By Aidan Johnston, Gun Owners Of America
“With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban.”
These are the words of David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Bingo! The Biden Administration is trying to ban “assault weapons.”
What’s new? Biden’s latest nominee thinks “assault weapons” like AR-15s can be banned the same way bump stocks were banned: illegally by ATF without an act of Congress.
The Trump Administration attempted to ban bump stocks—a firearm accessory—as an NFA machine gun by changing the ATFs interpretation of a statute (i.e., without any new legislation).
This is the model that David Chipman wants ATF to mimic in imposing a “large capacity and detachable magazine” ban.
However, a three judge panel in the 6th Circuit court of appeals ruled that “a bump stock cannot be classified as a machine gun” in Gun Owners of America v. Garland ordering a lower court to provide a preliminary injunction against the ATF’s implementation of the bump stock ban.
Clearly, a bump stock is not a machine gun – and neither is a detachable magazine that can hold over 10 rounds.
In fact, any attempted regulation based on the bump stock ban would be just as illegal and just as much an abuse of power.
Given the 6th Circuit’s ruling that smacked down the ATF’s overreach on the bump stock ban, does David Chipman still believe the ATF should mirror the bump stock ban to arbitrarily and illegally ban more firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition? What about the other “legal and lethal” products?
The answer is overwhelmingly: YES HE DOES!
At the hearing he happily iterated that he supports a ban on AR-15s and that his job is to enforce the laws Congress already has on the books.
But according to his opinion in Legal and Lethal: 9 Products That Could Be the Next Bump Stock, Chipman says that the laws we have on the books already allow for such a ban.
The document purports to show how the ATF could arbitrarily ban certain shotguns, pistols, ammunition, and more by regulating them under the National Firearms Act without an act of Congress.
Here he defines “assault weapons” as “semiautomatic firearms equipped with” so-called “large capacity magazines.”
He goes on to argue that firearms with “large capacity and detachable magazines” ought to be regulated under the NFA as machine guns.
He deceptively paints semiautomatic firearms with “large capacity magazines” as machine guns by saying:
The danger posed by firearms that enable shooters to continue firing in this manner is the same reason Congress chose to include machine guns in the NFA when it was originally enacted: these weapons enable a shooter to fire many bullets very quickly. […] The NFA refers to machine guns as those firearms that discharge more than one shot “without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” Firearms developed since the NFA and equipped with large capacity magazines rarely require manual reloading, but they can expel a lot of ammunition in a brief period of time. They do so by allowing a trigger to be pulled many times very easily and ensuring that there is almost always another bullet ready to go.
While Chipman admits, that “semi-automatic firearms equipped with large capacity magazines do not, however, fall under the NFA,” he is implying that this is only the ATF’s present interpretation.
A Chipman ATF is sure to see “large capacity and detachable magazines” as Item #9 in line to be banned using current law. Just. Like. Bump Stocks.
Except now everyone should know: the bump stock ban was illegal.
Aidan Johnston is the Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, a nonprofit grassroots lobbying organization dedicated to protecting the right to keep and bear arms without compromise. GOA represents over two million members and activists, and can be found at www.gunowners.org. You can follow Aidan on Twitter @RealGunLobbyist. Click here to join Gun Owners of America.