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How ATF, key to Biden’s weapons plan, became an NRA ‘Whipping Boy’

The mere presence of a permanent leader, like Mr. Chipman, has the potential to be transformative, former agency officials said.

“I’ve never been the president’s guy, and being the president’s person means people are less likely to push you away,” said Mr. Brandon, the former interim director. “It gives you a lot more credibility on the street.”

Mr. Chipman served as a special agent during a 22-year ATF career that ended in 2010, first in the hectic office of the office in Detroit, then in the Interstate 95 corridor, the largest country channel for illegal firearms, and at the office headquarters. There, he told The Trace website, he observed “the catastrophic drawbacks of the gun lobby’s efforts to prevent the ATF from modernizing.”

Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congressman who became a gun control activist after being seriously injured in an assassination attempt, began pushing, along with other security groups firearms, when Mr. Chipman was hired in mid-November, shortly after Mr. Biden was elected. , according to several people familiar with the situation.

But for weeks after the inauguration, the White House and its allies in the Senate blocked, in part to spare gun-loving Democrats, like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III, from a tough vote as ‘they were focusing on the pandemic and the expense bills. .

The shootings that killed 18 in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado in mid-March were a game-changer.

Shortly after, Ms Giffords wrote to Mr Biden, asking him to meet with her to discuss Mr Chipman. By this time, Mr Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain had thrown his support behind Mr Chipman, and Mr Biden later told Ms Giffords that he was ready to ‘fight’ for the appointment, according to an administration official with knowledge of the exchange.

Almost immediately, the NRA announced plans to spend $ 2 million to defeat Mr. Chipman, cutting an ad targeting Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine.

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