President Biden is expected to appoint David Chipman, a former special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to head the agency, according to a senior administration official.
The president is expected to officially announce the choice on Thursday when he unveils the other steps he has takenat .
Chipman is a widely cited expert on gun violence and in recent years has served as policy director for Giffords, the gun control organization founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured during the shooting. an assassination attempt in 2011.
If confirmed, Chipman would be the agency’s first permanent director for more than six years. Given the tense nature of gun policy, only one ATF director has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate in the past 15 years, leaving the agency primarily run by a series of acting bosses.
Full details of what the president will announce on Thursday were not immediately available, but CBS News has learned that the steps should include the start of the reclassification process. Ghost guns – handmade or self-assembled guns that don’t include a serial number – like guns, requiring anyone who buys them to go through a federal government background check.
Two people familiar with the upcoming announcement, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about plans still evolving, confirmed that the phantom weapons measures were part of the president’s announcement. Several others confirmed an announcement was scheduled for Thursday and said they expected to get more details from the White House later Wednesday.
“I hope the president has more to say tomorrow,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday when asked about a potential announcement. She declined to share details.
Organizations pushing for tougher gun laws and Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for years for the federal government to reclassify ghost guns and require buyers to submit to a background check.
“Phantom weapons are also firearms. And it is time to fill this gap, ”said Democratic MP Adriano Espaillat, who pushed for legislation regulating ghost weapons, tweeted wednesday.
Increasingly popular but difficult to follow overall given the lack of a serial number, phantom weapons have been used in multiple shoot-related crimes over the past few years.
The Biden administration has been reluctant to discuss gun control publicly as it initially focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic downturn. During his first official press conference last month, the president indicated that he would not be in a rush to tackle the problem despite the recent mass shootings inand and that his administration would remain focused primarily on promoting legislative responses to the pandemic and its multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan.
His move allowed critics to point out how Mr. Biden failed to fulfill a notable campaign pledge. Appearing in Nevada in February 2020, Biden vowed to send legislation to Congress on his first day in office that would repeal the gunmaker liability protection and close loopholes in the federal system for verifying guns. firearms history.
For weeks, administrative assistants said the plans were still being worked out – a posture that has not changed in the wake of these recent shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo.
News of Mr. Biden’s plans was first reported by Politico.
Corey Rangel and Nancy Cordes contributed to this report.