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David Chipman: Biden’s planned choice for ATF director is a fierce gun control advocate


If confirmed, Chipman will lead the agency that enforces gun laws at a critical time in Biden’s start of tenure, as the president seeks further action on the issue following two shootings. deadly last month.

“I don’t have to wait a minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense action that will save lives in the future,” Biden said last month. The president plans to announce further management actions on the guns on Thursday, a person familiar with the plans said.

Chipman, if confirmed, would return to the agency where he worked for 25 years as a special agent.

While at the ATF, he “disrupted gun trafficking operations in Virginia that supplied illegal weapons to New York, was a member of the ATF version of SWAT, and was appointed special program officer. ATF guns, ”according to his bio on the Giffords website. He is currently a senior policy adviser to the organization led by former congressman Gabby Giffords, who became a gun control advocate after being shot in 2011.

She hailed Chipman as “the perfect choice” for the director in a statement Wednesday.

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives needs a strong and experienced leader and I have no doubts that David Chipman will be just that. As a former special agent of the ATF, as of Day one, David will be able to solve the most pressing issues facing the office, including reducing gun violence in this country, ”said Giffords, who had represented a district in Arizona.

Chipman, originally from Detroit, received an undergraduate degree from the American University and a Masters of Management from Johns Hopkins University.

He lists “Violent Crime Reduction Strategist”, “Certified Explosives Specialist” and “Interagency Liason Specialist” among his specialties on his Linkedin profile, and Giffords notes that his expertise includes ghost weapons, the gun industry, enforcement of the law and assault weapons.

In the president’s first limited action on gun control Thursday, Biden will order his administration to tighten restrictions on so-called phantom weapons and pistol stabilizer orthotics that allow guns to be used more accurately, according to a senior official. administration. Ghost pistols are handcrafted or self-assembled firearms that do not have a serial number, and some can be made in as little as 30 minutes using kits and parts purchased online.

ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.

In recent years, the office has become more visible following mass shootings in the United States and other crimes involving guns. But the agency has a broader reach than guns.

According to its website, ATF “protects our communities from violent criminals, organized crime groups, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, fires and bombings. , acts of terrorism and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. “

“We work in partnership with communities, industries, law enforcement and public safety agencies to protect the public we serve through information sharing, training, research and use. technology, ”the bureau’s website says.

Advocacy for gun control

After leaving the ATF in 2012, Chipman became a senior advisor at Everytown for gun safety, where he was “frequently consulted” by lawmakers considering gun control legislation, according to his Linkedin.

Chipman then served as Senior Vice President of Public Safety Solutions for almost three years before arriving at Giffords as Senior Policy Advisor in 2016.

It was in these roles that Chipman’s voice as a strong advocate for gun control was raised, as he frequently wrote opinion pieces and made media appearances to advance the cause.

“As a former ATF Special Agent with over 24 years of office experience, I know only too well how serious our gun violence problem is and how the agency desperately lacks resources. law enforcement tools needed to help stem this national epidemic. Chipman wrote in a Politico op-ed in 2013.

The country’s gun safety laws, he wrote at the time, “make it too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands – and as Congress has failed to address these Gaps in the legislation, the ATF must chart a new course to tackle the scourge of gun violence. It requires strong leadership. “

Most recently, Chipman expressed support for limiting high capacity magazines in a 2019 interview with PBS NewsHour.

“Talking to any gun owner, a 100 round magazine just isn’t traditional. It’s not normal. And I can’t think of a purpose beyond killing a lot. of people, to have it, ”he said. “So if the debate is, should it be 10 or whatever, it can’t be 100. And so I think there’s room where we can have some progress, even if we will not have perfection. “

And in light of last summer’s FBI records showing that U.S. firearms background checks have skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, Chipman told CNN at the time: “My biggest concern is with the potential number of first-time gun buyers who before March didn’t think they needed a gun.”

This story was updated with additional details on Wednesday.

Josh Campbell of CNN contributed to this report.

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