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Biden ATF director nominee: ‘I support a ban’ on AR-15 rifles

ATF Agent (ATF/Released)
May 26, 2021

President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), David Chipman, told lawmakers Wednesday that he supports a ban on the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Chipman responded to Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) question on whether the nominee would support a ban on the AR-15, which Cruz referred to as “one of – if not the – most popular rifle in America.”

“With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as it has been presented in a Senate bill and supported by the president,” Chipman responded. “The AR-15 is a gun I was issued on ATF’s SWAT team. It’s a particularly lethal weapon and regulating it as other particular lethal weapons I have advocated for.”

Chipman went on to acknowledge that he wasn’t familiar with any data that would indicate a ban on weapons would be effective at reducing gun violence, claiming that studies have reached “mixed conclusions.”

Earlier this year, President Biden nominated Chipman for the position, calling him “the right person” the role.

“Today, I’m proud to nominate David Chipman to serve as the Director of the AFT.  David knows the AFT well.  He served there for 25 years.  And Vice President Harris and I believe he’s the right person, at this moment, for this important agency,” Mr. Biden said during a speech on gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden.

“And I’ve said before: My job, the job of any President, is to protect the American people.  Whether Congress acts or not, I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal as President to keep the American people safe from gun violence,” he continued.

A former ATF agent and gun control activist, Chipman also previously expressed his support of criminalizing private firearm sales during an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. The proposed restrictions could become reality after the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 8), which expands federal background checks to private transfers.

“Just the same reason we don’t let citizens sell prescription drugs to each other. The licensed gun dealer serves as an independent third party required to verify the identity of the buyer and request a background check from the FBI,” Chipman said during the AMA. “Guns purchased from gun stores can be traced if used in crime so the issue is more than simply the background check, it’s record-keeping that helps police solve crime.”

Since leaving the federal agency, Chipman has also worked with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford at her Courage to Fight Gun Violence organization as a senior policy advisor “to save lives from gun violence.”