As part of his administration’s clear effort to implement new gun control measures at the federal level, President Joe Biden has nominated David Chipman to serve as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
An avowed gun control advocate, Chipman’s nomination has turned off even moderates like U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
“I have decided to vote against Mr. Chipman”
According to Fox News, the senator, who is not known as a stalwart Second Amendment defender, announced on Monday that she will not vote to confirm the nominee.
Although she has had no problem voting to confirm almost all of the president’s prior nominees, Collins called Chipman “unusually divisive” in explaining her opposition. Her “no” vote does not necessarily doom his nomination, but it makes a path to the requisite 51 votes narrower.
“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 on the matter.
She went on to describe Chipman as “an outspoken critic of the firearms industry” who has “made statements that demean law-abiding gun owners.”
While she defended his freedom to hold and express such opinions, the Maine Republican declared her belief that it disqualifies him from the position for which he was nominated.
“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,” Collins added.
In a Senate evenly divided between the two parties, Vice President Kamala Harris is poised to cast any tie-breaking votes in favor of the Democratic Party. Given that scenario, Chipman could still eke out a confirmation if all Democrats are in line behind him.
For that reason, the party is likely to shift attention toward moderates like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who represents a solidly pro-gun state and has wielded his independent streak frequently throughout the first months of the new congressional session.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are urging Manchin to join Collins in expressing opposition to Chipman’s nomination.
Other moderates from pro-gun states, including Sens. Kyrsten (D-AZ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are facing similar political pressure from both sides. If any of these or other Democrats cast a vote against Chipman, it could be just enough to doom his confirmation.