David Chipman continued his media tour on Wednesday after failing to get confirmed to run the ATF.
The ATF agent turned gun-control activist turned failed Biden nominee appeared on CBS Evening News with host Norah O’Donnell to opine on the recent rise in murder and his confirmation hearing. He spent most of the interview attacking the gun industry and gun owners as supportive of gun violence. He painted himself as the embodiment of preventing gun crime and opposition to him as indicative of support for it.
“I have, from 25 years as an ATF agent, and largely for ten years after that, committed myself to one thing: preventing gun violence in this country,” Chipman, who remains a senior policy advisor at the gun-control group Giffords, said. “To oppose me must mean that you’re not for preventing gun violence.”
While O’Donnell challenged him at points about his view on the gun industry and the Second Amendment, she did not ask him about multiple allegations of racism levied against him by ATF agents during his time at the agency. Current and former ATF agents corroborated in July the existence of a claim Chipman argued black agents performing well on a promotion test was evidence they’d cheated. Additionally, in August, a black former ATF agent told The Reload that Chipman accused him of cheating on a promotion assessment. He said Chipman made the accusation because he believed the agent had done too well on a section of the examination.
“I couldn’t believe it when it happened,” the agent said. “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.”
The Department of Justice confirmed Chipman initiated an investigation against an agent matching the timeframe given to The Reload. Chipman himself confirmed he initiated an inquiry specifically into a black agent, but both denied race played any role in either situation.
“There was no way I would have made it out of ATF honorably if there was merit to any of that,” Chipman said in an interview with USA Today and The Trace. “My frustration was that DOJ knew all of these facts and could have put a quick end to it. It hurt me personally.”
Chipman’s nomination was pulled by the White House a few weeks after the allegations broke. The entire Republican caucus publicly opposed his nomination and key holdouts on the Democratic side ultimately doomed him. Senators Joe Manchin (D. W.Va), Kysten Sinema (D., Ariz.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), and Angus King (I., Maine) never publicly supported his bid.
USA Today and The Trace, a publication funded in part by a leading gun-control group, are the only outlets to ask Chipman about the allegations during interviews with him. Neither The New York Times nor CBS News broached the subject at all.
Instead, CBS’s O’Donnell asks about the failed nominee’s perspective on the rising murder rate. He blamed gun dealers and accused them of wanting to profit off of crime and terrorism–exactly the kind of rhetorical current and former ATF agents complained would make it harder for the agency to garner cooperation from the industry were he to become director.
“I think the real conversation we’re having, and I want to be clear, is the fear is it’s gonna be harder for people who sell guns to sell guns absent any accountability for profiting from selling them to criminals and terrorists,” he said.
When asked if he really believed lawful gun owners didn’t want to see gun trafficking or gun crime dealt with, Chipman claimed “not enough of them” did and slammed those concerned with Second Amendment protections against government overreach. He claimed, without evidence or explanation, it was somehow easier to purchase a firearm than a beer in most of the country. He argued
The reality is in much of America it’s easier to buy a gun than a beer,” he said. “The problem is the gun industry profits by gun violence itself because it’s the fear that you’re gonna get shot, that you run out and buy a gun.”
Chipman further accused the Republican, Democratic, and Independent Senators who opposed his nomination, especially Senator King, of being beholden to the gun industry. He said those who opposed him were more concerned he wouldn’t “play nice with the gun industry” than with preventing murders. The comments are another in a series of increasingly bold attacks on the Biden Administration and its allies in the wake of them failing to successfully shepherd his nomination to even a vote on the Senate floor.