Who is David Chipman? Joe Biden mulls picking staunch gun control backer as ATF chief amid mass shootings

Chipman is known to be a fierce advocate for gun control who, if confirmed, will return to the agency where he had worked as a special agent for two decades-and-half

                            Who is David Chipman? Joe Biden mulls picking staunch gun control backer as ATF chief amid mass shootings
David Chipman (LinkedIn) could lead the ATF under President Joe Biden (Getty Images)

Ever since Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, his choice of faces for his administration have always been a subject of curiosity. A number of appointments that the new president made made the headlines and the latest name in the list is David Chipman, the president's planned nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). 

Chipman is known for his strong advocacy for gun control, something the current Biden-Kamala Harris administration has vowed to achieve, particularly in the wake of the two back-to-back mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado last month. On Thursday, April 8, at least one person was killed while several were injured after a gunman opened fire at Kent Moore Cabinets in Bryan, Texas. The gunman is believed to be an employee of the business venture. If he gets confirmation, Chipman will lead the agency which enforces gun laws and his past record will excite gun-safety groups. 


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Biden is set to unveil executive actions on Thursday, April 7, to take on gun violence and announce a gun-control advocate to lead the bureau, reports said. The president is likely to announce stricter regulations seeking buyers of so-called ‘ghost guns’ to have background checks. The ghost guns are homemade weapons that are normally assembled from parts and made with metal-cutting machines and mostly lack serial numbers to track them. Last month, Biden said in the wake of the fatal shootings last month: “I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future.”

Activists participate in a vigil in response to the Atlanta spa shootings on March 17, 2021, in the Chinatown area of Washington, DC. A gunman opened fire in three spas in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the day before killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

If Chipman gets confirmed, it will mark his return to the agency where he had served as a special agent for 25 years. According to the man’s bio on the website for Giffords that fights gun violence, Chipman “disrupted firearms trafficking operations in Virginia that were supplying illegal guns to New York City, served as a member of ATF's version of SWAT, and was named the Special Agent in Charge of ATF's Firearms Programs” during his stint at ATF. Currently, Chipman works as a senior policy advisor at Giffords, which is led by former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who became a gun-control advocate following an attempt on her life a decade ago. 

Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords (Getty Images)

Gabby Giffords backs Chipman candidature

In a statement issued Wednesday, April 7, Giffords praised Chipman as a probable chief of the ATF saying: “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives needs a strong, experienced leader and I am confident that David Chipman will be just that. As a former ATF special agent, David will be able to address the most pressing issues facing the bureau from day one, including reducing gun violence. David has spent his career serving the public, combating violent crime, and striving to make our nation and our communities safer. As a responsible gun owner, decorated law enforcement professional, and gun safety expert, David is the perfect choice for ATF director.”

Chipman, who is from Detroit, earned an undergraduate degree from American University and a master’s degree in management from Johns Hopkins University. 
Chipman calls himself a “Violent Crime Reduction Strategist”, “Certified Explosives Specialist” and “Interagency Liaison Specialist” in his LinkedIn profile. Chipman has also received the Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety in recognition of his efforts aimed at stopping gun homicides in targeted cities in the country. Besides, he has also served a couple of terms on the Firearms Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He also worked as a senior advisor at Everytown for Gun Safety in 2012-13.