David Chipman: Law enforcement groups approve Biden’s choice for ATF director ahead of confirmation hearing

In a series of letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee, national police groups endorsed the appointment of David Chipman – a strong advocate for gun control – whose hearing comes as the country faces a surge in gun control. mass shootings.

“David has enormous credibility as a 25-year ATF veteran with field experience,” wrote Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, adding that Chipman had demonstrated a deep understanding of crime issues. army.

ATF has been without a permanent director since 2015.

Other organizations expressing their support included the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Women in Federal Law Enforcement, Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, and the National Black Police Association.

If confirmed, Chipman will return to the agency where he worked for more than two decades as a special agent.

After leaving the ATF in 2012, Chipman became Senior Advisor at Everytown for Gun Safety, and later as Senior Policy Advisor at Giffords. It was in these roles that Chipman’s voice as a strong advocate for gun control rose, as he frequently wrote editorials and made media appearances to advance the cause.

Gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association, blew up the choice, calling Chipman an “extremist.”

“It’s hard to imagine picking a candidate more hostile to the rights of US gun owners than Chipman,” the group said last month. “It is clear that, if confirmed, Chipman would use every tool at his disposal to attack the rights of law-abiding US gun owners.”

Police and progressives share common ground

The past year has seen continued calls for police reform by progressive groups – but the issue of gun control is one on which progressives and the police have often found common ground.

For example, the International Association of Chiefs of Police has been a “strong supporter” of the ban on assault weapons, according to one of the group’s position papers, as well as the creation of a national registry for assault weapons. people convicted of violent gun crimes.

Police experts have pointed out that officers are often the targets of gunfire from suspects with illegal weapons as a reason for their support for stricter gun control laws.

“Law enforcement officers know exactly how dangerous it is to work in a society in which possession of firearms is so prevalent, and they know that gun violence weighs on individuals and communities.” said Rosa Brooks, professor at the Georgetown Law Center and author of the new book “Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City.”

In its letter to the Senate supporting the nomination, the National Black Police Association cited Chipman as “an expert advising organizations at the forefront of gun violence prevention” and highlighted his work in advising policymakers and testifying before Congress. on firearms legislation.

In search of stability

Law enforcement veterans say Chipman’s confirmation would bring much-needed stability and direction to an agency run by interim directors for more than five years.

“The absence of a permanent director has an impact on morale,” said Mark Jones, retired ATF special agent, adding that officers in the field were faced with changing priorities with each new chief of staff. temporary agency.

Jones also believes Chipman will focus not only on the ATF’s law enforcement role, but its unique responsibility for regulating the proliferation of illegal firearms.

“The ATF really needs to regulate the gun industry instead of just pretending to talk about this aspect of its mission,” he said. “For many years the ATF has been out of balance and I expect David to bring the office back to its core missions.”

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