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By Larry Keane

The truth is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow. That’s become apparent after several media outlets examined why David Chipman couldn’t gain support in the U.S. Senate to be confirmed as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The media believed Chipman was the cure-all to push gun control. He was their gun control medicine man – a shaman who would usher in the gun control fix.

Except he wasn’t. He’s more of a gun control advocate than a law enforcement policy guru. He never gained support even among Democratic senators. He wasn’t a serious contender for a serious role.

That’s a fact some in the media just can’t stomach.

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Beast’s ‘Besties’ Claim

Take the latest column in The Daily Beast by Eleanor Clift. Clift’s piece is behind a paywall, so here’s the gist to save you money.

Clift claims Chipman’s nomination was sunk by a too-powerful gun lobby that played fast and loose with the facts. Clift quoted an unnamed source saying, “It was a total smear campaign,” and offered the debunked photo published by The Daily Mail of an individual in front of the burned remains of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

NSSF included the alleged photo in a blog post, noting it was alleged, but unproven to be Chipman. The photo was removed when it was clear it wasn’t Chipman.

Neither Chipman, nor Giffords gun control for which Chipman was a lobbyist, nor The White House ever denied it was him until his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. NSSF removed the photo before the hearing.

Clift, however, took her opinion column a step further, writing, “Chipman, now in his mid-fifties, spent 25 years as an agent with the ATF, where he worked closely with NSSF’s chief lobbyist, Larry Keane, on building safety training programs, only to see Keane and the NSSF take the lead in circulating a photo with false information about him that they knew was untrue.”

The photo is already explained. While I did know Chipman and harbor no personal animus toward him, the claim that we worked closely together on building training programs is untrue.

NSSF developed the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program with ATF leadership long before Chipman came to ATF headquarters. And, he was long gone from headquarters when NSSF and ATF launched the Operation Secure Store program.

While at headquarters he never held an executive level leadership position. He was an assistant Special Agent-in-Charge in Detroit and later a liaison for the ATF’s Office of Public and Governmental Affairs, according to the resume he submitted to Congress. There’s no mention of his work on developing the Don’t Lie program.

Time Slips

Time magazine took their own run at blaming opposition to sinking Chipman’s nomination. They quoted Daniel Webster, a director from Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins, extolling Chipman’s qualifications.

“I could factually say that [Chipman] is about as qualified as anybody has ever been who’s been nominated to head the ATF,” Webster said.

Time added in that the Center for Gun Policy and Research is non-partisan, but failed to mention they’re funded by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, to the tune of $3 billion. It’s also no coincidence that Chipman once worked for Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns as a senior policy advisor, and remains an advisor to Bloomberg’s Everytown gun control group according to what he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Gun control groups are stammering as they recite false claims that the “gun lobby” refuses to confirm an ATF director. The fact is NSSF has never opposed a nominee until Chipman and has actually supported all nominees for the position to come out of Senate Judiciary Committee.

First was Michael Sullivan, nominated by President George W. Bush, and later B. Todd Jones, nominated by President Barack Obama. Jones was confirmed to the position by the Senate. NSSF also supported the nomination of Chuck Canterbury by President Donald Trump.

The firearm industry believes strongly that ATF needs – we want – a qualified, unbiased Senate confirmed director.

Chipman was never that person. That’s a view shared by former Acting ATF director Michael Sullivan and other ATF officials.

Take Your Medicine

It wasn’t the “gun lobby” or Republican senators that ended Chipman’s nomination. It was the facts. Chipman is a gun control lobbyist who was nominated to run the bureau that regulates the firearm industry and administers the rules on how Americans exercise their Second Amendment rights.

He testified he would ban entire classes of firearms and enact gun registries if he could get away with it. He belittled gun owners and never answered Senate questions about credible media reports that he made racially-disparaging remarks about fellow ATF agents.

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Chipman never gained the support of all Democratic senators. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) packed Chipman’s confirmation with other nominees to limit Chipman’s exposure to tough questions. Still, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) who caucuses with Democrats, would not offer his support, but Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) were also silent.

NSSF efforts to stop Chipman’s nomination were based on facts and on his record. All the navel-gazing and teeth gnashing by a gun control adoring media won’t change that.


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. hasn’t his nomination been withdrawn?
    whiners gonna whine.
    let’s gloat about this while they insert a different schmendrick.

  2. Sorry Gun Control zealots…History confirms Gun Control is rooted in racism and genocide and must go far away like slave shacks, nooses, burning crosses, concentration camps, gas chambers, etc.
    Besides I would look ridiculous adorned in a white sheet, pointed hat or wearing a stahlhem, jack boots and swastikas. Whereas those like shannon watts, chipman, bloomberg et al are right at home and wear it well. Their Gun Control rhetoric proves it everyday.

  3. Since the nomination was withdrawn after it was clear the Democratic Party could not get all of the members of their own party on board, all of this whining serves no purpose other than to attack the “gun lobby” and gun owners, i.e., poison the well as it were. IT is simply an effort to sway public opinion against us and nothing more, perhaps published as the number in favor of more restrictions diminishes.

    • just an attempt to explain away defeat by putting a spin on it…what’s left out here is how many individuals contacted their senators to protest the appointment of this person…

    • IF there’s a blue wave next year the whiny wienies my burst an artery. Or their heads may explode😉

      • “IF” a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its @$$ every time it hopped. A year is a lifetime in politics, and we literally have no idea what NEW issues will come out between now and November 2022. What we DO know is:

        1. Xiao Bai Din will continue to be a senile moron (who was a moron BEFORE he was senile);

        2. Kamala Harris will continue to be completely useless and unlikable;

        3. The “Biden Administration” will continue to flail ineptly;

        4. Inflation will continue to spiral out of control; and

        5. Xiao Bai Din’s “agenda” will continue to fail dramatically.

        The chances of a “blue wave” next year are about equivalent to my buying five winning lottery tickets in five consecutive lotteries. But y’all just keep f***in’ that chicken.

  4. Big Fat Hairy Deal.

    No partisan bunch can “stomach” a defeat. Same is true on the pro-gun side. How many out there just say “How hum, we lost a Second Amendment Fight … wonder what’s on Netflix tonight?”, when some court case or legislative effort goes against us?

    The “can’t stomach” the loss thing is meaningless, every side does that.

    The important thing is what has been gained, what has been lost and what efforts must come next.

  5. Chippy’s done. And? The fools in the Administration will just nominate a slightly less unpalatable idiot for the post.
    Wonder if they will ever figure out BATF is an unnecessary agency that should be disbanded.
    Ban this, remove that, regulate something to death. All in the name of public safety. Problem is none of what the anti gun crowd will have any effect on crime, nor discourage a criminal from committing said crime. All their agenda does is harm and disarm the very people who were never a problem in the first place.

  6. “ It wasn’t the “gun lobby” or Republican senators that ended Chipman’s nomination. It was the facts.”

    Actually, it was The People. The comments from the very lowest of the grassroots sank Chipman.

    This is how our nation is supposed to operate. We must stay involved and we must continue to be energized. For a long period of time the cynical on “our side” convinced us that our efforts were meaningless. Perhaps more of us will continue to get off our butts and take the fight where it will do some good.

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