Attorneys general from 20 states sent a letter to the Senate on Tuesday, calling on lawmakers to reject David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), over his affiliations with gun control organizations.
"The Second Amendment is the cornerstone of the Bill of Rights," the letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dick Durbin, opened. "It guarantees our natural God-given right to defend our lives, our families, our property, and our freedom. The confirmation of David Chipman to head the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF") is an attack on that right and on the millions of law-abiding gun owners across the country."
The GOP attorneys general, led by Montana’s Austin Knudsen, claimed Chipman was "unfit" to lead the agency because of his "extreme positions on commonly owned firearms" and involvement with "anti-gun organizations."
Chipman is a 25-year veteran of the agency and currently works as a policy adviser at Giffords, a gun-control advocacy group, according to NPR. The organization was founded by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011, and her husband, U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.
As part of his work, Chipman has advocated for more regulation of ghost guns, which don’t require serial numbers.
Just days before the Republican letter, 17 Democratic attorneys general wrote in favor of Chipman’s nomination. The letter claimed he is "uniquely qualified" for the position and knows the agency "inside-and-out," according to The Hill.
Biden has made gun reform a central part of his early presidency, in response to several mass shootings that have plagued the country so far this year, including in Boulder, Colorado; Atlanta and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The White House in an April statement announcing Chipman's nomination wrote, "As a father, public servant, gun owner, and decorated law enforcement professional Chipman has spent his life serving the public, combating violent crime, and striving to make our nation and our communities safer every day."
In addition to Montana, the other states represented in the letter were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.