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Gun Lobby’s Campaign of Lies Sinks Chipman Nomination; Harms Communities in Desperate Need of Support on Gun Violence

Exceptionally qualified candidate for ATF director would have prioritized making communities safer.

Washington DC—As communities across the country are grappling with a surge in gun violence, the nomination of David Chipman for ATF director was withdrawn, despite his immense qualifications, including 25 years of exemplary service at ATF. Chipman, a senior policy advisor with Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, faced a barrage of lies and misinformation targeted at him by the corporate gun lobby, which has blocked confirmation of all but one nominee for ATF director since 2006. 

The lack of a Senate-confirmed ATF director makes it more difficult for the Biden administration to achieve its goal of reducing gun violence in America by enforcing the nation’s gun laws, preventing the illegal trafficking of firearms, and partnering with local law enforcement to solve crimes. Giffords has long called for strong leadership at ATF to address issues such as firearms trafficking and the proliferation of untraceable ghost guns.

Statement from Peter Ambler, Giffords Executive Director

“The Senate had the opportunity to confirm a supremely qualified and dedicated public servant as ATF director. Instead, the gun lobby’s campaign of baseless conspiracy theories and outright lies succeeded in blocking him. David Chipman would have worked tirelessly with local law enforcement to curb the current spike in gun violence ravaging communities by enforcing the gun laws on the books. Instead, the end result is a weakened ATF, which is a win for a gun industry that profits from fear-mongering. 

“The gun lobby’s extremism, corruption, and dishonesty are well known to regular Americans, so it’s shocking that senators would not only accept the self-interested arguments of industry groups like the NSSF and NRA, but go so far as to parrot their lies. This is a shameful day. We are less safe as a result of the Senate’s failure to confirm David Chipman.”  

Statement from Ryan Busse, Giffords Senior Advisor: 

“I worked in the gun industry for 25 years and saw it marginalize millions of responsible gun owners and opt for empowering increasingly dangerous extremists. An industry that once proudly embraced commonsense policies like universal background checks now chooses to fuel those who demand Second Amendment absolutism. Arming and inciting these people who wish to upend our country may be good for gun sales, but it’s terrible for American democracy. Gun owners like me know that enforcing our nation’s gun laws is good for all citizens, and that requires strong and competent ATF leadership. We know that opposing the nomination of a respected 25-year ATF veteran is not about facts. Rather, it is a continuation of the frightening radicalization at the center of our national political morass. ” 

Americans shot in the past decade
The horrific toll of American gun violence is growing. In the last 10 years alone, more than one million Americans have been shot.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “Fatal and Non-Fatal Injury Reports,” last accessed June 25, 2020,; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, last accessed June 25, 2020,

ATF is the lead law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice responsible for investigating and preventing violent crimes. For decades, the ATF has been severely underfunded and hamstrung by dangerous policy riders, making it difficult for the agency to effectively fulfill its mission. Americans are 25 times more likely to be the victim of gun homicide than residents of other industrialized nations, making the role of ATF critically important. About 80 percent of ATF’s resources are focused on preventing gun violence, while the rest is spent regulating the explosives industry and investigating bombings and arsons.

The White House has demonstrated a clear commitment to reducing crime, especially by addressing gun violence. In addition to nominating Chipman for ATF director, the White House announced a series of executive actions on gun safety. Among these executive actions were a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of ghost guns, a model extreme risk law released by the Department of Justice, and recommended community violence intervention investments in addition to the $5 billion included in the president’s infrastructure bill. 

In June, the White House shared a comprehensive strategy to prevent gun violence and protect public safety. Recently, the White House announced that it will take steps to hold bad actor firearms dealers accountable and prevent trafficking across state lines, invest in community violence intervention programs and other resources for underserved communities, and help formerly incarcerated individuals re-enter their communities. 


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