ATF nominee tells lawmakers he supports AR-15 ban

David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said at his confirming hearing Wednesday he supports banning the AR-15.

A Senate panel vetted Chipman, along with other nominees for Justice Department posts, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned his position on the AR-15. 

“I support a ban as has been presented in a Senate bill and supported by the president. 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 said. 

“As ATF director, if I’m confirmed, I would simply enforce the laws in the books and right now, there is no such ban on those guns,” he added.

Cruz said that the AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America and that “it’s not a machine gun.”

Chipman is the policy adviser for gun violence prevention group Giffords and previously worked at ATF from 1988 to 2012. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) commented to start the hearing that Chipman would be only the second confirmed ATF director in the agency’s history and the first director to ever have served as an ATF special agent. 

The top Republican on the panel, Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa), argued that Chipman has misled the public on modern sports riffles, and condemned the “contempt to which he seems to view ordinary Americans who buy and carry firearms.” 

Chipman was also questioned by Republicans on his support for Congress to ban assault weapons and for universal background checks during the hearing, two actions Biden also supports.

He was asked by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) about if he thinks that District of Columbia v. Heller was rightly decided, which was the 2008 Supreme Court landmark ruling that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess firearms. 

“Senator, I’m a cop, not a lawyer,” Chipman said.

Tags AR-15 style rifle Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Charles Grassley Chipman Dick Durbin Firearms Joe Biden Josh Hawley Ted Cruz
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