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Published on August 6, 2021 2:42 AM

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Gun safety groups to Biden: Do more to get your point man confirmed
The White House says it's pushing for the president's ATF nominee. Activists say they could be doing a fair bit more.

The confirmation of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasingly in peril.

And now gun violence survivors and activists are going public with their long-simmering private frustrations, saying President Joe Biden could have done more.

In half a dozen interviews, those advocating for Chipman's confirmation complained that Biden and his top aides have not leaned enough on Democratic senators to get them to support the confirmation.

"The White House has really dropped the ball here and if Chipman is not confirmed that will be a significant letdown to survivors of gun violence across the country — and will have the effect of undermining their effort to reduce gun homicides," said Igor Volsky, executive director of the advocacy group Guns Down America. "Biden told us during the campaign trail that this is a priority and the administration insists that he is in charge of driving this issue. He needs to step on the accelerator."

Frustrations became evident during a Zoom call on Thursday afternoon with Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement — the latest in months of meetings in which advocates have brought up Chipman's nomination.

According to two people familiar with the call, a small group of survivors and those pushing firearms restrictions urged the White House to be more aggressive on the nomination. They also encouraged the administration to support ending the filibuster to allow firearms legislation to more easily pass the evenly-divided Senate, the people said.

Activists and survivors say that they recognize that the president's time has been occupied by weighty items like the fast-spreading Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus and major social and infrastructure spending plans. But they argue that more political capital could have been spent on such a critical component of the administration's gun agenda, and that it should not have fallen so much on the Department of Justice and activists themselves to make the case for Chipman. Garland has reached out to several senators to ask for their support, according to the Justice Department.

"I appreciate and respect all of the work that the White House is doing on infrastructure and Covid," said Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in 2018. "However, the escalating gun violence in this country is equally important. And the confirmation of David Chipman to be the ATF director ... matters as much as everything else that they are working on, and I hope they understand that..."


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Previous presidential campaigns

Joe Biden 1988 presidential campaign and Joe Biden 2008 presidential campaign Biden's 2020 presidential campaign was his third attempt to seek election for president of the United States. His first campaign was made in the 1988 Democratic Party primaries where he was initially considered one of the potentially strongest candidates. However, newspapers revealed plagiarism by Biden in law school records and in speeches, a scandal which led to his withdrawal from the race in September 1987.

He made the second attempt during the 2008 Democratic Party primaries, where he focused on his plan to achieve political success in the Iraq War through a system of federalization. Like his first presidential bid, Biden failed to garner endorsements and support. He withdrew from the race after his poor performance in the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2008. He was eventually chosen by Barack Obama as his running mate and won the general election as vice president of the United States, being sworn in on January 20, 2009.


Vice President Joe Biden was seen as a potential candidate to succeed Barack Obama in the 2016 presidential election. On October 21, 2015, following the death of his son Beau, Biden announced that he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

During a tour of the U.S. Senate with reporters on December 5, 2016, Biden refused to rule out a potential bid for the presidency in the 2020 presidential election. He reasserted his ambivalence about running on an appearance of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on December 7, in which he stated "never say never" about running for president in 2020, while also admitting he did not see a scenario in which he would run for office again. He seemingly announced on January 13, 2017, exactly one week prior to the expiration of his vice presidential term, that he would not run. However, four days later, he seemed to backtrack, stating "I'll run if I can walk." In September 2017, Biden's daughter Ashley indicated her belief that he was thinking about running in 2020.

Time for Biden, a political action committee, was formed in January 2018, seeking Biden's entry into the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.

The PAC was created by Matthew Graf of Rock Island, Illinois, and Collin West of East Moline, Illinois.Although it sought Biden's entry into the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, it was not affiliated with or sponsored by Biden himself.The founders also stated that if Biden announced, a run of the committee said resources would be merged with the campaign.

The organization was criticized by some, who felt it was created too early and that Democratic effort should be spent on the 2018 midterm elections.