The Corner

Politics & Policy

David Chipman, Anti-Gun Nut

Gun-control advocate David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), was in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee today. Questions were limited to five minutes per senator, which was good call by Democrats.

Chipman has already walked back his position on District of Columbia v. Heller, conceding that the Second Amendment is an individual right (his employers at Giffords disagree). He’s walked back his claim that helicopters were shot down at Waco with “.50-caliber Barretts.” He’s walked back his mockery of first-time gun owners. He’s walked back his contention that the government should be arresting gun owners “before they commit crimes.” He now says it was a mistake. It was also a mistake, he says, to claim that only criminals and gun lobbyists supported deregulating suppressors.

What he didn’t change his mind on, however, was the banning and confiscation of AR-15s. Chipman, in fact, wants to extend the National Firearms Act (NFA) to cover “assault weapons” as it does fully automatic guns. After prevaricating about the definition of “assault weapon” — the type of firearms, remember, he is already willing to ban — Chipman finally offered an obscure ATF definition, which includes any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine that holds ammunition above .22 caliber. That means a massive number of rifles, the vast majority of which would never be used in a crime.

It isn’t scaremongering to say that if Chipman’s ATF definition of “assault weapons” would fall under the NFA, there would be a ban on owning most semi-automatic rifles in the future, an effective retroactive ban, a national registry to keep track of it all, among many other restrictions and fees. Such a law would likely create tens of millions of criminals overnight. Chipman, of course, doesn’t have the power to implement any of these changes. Thank God.

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