“Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key position in his Administration,” the White House announced May 24, “Kenneth Charles Canterbury, Jr., of South Carolina, to be the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.”
He’s not up for “acting director,” like the outgoing Thomas Brandon, but a fully empowered “real” director. If confirmed he’ll be only the second one since 2006, with Fast and Furious “gunwalking” cover-up appointee B. Todd Jones taking over from the hopelessly Peter Principled Kenneth E. Melson, and not quite lasting out the Obama administration until the NFL offered greener pastures.
Naturally, the question is what kind of ATF director will Canterbury be, and what can gun owners expect? It’s not like the history between the two groups, especially with the recent “bump stock” rule reversal, has led to anything but further distrust. Face it, the interests of those who believe in “shall not be infringed” and those tasked with the infringements can never mesh, so the best we can hope for is someone who is not a doctrinaire gun-grabber.
"You`ve also spent a lot of time reminding members of Congress that FOP members are gun owners who support the Second Amendment,” NRA-ILA’s Chris Cox prompted, rather than asked about in a softball interview where he lobbed easy questions designed to show members Canterbury was a trusted pal. “In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, you said `I take a back seat to no one in my reverence for the Second Amendment.’”
True, FOP interests coincided with the industry on the Tiahrt amendment, which prohibits the release of firearms tracing data outside of law enforcement, because to do so could blow investigations and put officers and witnesses at risk. As for objecting to microstamping, that was because it was perceived as having “extremely limited utility,” not because FOP wouldn’t welcome technology that works. As for supporting the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, again, the motivation was self-interest to protect “the integrity of investigations, and the safety of law enforcement officers,” not any special “reverence” for the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
As far as that goes, FOP was all for the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act and nationwide concealed carry for current and retired cops. They also complained to the NFL for not letting off-duty officers carry at games. But on their “Legislation Opposed for the 115th Congress,” declaration, they include “the ‘Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,’ which would allow any civilian concealed carry permit holder to travel to any other State issuing concealed carry permits without any training or safety requirements.” Like the hapless DEA agent who shot himself in the leg in front of a class full of terrified schoolchildren, Canterbury considers his guys “the Only Ones professional enough” to bear arms.
That’s some “reverence.”
Also problematic is the testimony Canterbury gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2009 that Cox referred to when the FOP head was backing Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination. “In fact, if I thought that Judge Sotomayor’s presence on the court posed a threat to my Second Amendment right, I would not be supporting her here today,” he declared. The thing is, when he said that it was already well known that she was “one of only three federal appellate judges in America to issue a court opinion saying that the Second Amendment does not apply to states.”
Surprising no one, Sotomayor was a vote against individual rights in the Heller case and against incorporation in the McDonald case. That makes it fair to ask why “Reporter” Whitney Tipton wrote such a glowing tribute to Canterbury’s 2A bona fides in a May 27 puff piece for the ostensibly “conservative” The Daily Caller. It really is baffling.
Calling the Canterbury nomination correctly is the National Association for Gun Rights, which put out a May 24 alert warning “Anti-Gunner Nominated as Next ATF Director.”
“Unfortunately, Canterbury has a long history of publicly supporting and endorsing anti-gun policies, anti-gun Supreme Court nominees, and anti-gun high ranking government officials,” the release documents. “In his official capacity as President of the National Fraternal Order of Police, Canterbury has supported radical anti-gun Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, supported former Attorney General Eric Holder – Obama’s head honcho who ran the deadly Fast and Furious gun running program, [and] supported expanding the federal government’s gun registration schemes.”
The Holder connection is a good discovery on their part. The occasion was a confirmation hearing conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Canterbury was as gushing about Holder as Cox was about him. “As the spokesperson of the largest law enforcement organization ... we are very pleased to be here to offer our strong support for this candidate to be the next Attorney General of the United States,” Canterbury testified. “His positions, his policy work, and the official acts were consistent with the goals of the FOP, and we have every reason to believe that he will be an exemplary U.S. Attorney General with whom we will have a very productive relationship.”
We probably won’t stop the Canterbury appointment from going forward, especially with all the praise for the guy coming from prominent, supposedly “pro-gun” quarters that excuse every Trump disappointment as “3D chess mastery.” But the proper reaction to all the unearned praise invites nothing so much as a memorable line from “The Outlaw Josey Wales” in rebuttal: “Don’t p*** down my back and tell me it’s rainin’.”
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a regular featured contributor for Firearms News
and AmmoLand Shooting Sports News
, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,”
and posts onTwitter: @dcodrea