David Chipman: White House Withdraw ATF Nomination

David Chipman testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, September 25, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

The White House is set to withdraw David Chipman‘s nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as soon as this week, according to multiple reports.

Two sources with knowledge of the decision told the Washington Post of the White House’s plans to rescind the nomination of the senior policy advisor to the gun control group Giffords. Several outlets have since confirmed the report.

Chipman faced universal opposition from Senate Republicans, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell who asked the White House to withdraw their nomination of the “anti-gun extremist.”

Senator Angus King (I., Maine) told the administration and Senate Democrats that he would not support Chipman’s nomination, while other moderate senators had remained non-committal on the appointment, according to the report.

A senior administration official reportedly told CNN that the White House decided to withdraw the nomination because “we do not have the votes,” adding that it expects to place Chipman in “a non-confirmed job in the administration.”

Opponents to the nomination had expressed concern over Chipman’s past record on gun control. He spent 25 years at the ATF and, since retiring as a special agent in 2012, has worked as an anti-gun activist for several gun control groups.

He has claimed that he supports bans on “assault weapons” because they are nearly “identical to those used by the military.” However, Chipman declined to define what “assault weapon” meant when asked to do so by Senator John Kennedy (R., La.) during his confirmation hearing.

Chipman argued that the 1994 federal ban on assault weapons had “mixed results,” though studies show that the ban had negligible effect on criminality, which dropped after the law sunsetted.

During the COVID pandemic, he called on American governors to unilaterally shut down gun shops, arguing that “people who hoarded the guns might decide six months from now — once they see no zombies around, but they’ve run out of tuna and beef jerky — that they need the money to buy food.”

He also likened first-time gun owners to Joe Exotic of Tiger King, saying, “they might think that they’re die-hard, ready to go, but unfortunately they’re more like Tiger King, and they’re putting themselves and their family in danger.”

Moderate Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) warned that Chipman, if confirmed, would likely do “significant damage” to the relationships the ATF has with sporting and gun groups.

The decision comes months after the White House withdrew its nomination of Neera Tanden to run the Office of Management and Budget after Senator Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) said he would not support her confirmation over her past tweets attacking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

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