What started as a spectacle in the Senate months before has finally come to an end. Trump’s troubled ATF nominee, Kenneth Charles “Chuck” Canterbury, has been withdrawn. The man described by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) as “very problematic” was nominated to take the seat as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive back in September. The nomination was withdrawn after an administration official said Canterbury would have never made out of the Judiciary Committee for a vote on the House floor. Canterbury had been the subject of deep GOP opposition within the committee, with Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) expressing they would oppose Canterbury’s nomination. Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mike Lee (R-Ut.) also voiced concerns about the nomination.
Canterbury’s nomination was put on ice once already last year, after concerns were initially brought to the committee about some of Canterbury’s stances and comments on gun control. Trump renominated Canterbury for the position in February. While serving as president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, Canterbury voiced support for controversial ‘red flag’ laws. Such laws typically allow any member of the public to report a gun owner to authorities for vague personal concerns, which most often leads to gun confiscations without due process. During his tenure, Canterbury also championed universal background checks and supported the ineffective 1994 assault weapons ban. Canterbury later said he was “committed to fully enforcing any assault weapons bans” when questioned by failed Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris. Canterbury also stated he would “be happy” to work with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) to draft additional red flag laws and gun confiscation language.
When pressed by Republican senators during confirmation hearings, Canterbury said he was opposed to Texas Republican senator John Cornyn’s Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill. Cornyn’s bill would create a uniform set of federal guidelines for concealed carry permits, requiring unconstitutionally-obliged states such as New York and California to recognize all concealed-carry permits issued to any other states’ residents. The bill would also require all states to begin shall-issue permitting, eliminating the bureacratic barriers that allow may-issue states’ authorities to largely deny concealed carry permits to their residents.
In short, Chuck Canterbury is quite anti-gun and the GOP senate was thus rightfully unhappy about his nomination. The second and final withdrawal of Canterbury marks just another in a string of failed nominees which have plagued the ATF’s leadership since the position became Senate-confirmed. The only confirmed ATF director was Todd Jones, who overcame dramatic Senate proceedings to take the seat with an official title in 2013. The position has been held by short-lived acting directors ever since. The White House officially pulled Canterbury’s nomination yesterday afternoon with no reason provided. It’s not clear when, or even if, a new nominee will be provided for potential confirmation.