It was no secret President Joe Biden’s nominee to direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, David Chipman, supports a ban on commonly-owned semiautomatic firearms like the AR-15 and wants to force current “assault weapons” owners to register their firearms with the federal government through the National Firearms Act or forfeit their guns. After all, Chipman has worked as a paid gun control advocate for both Giffords (formerly Americans for Responsible Solutions and Legal Community Against Violence) and civilian disarmament financier Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. However, an exchange during the anti-gun fanatic’s May 26 Senate confirmation hearing broke new ground for American anti-gun extremism by revealing the outrageous range of rifles Chipman would ban.
At the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked the nominee, “Mr. Chipman you have called for an assault weapon ban. I have a simple question for you. What is an assault weapon?” After some evasion from Chipman, Sen. Cotton reiterated his question, which resulted in the following exchange.
Sen. Cotton: What is an assault weapon? How would you define it if you were the chair, the head of the ATF, how have you defined it over the last several years in your role as a gun control advocate?
Chipman: Senator, um if I’m confirmed as ATF director um you know my recollection is the only um process by which ATF has weighed in is I know there’s a demand letter three program which requires multiple reports, multiple sale reports on the southwestern border. ATF in that program has ATF in that program has defined an assault rifle as any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22…
For decades, gun control advocates have endorsed a feature test to determine what firearms are to be defined as “assault weapons.” Under this rubric, a semi-automatic firearm must be capable of accepting a detachable magazine and be equipped with one or more prohibited features in order to qualify as an “assault weapon.” Under the 1994 Clinton “assault weapons” ban, these features included items such as a pistol grip, bayonet mount, and adjustable stock.
Chipman’s answer endorses a wildly broader definition of “assault weapon” that would include any semiautomatic rifle above .22 caliber capable of accepting a detachable magazine, regardless of the rifle’s configuration.
Noting the nominee’s shocking answer, Sen. Cotton remarked, “I’m amazed that might be the definition of assault weapon that would basically cover every single modern sporting rifle in America today.”
Chipman’s favored definition and gun ban is more extreme than that proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Under her latest “assault weapons” bill, a semiautomatic rifle would fall under the ban if it has the capability to accept a detachable magazine and one item from of a list of enumerated features. Such features include a pistol grip, telescoping stock, threaded barrel, or barrel shroud.
The nominee’s position is also more radical than the policies found in America’s most anti-gun jurisdictions.
New York City defines “assault weapon” to include “Any semiautomatic centerfire or rimfire rifle… which has one or more of the following features: 1. folding or telescoping stock or no stock; 2. pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; 3. bayonet mount; 4. flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; 5. barrel shroud; 6. grenade launcher…”
New Jersey defines “assault firearm” by listing specific models of firearms and including “Any firearm manufactured under any designation which is substantially identical to any of the firearms listed…”
California’s definition incorporates a list of firearms similar to that of New Jersey. The state code further defines “assault weapon” as “A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that does not have a fixed magazine but has any one” of a list of enumerated features.
Chipman’s preferred definition of “assault weapon” and ban is even more extreme than the European Union’s.
The European Union sets the minimum gun control measures that its member states must adopt in what is called the European Firearms Directive. Following the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, the EU expedited plans for new gun restrictions. The changes altered the minimum gun control threshold, with a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms.
Under the pre-2017 European regime, automatic firearms were considered “Category A – Prohibited firearms,” which civilians were generally prohibited from possessing. Whereas, semi-automatic firearms were considered “Category B – Firearms subject to authorization,” which civilians were permitted to possess subject to government permission.
The final version of the revised European Firearms Directive moved certain semi-automatic firearms into Category A. These firearms included,
(b) long firearms which allow the firing of more than 11 rounds without reloading, if:
(i) a loading device with a capacity exceeding 10 rounds is part of that firearm; or
(ii) a detachable loading device with a capacity exceeding 10 rounds is inserted into it.
Under this new regime, an individual is still permitted to have a semi-automatic firearm like the AR-15, as long as it is not equipped with a magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. Chipman’s proposed definition and ban would target such firearms.
Even honest gun control advocates would blush if they stopped to consider some of the hunting rifles that would fall under a Chipman ban:
Given his outrageous history of working to ban firearms and undermine the Second Amendment, any senator expecting the support of the gun owning community must vote “no” on David Chipman’s nomination to lead ATF.
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Click here to follow NRA-ILA on Facebook.