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David Chipman's Honesty Problem

David Chipman's Honesty Problem

Should someone who has to repeatedly say how his verified statements from the past were taken out of context be trusted to lead a large federal agency?

That's the case with gun-control advocate David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s (D) pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). His answers in last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing were just the latest example of his attempts to cover up the truth about his beliefs.

During the hearing, Chipman tried to explain away several statements he had made in the past, in the end he said that he is, in fact, a poor communicator.

In one exchange, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) brought up Chipman’s statement about an alleged “perfect opportunity to arrest people before they commit crimes,” as well as his derogatory remarks about Americans purchasing a gun for the first time—comments he made last year during the height of the pandemic—and his outrageous statements about firearm suppressors.

“Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to address these comments that I believe were misunderstood and taken out of context,” Chipman said before unsuccessfully trying to explain his statements about arresting people before a crime is committed.

“Ok, so that statement was sort of in invisible brackets, is that what you mean, or is that just what you are saying that you meant?” Lee asked.

“At the time, I did my best to communicate and clearly as exampled here I fell short,” Chipman replied. “I will try to do better.”

Concerning the comments that new gun buyers should “hide their gun behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky they had stored in the cabinet and only take it out if the zombies start to appear,” Chipman apparently had a similar communication problem.

“With regard to the comments that I made on cheddar, that was a lengthy interview,” Chipman said. “What I was trying to use as self-deprecating humor, the person who has a gun stored behind his tuna and beef jerky was me. And I was saying that all of us were acting in new ways as a response to COVID, and I thought that people should be very clear that when they bring a gun into their home they need to be properly trained.”

“So again, we have oftentimes the ability to talk to the media. Sometimes that’s taken out of context, and I’m sorry for any confusion I made when I was trying to point out the fact that sometimes bringing a gun into your home if you are untrained is a particularly dangerous thing to do.”

“It does concern me that these statements that you say are taken out of context or misunderstood are not themselves out of context when viewed against other statements that you’ve made,” Lee responded.

Lee then pressed Chipman on his over-the-top statements about firearm suppressors when working as a lobbyist for Americans for Responsible Solutions.

“You said, quote ‘The only people that benefit from this bill are gun lobbyists and criminals who want easier access to deadly weapons. That’s why this irresponsible legislation couldn’t get passed when Republicans had complete control of Congress,’” Lee said. “So you’re saying that the only people that can benefit from them are gun lobbyists and criminals who want to kill people? Is that statement also taken out of context? If so, what was the additional context, and how does this reflect the careful, measured judgment of one who would be in charge of enforcing our nation’s gun laws?”

“Thank you for the question about silencers which have been regulated under the National Firearms Act since the 1930s,” Chipman replied. “The effort to take the silencer out of that regulatory regime that has prevented silencers more frequently being used by criminals, as an advocate, I thought that was the wrong approach.”

“Yes, you’ve made that quite clear,” Lee replied. “That’s not what I’m complaining about. What I’m complaining about is that you said the only people who could support this are gun lobbyists and people who want to engage in illegal shootings, or something like that. Do you stand by that statement?”

“Senator, I was trying to contrast the fact that silencers are legal, you can purchase them through the National Firearms Act,” Chipman replied. “People who want them unregulated are those that want to have… .”

“You’re not going to spit downwind and then tell us it’s just raining,” Lee interrupted. “There’s just no reasonable reading of this statement that can be interpreted this way… .”

After Chipman again reiterated how he was simply trying to say that regulating suppressors under the NFA saves lives, Lee shook his head in exasperation.

“Alright, look, I get it, my time’s expired,” Lee said. “That’s not what you said… . I think this is very concerning for someone who had a series of inflammatory statements, very concerning we are considering confirming you to be our lead law-enforcement officer for our gun laws.”

Earlier in the hearing, Committee Chair Dick Durbin, a staunch anti-gunner and Chipman backer, took the opportunity to let the nominee explain under friendly questioning his false statements about two helicopters being shot down by .50-caliber rifles at Waco, Texas. That answer pretty much summed up Chipman’s propensity to communicate poorly.

“I had the opportunity to do an event on Reddit,” Chipman answered. “And I got a question about the lethality of the .50-caliber rifle and how often it was used in crime in the United States. I was trying to be candid and say that the only case that I know of that .50-calibers were used was at this incident at Waco that I was familiar with. I could have done a better job of describing them as being forced down because of the gunfire as opposed to shot down, which might have left the impression that they were blown out of the sky, which they were not. And I regret the confusion I added.”

Chipman’s “clarification” clearly implies he believes .50-caliber rifles were used against helicopters at Waco, although there is no evidence to support such a claim. The extreme semantic gymnastics Chipman is trying here have flopped him flat on his face. He has clearly lied. He just as clearly wants to regulate away our right to keep and bear arms. He should not be allowed to run the very agency that oversees gun dealers and so many of our laws related to firearms.

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