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Donald Trump Jr. helped sink Biden's nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives over his support for gun regulations

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/9/2021 insider@insider.com (Eliza Relman)
Donald Trump Jr. holding a sign: Donald Trump Jr. speaks to his father's supporters during the Save America rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Sarasota, Florida, on July 3, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones © REUTERS/Octavio Jones Donald Trump Jr. speaks to his father's supporters during the Save America rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Sarasota, Florida, on July 3, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones
  • Donald Trump Jr. lobbied aggressively against Biden's nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
  • The White House is planning to withdraw David Chipman's nomination after facing bipartisan pushback.
  • Trump Jr., who remains involved in right-wing politics, is a fierce critic of even the most popular gun regulations.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Donald Trump Jr., former president Donald Trump's eldest son, lobbied aggressively against David Chipman, President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, whose nomination the White House is planning to withdraw amid pushback from moderate senators.

Republicans have condemned Chipman, a longtime former ATF special agent who leads ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' gun safety group, for supporting certain gun regulations, including reformed background checks and cracking down on illegal firearm trafficking.

In the evenly divided Senate, Chipman's confirmation would have rested on several red state Democrats, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, who face strong pro-gun lobbies and pressure from the right.

Trump Jr. targeted those lawmakers, publishing op-eds in a variety of local news outlets in Montana and West Virginia in which he called Chipman "the greatest threat" to Americans' Second Amendment rights and warned gun-owners that Chipman would "shred" their constitutional rights.

"We would be taking a guy whose current job is to advocate for guns being taken away from law-abiding citizens, and actually give him the power to do it," Trump Jr. wrote.

The businessman and political activist, who opposes virtually all restrictions on guns, repeatedly claimed Chipman would forcibly remove Americans' legally-owned firearms - an apparent reference to Biden's support for red-flag laws, which would temporarily take guns away from people deemed dangerous by their family members, law enforcement, or medical professionals.

"I want all of you guys to call your senators ... and make sure that this guy doesn't get confirmed," Trump Jr. said during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Texas in July. "Ask them, are they going to nominate someone that says they're going to take your guns away, your AR-15?"

Tester, Manchin, and other key centrist senators either wouldn't say how they'd vote on Chipman or came out against him. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who's voted for several Biden nominees, announced in June that she wouldn't support Chipman, calling him "unusually divisive" and "an outspoken critic of the firearms industry and has made statements that demean law-abiding gun owners."

Anti-gun control groups also poured money into opposing Chipman's nomination. In its campaign against Chipman, the National Rifle Association called him "a gun control extremist" who "cannot be trusted."

The ATF, which is charged with enforcing the country's federal gun laws, has only had one Senate-confirmed leader since 2006, in part because of the intense lobbying by the NRA and other pro-gun groups. Even the Trump administration's nominee for the role was brought down by Republican activists and lawmakers.

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