It’s a strange sign of our times when an elitist like Donald Trump Jr., from New York City, tells us Montanans what to believe and value while claiming that lifelong Montana farmers like U.S. Sen. Jon Tester don’t share our beliefs and values.
In a recent opinion piece published in several Montana newspapers (“Tester cannot support both Chipman and Second Amendment,” July 23, Missoulian), Trump Jr. states that Tester is not a “staunchly pro-Second Amendment” Montanan like the rest of us Montanans. He also claims that David Chipman, President Biden’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), is currently “the greatest threat” to our Second Amendment rights. U.S. Sen. Steve Daines seems to share these views, calling Chipman “Anti-Second Amendment.”
None of this, of course, is true.
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As a gun owner, former ATF special agent and internationally recognized gun safety expert, David Chipman is hardly “anti-Second Amendment.” As a Montana citizen, gun owner, former Force Recon Marine, and hunter, I fully support Chipman’s nomination, and urge my fellow Montanans to do the same.
It's been far too long since we've had a director of the ATF. In 2006, the National Rifle Association successfully pushed for changes to the Patriot Act, requiring Senate confirmation of an ATF director. Prior to that, the president simply chose a director. Since then, the NRA has blocked every nomination except one, from a variety of presidents, Democrats and Republicans.
Yes, Chipman supports sensible, proven restrictions regarding firearms to improve public safety, as do I, and many of my fellow Montanans and fellow gun owners. Does this violate our constitutional rights? No. There have and always will be restrictions on Second Amendment rights. I would have to meet stringent requirements to own an M60 machine gun. I am not allowed to have an M203 grenade launcher, an M1 Abrams tank, a LAAW (Light Anti-Tank Assault Weapon), Stinger anti-aircraft missile or a nuclear warhead. Those all seem like reasonable restrictions to me. We all draw the line somewhere.
Recent polls show that anywhere from 65-77% of Americans support further, sensible restrictions on firearms. Presidents as diverse in views and policies as Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all supported stricter background checks to purchase guns and bans on certain types of weapons. It’s time to drop the divisive, inflammatory, erroneous rhetoric and collectively work together to act.
David Chipman is exactly the kind of leader who can help unite us as a nation to rationally, reasonably and collectively decide where to draw the line and enact reasonable and effective restrictions to enhance the safety of us all. He is the most qualified person to lead ATF and the law-enforcement agents working every day to keep the public safe from violent crime.
The Senate should confirm David Chipman, and I urge all my fellow Montanans to express support for the most qualified leader this embattled agency would have.
A past president of the Montana Wildlife Federation, David Stalling is a gun owner, former Force Recon Marine and avid hunter who lives in Missoula.