Dan Penza

Uncertainty looms for many as President Joe Biden withdraws his nominee for the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), David Chipman, as both proponents and critics of the Second Amendment to the Constitution are unaware of what comes next. Though Chipman’s clear position in favor of gun control and previous employment as an ATF agent makes his withdrawal a victory for many and a defeat for others, it is unclear exactly where Biden’s new nominee will stand, creating cause for worry for both sides of the issue.

Until the unknown makes itself clear, people will continue to wonder what the future of the ATF may look like. The reason for the intense pushback against Chipman was primarily due to his arguably extreme position on gun control and was influenced in part by misinformation surrounding his alleged involvement in the Waco Massacre, a highly controversial law enforcement siege that resulted in the targeted building being burned down, causing the deaths of 25 children who were inside as well as two pregnant women and several others. The ultimate death toll, not including the 4 ATF agents that were killed, was 81 people. With numbers like that, it makes sense why so many people would be angered to hear that Biden’s nominee for the director of the ATF would be involved in some way, especially after seeing a picture circulating on social media that allegedly pictured David Chipman posing in front of the burned down building.

As it turns out, the image did not picture Chipman, but rather another man who was involved in the siege. Chipman was involved in the situation, but did not take part in the siege itself and actually arrived in Waco, Texas weeks after the siege took place. He was sent to work on an investigative review of the incident, not to raid the compound.

Given how easily the image circulated on social media, it is not far-fetched to believe that something similar could happen to Biden’s new nominee. If they are just as supportive of gun control as Chipman, it likely won’t make much of a difference in whether or not they are accepted. However, if they are less supportive of gun control, any misinformation could be the difference between acceptance and rejection.

As of now (September 23), nobody is publicly aware of who President Biden will pick to be the new nominee, and it’s possible that Biden himself has not yet decided. Regardless of his pick, champions of the second amendment and proponents of gun control alike will be on the edges of their seats waiting for a decision and even though this decision may not seem very important to an elementary, middle, or high school student, it may have more of an impact than one might think.

The reason the ATF was founded was to keep its target markets properly regulated to ensure the safety of the people and the nation, though their success is notably debated. Part of their job is to use their power to protect schools, and in a country where school shootings have presented themselves as a more notable issue than in most other countries, this will undoubtedly be on the minds of the new nominee and everyone involved in making decisions for the ATF. Students’ mental health and wellness need to be prioritized as an important deterrent to shootings, but that is largely outside the ATF’s reach. What they can do is work to find ways to restrict a would-be shooter’s ability to access a firearm. How they would do so is anybody’s guess, but it is more than likely that they would at least develop some sort of proposed solution. Just as with anything the ATF does, there will be those who support such a solution and those who are against it. The new nominee, if accepted as director, more than likely will influence the result of the solution based on their personal beliefs.
Politics are confusing, and the nomination process for the position of director of the ATF is no different. There’s misinformation and directly contrasting viewpoints in just about every example, all of which fight to determine the outcome. This was proven with the nomination and withdrawal of David Chipman and it will likely be proven again with President Biden’s new nominee, whoever they may be. Despite all the uncertainty and chaos, one thing is certain: the new nominee will have some sort of effect on our daily lives, be it large or small, and is something worth keeping in mind for all once the new nominee is set in stone.