At the beginning of April, President Joe Biden nominated David Chipman, a man famous for proposing that all AR-15s be treated as NFA items, to head the ATF. According to the ATF Organization, Mission and Functions Manual, its primary mission is: “to protect communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products.” As far as mission statements go, it’s relatively direct and seems pretty straightforward: The ATF exists to keep the public safe from criminals. What it doesn’t exist to do is TURN the public into criminals. With the nomination of David Chipman for Director of the ATF, President Biden risks doing just that.
Conflict of Interests
David Chipman is currently a senior policy advisor at the Giffords, an organization focused on gun control research and advocacy. Giffords also has an associated Super PAC, which spent 11 million dollars between 2019 and 2020. What does this all mean? David Chipman has been furthering the anti-gun agenda since joining Giffords in May 2016. Prior to working with Giffords, Chipman spent a year working with Everytown for Gun Safety, and thus has a significant history of working toward gun control. There is a real threat that if he were in charge of the ATF, Chipman would continue to do what he has always done: exert his influence to further an anti-gun agenda, thereby politicizing what is supposed to be a non-political federal agency. This is particularly troublesome as the ATF interprets laws passed by Congress via its rule-making authority, and has the capability to thereby limit gun rights through unelected, nonaccountable actors.
In September 2019, David Chipman participated in an “ask me anything” session (AMA) on Reddit. He claimed that during the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound located outside of Waco, Texas, Branch Davidians used Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles to shoot down two National Guard helicopters. For those that don’t remember this is the same incident where 82 Branch Davidians and 4 ATF agents lost their lives over the course of the 51 day siege. While some helicopters were damaged during the siege, there is no evidence to support either the use of Barrett rifles or that the helicopters were shot down. If you dig further into the AMA, there are other instances of misinformation, including insinuating that gun manufacturers are afforded special protections that other industries are not when their products are used illegally. That particular claim is based on the existence of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, which holds firearms manufacturers to the same legal standard as any other manufacturer of any other product for the purposes of product liability lawsuits. Given his background, David Chipman should be familiar with this fact. However, the talking point that firearm manufacturers are afforded special protections that are not found in other industries is repeatedly used by anti-gun individuals and organizations to influence people who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of gun law.
For many years, 2A proponents have been derided, abused, and ridiculed whenever the topics of gun control or anti-gun agendas enter the public consciousness. The common refrain from anti-gun politicians, celebrities, and media is that “no one is coming to take your guns.” This rings somewhat hollow for firearm owners, especially when you don’t need to look very hard to find statements that appear to directly contradict that sentiment. For instance, during the 10th Democratic Debate in 2020, then Vice-President Biden said: “And I want to tell you, if I'm elected, NRA, I'm coming for you, and gun manufacturers, I'm going to take you on and I'm going to beat you.” And, with the nomination of David Chipman, gun owners see the possibility of firearm confiscation in the future.
Right All Along
The nomination of David Chipman presents a real risk to firearm owners. He has stated misleading facts about the firearm industry and contributed to general misinformation regarding not only what goes on inside the firearm industry, but also what is currently legal/illegal. When you view the totality of the circumstances it’s incredibly obvious that Chipman possesses a not-so-hidden agenda to influence government policy towards a more restrictive stance when it comes to the 2nd Amendment. His nomination clearly indicates that 2A supporters were right all along; the current administration wants to come for your guns, any way they can.
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