Tthe nomination of David chipman leading the lead agency that enforces federal gun laws is stalling as Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA) seek a major symbolic victory on the always contentious issue of gun rights.
This week Merrick Garland, the attorney general, urged the United States Senate to confirm the election of Joe Biden to head the Office of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), where he will play a crucial role in the fight against gun violence.
The intervention was the latest warning sign that the nomination of Chipman It could be in trouble, which would be a serious blow to gun control advocates and to those dismayed by the shocking rates of gun violence in the United States.
“As you all know, ATF is at the forefront of our efforts to combat gun violence,” Garland said during a visit to the agency’s headquarters on Thursday. “We are very hopeful that the Senate will act soon.”
Chipman spent 25 years at the ATF and is currently a senior policy advisor at Giffords, an organization that advocates for stricter gun laws and is led by former Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a mass shooting 10 years ago.
Chipman was nominated by Biden in April to become director of the ATF. The President said: “Vice President Harris and I believe that he is the right person, at this time, for this important agency.”
But last month, the Senate judicial committee split evenly on his nomination, forcing the Senate to vote to fire him before the process can move forward. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, has yet to announce a floor vote.
In a chamber evenly divided between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, there is no margin for error. This week Dick Durbin, the whip of the Senate majority, said the Politico website that “there are many problems” with the nomination, adding that the whip count “is not yet where we want it, but there is always a possibility.”
The fight is a test case for the Biden administration’s efforts to curb gun violence even as violent crimes, particularly murders and shootings, are on the rise in many cities across the country. Activists across the country support Chipman’s cause.
Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action, said by email: “The Biden-Harris Administration is the strongest gun safety White House in a generation, and they continue to prove it through robust gun safety executive action, nominations and appointments, and a laser focus on addressing the root causes of the gun violence epidemic.
“If confirmed, David Chipman would be the most qualified director the ATF has ever seen, an agency whose purpose is to enforce existing gun laws.”
But Republicans see a potential political trophy in their efforts to thwart Biden’s agenda and turn the Second Amendment into a rallying cry before next year’s midterm elections.
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas last weekend described Chipman as a “Radical Arms Captor” while on his way to the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s third annual machine gun rally in New Hampshire, he later fired multiple machine guns himself.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida added in a declaration: “David Chipman is a former anti-gun lobbyist unfit to lead the ATF. Violent crime is on the rise in cities across the country. Rather than tackling the real cause of the problem, Chipman seems more interested in punishing gunmen. gun owners who respect the law and share wild conspiracies on the Internet. “
The solidified opposition is a testament to how the Republican party stands by the side of the NRA, which has been embroiled in a scandal and filed for bankruptcy earlier this year only to have its presentation been dismissed by a judge.
Amy Hunter, An NRA spokesperson said of Chipman: “This is a guy who has been paid to lobby for what the NRA considers radical gun control for the last 10 years. The ATF position should be someone who can bring communities together, who can look out for the interests of law-abiding gun owners and law enforcement.
“It should be a unifying position. His testimony on Capitol Hill made clear his extreme views on the issue and we are very opposed to him and are expending enormous amounts of resources and energy to oppose his confirmation. “
It is not yet clear whether Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, both states with high levels of gun ownership, will back Chipman. Schumer complained to reporters that despite claiming financial problems, the NRA spent $ 250,000 on television commercials to encourage people to call Manchin and tell him to reject Chipman’s confirmation.
Hunter added: “We are working very hard to make sure that the residents of Montana, West Virginia, Maine, Arizona, have been reaching out to all of our members to make sure they are informing their senators in those states that they should vote no to the Chipman confirmation. “
Biden suffered a defeat early in his presidency when Neera Tanden withdrew from consideration to head the White House Office of Management and Budget due to lack of support. Chipman’s failure, on such a defining issue, would be more painful and demonstrate once again the power of the gun lobby.
Larry jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, said: “The NRA has taken so many blows to the body and yet its political voice seems to be still intact.
“I think they look for basically symbolic themes to be relevant. Anyone the Biden administration appoints and takes gun control seriously, at a time when gun violence is on the rise in America, will be targeted by the NRA and its supporters in Congress. “
Jacobs added: “It’s kind of a case study of what’s wrong with America. Only after the mass shootings in America would you think there would be a reasonable response and yet that is not possible because you have organizations whose financial health depends on using the issue of increasing membership and donations. “