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White House withdraws nominee to head gun laws enforcement agency

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The White House has withdrawn the nomination of David Chipman, seen here testifying before Congress in 2013, to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives./AFP
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Sep 10, 2021 - 10:05 AM

WASHINGTON — The White House, facing opposition from Republican lawmakers and some Democrats, withdrew its nominee on Thursday to head the federal agency that enforces gun laws.

David Chipman had been chosen by President Joe Biden to head the 5,000-employee Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

In pulling his nomination, Biden called Chipman a “leading voice for commonsense gun violence prevention” and said he would have been an “exemplary” ATF director.

“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,” the Democratic president said in a statement.

“That’s why they’ve moved in lockstep to block David Chipman’s confirmation,” he added. “While my administration has worked to strengthen law enforcement and crack down on gun crime, Republicans have opposed us at every turn.”

Chipman, a former special agent with the ATF, has worked as an advisor to a gun control group since leaving the bureau.

He was nominated by Biden in April to serve as director of the ATF, a post that is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

But a number of Republican senators had announced their opposition to his nomination and it was stuck in committee.

According to The Washington Post, several Senate Democrats had also “privately expressed concerns” about Chipman and it was unclear that he would receive the 51 votes needed for confirmation.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas welcomed the withdrawal.

“David Chipman is an erratic, anti-gun radical who planned to outlaw nearly every single sporting rifle in America,” Cotton said. “He is wholly unfit to run the ATF.”

The National Rifle Association, the powerful pro-gun lobby, tweeted that Chipman’s withdrawal was a “major victory for our members and law-abiding gun owners.”

Biden pledged to continue to tackle the “scourge of gun violence” in the United States.

“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,” the president said.

There have been more than 30,000 gun deaths in the United States so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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