Biden’s ATF Nominee Wants to Ban AR-15s

David Chipman views law-abiding gun owners as criminals-in-waiting.

In Senate confirmation hearings on Wednesday, David Chipman, Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), confirmed his desire to ban the AR-15, the most commonly owned rifle in America.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked, “The AR-15 is one of, if not the most popular rifle in America. It’s not a machine gun. It’s a rifle. Your public position is that you want to ban AR-15s. Is that correct?” Chipman at least didn’t dodge the question: “With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as has been presented in a Senate bill and supported by the president.”

However, in an attempt to defend his position, he added, “The AR-15 is a gun I was issued on ATF’s SWAT team, and it’s a particularly lethal weapon. And regulating it as other particularly lethal weapons I have advocated for.” Chipman then pledged to “simply enforce the laws on the books” should he be confirmed, noting that “right now, there is no such ban on those guns.” That’s small comfort coming from a gun-grabbing activist who is consistently unable to define precisely what constitutes an “assault weapon.” (Here’s a definition.)

When Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) asked for a quick definition, Chipman responded, “There’s no way I could define an assault weapon,” though he offered “one definition that ATF currently uses.” But Kennedy was having none of the deflecting. He pressed for “Chipman’s personal definition,” since if confirmed he would be directing the ATF, not the other way around.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) then highlighted the significance of terminology by asking if stores would be required to label certain firearms as “assault weapons.” Chipman answered, “I don’t believe … that the firearms industry has used the term ‘assault rifle’ in their marketing since there was a ban on it.”

Cotton then astutely observed, “I think our exchange here illustrates that there really is no such thing as an assault weapon. That is a term that was manufactured by liberal lawyers and pollsters in Washington to try to scare the American people into believing that the government should confiscate weapons that are wildly popular for millions of Americans to defend themselves and their families and their homes.”

The Washington Examiner’s Tiana Lowe noted, “At one point, [Chipman] seemed to concede that [an ‘assault weapon’ is] whatever Congress decides it is. At another, he defined it as ‘any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22.’ This definition would encompass the overwhelming majority of rifles in a nation where private individuals own hundreds of millions of rifles.”

Chipman has repeatedly expressed his radical anti-Second Amendment views, from suggesting that illegal gunfire should be investigated as “potential homicide” to advocating for arresting people who fail background checks when attempting to purchase a firearm, as “this is a perfect opportunity to arrest people before committing crimes, rather than responding after the fact.” That’s a position Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) rightly called “especially troubling for someone who has been nominated to serve as the ATF director, because even setting aside for a minute the Second Amendment … this violates our most fundamental rules of due process.”

Regarding the Democrats’ and anti-gun lobby’s false narrative surrounding “assault weapons,” we have repeatedly noted the data shows year after year that rifles of any kind are used in only a fraction of all firearms-related deaths. To put it bluntly, AR-15s are not the primary weapon criminals use — not even close. Given that fact, it’s highly dubious for Chipman to single out America’s most popular rifle for banning. Apparently for Chipman, fiction matters more than facts when it comes to advocating against Americans’ Second Amendment rights. This is the same guy, after all, who made the demonstrably false claim that “at Waco, cult members used 2.5 caliber Barretts to shoot down two Texas Air National Guard helicopters.” No helicopter was shot down.

Just to name a couple this week, Biden picked a racist to lead the Civil Rights Division and an anti-Second Amendment radical to head the ATF. Protecting Americans’ Liberty is clearly not his agenda.

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