Biden’s ATF nominee stingingly mocked ‘Tiger King’ gun owners as conspiracy minded, hoarding, rubes

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has conceded that “there are a lot of issues” surrounding President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Commentary about new gun owners made by still-unconfirmed nominee David Chipman is one of them.

“In their mind they might be competent; they might think that they’re die-hard, ready to go, but unfortunately they’re more like Tiger King. And they’re putting themselves and their families in danger,” Chipman said last year during an interview that is now getting additional notice on social media.

“And so what I would suggest is if those people who were first-time gun owners, if they did go out and buy a gun, I would secure that gun locked and unloaded and hide it behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky that you’ve stored in the cabinet, and only bring that out if the zombies start to appear. I don’t think they are,” he added.

Chipman went for the trifecta in comparing gun owners to imprisoned ex-big cat owner and firearms fan Joe Exotic who was the subject of the “Tiger King” Netflix documentary series that gained significant viewership and pop culture traction during the pandemic lockdown, as well as doomsday preppers, and those who fear the walking dead.


Chipman, a 25-year ATF agent, is a senior policy advisor for the Giffords gun control advocacy group named after former Democrat Congresswoman Gabby Gifford who was shot during a constituent meeting in Tucson, Ariz., on January 8, 2011.

Virtually all Republican senators oppose his nomination for the ATF top job because of his hostility to Second Amendment rights. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), for example, has described Chipman as a “notorious gun-grabber.”

Reacting to Chipman’s above remarks, U.S. Sen Mike Lee (R-Utah) called out Chipman for “flippant” and an “utterly condescending attitude toward first-time gun owners” during a confirmation hearing in late May. Chipman responded he was merely engaging in “self-depreciating humor.”

Upon Chipman’s nomination, Fox News host Tucker Carlson characterized the ex-federal agent as a “conspiracy nut” for claims about the 1993 ATF and allied agency siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

Chipman’s resurfaced comments have prompted a metaphorical rapid-fire response on Twitter. Here is a sampling:


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