Anti-gun ATF Nominee Successfully Defeated

Canterbury Nomination Withdrawn

Congratulations on your latest pro-gun victory!

Join with us in celebrating the defeat of Chuck Canterbury, the anti-gun nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives!

The Trump Administration has finally formalized their withdrawal of Chuck Canterbury’s nomination for ATF Director after the anti-gun nominee sat on the backburner following his disastrous Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last July.

This is a move GOA’s no-compromise gun rights activists have been calling for since Trump first announced Chuck’s nomination.

What really happened…

Despite high praises from some firearm-related lobbying organizations and silence from others, a few days after Canterbury’s May 24th, 2019 nomination, GOA sounded the alarm, raising concerns that:

  • He’s testified before Congress to support anti-gunners like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Attorney General Eric Holder.
  • Under his watch, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) backed Congressional measures to expand the unconstitutional and failing NICS system—the same system where 95% of the initial denials are false positives.
  • And on the state level, the FOP under his watch has supported Universal Background Checks and opposed Constitutional Carry.

We knew that Canterbury would be subject to a hearing and markup vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee next. The committee is made up of 10 Democrats and 12 Republicans, with Democrats voting against every Trump nominee. Canterbury could not afford to lose a single Republican vote, or his nomination would fail to report favorably to the Senate floor—a death sentence for most nominees.

Our strategy was set; we spent the next month on Capitol Hill working to inform Senators of Canterbury’s past anti-gun transgressions as president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Supported by your grassroots activism through emails and especially phone calls, the “No Compromise” message was clearly heard on Capitol Hill.

Led by Senator Mike Lee, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee—like Senators John Kennedy, Josh Hawley, and Joni Ernst—grilled Chuck Canterbury on his anti-gun record, where he walked back certain positions. Unfortunately for him, he also gave us more causes for concern, such as promising anti-gun Senator Kamala Harris that he would enforce a so-called “assault weapons” ban.

In his closing statement, Senator Lee expressed GOA’s concerns well, saying to the nominee,

You’ve embraced a number of policies that run roughshod over the rights of law-abiding citizens in favor of the authority of the government […] making life more difficult for law-abiding American citizens while doing little-or-nothing to restrict actual criminal behavior. […] Your answers today have unfortunately not alleviated the concerns which I hoped you might be able to alleviate today.

Later that week, it became even more clear that Gun Owners of America’s grassroots efforts were working. The Free Beacon and The Hill reported that Senators Lee, Hawley, Kennedy and Sasse had voiced some form of opposition to Canterbury to the Trump Administration. Assuming the reports were true, we were looking at a committee markup vote that would have defeated the Canterbury nomination.

The day of the scheduled vote, the Free Beacon reported a GOP staffer as saying,

Chuck Canterbury does NOT have sufficient support in the Judiciary Committee and is now expected to be held up instead of getting a vote today. [Among other things,] Republican members are [c]oncerned about his stances on gun control.

For the next two weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee held several votes on other Trump nominees, but not Canterbury. After the Senate returned from their October recess, Canterbury’s name failed to appear on the committee’s agenda. It is in this state of parliamentary limbo that Chuck Canterbury sat for the last several months.

But last week, POLITICO reported on the final nail in the nominee’s coffin. President Trump withdrew Chuck Canterbury’s nomination to ATF Director officially on May 19, 2020.

What comes next?

While the saga of this anti-gun nominee is over, there will always be another.

The next ATF Director will have control over the future of the unconstitutional and arbitrary bump stock ban, the future of homemade firearms, and a great many other important matters.

Americans, by right, do not deserve an agency like the ATF dedicated to violating constitutionally-protected rights.

As the cliché goes, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should be a convenience store, not a government agency.

But considering the ATF’s existence, which we are dedicated to fighting whenever possible, gun owners could use an ally dedicated to deregulation and who is committed to non-enforcement of any future gun control—like homemade firearm bans, etc.

We ask that you contact President Trump, thank him for withdrawing the nomination, and urging him to only consider future nominees who are truly no-compromise and support the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, we will maintain our cautious watch on matters here in the Capital Beltway and keep you posted on further developments.

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