In this Sept. 25, 2019, file photo Giffords Law Center Senior Policy Advisor David Chipman speaks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on assault weapons on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: Andrew Harnik / AP

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Dave Miramant of Camden represents District 12 in the Maine Senate.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has not had a director confirmed by the Senate since 2015, but hopefully that’s about to change. Without a leader in place, fewer firearm dealers are being inspected, and the Bureau has fallen behind in terms of size, budget, and digitization. 

Last year, fewer than 6,000 firearm dealers were inspected — a significant drop from years past. And staffing is significantly lacking. In fact, there are currently fewer ATF agents than law enforcement officers in the city of Miami. This is dangerous for an agency that has jurisdiction country-wide, and even sometimes across the world.

President Joe Biden’s nominee for director of the ATF is the right choice for the role, and he will bring the agency up to speed on his first day. David Chipman is a dedicated law enforcement professional and public servant with over 30 years of experience in public safety. His dedication to protecting our communities is clear from his resume, as he responded to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center as well as the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing.

Chipman has also made it a lifelong priority to ensure that firearms and explosives aren’t getting into the hands of bad actors and terrorists, while at the same time being fiercely committed to protecting our Second Amendment rights. This is particularly important to us here in Maine. Maine is known for having superb hunting conditions, and we value the right to bear arms, with almost half of adults in Maine having at least one gun. Chipman understands that our communities must remain protected while not having our Second Amendment rights infringed upon.

It is high time that we have stable, consistent, and strong leadership at the helm of the ATF. And Chipman has support on both sides of the aisle from a variety of reputable voices. Seventeen state attorneys general are working to advocate for his confirmation, as well as numerous former ATF members, including members of leadership and retired special agents. Law enforcement groups too are fiercely supportive of Chipman’s confirmation, including the Police Executive Research Forum, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and Women in Federal Law Enforcement.

Many in Maine are counting on our leaders to support Chipman’s confirmation. Chipman can restore confidence in the bureau while at the same time protecting our community members. The Senate must vote to confirm Chipman as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms this year.