David Chipman
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
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By Larry Keane

President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the bureau that has regulatory authority over the firearm industry admitted to the U.S. Senate he would ban firearms over enforcing laws a week ago and the question lingers. Does David Chipman have the votes?

Here’s where it stands now.

Chipman, who until recently was a lobbyist for Giffords gun control group, was nomination by President Biden to be the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He faced withering questions from Republican senators for his past statements, testimony and his acrimony toward gun owners. He largely spent the hearing attempting to explain away how public statements he made to media were taken out of context and admitting to wanted to ban rifles that he couldn’t clearly define.

The hearing was a chance for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to gain a sense if he’s fit for the job. The ATF director role is a Senate-confirmed position, part of the Senate’s “advise and consent power” for key political appointees to public positions. Chipman’s nominated must first be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which hasn’t yet set a date for the vote.

Senate Procedures

There are a couple of ways forward. First, the committee doesn’t have to set a date for a vote. That could be a signal from the committee to The White House that the nomination is doomed. President Donald Trump nominated Chuck Canterbury for the same position and his nomination was never considered by the committee and eventually withdrawn by the Trump administration.

That’s an unlikely scenario here. President Biden is being pressured by gun control groups, including Giffords and Everytown for whom he also lobbied, to push Chipman’s nomination through. Giffords began lobbying the White House to appoint Chipman almost immediately after the election last November. There’s nothing more these antigun groups would like to see than a figurehead that would slash and burn the firearm industry. That would suggest that senators on the committee will have to cast their votes. With the Senate split 50-50, the committees are also split 50-50. That could mean Chipman’s nomination could end up in a tie in the committee but that wouldn’t end his nomination.

The Senate’s power sharing agreement would mean that should Chipman’s nomination end in a tie at Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would be required to transmit a notice of the tie to the Secretary of the Senate. That would allow Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to make a “motion to discharge” the nomination from the committee, allowing all senators to vote on whether the full Senate should consider the nomination. That could be a litmus test as to where Senators would eventually vote, but not necessarily. If the motion to discharge passes, the nomination would then immediately be put on the Senate calendar.

That would mean Chipman’s nomination would require 50 votes, plus one. Given the Senate is split evenly, this would mean Vice President Harris would be the tie-breaking vote. Obviously, if given the chance, she would vote to confirm.

Power Brokers

That makes knowing where the senators stand critical to protecting the firearm industry and the Second Amendment rights of all Americans.

Republican senators largely grilled Chipman on his support for banning AR-15 rifles, denigrating gun owners, admitting he thought law-abiding gun owners are potential criminals and his support of making it more difficult and costly for gun owners to protect their hearing. He also was taken to task for his support for a ban on any rifle with a detachable magazine with a chambering larger than .22-caliber only to later admit the firearm industry doesn’t market anything called an “assault rifle.” He told the senators he wants to ban so-called “assault rifles” but couldn’t define what that is and later contradicted his own previous Congressional testimony where he said he wanted to expand the National Firearms Act, not just enforce it.

That leaves senators outside the committee as the real question mark. So far, they’re staying mum. Chief among them might be Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) Sen. Manchin is one of the few moderate Democrats left and is already catching the ire of The White House for bucking the party line on other issues. West Virginia has a strong gun rights tradition, making him a key vote to protect Second Amendment rights. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is a known moderate and a key vote in Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Her vote will be critical here too. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted “present” on Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but with slim margins in the Senate, Alaskans will be looking to her to protect their gun rights. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is under pressure on Chipman’s vote. Montana Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen led a letter signed by 21 Republican state attorneys general urging a “no” vote on Chipman and reminded Sen. Tester that Montana expects him to protect gun rights. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is in a unique position. Like Sen. Manchin, she’s been singled out by President Biden for her independent streak. Chipman once collected a paycheck from Arizona’s Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, who leads the Giffords gun control group with his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Let Them Know

These are the senators that need to hear from their constituents. There’s nothing more effective than voters reaching out directly to their elected officials and informing them of their stance. It’s easy as clicking here, calling the Senate switchboard and asking to be connected to the senator that needs to hear from you. These senators are crucial to ensuring that special interest gun control doesn’t take the helm of the ATF and politicize the bureau that regulates the firearm industry. This would be putting the fox in charge of guarding the henhouse.

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.


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  1. Chipman was asked to define “assault weapon”. He was right to offer no definition, because (at the time and place he was speaking) the term is undefined. The term is not a technical description like “revolver” or “prismatic scope” or “assault rifle”; it’s a propagandized legal term like “high capacity” that means whatever arbitrary thing the anti-gun lobbyists and their pet legislators decide it means.

    During 1994-2004 the term had a definition in federal law, which was the only time a federal bureau would have been responsible for enforcing laws using that term. In some jurisdictions (e.g. California) the term is currently defined by law. The meaning differs between jurisdictions, and changes over time within the same jurisdiction. But BATFE would have nothing to do with any of those, since they’re states’ laws.

    In DC in May 2021, the term was undefined. As Chipman sat in that chair, on that day and in that room, that was an unanswerable question.

    • He was also asked to provide “his” definition of the phrase. He refused. That’s the issue.

      • Because he doesn’t want to be held to that definition. By not making a definition, he is giving himself future flexibility.

    • Incorrect. He did offer a definition, a 22 or larger rifle with a detachable mag. He admitted he wants to ban the overwhelming majority of semi-automatics. That’s fine to say, he has free speech, too. But if anyone votes for him knowing that, they self-identify as traitors to their oaths and if anyone attempts to ban any firearms, they do the same. Americans won’t comply, and the second revolution will go hot.

  2. Dear Mr. Chipman Promotes the body below.

    The Impoverished Deadly Agenda…As history has proven….

    “Seemingly Utopian pacifists are free to profess their love of a weapon-free world, but they must start by disarming the evil, criminal and tyrannical. Disarming the public is a vent for their twisted fear and hatred, a grotesque affront to freedom, and unacceptable. Disarming an innocent person is an act of violence.”
    “Guns save lives. Guns stop crime. Guns are why America is still free.”
    Anti-constitutionalism sense of morality is situational, based on incident and emotion, instead of rooted in God’s word and law.
    Anti-constitutionalism stands for nothing. The Anti-Constitutionalists’ situation determines their support for an issue and their emotions rule, not reason and rationality.
    Moreover, they recognize the contradiction, but still cling to their situational justice. Situational justice is the tool of Dictators, Tyrants, Despots, and Unjust, Unrighteous Monarchs. It has no place in a free constitutional republic. In which the United States of America is……………….

    For those of you (The Socialist/Democrat/Communist’s) and Hoplophobic’s who do not know, here is a little History in a nutshell…

    Study the History, with eyes and ears wide open.

    “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”
    – Mao Tze Tung, Nov 6, 1938

    How ironic that those who are calling for gun control are those who want the guns,
    so, they can have the control.

    It is of interest to the American people to take note of those who they entrust to serve them. We are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, yet time and time again in this country we have leaders in government who put on the guise of “patriot” and then turn out to be the criminal in garb. The crimes that these anti-gunner politicians are convicted of; suggest they are public enemy’s rather than public servants. No wonder they want to take guns from law-abiding citizens. What we see is that some of today’s politicians are magnifying the crimes they are placed in office to prevent.
    They allow crime to be promoted through entertainment and when the crime is committed, they are there in hopes to grab the guns away.
    This is exactly how criminals in government operate. They demonize the gun and the legal gun owners, not the criminals.

    Since criminal politicians refuse to look at history, which can be at the present our greatest teacher, it is very clear that gun banners know exactly what they are attempting to do, put the
    Second Amendment in the crosshairs.
    Looking back, who has committed murder in the largest degree?

    Dictators Adolf Hitler, Mao Tze Tung, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc.
    Time and time again it is our corrupt governments who are responsible for the mass murder of their own people under the deceptive guise of “gun control,” all of which the said dictators implemented.
    Keep in mind these people promised their citizens protection and freedom upon the forfeiture of their guns.
    How many times, does history need to repeat itself?

    Mass murderer Adolf Hitler at a dinner talk on April 11, 1942 said:
    “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So, let’s not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong-points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country.”

    Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

    Josef Stalin, the sole leader of the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953, said:
    “If the opposition disarms, well and good. If it refuses to disarm, we shall disarm it ourselves.”
    In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    Mao Tze Tung, communist dictator of China said:
    “War can only be abolished through war, and to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.”
    China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    Idi Amin, president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979, said:
    “I do not want to be controlled by any superpower. I myself consider myself the most powerful figure in the world, and that is why I do not let any superpower control me.”

    Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    Pol Pot, who created in Cambodia one of the 20th century’s most brutal and radical regimes, was responsible for killing one million of his own ‘educated,’ yet unarmed citizens.

    Our forefathers did not arm the American people for hunting, but rather to protect themselves from those who were doing the hunting, namely the tyrant King George. The second amendment is only to vouchsafe our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to ensure all the other rights given unto us by our Creator.
    The wisdom of the framers of the Constitution once again is found consistent with the lessons of the Bible (Which is presently being Perverted) they used as their bedrock for civil law. The people’s individual protection should always be a primary concern of government “of the people”. In a righteous country, self-government reigns by the constraint of Christian morals. The civil government that desires such a monopoly of force (i.e. they are the only ones with guns) is a threat to the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens, for that government ceases to be “of and for the people.”
    Saul Alinsky is nothing more than a rehash of passed history’s trash heap of ideological insanity.
    It is the Equation of,
    Socialism>Communism>Gun Control=Disarmament=Extermination…

    “The right of decent private citizens to personally possess, transport, and responsibly use arms without government interference is the ultimate freedom and the main pillar supporting all other liberties.”
    “The inalienable and fundamental right to keep and bear arms which is enumerated by (but predates) the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not about hunting, gun collecting, or target shooting. Its purpose is to ensure that every responsible American personally possesses the means to defend the Republic from all forms of tyranny, within and without. It is what permits the other nine Amendments in the Bill of Rights to be more than mere hollow phrases on a piece of paper. “Its free exercise is the antithesis of serfdom and THE ONLY MEANINGFUL FORM OF HOLOCAUST INSURANCE KNOWN TO MAN”.

      • You should have, it is a very good read and you really need to know what it said. READ IT!

    • Nice editorial. now get it published where the general public can read and evaluate it. I say this not in a avdersarial manner but in a supportive one.

  3. Seems like Kelly would be required to recuse himself, this fascist clown worked directly for him in an anti-gun organization that was founded by him and his wife who still heads giffords.org… Huge conflict of interest and some pretty shady personal implications since that group was the strongest lobby for chipmunks nomination from the beginning…

    • You must be joking. The corrupt political class is hypocrisy in action, and conflicts of interest are a daily occurrence.

    • If we had a legitimate Government as envisioned, he would have to recuse.

      The people who hold office believe they are a monarchy of sorts and those outside of office are serfs who need cared for whether they realize it or not.

  4. This vote will be a good indication of the strength or weakness of Biden administration until the mid-term election.

    I’m cautiously optimistic we can block it, since Manchin’s constituents aren’t exactly Leftist Scum…

    • Not quite, everyone dismisses *you* as irrelevant, the one who hides like a coward behind an always-changing user name, little boy…

      *snicker* 😉

  5. I wish I were wrong but I fear I am not. With that said, I believe David Chipman not only has the votes but he has always had the votes. All this back and forth during the conformation hearing is just political theater. China Joe may be an asshole who doesn’t respect our constitution, but he isn’t dumb enough to nominate someone who can’t get confirmed. I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO BE WRONG, but until I see someone else nominated in his place, I fear I am right.

    • Trump nominated the terrible anti-gunner Canterbury. Despite NSSF approving him, he went down in flamesin committee. Biden might just be paying back antigunner supporters and not particularly invested in whether their dream candidate succeeds. He couldn’t get Tanden through.

  6. I am a Manchin constituent and will continue to exert pressure to reject Chimpman (not a typo as that is his look) as are many West Virginians. There are lots of ads running I’m assuming within the state encouraging all West Virginians to do the same. West Virginia, with the exception of possibly a couple of counties, is the most Second Amendment friendly state in the Mid-Atlantic region and Ole Joe knows it!

  7. He’ll get the votes, I don’t understand how there is any doubt about that with all the RINOS who only care about their pay checks.

  8. And the Senate votes for Chipman.
    99 nays 1 yes.
    Welcome aboard Mr. Chipman your going to make a great director.

    Hell’s coming to breakfast.

  9. Tammy Duckworth already responded to my opposition to Chipman’s nomination. Duckworth said she was going to vote for Chipman as BATF director. Go figure. In Illinois, there is no chance a Democratic Senator will not vote for Chipman or any other appointee that Biden submits to the Senate. Durbin will vote for him also.

  10. If this was about qualifications, Chipman would be voted down 100-0. As it stands, I give him better than 50-50 odds of being confirmed.

  11. To the Powers That Be monitoring this site:
    David Chipman and friends are not welcome on, or too, My’/Our’ property.
    Be it also known, We love our country, The United States of America and What It Stands For, Undivided, With liberty, and justice for all.

    Boisterous threats Miner49er?

  12. What if the Biden Administration withdraws Chipman’s nomination for ATF director, and appoints him deputy director (a position which doesn’t require Senate confirmation)? Then they leave the director position empty?

  13. AZ Senator Mark Kelly should be barred from Voting on Chipman’s confirmation as it is a clear Ethical Conflict of Interest violation for Kelly to participate in the confirmation process. That Objection needs to be made right now, while the decision is still in committee. Kelly should already have publically stated that he will not participate in this Appointee’s Confirmation, and the fact that he has kept mum about his relationship with Chipman is an egregious Ethics Violation on Kelly’s part.

    Frankly, I’ll be surprised if Chipman isn’t confirmed. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Romney, Collins and Murkowski, as well as possibly Rubio and Sasse, side with the Democrats on this nomination. I fully expect Sinema and Manchin support the confirmation as well. I know the two glad handing Sacks of Shite from Colorado, Bennett and Lickshispooper, will vote to confirm this A-Hole (Rural Coloradoans have No Voice in our State).

    Get ready for a fight my fellow Patriots. Lock & Load, and keep your Powder dry, because the Confiscations are coming.

  14. Chipman for ATF Director AFTER hell has frozen over perhaps, certainly not before.

  15. This sob aught to be drawn and quartered! He was for the WACO invasion!!! We the people are pissed!

  16. He was for the WACO invasion…

    He was not only for the WACO incident, he was a case officer and was the individual that started the lie, in front of a congressional hearing, that the people inside actually shot down two helicopters during the standoff…

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