (54%), and Montana (52%) strongly oppose his nomination, as do 48% of Maine voters (56% total oppose).”

Arizona’s Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly has a glaring conflict of interest here. Kelly is the co-founder of gun control organization Giffords and the Giffords Law Center, which still employs Chipman as a senior policy adviser. As a U.S. senator, Kelly has an obligation to his constituents who oppose Chipman’s nomination and has a duty to vote against him. Arizona’s other Democratic senator, Kyrsten Sinema, should do the same.

Over in West Virginia, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, while not tied to gun control organizations like Kelly, must stand up for the Second Amendment rights of the individuals he represents in Washington. Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Maine’s independent Sen. Angus King are no exception.

Chipman claims that as ATF director he would simply enforce gun control laws Congress implemented by Congress, rather than implement his own views. Considering ATF makes rules and regulations that quite literally turn lawfully abiding Americans into felons overnight, we know that statement is not true. As we’ve seen before, when gun control zealots hold powerful positions at ATF and the Department of Justice, very bad things happen. During Operation Fast and Furious from 2009 to 2010, ATF purposely sold thousands of rifles to Mexican cartels and then used the predicable carnage, including the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, to justify new gun control measures in the United States.

Only professionals willing to soberly look at the facts of crime, with a strong respect for the Second Amendment, should ever be considered to run ATF. Chipman is not that person.

Pavlich is the editor for and a Fox News contributor.

Tags aft nomination Angus King AR-15 style rifle Charles Schumer Dick Durbin Everytown for Gun Safety Giffords Gun control Joe Biden Joe Manchin Jon Tester Kyrsten Sinema Mark Kelly
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