David Chipman—President Joe Biden‘s expected nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—penned a January 24 opinion article declaring that the Constitution’s Second Amendment envisions firearms as being “well regulated.”
Chipman’s article, printed in The Roanoke Times, criticized local governments in Virginia that responded to state legislative firearm reform efforts by declaring themselves as “Second Amendment sanctuary” counties. These counties’ sheriffs and local officials claimed that the Constitution allowed them to block any laws that violated gun owners’ freedoms.
“The Second Amendment envisions firearms as being ‘well regulated,’ and individual sheriffs aren’t entitled to decide whether a particular regulation is constitutional—that’s the job of the courts,” Chipman wrote.
He said that the state legislature’s proposed reforms would prevent violence rather than take guns from responsible, law-abiding owners. He also accused local sheriffs and officials of stoking fears, spreading lies and valuing “unregulated access to guns above the lives of their neighbors.”
The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
While some interpret the term “well regulated” to mean “capable of fighting”, others argue that it means “controlled or supervised to conform to rules.”
Chipman’s expected nomination on Thursday will likely coincide with Biden’s plan to sign executive orders meant to address gun violence, following a wave of mass shootings.
Chipman’s nomination is especially notable because the ATF has recently lacked consistent leadership. The agency, which enforces the nation’s gun laws, lacked a permanent director for seven years before B. Todd Jones was appointed into the position in 2013. Jones resigned in 2015. The agency has lacked a permanent leader ever since.
Chipman studied justice as an American University undergraduate and studied management as a Johns Hopkins University master’s student.
A year after graduating from American University, he began a nearly 23-year career at the ATF. During that time, he worked as a special agent in charge of ATF’s firearms programs and also as a member of the ATF division bearing similarity to special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams in police departments. He also reportedly disrupted a Virginia firearms trafficking operation that supplied illegal guns to New York City while working at the ATF.
After leaving the agency, he worked for a year and a month as a senior advisor for the municipal firearm 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 last five years, Chipman has worked as a senior policy advisor at Giffords, a gun violence prevention advocacy group.
Newsweek contacted the White House for comment.
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