Several former and current members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive oppose David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the agency.
"I am concerned that somebody who has taken such a strong and hostile position against the Second Amendment, as well as gun owners and some of the most popular firearms in the United States, would be viewed as a political leader for an agency that, I think, has worked extremely hard to build the American public confidence in its handling of interpreting both the Gun Control Act and the various regulations around it," former ATF Director Michael Sullivan told Fox News.
Chipman, an ATF special agent for 25 years who currently serves as senior policy adviser to gun-violence prevention group Giffords, "has made it clear over the course of his time as a lobbyist with organizations that are anti-gun and one that has a very restrictive view of the Second Amendment ... would suggest a hostility toward both the Second Amendment and the American people’s right to exercise their constitutional rights under the Second Amendment to be firearm owners," said Sullivan.
The vast majority of American gun owners who legally own their weapons and use them lawfully would be "the ones who would be adversely impacted by… the ability for the [ATF] director and the director's legal team to influence regulatory and enforcement decisions within the agency," he added.
A current ATF member who spoke on the condition of anonymity described Chipman as a "bully" during his tenure at the ATF in Detroit, telling Fox News that "his reputation is as an activist more so than anything. I’ve only known two ATF agents out of hundreds whom I would describe as being anti-gun, and Dave is one of them."
The current ATF member pointed out that, unlike the Drug Enforcement Agency, which regulates commodities that are always unlawful, guns owned by Americans "are more often than not legal."
A former ATF deputy director, who also spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, said, "it’s not for ATF to determine pro or anti-gun issues. That’s for Congress and the public and the people they elect. It’s not ATF’s mission. Putting someone in charge of the agency that’s coming in with an agenda that’s politically based for the organization that’s charged with managing and overseeing that business entity is just not appropriate."
He also said if Congress fails to pass gun reform policy, "the administration is then going to turn to ATF and expect them to execute regulatory functions that are probably beyond the scope of ATF’s legal authority potentially."
Chipman, however, has insisted that he is a "proud gun owner" who has sometimes been "mischaracterized as a gun grabber," noting in an op-ed in The Roanoke Times last year that he backs firearm safety regulations that would "save lives" but wouldn’t take guns away from law-abiding citizens.
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