U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed David Chipman’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Thune announced that he would vote against the nomination because of Chipman’s extreme views on gun control and restricting the Second Amendment, including his support for banning a popular rifle in the United States and his endorsement of burdensome regulations that would affect law-abiding gun owners.
Thune’s speech (as prepared for delivery) below:
“Mr. President, last week I came down to the floor to discuss how the defund the police movement has contributed to the surging crime we see around the country.
“And as I noted, the Democrat Party bears a substantial degree of responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in.
“Because this is a party that either actively contributed to defund the police rhetoric or implicitly endorsed it by largely staying silent.
“Now, however, Democrats have come to realize that attacking the police and the sharp spike in crime could hurt their electoral chances next year.
“And so the president and other Democrat leaders have all of a sudden announced their concern about rising crime rates.
“But as I said last week, they’re still trying to have their cake and eat it too.
“Because missing from their messaging is any real condemnation of defund the police rhetoric and the toll it has taken on our cities and police departments.
“And their plans for confronting the surge in crime are long on punishing gun dealers and gun manufacturers and short on going after those actually committing crimes.
“It’s typical of Democrats, for whom fighting crime seems to involve controlling guns – specifically, guns owned by law-abiding gun owners – more than it involves controlling criminals.
“What Democrats should be doing is training their attention on violent offenders, traffickers, and gangs, and illegal straw purchases, not finding ways to saddle law-abiding gun owners with burdensome new regulations.
“Because it is not law-abiding gun owners who are responsible for most of the gun crimes in this country.
“The majority of gun crimes are committed by individuals who have obtained their guns illegally – which is why fighting these crimes should involve improving enforcement of our laws and increasing prosecution of those who violate them, not creating new laws that will only serve to further burden the constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights of law-abiding individuals.
“Unfortunately, Mr. President, as I said, Democrats are following their usual playbook during this recent crime surge, which they seem to see as a convenient excuse for pushing some of their gun control priorities.
“The president recently delivered remarks on crime, and the first priority he discussed at length was going after federally licensed firearms dealers.
“Mr. President, while we can all agree that firearms dealers who violate the law should be punished, the “rogue gun dealers” the president refers to are only responsible for a tiny fraction of the guns being used in crimes.
“Going after gun dealers as one of your top law enforcement priorities is not going to do too much to stem the illegal flow of weapons or their use in crimes.
“Enforcement dollars – and enforcement personnel – are not endless, Mr. President.
“And you can waste a lot of money and man hours conducting checks of law-abiding gun dealers while criminals continue to use their illegally obtained weapons unchecked.
“Mr. President, nowhere are President Biden’s priorities more clear than in his choice of nominee to lead the ATF – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“David Chipman would come to the ATF directly from an organization where he has spent the past five years as a gun control advocate.
“He is well-known for his at times extreme views on gun control and restricting the Second Amendment, including his support for banning probably the most popular rifle in the United States.
“He supports a so-called “assault weapons ban” – which usually refers to banning certain guns for their accessories and their appearance of lethality – but, alarmingly, he could not give a clear representation of how he would define such a policy in his confirmation hearing.
“Equally as troubling is Mr. Chipman’s clear disdain for gun owners.
“He claimed that most individuals with concealed carry permits are either “untrained or irresponsible.”
“And during the pandemic, he mocked law-abiding gun owners and condescendingly said that first-time gun owners should put their guns away in their cabinets, behind the beef jerky they’ve presumably been saving for the apocalypse, and only take out the weapons if, quote, “the zombies start to appear.
“Mr. President, I appreciate Mr. Chipman’s long service as an ATF special agent, but I have serious concerns that as the head of the ATF he would spend more time going after law-abiding gun owners than actual criminals.
“The fact that he spent years as a gun control advocate gives us a pretty strong indication of what his priorities are likely to be if he ends up heading this bureau.
“And while Mr. Chipman couldn’t make new gun laws as head of the ATF, he could certainly have a hand in writing a whole lot of new regulations – regulations that could end up substantially burdening Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“ATF has already gotten underway with the Biden gun control agenda with proposed rules against firearm parts kits often used by hobbyists and widely used stabilizing braces, often referred to as pistol braces, first designed to help a disabled veteran safely fire a weapon.
“These regulations would turn millions of legal gun owners into potential criminals, and David Chipman would be in charge of seeing them through.
“Moreover, his demeaning attitude toward gun owners should also disqualify him from the ATF position.
“An individual who regards law-abiding, gun-owning Americans as a bunch of untrained and irresponsible doomsday preppers waiting for the zombie apocalypse has no business leading a gun enforcement agency.
“Mr. President, the president, the vice president, and Mr. Chipman may not like it, but the plain language of the Bill of Rights clearly guarantees the right of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.
“And that right – like every other right guaranteed by our Constitution – must be respected and protected.
“And those who exercise their Second Amendment rights deserve to be respected as well.
“I do not believe we can rely on Mr. Chipman to respect our Second Amendment rights or the Americans who exercise them.
“Which is why I cannot vote to confirm him as director of the ATF.
“And I encourage supporters of the Second Amendment on both sides of the aisle to oppose his nomination.
“Law-abiding, gun-owning Americans deserve better than Mr. Chipman to head the ATF.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”