David Chipman – candidate expected by President Joe Biden for the post of director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – wrote an opinion piece on January 24 stating that the second Constitution amendment sees firearms as “well regulated”.
The Chipman article, printed in The Roanoke Times, criticized local governments in Virginia for responding to state gun law reform efforts by declaring themselves as “Second Amendment sanctuary” counties. Sheriffs and local officials in those counties have said the Constitution allows them to block any laws that violate the freedoms of gun owners.
“The Second Amendment sees firearms as ‘well regulated’, and individual sheriffs do not have the right to decide whether a particular regulation is constitutional – that is the job of the courts,” Chipman wrote.
He said reforms proposed by the state legislature would prevent violence rather than taking guns from responsible, law-abiding owners. He also accused local sheriffs and officials of harboring fears, spreading lies and valuing “unregulated access to guns above the lives of their neighbors.”
The Second Amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, must not be violated.”
While some interpret the term “well regulated” to mean “able to fight”, others argue that it means “controlled or supervised to comply with the rules”.
Chipman’s expected appointment on Thursday will likely coincide with Biden’s plan to sign executive orders aimed at tackling gun violence, following a wave of mass shootings.
Chipman’s appointment is particularly notable because the ATF has recently lacked consistent leadership. The agency, which enforces national gun laws, had no permanent director for seven years before B. Todd Jones was appointed to the post in 2013. Jones resigned in 2015. Since then, the agency The agency does not have a permanent manager.
Chipman studied justice as an undergraduate student at American University and studied management as a master’s student at Johns Hopkins University.
A year after graduating from the American University, he began a career of nearly 23 years at the ATF. During this time he worked as a special agent in charge of ATF firearms programs and also as a member of the ATF division with similarities to Special Weapons and Tactics Teams (SWAT ) in police services. He also allegedly disrupted a gun smuggling operation in Virginia that supplied illegal guns to New York City while he was working at the ATF.
After leaving the agency, he worked for a year and a month as a senior advisor for the municipal gun reform advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. He also worked nearly three years as senior vice president of public safety solutions for ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system.
For the past five years, Chipman has worked as a senior policy advisor at Giffords, a gun violence prevention advocacy group.
Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.