Republican Senator Susan Collins announced Monday that she will vote against the confirmation of David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
“After meeting with Mr. Chipman, listening to Mainers, and reviewing his record, I have decided to vote against Mr. Chipman’s nomination to serve as the ATF Director,” Collins wrote in a statement. “In recent years, Mr. Chipman has been an outspoken critic of the firearms industry and has made statements that demean law-abiding gun owners.”
“Although he has the right to express his views, I believe this history makes him an unusually divisive pick for this important position. In particular, I am concerned that his confirmation would do significant damage to the collaborative working relationship that must exist between ATF, the firearms industry, sportsmen and women, and other law-abiding gun owners exercising their Second Amendment rights,” she continued.
Without the support of the moderate Collins, who has been more amenable to accepting Biden’s nominees than other Republicans, Chipman will likely be confirmed along party lines.
Chipman has so far positioned himself as an anti-gun activist who seeks to expand existing regulations curbing ownership and purchases of firearms. His prior experience includes work at gun control organizations such as Giffords and Everytown.
Chipman was questioned extensively by Republican lawmakers about his knowledge and intentions for the ATF during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. Despite struggling to produce a concise definition of an “assault weapon” during that session, Chipman has advocated for extending the National Firearms Act (NFA) to cover them as it does fully automatic guns as well as for banning and confiscating AR-15s.
In order to secure Chipman’s appointment, the Democrats will need to lock down Senator Joe Manchin’s affirmative vote, which has been unpredictable since he opposed Biden-nominee Neera Tanden to direct the Office of Management and Budget.
Biden has urged Senate Democrats to unify in approving his executive agency picks.
“David knows the AFT well. He served there for 25 years,” Biden commented earlier in the year. “And Vice President Harris and I believe he’s the right person, at this moment, for this important agency.”