Newsletter: Where Biden’s ATF Nomination Stands Now, and An Update on Gun Sales

The Reload has spent another week at the center of a D.C. dustup. My report featuring ATF agents corroborating the existence of allegations ATF director nominee David Chipman made racist remarks while a manager at the agency’s Detroit office remained in the spotlight. Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee argued over the report and whether Chipman should be brought back for a second hearing to address it.

It was also the subject of multiple speeches on the Senate floor and was entered into the Senate record.

The letter sent to the committee by seven more former Chipman colleagues opposing his nomination, which I also broke news of here at The Reload, created another sticking point. As did a Fox News story on Chipman failing to disclose an interview he did on Chinese state media.

All of this raises the question: where does Chipman’s nomination stand? Is it over? I try to answer that.

Plus, we got new numbers on gun sales and how they’re affecting the bottom line of gun companies. And Cam Edwards from Bearing Arms was on this week’s podcast to talk about all the latest gun stories.

A sign outside the headquarters of the ATF
A sign outside the headquarters of the ATF / Stephen Gutowski

Analysis: Where Does David Chipman’s Nomination Stand Now? [Member Exclusive]

A lot has happened with President Joe Biden’s ATF director nomination these last two weeks.

His pick, David Chipman, faced a torrent of new negative stories. First, The Reload published a report corroborating the existence of allegations he made racist remarks while at the agency. Then, a group of retired agents came out against his nomination over concerns about his temperament and gun-control advocacy. And another report found he did not disclose an appearance on Chinese state media to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

His confirmation is still in the committee because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has yet to call him to the floor for a full vote.

After his confirmation hearing all the way back in May, I tried to answer the question of whether he’s likely to get 50 votes. At the time, I said the odds were likely in his favor. After all, Democrats just need to get their own Senators in line to vote for him.

But, as time dragged on and he remained in limbo, I said the odds were growing longer. In D.C., bills or confirmations that linger tend to atrophy and die.

Compare Chipman’s path to another controversial nominee: Tracy Stone-Manning. Like Chipman, The nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management is opposed by every Republican Senator. Unlike him, though, she got all 50 Democrats to vote to advance her nomination. She’s likely to be confirmed on Monday despite having her confirmation hearing after Chipman and facing equally intense opposition.

Chipman’s chances have only continued to wither since I last discussed it.

If you’re a member, click here to read more. If not, join today to get access to this story and much more!

A retail gun box from Ruger
A retail gun box from Ruger / Stephen Gutowski

Gun Company Profits Continue to Soar Alongside Sales

Profits are up again for two major American gun companies.

Ruger and Winchester both reported profit spikes in recent earnings filings. Their latest 2021 quarters topped record sales the companies had experienced even during the height of the 2020 gun sales surge. The numbers come after July 2021 came in as the second-best July on record for FBI background checks on gun sales.

Ruger reported on Wednesday its net sales in the first six months of 2021 were up over $130 million or 51 percent over the same time last year. The company did nearly $200 million in firearms sales alone between April and June. That represents a 54 percent increase over the same period in 2020, even though the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and rioting drove Americans to gun stores at record rates during that time period.

Similarly, Winchester reported the first six months of 2021 produced a $412 million or 108 percent increase in sales. The gun and ammo maker’s sales increased even further, by 110 percent, when looking at the April to June period.

Click here to read more.

Podcast: Cam Edwards of ‘Bearing Arms’ on Allegations of Racism Against Biden’s ATF Nominee

I talked with Cam Edwards from Bearing Arms on this week’s episode of the podcast. We discussed my recent report about ATF agents corroborating the existence of a complaint that President Joe Biden’s director nominee made racist comments.

Cam has been one of the best pro-gun writers and show hosts out there for years and years at this point. So, I was very interested in his take on the fallout from the story. We talked about Republicans calling for a new confirmation hearing on the nominee, David Chipman, in the wake of the agents’ comments. And we discussed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) calling for Chipman’s withdraw.

Plus, we went over how the president of one of the country’s leading gun-control groups and a prominent activist attacked The Reload for publishing the story. And I talk about why those attacks were so outlandish.

Cam is somebody I’ve long admired for the calm and reasonable way he approaches gun news and advocacy. I’ve also been on his show a bunch of times over the years. So, I was thrilled to be able to have him on my own new show! Give it a listen, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Plus, I give an exclusive update on a big name leaving the NRA’s board.

You can listen to or download the audio here.

Or you can watch the episode below, especially if you want to check out Cam’s epic beard!

Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill) speaks at David Chipman's nomination hearing on May 26th,2021
Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill) speaks at David Chipman’s nomination hearing on May 26th,2021 / Screenshot

Senate Judiciary Chairman Denies Second Hearing on ATF Nominee, Attacks Reload for Publishing Report on Racism Allegations

President Joe Biden’s ATF nominee will not face further scrutiny from the Senate despite newly corroborated claims he made racist remarks during his time at the agency.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) said no on Monday to a request to bring nominee David Chipman back for a second hearing. The committee’s Republicans had unanimously requested a new hearing to investigate accusations Chipman had a complaint filed against him over racist remarks made while working for the agency. Durbin called the allegations “baseless” and attacked The Reload for publishing accounts of ATF agents discussing their knowledge of the situation.

Durbin accused The Reload of being an “extreme anti-gun safety website” and implied its sources were made up.

Click here to read the full story.

A flag flies outside the headquarters of the ATF
A flag flies outside the headquarters of the ATF / Stephen Gutowski

Republicans Fire Back at Durbin in Battle Over Second Chipman Hearing

Republicans aren’t giving up on getting a second hearing on President Joe Biden’s ATF director nominee.

They want to bring David Chipman back to answer for newly-uncovered stories and aren’t happy with Chairman Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) for dismissing the request out of hand on Monday. Durbin called the recently-corroborated claim that Chipman made racist remarks while working as a manager at the agency “baseless’ in a letter to the Republicans and attacked The Reload for publishing a story on the accusation. The Republican committee members responded by asking Durbin to help get the sealed Equal Employment Opportunity complaints filed against Chipman released to determine the validity of the claim.

“You primarily recounted attacks against Mr. Chipman that have not been made by Republicans on this Committee or discounted criticisms that you don’t like by some of us,” the Republicans said in the letter which was first obtained by Fox News. “You fail to address our substantive concerns and so we reiterate our requests that a follow-up hearing be scheduled and that you help us uncover the documents the Justice Department presumably has and that could clear up this controversy.”

Chipman’s nomination has remained in limbo since June’s vote to discharge him from the committee tied along party lines. Every Republican senator has publicly committed to voting against his nomination. Democratic holdouts, including Senators Angus King (I., Maine), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), and Jon Tester (D., Mont.), will ultimately decide whether he can garner the 50 votes necessary for confirmation, but they have remained non-committal in recent weeks and have not commented on the allegation of racism levied against Chipman.

The senators noted that most of Durbin’s response to their initial request for a new hearing centered around attacks on the credibility of The Reload and implications its sources were made up. They said the committee shouldn’t “silence” the anonymous whistleblowers who have spoken out about allegations Chipman denigrated black agents who passed an assessment for promotion by saying they must have cheated to do so.

Click here to read more.

David Chipman speaks before the House Judiciary Committee on September 25, 2019
David Chipman speaks before the House Judiciary Committee on September 25, 2019 / Screenshot

Former ATF Colleagues Write Letter Opposing Biden Director Nominee: ‘Wrong Man for the Job’

More former ATF agents who worked alongside President Joe Biden’s director nominee are speaking out against his confirmation.

Seven former agents, each with 25 or more years of experience at the ATF, wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders on Tuesday urging them to vote against David Chipman. In a copy of the letter obtained by The Reload, the agents criticize Chipman’s turn from ATF agent to paid gun-control activist. They argued he did not have the experience or temperament to lead the agency and his appointment would degrade ATF’s ability to do its job.

“David’s strong personal beliefs on firearms issues will create serious and long-lasting problems for the Bureau and the effective execution of its law enforcement mission,” the agents said in the letter. “We relied on effective partnerships with industry, stakeholders, and other law enforcement agencies to execute our missions. Unfortunately, if David were confirmed, ATF partners would see someone who is coming to the agency with his top priority being to implement a divisive gun control agenda.”

Click here to read the full piece.

The Reload in Media

I did quite a bit of media this week thanks to the firestorm surrounding David Chipman’s nomination. The Reload’s reporting was cited in many outlets as well. There’s too much to cover it all here.

But I will point you to my interview with Cam Edwards on Thursday since that one is probably the most up-to-date of the ones that have been posted online. You can watch the video over at Bearing Arms.

Outside The Reload

“This is what I hear from customers: ‘Yeah it’s calmed down a little bit, but you know what? I am going to get the gun anyway.’” | Asbury Park Press | By Erin Nolan

Gun safety groups to Biden: Do more to get your point man confirmed | Politico | By Anita Kumar

Biden’s ATF pick faces grim confirmation prospects as key Democrats withhold support | CNN | By Manu Raju, Lauren Fox and John Harwood

Nasty memes, disinformation, politics drive waning days in battle to confirm Biden’s pick for ATF | USA Today | By Nick Penzenstadler and Brian Freskos

‘Optics’: Senate Judiciary Republicans Sat On ATF Nominee Racism Charges For Nearly Two Months, Records Show | The Daily Caller News Foundation | By Andrew Kerr

Biden ATF nominee Chipman failed to disclose Chinese state TV hit used as propaganda by the communist state | Fox News | By Kelly Laco

That’s it for this week in guns.

If you want to hear my analysis of these stories and more, make sure you buy a Reload membership to get the exclusive analysis newsletter every Sunday!

I’ll see you all next week.

Stephen Gutowski
The Reload

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


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