Senate panel grills Biden’s ATF nominee on gun control


President Biden's pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms faced a Senate confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The mass shooting at a rail yard in San Jose, California has once again renewed the conversation about gun control on Capitol Hill. The shooting also comes as the Senate considers confirmation of a new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the ATF, David Chipman, learned about the San Jose rail yard shooting that left nine people dead from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Wednesday. In light of the shooting, Feinstein asked what he would do as director of the ATF.

“As ATF strives to solve crimes, we will have to strive just as hard to prevent them from ever happening,” said Chipman.

The shooter in San Jose used semi-automatic handguns but for years the debate on Capitol Hill has centered around renewing the ban on high-capacity magazines and assault rifles. Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) have stopped that legislation.

“It’s not a machine gun, it’s a rifle — your public position is that you want to ban AR-15s?” Cruz asked.

“As ATF director if I’m confirmed I would simply enforce the laws on the books,” replied Chipman.

Kris Brown, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says even current gun laws aren’t being properly enforced in part because the ATF hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed director in years.

“With lack of leadership and a lot of work by the NRA, the ATF has been hamstrung and less than 1% of gun dealers with infractions are actually shut down or reformed in this country. And Americans every day in this country lose their lives because of that,” said Brown.

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