David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will emphasize his experience fighting gun violence when he appears Wednesday before skeptical Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In opening his remarks, obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Chipman will highlight his 24-year career in the ATF to head off what’s expected to be a tough confirmation hearing before the evenly divided panel.
“The leadership positions I held at ATF grounded me in what it will take to improve Bureau operations and morale,” Mr. Chipman will say. “I have supervised agents in the field multiple times. I used that experience to develop new approaches to combat homicides committed with firearms impacting communities across the United States.
“These experiences, hard-won over the course of decades, will serve as my guide if I am confirmed to lead ATF,” Mr. Chipman will tell lawmakers. “The Bureau has excelled at investigating crimes since the days of Eliot Ness. My leadership mission will be to sharpen ATF’s focus while striving to prevent more violent crimes from occurring in the first place.”
Mr. Chipman’s nomination has been hailed by gun-control advocates, but Second Amendment groups say he’s advocated for extreme positions on firearms, including banning semiautomatic firearms and magazines.
The National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, and the National Association for Gun Rights have all opposed his nomination.
Pushback from those groups has sunk previous nominees to lead the ATF, which hasn’t had a confirmed director in six years. Since 2006, when Congress made the position a Senate-approved post, it has had only one confirmed director.
Former President Trump last year pulled his nomination of Chuck Canterbury after a disastrous confirmation hearing before the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Canterbury, the former national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, rankled senators with evasive answers during his 2019 confirmation hearing. The nomination languished for a year before Mr. Trump withdrew the nominee amid dwindling support from Republicans.
Senators repeatedly pressed Mr. Canterbury for his opinions on the major gun rights debates facing the country, but he demurred saying he could not stray from the FOP’s official positions.
Two Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and John Kennedy of Louisiana, said the dodging could cost their votes.
Mr. Chipman, however, is not expected to hold back his views on gun control issues, albeit not in a direction Republicans likely will like.
After joining the ATF in 1988, he investigated major attacks, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
He was also dispatched to Waco, Texas, to assess the aftermath of the ATF’s bungled raid on the Branch Davidian compound.
He intends to address the impact of those cases in his opening statement Wednesday.
“I understand the physical and emotional stress that agents are under, particularly when working on crimes involving mass casualties and destruction,” he will say.