Recent ATF nominee David Chipman doesn't hold his tongue. Chipman not only supports extensive new gun control regulations, but also made those views extremely public. He recently hosted an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit filled with anti-gun comments, appeared on a podcast to criticize gun owners and the NRA, and lobbied for at least two well-known gun control groups.
After months of contentious debate and a seemingly unending string of gaffes that made their way into the public eye, President Biden announced his withdrawal of the nomination after Sen. Angus King of Maine and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia refused to back Chipman.
Why was Chipman nominated in the first place? As Sen. Mitch McConnell put it, “Absurd that a vocal opponent of Americans' constitutional rights was ever picked to run [the] ATF.” While there is no clear consensus, it is safe to say political nominations often work the same way that politics in general work. They frequently involve trade-offs, compromise, and political “thank yous.” Some may recall that former President Donald Trump proposed a nominee for federal judge who had practiced law for only three years and had never tried a case, and who was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association’s judicial rating committee.
As gun owners, we may get tired of hearing this, but the time for vigilance is now. The next nominee to head the ATF will almost certainly not have the same public track record as Chipman but will very likely share many of his views. Contact your senators, and know that the LSA will keep you informed.