Schrödinger’s NRA

Normally I would call this post “Tweet of the Day”. However, I found the title in Rob Romano’s tweet too good not to use.

Rob is the creator of the invaluable Gun Case Tracker which follows virtually every 2A related case at the Federal and state level. He is also the Community Communications Director for the Firearms Policy Coalition.

For those of us in the gun rights community, the acronym NRA means the National Rifle Association. For anti-gun politicians and the media, it is shorthand for both the National Rifle Association and every other gun rights group. Given their top-down approach, it is hard for them to conceive that the largest organization doesn’t control everything. It is also hard for them to conceive that the grassroots can actually make their voice heard without a lot of prodding from the folks in Fairfax.

Here are the pair of great tweets from Rob:

Chipman Nomination Formally Withdrawn

While speculation earlier today was that the White House would announce the withdrawal of the nomination of David Chipman to be the director of BATFE next week, it came to an end much quicker. The White House formally withdrew the nomination this afternoon.

The formal announcement by the White House:

David Chipman spent 25 years in distinguished service to our country as an ATF agent. He’s a gun owner himself, and someone who has the backing of law enforcement groups. And, he’s spent most of last decade as a leading voice for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation that will save lives. He would have been an exemplary Director of the ATF and would have redoubled its efforts to crack down on illegal firearms traffickers and help keep our communities safe from gun violence.

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend to use gun crime as a political talking point instead of taking serious steps to address it. That’s why they’ve moved in lockstep to block David Chipman’s confirmation, and it’s why they side with gun manufacturers over the overwhelming majority of the American people in opposing commonsense measures like universal background checks.

They even unanimously opposed the Rescue Plan, which has given cities and states $350 billion that they can use to put more cops on the beat so that they can really know the neighborhoods they patrol, and invest in proven community anti-violence programs – among other uses. While my administration has worked to strengthen law enforcement and crack down on gun crime, Republicans have opposed us at every turn.

We knew this wouldn’t be easy – there’s only been one Senate-confirmed ATF Director in the Bureau’s history – but I have spent my entire career working to combat the scourge of gun violence, and I remain deeply committed to that work. Since taking office, my Administration has taken numerous steps to combat gun violence, and we’ll continue to use every tool at our disposal to fight gun violence and keep Americans safe. I am grateful for Mr. Chipman’s service and for his work.  

I find it interesting that they are blaming firearms manufacturers and Republicans for the defeat. The reality is that David Chipman was a bad nominee, had plenty of baggage, and represented an extreme viewpoint. He was so extreme that you could not come up with enough Democrats to back his nomination.

On a snarky note, I think the person most upset by the failed nomination has to be Gabby Giffords. She thought she was finally going to be rid of Waco Dave and finds she is stuck with him.

Chipman Nomination Being Withdrawn?

In breaking news, the Daily Caller and Politico are reporting that the White House plan to withdraw the nomination of David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

From the Daily Caller:

Senate Republicans across the board opposed Chipman, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling him an “anti-gun extremist” and Independent Maine Sen. Angus King previously noting he was not okay with the nomination, Politico reported. While Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana didn’t openly oppose Chipman, they wouldn’t give a definitive answer on where they stood, the report added.

The White House may withdraw Chipman’s nomination in the coming days, although an official date remains unclear, according to Politico.

Politico is attributing this to three sources “close to the process.”

They went on to add:

The White House declined to comment on the imminent yanking of the nomination. It’s unclear when the formal withdrawal of Chipman’s nomination will take place, though it could happen as soon as this week…

Nonetheless, the decision to pull the nomination sparked frustration from gun control advocate Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla. “I am truly upset,” tweeted Guttenberg, a Biden ally. “We have weak people serving the Senate such as @SenAngusKing who chose to listen to ‘regulated industry.’ Sadly the White House failed to put up a fight on this.”

While I say good riddance, I am fearful that the White House will nominate a stealth candidate who will be just as bad but without the baggage of David Chipman.

UPDATE: The Washington Post also is reporting on this story. They are putting the timeline as this week.

They added this:

The White House declined to comment. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about Chipman, who currently is a senior adviser to the Giffords gun control group. White House officials are trying to find another role in the administration for Chipman, said the people familiar with the matter.

Perhaps they can send him to Afghanistan to urge the Taliban to register all their confiscated M4s with the BATFE under the NFA. Yeah, right.

Disclosure Is A Problem For David Chipman

When you are a nominee for a position that requires Senate confirmation, it is incumbent upon you to disclose everything. By everything, I mean everything. You gave a talk to Ms. Miller’s third grade class, you disclose it. You gave a speech to a group of lawyers, you disclose it. You wrote an op-ed that ran in a free paper, you disclose it. You have blogged for years under a pseudonym, you disclose it.

Disclosure just doesn’t seem to be in David Chipman’s wheelhouse and now it is coming back to bite him in the ass.

Andrew Kaczynski and Drew Myers cover politics for CNN. That network is not considered a bastion of support for the Second Amendment. Neither are they the “anonymous bloggers and social media sleuths” that Mrs. Chipman holds in such disregard. Indeed they are as mainstream media as mainstream media gets.

Thus, when they have a story that illustrates the failure of David Chipman to disclose talks he gave and events in which he participated, it is an issue.

From CNN:

In one undisclosed 2019 talk given to a law firm titled “Can the Right to Bear Arms Coexist with Gun Control?,” David Chipman said his views and politics weren’t typical of most at the ATF and in law enforcement because the groups were mostly “a very conservative bunch, primarily of white men.”

The comments are notable because Chipman’s nomination has struggled to gain support – even from some members of the Democratic caucus who have yet to commit to his nomination. Senators have questioned if his past record as an advocate for stricter gun laws would make him a less effective director.

And then there is this interview from a podcast in 2017:

In another undisclosed 2017 interview on Jared Huffman’s “Off the Cuff” podcast, Chipman said the NRA depends on an “un-American” business model that involves making society “less safe.”

“If (the NRA is) no longer selling a lot of guns to sportsmen and hunters and (their) primary business model is you need guns for public safety. Well, then you need an unsafe society to need to buy a gun,” Chipman said. “If your business model depends entirely on people feeling unsafe and scared and need to buy a gun, why would you want to do anything that makes things safer?”

Chipman added he needed to retire from the ATF after 25 years to talk about his views on gun violence “in a way” that would not end him up in jail for speaking to the press without authorization.

These are just two of the previously undisclosed talks and interviews involving Chipman. As the CNN story makes clear, there are more and they give links to them. A thorough search probably will find more.

We know that David Chipman hates us, our organizations, our rights, and our freedom. His nomination needs to be either withdrawn or defeated. I would prefer defeat because it puts the rest of the politicians who hate us on record.

The Trace: Chipman Nomination Hanging By A Thread

When even the Bloomberg-funded The Trace says David Chipman’s nomination to head BATFE is in trouble, you know it is in trouble.

The article is an attempt to rally support for Chipman and to put pressure on Sen. Angus King (I-ME), an independent who caucuses with the Democrat. King has said privately he is a “no” on Chipman.

They are now saying Chipman’s confirmation was always “a long shot.”

The Trace is now trying to portray the Chipmans as victims of “anonymous bloggers and social media sleuths”.

Tara Chipman told USA TODAY that she retired to avoid the conflict of working under her husband’s leadership or staying on in the aftermath of a failed nomination.

She cited cases of online harassment, including conspiracy theories tied to her mother, Olivia Cajero-Bedford, a former Democratic state senator in Arizona who proposed a ban on the bump stock devices now banned nationwide.

“The negative attention was more than either of us expected, especially me as a spouse,” Tara Chipman said Wednesday. “I don’t know why anyone would want a Senate-confirmed position in government. 

“I feel kind of powerless because, of course, I want to go after these people, but I don’t want to do anything to endanger David’s nomination.”

It is hard for me to believe that anyone who had been in DC as long as Mrs. Chipman can portray herself as so naive. It is rather disingenuous to say the “negative attention was more than either of us expected.” She would have been piling on to a Republican nominee and his or her spouse if they were affiliated in any sort of way with the firearms industry.

State of Mainers need to keep the pressure on King just as those in Montana and West Virginia need to keep the pressure on Senators Tester and Manchin.

By the way, I am not an “anonymous blogger”. My real name is on every one of the posts I’ve made about David and Tara Chipman. It is not my fault that they have left such a large presence on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Chipman Derails Black ATF Agent’s Career With False Accusation

Stephen Gutowski of The Reload has a story today of how David Chipman derailed a promising black ATF Special Agent’s career with a false accusation of cheating in a promotion assessment. Chipman’s accusation required a two-year investigation into the matter which effectively took this Special Agent out of contention for further promotions even though the agent in question was eventually cleared.

“I couldn’t believe it when it happened,” the agent told The Reload. “But when I read about his other comments, in my mind, I was like ‘that motherf*****.’ That’s what happened. He said, ‘Hey, a lot of African Americans qualified to be promoted on this certification list; they must have been cheating.’ And then he had to go and find one. I happened to be that one.”

He said he believes Chipman’s allegation after the in-person test was motivated by race.

“I believe it had to have been a bias,” the agent, who spent more than 25 years at the agency, said. “My answers were just ‘too good.’ And my thought is he just said, ‘this black guy could not have answered this well if he wasn’t cheating.’”

The agent said he was cleared by a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, but not before his career took a hit. He said the protracted investigation effectively paused the promising career he’d built.

“I was cleared as I should have been,” the agent said. “But it was very painful because it was two years out of my life where my career was sidelined for something like that. And it caused me a lot of stress and my family a lot of stress. And it kind of disenchanted me with the idea of management.”

In the in-person assessment, the Special Agent was given a scenario and asked how he would handle it. In this particular case, unbeknownst to Chipman the scenario was something this agent had been doing as part of team for a number of years. The agent did well on it which led Chipman to make his false accusation of cheating.

Read the whole story which has been corroborated by another ATF agent.

Psaki Asked If Chipman Nomination Would Be Pulled

A reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen “Baghdad Bob” Psaki if the President was going to pull Chipman’s nomination to head BATFE.

Here is the Q&A from the White House website:

Q    And on a different topic: What is the White House doing to specifically win over support from Democrats on the nomination of David Chipman to lead the ATF?  Senator Durbin just told us this morning that Democrats don’t have the votes, and Senator Tester also signaled this morning that the nomination could even be pulled.  So does — is the White House still pushing through on that nomination?  And what is the White House doing to whip up votes? 

MS. PSAKI:  Well, I’d first remind people, as you well know, but for others, that not only is he a veteran of the ATF, but he’s somebody who has been a supporter of smart gun reform measures that could save lives of people across the country.  And we — the President felt quite confident in the — his qualifications and his ability to lead the agency at a time where it hasn’t been led for many years. 

In terms of our specific legislative strategy, I’d really have to talk to the team and see where things stand with that.

Forbes captured this exchange and you can watch Psaki start to dance.

You have to believe Tester is praying that Chipman’s nomination is pulled so he doesn’t have to go on record. At the end of last week a guest editorial by Donald Trump, Jr. appeared in the Billings Gazette saying that Tester cannot support both Chipman and the Second Amendment. He pointed out that many hunting groups have come out against Chipman.

Time Is Not On David Chipman’s Side

The longer that the debate on David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives goes on, the less likely it is that he will be confirmed. One reason is that it gives the opposition even more time to dig up his public record of making snarky and snide remarks like that in the video below. That is not to mention it gives time for investigators to dig through public testimony he has given before state and national legislative bodies that contain outright falsehoods.

This video excerpt in which Chipman ridicules new gun owners as prepping for the Zombie apocalypse and as Tiger King wannabes was posted the Republican National Committee’s research arm.

Earlier this week, you had a story in Politico in which Sen. Dick Durbin, Senate Judiciary Chair and Majority Whip, saying that Chipman had “a lot of issues”. That was obvious recognition that the nomination was in trouble.

Then yesterday, the British newspaper The Guardian ran a long story on their website saying the nomination is stalling. They noted the Attorney General Merrick Garland has had to step in and push for his confirmation.

The intervention was the latest warning sign that the nomination of Chipman might be in trouble – which would be a serious blow to gun control advocates and those appalled at America’s shocking rates of gun violence.

“As you all know, ATF is on the frontlines of our efforts to battle gun violence,” Garland said during a visit to the agency’s headquarters on Thursday. “We are very hopeful that the Senate will soon act.”

Now you have a story in the Huffington Post that is asserting that it is really the gun industry in the form of the National Shooting Sports Foundation that is the primary opponent of Chipman. This is because they are running two television ads in West Virginia and Maine. The author of this piece Kevin Robillard accuses the NSSF of adopting “NRA’s over-the-top playbook.” Of course, Chipman’s longtime employer, Giffords, jumped on the story to promote the lie that opposition to Chipman is based on trying to sell guns.

What this story ignores is that every gun rights organization at every level is in opposition to Chipman. This includes the NRA, GOA, CCRKBA, and the Firearms Policy Coalition at the national level. At the state level, I know for sure that organizations such has Grass Roots North Carolina have mobilized their members in opposition with alerts and pleas to call their senators.

As my friend Chris Knox said on Twitter in response to Robillard’s article, “Blue check media can’t comprehend a grassroots resistance without some organization at the helm. Movement to #StopChipman is not top-down.” He is correct. I didn’t wait for the NRA or GOA to tell me to oppose Chipman. The moment he was nominated I called both of my US senators saying “Hell, No!”

Whether or not the nomination succeeds or fails will come down to four Democrats and an Independent who caucuses with them. They are Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Sen. Angus King (I-ME). They are all officially undecided. All it will take is for one of these senators to vote nay and the confirmation goes down the drain. If you would like to contact them even if you don’t “officially” live in their state, Grass Roots North Carolina a link that might be helpful. I know that the email I sent Sinema went through and I got a response from her.

I think that these five are waiting to see which way the wind blows and are really hoping that the nomination is eventually withdrawn so that they don’t have to publicly commit one way or another. If the Chipman nomination is withdrawn, they will still be able to say (lie) that they support the Second Amendment and not have a vote for Chipman thrown in their face to refute that.

I had been using the analogy that nomination Chipman to head BATFE was the equivalent of putting a vegan in charge of the meat inspection division of the USDA. I came across a better analogy – Chipman is the equivalent of nomination an anti-childhood-vaxxer to head the FDA or CDC. In these days and times that does get the message across.

Durbin – Chipman Has “A Lot Of Issues”

File this Politico story under the “No Shit, Sherlock” label.

Senate Majority Whip and Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) said “there are a lot of issues” over David Chipman’s nomination to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Durbin goes on to say:

Durbin acknowledged Monday that the whip count “is not where we want it yet, but there’s always a chance.”…

“Members understand this is a highly controversial position,” Durbin said Monday. “It has been left vacant because Republicans and Democrats couldn’t find someone to fill the slot so it’s no wonder that we’re having some difficulty with it.”

What I read Durbin’s statement to mean is that he hasn’t been successful in convincing Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) that the political fallout from supporting Chipman won’t be as bad as they think. They are still listed in the undecided column.

It is either that or the incentives that he is offering to them have not risen to the level where they will hop onboard. By incentives I mean support for pet legislation, campaign money, and the like.

If Durbin and Chuck Schumer were convinced they had 50 votes to confirm Chipman, the vote would have already been held. Since they don’t, Chipman remains in limbo. The longer it goes, the less likely he is to be confirmed. All it takes is for one non-Republican to come out against Chipman and the nomination will be withdrawn. One way to read Durbin’s interview with Politico is that he is signaling the White House it is time to pull Chipman’s nomination.

As to the issues surrounding David Chipman, I think that I and virtually every other gun owner in America would run out of fingers if we had to list them all.