David Chipman ATF
Courtesy CBS News

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By Larry Keane

David Chipman is proving – again – why he was never fit to be Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Chipman spoke with CBS News claiming the firearm industry, “profits by gun violence itself,” and that U.S. senators that doomed his nomination are complicit in allowing criminal activity to continue. “To oppose me must mean that you’re not for preventing gun violence.”

Chipman claimed, without a shred of proof, that the firearm industry sells guns to criminals and, “the reality is in much of America it’s easier to buy a gun than a beer.”

That’s patently untrue — and he knows it — since beer sales don’t require FBI background checks. It’s more than that though. Chipman smeared the firearm industry, describing it as complicit in crime. He claimed that fear of regulation was the impetus behind the firearm industry’s opposition to his nomination.

“The fear is, it’s going to be harder for people who sell guns to sell guns absent any accountability from profiting from selling to criminals and terrorists,” Chipman claimed. “The reality is in much of America, it’s easier to buy a gun than a beer.”

The Truth

The allegation is as disgusting as it is false. Firearms are lawfully made and sold through an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification. They are only sold to those who pass that check – lawful gun owners. Prohibited individuals such as convicted felons, the dangerously mentally ill and domestic violence offenders don’t pass those checks. Again, Chipman knows this.

David Chipman ATF
Courtesy CBS News

A point-of-purchase background check was an industry concept that predated the Brady Act. It was NSSF that led the charge to improve the background checks so they work as Congress intended. Through FixNICS, NSSF changed the law in 16 states and in Congress to get all disqualifying records, like adjudicated mental health and convictions, submitted. That’s resulted in a 270 percent increase since 2013 from 1.7 million records then to over 6.14 million today.

That’s not all. The firearm industry has for over two decades partnered with ATF in the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign to prevent illegal straw purchases of firearms. NSSF also partners with ATF in Operation Secure Store to improve security at firearm retailers to deter thefts and burglaries by criminals. As part of this effort, NSSF matches ATF reward offers to lead to the arrest and conviction of criminals and the recovery of stolen guns before they can be criminally misused.

The firearm industry, through Project ChildSafe, has partnered with 15,000 law enforcement agencies all across America to distribute over 40 million free firearm safety kits with locking devices so firearms are properly secured when not in use. The firearm industry also partners with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to have a brave conversation about suicide to prevent the tragedy of suicide.

Those are Real Solutions.

The Lies

Chipman’s arrogance and narcissism was on full display during this CBS interview. His demonstrably false lies about the firearm industry exposed it.

“I have, from 25 years as an ATF agent, and largely for ten years after that, committed myself to one thing: preventing gun violence in this country,” Chipman told “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell.

That’s a false choice and Chipman knows it. Chipman never garnered support of all 50 Democrat senators or the usual law enforcement agencies that would endorse an ATF nominee.

“The resistance I met… senators like King in Maine was, ‘I’m concerned you will not play nice with the gun industry that you regulate.’ And that was shocking to me.” Chipman accused Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and the other senators who did not support his nomination of not being opposed to gun violence?

In fact, Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. Attorney and ATF Acting Director, wrote that Chipman’s gun control agenda would harm the ATF. So did several other ATF agents. According to Chipman, his former colleagues are in favor of gun violence.

There were other reasons not all 50 Democratic senators lined up to vote to confirm Chipman. Norah O’Donnell never bothered to ask him to back up his wild allegations. Nor did she question Chipman about credible allegations that he made derogatory comments about African-American ATF agents who scored well on advancement exams.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded information regarding the allegations from the Department of Justice, but Chipman’s nomination was yanked instead.

More Lies

Chipman also mislead CBS to believe the firearm industry doesn’t want a confirmed director. That’s false. 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 proved in this interview – once again – why he was never qualified for job of ATF Director. He continues to lie, telling any reporter willing to let him rehabilitate his shattered veneer of a benevolent law enforcement professional from what America truly saw. Chipman is, has been and always will be, an advocate for gun control who would have used the ATF as a cudgel against the industry that provides the means for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

The problem with Chipman’s nomination was Chipman. In this interview, he made that case against his own nomination better than the industry ever could.

 

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

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