President Biden sent his nomination to the Senate on Monday for retired ATF agent and Giffords policy advisor David Chipman to head the agency. Pro-gun groups call it a mistake of epic proportions.
The nomination for Chipman comes days after Biden described the vocal gun control proponent as "the right person, at this moment, for this important agency."
After a career with the federal government's gun regulator that spanned from 1988 to 2012, which included serving as "case agent" in Branch Davidian trial while working in the Waco, Texas, field office, Chipman pursued a new career with first the Everytown group – back when it was just called Mayors Against Illegal Guns – and then Giffords, where he is currently listed as a "senior policy advisor" with expertise in so-called "Ghost Guns" and "Assault Weapons."
Opposing Chipman's nomination so far is a field of firearms industry groups and pro-gun organizations, who argue Biden's pick is a horrible fit.
"Gun control just got paid back in a big way. They didn’t get 'a' man for the job. They got 'their' man," explained Larry Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation's senior vice president and general counsel.
The NSSF is the trade organization for the American firearms industry, which covers everything from publicly traded rifle makers to local gun shops. The group works closely with the ATF to help represent the industry and has supported proposed nominees for director, but have no confidence in Chipman, who has testified in front of Congress stumping for a range of anti-gun issues including arbitrary bans and increased regulation.
"That’s an unacceptable starting point for any nominee for this position. It’s putting the fox in charge of watching the hen house," said Keane. "The inverse would be if President Donald Trump had nominated Wayne LaPierre to take the job during his administration. The mainstream media and gun control camp would have howled, and not without cause. That’s why NSSF won’t passively simply oppose this nomination. NSSF is adamantly opposed. It will treat this nomination, and any senators who vote in favor of it, as the threat to the firearm industry and Americans’ ability to exercise their fundamental Second Amendment rights that it is."
"It’s hard to imagine choosing a nominee who is more hostile to the rights of American gun owners than Chipman," said the NRA, arguing the former ATF agent has repeatedly lied to advance a gun control agenda, ranging from whoppers about suppressors that received three “Pinocchios” from Washington Post fact-checkers to claiming Branch Davidian members "shot down" two helicopters at Waco.
Chipman, who has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is likely to be publicly grilled by the collection of conservative Republicans on the panel including Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, John Kennedy, and Mike Lee.
If passed by the committee to the floor, he would then need at least 50 votes in the Senate to be confirmed, a bar that may be hard, but not impossible, to pass. Thus far, the Senate has already approved one similarly controversial Biden nominee, Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General, with a 50-50 vote that Vice President Harris broke in his favor.