Joe Biden lost a big one Thursday to the people he loves to hate: American gun owners and Second Amendment advocacy groups.
The Washington Post first broke the news early in the day that the White House was withdrawing the nomination of David Chipman to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman is the retired ATF agent who became an advisor to gun prohibition lobbying groups such as Giffords, and he acknowledged during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier in the summer that he supports a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”
Senate Republicans lined up solidly and unanimously against Chipman, and at least three Democrats refused to commit their votes. Maine Independent Sen. Angus King also indicated he would not vote to confirm Chipman. An unidentified “senior administration official” admitted to CNN, “We do not have the votes. We will land him in a non-confirmed job in the administration.”
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Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, was jubilant.
“I want to thank every gun owner and concerned voter who contacted their Senators and helped us stop this dangerous nominee from being confirmed,” Gottlieb said in a prepared statement. “This is a great grassroots victory for the Second Amendment. Gun rights lobby 1, Biden gun ban lobby zero!”
Some people weren’t so delighted. After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted his satisfaction over the Chipman withdrawal, anti-gun student-turned-activist David Hogg called it a “win for gun traffickers and extremists.”
This is a win for gun traffickers and extremists like those of your party who attempted to overthrow the US government on January 6th. If we want to protect Americans- including gun owners like my father we need to crack down on interstate trafficking and illegal production.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) September 9, 2021
TheGunMag.com, a publication for which Gottlieb serves as publisher because it is owned by the Second Amendment Foundation, perhaps predicted the outcome of Chipman’s nomination months ago.
“Out of all the potential candidates to lead the agency, Joe Biden has picked the one individual whose nomination was guaranteed to ignite a political firestorm,” he said at the time. “At this point, it is fair to question why the president has done this. It looks like the president wants to put the gun prohibition lobby in charge of firearms regulation and enforcement.”
“This critical win is thanks to NRA members who flooded their senators’ offices with texts, emails, letters and phone calls voicing their opposition to Chipman’s nomination. Because of their swift action and ongoing opposition over the past several months, the radical gun control advocate will not sit at the helm of the ATF,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. “For now, gun owners can rest assured the most immediate threat to their rights has been defeated, and gun control proponents have suffered a huge setback.”
With Biden’s popularity on the skids—a poll by NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist revealed his numbers slipped 6 percentage points in the wake of the Afghanistan debacle, leaving him with a 36 percent approval rating—the president cannot afford to lose much more traction. He put much stock in the Chipman nomination, which Gottlieb and others saw as a reward to the gun control lobby for backing his presidential candidacy.
According to NPR, “A whopping 41% of U.S. adults, including 82% of Republicans, now strongly disapprove of the job Biden is doing.”
As reported by the New York Times, “As the hopes for his confirmation waned this summer, White House officials began discussing the possibility of bringing Mr. Chipman into the administration as an adviser, but no decisions have been made about his future. The administration has no immediate plans to appoint a new nominee, according to a person involved in the process who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter publicly.”
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