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Battle heats over Chipman nomination to head ATF

atf nominee chipman
ATF nominee David Chipman is being opposed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation,with a television advertisement. (Screen snip, YouTube, Sen. Mike Lee)

The fight between rights groups and gun prohibition lobbying organizations over the nomination of gun control advocate David Chipman to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is heating up, with the billionaire-backed Everytown for Gun Safety flooding email inboxes with a message sure to elicit eye rolls and other gestures from Second Amendment advocates.

Everytown’s assertion cuts to the chase: “We need a gun safety expert leading the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. We cannot let the NRA win this fight.”

That argument might be considered ludicrous as questions remain about whether Chipman lost his duty weapon while he was an agent with the ATF, the agency he now hopes to lead.

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At the same time this is unfolding, the National Shooting Sports Foundation announced it is “making its first-ever television commercial debut” of an advertising spot opposing the Chipman nomination.

“This is monumental for NSSF and it speaks to the importance the firearm industry places on protecting the 342,330 jobs and $63.5 billion economic impact this industry provides,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel in a news release. “David Chipman’s nomination is clearly a move to politicize the ATF. Voters in key states reject his nomination and those senators have been advised of those polls by NSSF. We are now taking our opposition to the public to remind their senators that Chipman’s nomination is a threat to jobs, revenue and not the least – the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their God-given Second Amendment rights.”

According to the NSSF release, “Chipman’s hostility for gun owners is well-documented. He ridiculed the over 8.4 million first-time gun buyers in 2020, comparing them to ‘Tiger King’ and mocked new gun owners by encouraging them to empty their guns and, ‘Hide it behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky that you’ve stored in the cabinet and only bring that out if the zombies start to appear.’”

Chipman has been working as a senior advisor to the Giffords gun prohibition lobbying organization. Prior to that, he worked at Everytown in a similar capacity. This was after he retired from ATF.

Chipman did not fare well under questioning during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee several weeks ago. He struggled trying to define a so-called “assault rifle,” and acknowledged he would like to ban semi-auto rifles and support other restrictions on gun owners.

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