Gun control

Biden ATF Director Nominee Wants to Ban the AR-15, the Most Popular Rifle in America

Photo Credit: Image by Jenny Lea from Pixabay

President Joe Biden’s selection of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives set off alarm bells among Second Amendment advocates in early April.

There were concerns over questionable remarks he’d made on social media site Reddit about the 1993 Waco Siege. He has also called for a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault rifles. I posted about Chipman’s remarks here.

At the time CNN reported that Chipman “has a long history at the agency [ATF] and sports credentials in gun control advocacy sure to excite firearm safety groups.” He is a “fierce advocate for gun control.”

Chipman currently serves as an adviser to the gun control organization founded by former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat. Giffords was shot and very seriously wounded during a 2011 campaign event during which 19 people were injured.

As expected, the nominee faced some tough questions from Republicans during a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Chipman, “The AR-15 is one of, if not the most, popular rifles 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?”

“With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as has been presented in a Senate bill and supported by the President,” replied Chipman. “The AR-15 is a gun I was issued on ATFs SWAT team and it’s a particularly lethal weapon. And regulating it as other particularly lethal weapons I have advocated for. As ATF Director if I’m confirmed, I would simply enforce the laws on the books and right now, there is no such ban on those guns.”

“So you want to ban the most popular rifle in America,” Cruz said.



Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Chipman to define an “assault weapon.”

He tried to dodge the question. but Cotton pushed. He then offered the definition of an assault weapon from an ATF program.  “… an assault rifle as any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22, which would include a .223, which is, you know largely the AR-15 round.”

Cotton asked, “So you believe that every weapon that takes a detachable magazine, that can take a .22 round — or 5.56 in military parlance — should be defined as an assault weapon?”

The Senator repeated his question. “A detachable magazine that takes a .556 or .22 round should be defined as an assault weapon?”

“Senator, you asked me if ATF had used this term, and I was sharing with you my knowledge of a program in which ATF has defined this term,” Chipman replied.

“I’m amazed that might be the definition of assault weapon. That would basically cover every single modern sporting rifle in America today,” Cotton stated.



Texas Sen. John Cornyn asked Chipman if, in his view, a law-abiding gun owner was a threat to public safety. “If the term law-abiding means someone has lawfully possessed a gun, there are often occasions that that person then goes on to commit a violent crime…”

That answer didn’t go over too well with the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). YAL is the nation’s most active youth libertarian organization and a longtime critic of gun control. The group has officially spoken out against the Chipman appointment.



Below is a statement from YAL senior spokesperson Eric Brakey:

“After declaring the Bill of Rights not ‘absolute’ and pushing for ‘Red Flag’ gun confiscation, President Biden has appointed David Chipman, a career government agent whose history has been stained by the blood of American citizens, to lead the ATF. Having infamously participated in the 1993 Waco siege—in which the ATF used military-grade weaponry (including fully automatic rifles) to kill 82 men, women, and children—Chipman now campaigns against private gun owners alongside Michael Bloomberg-funded organizations like Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety. Chipman loves guns, so long as government agents are pointing them at us, and not the other way around.”

YAL is the national leader in defending the Second Amendment on the state level. Through the work of YAL’s Hazlitt Action Program, constitutional carry has been enacted in Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, and Oklahoma, and is soon to be passed in Alabama and Louisiana. Constitutional carry permits citizens to carry firearms without a license or permit.

At the time of Chipman’s nomination, Politico wrote that it may not be easy to confirm Chipman or any nominee for that matter with a 50-50 Senate. They point out that ever since the ATF Director position became Senate-confirmed, the agency has had “mostly acting directors.” The exception was Todd Jones who was confirmed “in 2013 after a years-long stint as acting director.”

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