As Biden Withdraws Chipman Nomination, He Should Create a National Office of Gun Violence Prevention

September 17, 2021

Biden Promised Action During Joint Address to Congress in April

WASHINGTON -- Following a report today that the Biden Administration plans to pull the nomination of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Guns Down America is calling on the Biden Administration to take bold executive action and create a National Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

“The White House’s withdrawal of David Chipman’s nomination to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) represents a significant setback for the Biden administration’s efforts to fight rising gun violence and illicit firearm trafficking,” said Igor Volsky, Founder and Executive Director of Guns Down America. “This is a boon for gun manufacturers that profit from the weak enforcement of existing gun laws and have spent millions maligning this dedicated public servant.

“Moving forward, if President Joe Biden is to live up to his campaign promise of tackling the public health crisis of gun violence, he must create a White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention and appoint a senior official to coordinate the critical work of building safer communities with fewer guns.

“This is the bare minimum for what an administration dedicated to addressing the growing crisis of gun violence should be doing and in the coming weeks and months, Americans across the country will hold President Biden accountable to the commitments he made to us in order to secure the presidency.”

The call for Biden to take bold executive action comes after the Trace reported that the Biden Department of Justice defended a federal law that shields most gun manufacturers from civil lawsuits when their products are used to commit a crime -- PLCAA. As a candidate, Biden supported the repeal of PLCAA.

Guns Down America, March for Our Lives, Newtown Action Alliance and Survivors Empowered previously made a formal request to the Biden Administration to create an office of gun violence prevention in a letter delivered to the administration on Aug. 25. View the letter here.

Noting that these actions represent the floor, not the ceiling for what progress on gun violence prevention can look like, the letter calls on Biden to:

  1. Establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention in order to streamline the government’s efforts to reduce violence, recognize gun violence as a national security crisis and a public health and prevention priority, and establish a long-term sustained effort to reduce gun deaths.
  2. Unveil a comprehensive strategy and proactive plan for pursuing your legislative agenda on gun reform in a way that creates a viable pathway for securing passage of these critical initiatives while supporters of reform still hold a narrow majority in the Senate, eliminating the filibuster if necessary.
  3. Use the presidential bully pulpit to talk to Americans about the risks and dangers of firearm ownership within the home and in our communities while also highlighting successful community efforts and legislative reforms that have saved lives across the nation.

The power to create task forces is embedded in the president’s Article II, Section 2 powers, which allow the President to “require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices,” which includes cabinet members, who head executive departments. Past presidents have established White House task forces using executive actions or presidential memorandums. There currently exist at least 8 offices of gun violence prevention in cities and states across the country.

The authority has been used on a bipartisan basis to create task forces on drug addiction (Trump) crime and public safety (Trump) a Council on women and girls (Obama), among others.