Over the past few days, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, who had originally suggested he was open to the pick, told the White House that he had also soured on the selection, Democratic aides said.
“I knew this confirmation process would be difficult,” Mr. Chipman said in a statement, “and while ultimately we weren’t successful, it remains essential that A.T.F. is led by a confirmed director who is accountable to the public and places no special interests before the safety of our children and our communities.”
In his comment, Mr. Biden was careful not to call out either senator, whose votes he needs to pass his budget bill and other legislation. “While my administration has worked to strengthen law enforcement and crack down on gun crime,” he said, “Republicans have opposed us at every turn.”
But Mr. Chipman’s supporters have long been concerned that the White House, preoccupied with cutting a bipartisan infrastructure deal for much of the spring and summer, had not pushed back hard enough against a coordinated effort by the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations to portray the nominee as a radical bent on undermining Second Amendment rights.
“We needed 50 Democrats; that didn’t happen, so simply blaming Republicans obscures the fact that the gun industry’s influence goes far beyond the Republican base and into the Democratic Party,” said Igor Volsky, the founder of Guns Down America, a nonprofit advocacy group that has called on Mr. Biden to appoint a national gun violence coordinator. The White House has resisted the move.
“What I find disappointing is the president isn’t offering a plan of how we go forward from here,” Mr. Volsky added. “That’s really surprising from a president who said that stopping gun violence was a priority during the campaign.”
During a contentious confirmation hearing in May, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee seized on Mr. Chipman’s comments about gun owners, including an interview in which he had likened the buying of weapons during the coronavirus pandemic to a zombie apocalypse.