If Chipman Nomination to Head ATF Isn’t in Trouble, It Should Be

ATF nominee David Chipman had a hard time defining a gun that he wants to ban. His nomination could be in trouble. (Screen snip, YouTube, Sen. Mike Lee)

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- ANALYSIS: If David Chipman’s nomination to head the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives isn’t already in danger of being rejected by the U.S. Senate, it should be, considering the mounting opposition to Joe Biden’s pick, who has been working as a “senior policy adviser” for the past few years at Giffords, the gun prohibition lobbying group.

Writing at Forbes, award-winning journalist Chris Dorsey observed, “Chipman isn’t your run-of-the-mill anti-gun Democrat, but rather he is especially condescending toward gun owners and screams contempt for them at every opportunity.”

Alan Gottlieb at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms declared in a Friday statement, “It is…alarming, that Mr. Chipman has been employed for the past few years by Giffords, one of the nation’s leading gun prohibition lobbying organizations, as a senior policy advisor. There is absolutely no appearance of fairness or objectivity in this nomination, and his performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee leaves serious doubts about his perspective on gun rights and the Second Amendment, and how he would approach the job if confirmed.”

Chipman is being righteously criticized for his inability to define an “assault rifle” even after that definition was sought by at least three Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As reported earlier at AmmoLand News, he acknowledged he supports a ban on “assault weapons” even though he can’t even describe one. His final fall back to a definition put forth by ATF that would apply to every semi-automatic rifle capable of chambering centerfire ammunition appears to have insulted the intelligence of every gun owner in the country.

Back in April, writing in the National Review, David Harsanyi observed, “It should be noted that Chipman does meet Biden’s standards. We now have an energy secretary who is against affordable energy, a transportation secretary who is against efficient travel, and perhaps soon an ATF director who wants to gut Second Amendment protections.”

Gottlieb, at CCRKBA, is urging members and supporters of the grassroots gun rights organization to call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and encourage a “No” vote on Chipman. Noting that Chipman could only provide a “catch-all” definition of a firearm “that really doesn’t exist,” Gottlieb said he should not lead the ATF, the agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws.

But there is more to this nomination, in Gottlieb’s opinion.

“Chipman’s nomination has the appearance of political patronage to an organization that steadfastly supports the president’s gun control agenda,” Gottlieb said in a prepared statement. “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. 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.”

Dorsey’s opinion is even more blistering. He called Chipman a “Bloomberg toady… an anti-gun activist who also worked for Gifford’s gun control group.”

By doing this, Dorsey argues, “Biden has just given a middle finger to America’s 150 million gun owners.”

If there is a developing theme here, it’s that Biden may be using this to beef up his self-developed tough-guy image, to which Gottlieb alluded in his critique.

“Throughout his political career,” Gottlieb recalled, “Joe Biden has portrayed himself as a tough guy, and here he is deliberately provoking a fight with tens of millions of law-abiding American citizens by nominating a man who seems eager to step on their rights, for no other reason than to show he can get away with it. That’s not the characteristic of a national leader who pledged to bring the country together. That’s something a bully does for an ego boost.”

Chipman’s nomination is apparently skating on thin ice, even though some in the establishment media think he might get through with one or two votes, or a tie-breaker from Kamala Harris. If that’s the case, some Democrats planning to run for re-election in 2022 should remember an axiom from more than decades ago about America’s gun owners: They have “short fuses and long memories.” Back in November 1994—the mid-term election during Bill Clinton’s first term—Democrats learned that the hard way after pushing through the Brady Handgun Law, which Biden brags about shepherding through Congress, and then the Clinton Crime Bill, which contained the 10-year ban on so-called “assault weapons.” Overnight, Democrats lost more than 50 Congressional seats including that of then-House Speaker Tom Foley, along with control of Capitol Hill for more than a decade.

Chipman’s embarrassing performance in an exchange with Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas should be enough to doom the nomination. As quoted by the New York Post, Cotton reminded Chipman of his call for a ban on “assault weapons.”

“I have a simple question for you: What is an assault weapon?”

“Senator,” Chipman replied, somewhat evasively, “an assault weapon would be, in the context of the question you asked, what Congress defines it as.”

“So you’re asking us to ban assault weapons,” Cotton fired back. “We have to write legislation. Can you tell me, what is an assault weapon? How would you define it if you were the head of the ATF? How have you defined it over the last several years in your role as a gun control advocate?”

Finally, Chipman “claimed the ATF defines an assault rifle as “any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22, which would include a .223, which is, you know largely the AR-15 round,” the Post story detailed.

And the newspaper followed that by quoting Cotton, whom the story described as “visibly incredulous.”

“So you believe that every weapon that takes a detachable magazine, that can take a .22 round — or 5.56 in military parlance — should be defined as an assault weapon,” the senator asked.

The Post story also noted, “There is no legal definition of the terms “assault weapon” or “assault rifle.” The National Rifle Association (NRA) uses the military definition of assault rifle, describing it as “a selective-fire rifle chambered for a cartridge of intermediate power.”

But that is not entirely accurate. In 2018, voters in Washington State adopted a gun control initiative that did include a definition of an “assault rifle.”  The definition was buried on Page 27 of the measure.

“‘Semiautomatic assault rifle’ means any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge.”

This definition applies to any self-loading rifle including those chambered for the .22-caliber rimfire cartridge.

Two months after that initiative was passed, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told reporters there is no such thing as an “assault rifle.”

Still, Chipman wants to ban this non-existent firearm, a political position that senators should question.

Perhaps CCRKBA’s Gottlieb summed it up best when he stated, “This is a bad nomination. It’s bad for the cause of unity, it’s bad for the Constitution and it’s bad for the country.”


About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

We are living in a post-Constitutional America, and the Marxists are doing their level best to disarm the populace, knowing citizens will not accept their leftwing policies. The gov is trying to defang the public, making us all defenseless aNd dependent. The second revolution has begun.


Mr. Henry ignored one factore, and WE have as well. EACH candidate as he steps up to take his position in office swears a solemn oath to uphold, defend, execute, the US Constitution. While there is no formal proceedure for calling elected officials on that failure, there ARE remedies in law. Swearing such an oath then wilfully violating it, as is a daily occurrence today, is felony perjury. I am not aware of one individual being so charged. This is in part because the courts that would hear such a case are as corrupt, if not more so, then the… Read more »


If this the case then we are truly surrounded by Tyranny. “The right of decent private United States 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… Read more »


For the likes of Chipman and his many cohorts the Constitution of the United States is a dead letter. If you are looking for a definition of ‘progressive’ look no further than this little Eichmann.


If Chipman is not confirmed, biden will then nominate another anti-gunner who will appear to be more “reasonable”, who will then be confirmed and the attack on the Second Amendment will continue unabated!

Happy Everafter

Well, that’s their modus operandi, isn’t it. Find somebody extraordinarily extreme, fight for a bit, then say, ‘oh, just kidding,’ and get somebody less threatening, and everybody takes a breath, settles down, and the corrupt politicians all affirm a ‘less worst’ extremist and they all pat themselves on the back. And the citizenry circle ever closer to the drain…


I believe they have awoken gun owners, so that we will not be complacent about next nominee. Not having a confirmed director may not slow AFT much, but it will slow them. Finding a second nominee and getting them past the gauntlet will probably take another six months. At that point they have a year until republicans take both houses of congress. Unfortunately at federal level, now is the time for smart defense. Hinder and slow their “progress” until congress flips. Even at that point advance will be difficult with small majority and against this president. This is a long… Read more »

Gregory Peter DuPont

He should answer questions such as” was it bad form for you to pose with your M14 over the burned bodies at Waco? And would you use the same force to effect the confiscation of similar arms in the hands of the taxpaying citizens that funded your salary as an ATFingE agent?”


He meets Biden’s standards? Other than being an avowed anti-gun, egomaniacal thug who will do whatever he’s told, he falls short of meeting Biden’s basic standards for office. He’s not a homo (at least he hasn’t admitted it yet), he’s not female, or trying to pass as female and he’s White.


It’s coming. The only question is, what are you going to do when they start taking them away? I know what I’m doing and, it doesn’t include handing anything over.


In 2018, voters in Washington State adopted a gun control initiative that did include a definition of an “assault rifle.”

pretty close.. we voters did not “adopt” thus wretched mess. Bloomburg’s money did. I’ve heard something like twenty million in adverts in the tie leading to the election. I am also convinced he had a bit of hep from the “good” folks at Dominion.

I went to bed that Tuesday night not owning one “assault weapon”. I woke up Wednesday morning owning somewhere near a dozen of them. No clue how that happened.


If anyone believes Chipman’s confirmation has been derailed, what are you smoking, and can you score me some? This POS will be confirmed. Collins, Murkowski, Romney and Sasse (and possibly Rubio), will side with the DemoCommieC*nts. Manchin and Sinema will side with their party (or be absent when the vote is called).

Biden declared War on Gun Owners when he said: “No Amendment Is Absolute.”
Accept it and get ready for the battle.


This Bureaucratic POS is nothing more than the Psychopathic
Anti-Constitutional, Anti-American, Enemy of the United States, that our for-father framers had warned us about.
Why hasn’t the Military Forces of the United States been activated to arrest these oath breaking enemies from within?
Is there not enough proof of the undermining taking place within our nation over the past 50 Years?


It’s not going to be the military that does it. They’re starting to teach critical race theory to American troops.


Then we better get the 80+ Million of us together to become the force that is needed to finish this communist take over… or at least try…


a cursory review of the Constitutoin will reveal that FedGov have NO authority ofver any of the items which initials form the name of this illegal insittution. NOWHERE are alcohol, tobacco, firearms, or explosvies given under the authoirty or purview of FedGov.

More “swarms of officers to eat out our substance”. And to think we FEED these corruptocrats, and not just bare bones. I mean high on the hog.


I wish one Senator would have asked Chipman if he would be knocking on the first door to confiscate said Assault Rifle ? Do you think President Biden will be by your side ? It seems only fair, if they wish to force this they should be at the forefront.


Why are both sides making the argument over this dirt bag? They both have their ideas on who should run the BATFE. That’s not even close to fixing the problem. The problem is BATFE is a bloated, illegally funded, threatening, extorting, robbing, kidnapping, murdering unaccountable alphabet agency. I’t got a long history of atrocities. ENOUGH ALREADY! Abolish BATFE instead of pissing and moaning about who gets to run it. That’s the argument people….