Biden To Tap David Chipman As ATF Director In Effort To Rein In Gun Violence

The agency has been without a permanent leader since 2015. His confirmation battle will likely be tough.

President Joe Biden is expected Thursday to nominate David Chipman, an adviser to a top gun control group, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the agency’s first permanent director in more than five years, according to several media reports.

Chipman is a former ATF agent who currently works for Giffords, a gun control group started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a 2011 mass shooting. He served at the agency for 25 years, including on the ATF SWAT team, and is a gun owner, The Associated Press, which was first to confirm the news, reported.

The agency hasn’t had a permanent director since 2015 and is being run by Acting Director Regina Lombardo. Chipman's confirmation battle in the Senate will likely be close due to his past support for an assault weapon ban, a sticking point among congressional Republicans.

Democrats hold a slim majority in the chamber with 50 seats, and Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote.

The move will be part of Biden’s broader effort to tackle gun violence. On Thursday, the president is expected to issue a slew of executive orders that will direct the Justice Department to craft a plan limiting “ghost guns,” handmade guns without serial numbers; publish a state model for “red flag” legislation, which helps prevent gun sales to someone deemed to be in crisis; and issue an annual report on gun trafficking, among other efforts.

The plan amounts to an effort by the Biden administration to tackle the ongoing spate of gun violence without trying to push legislation through Congress, where any gun control measure faces deep opposition from Republicans, who could block it in the Senate under filibuster rules. Most Democrats wanted to change the filibuster rules for such bills, but that hope appeared to die on Wednesday when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said there was “no circumstance” under which he would vote to eliminate or weaken the legislative process.

“The president will not wait for Congress to act before the administration takes our own steps, fully within the administration’s authority and the Second Amendment, to save lives,” an administration official told reporters Wednesday.

The nation has seen several mass shootings in recent weeks, including in Georgia and Colorado, and pressure is building on Biden to take significant action to curb gun violence. The president has called on Congress to ban assault-style weapons following those attacks, although Republicans have almost universally resisted those demands.

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