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AR-15 owners may have to submit fingerprints, register guns and more under new House bill

A rack of various modern sporting rifles, mostly AR-15s, in Gallenson's Gun Shop, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. (Michael McConville/Wikimedia Commons)
August 09, 2021

Nine Democrat members of Congress, led by Florida’s Ted Deutch, introduced legislation (H.R.4953) Friday in the House of Representatives to amend the National Firearms Act to include “any semiautomatic rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine,” such as the popular AR-15.

The move would force owners to be put on a federal registry, submit fingerprints, photos, notify law enforcement officers and wait over nine months for approval, as well as pay a $200 tax, in accordance with National Firearms Act requirements.

The bill comes as David Chipman, a retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agent and current President Joe Biden nominee to head the agency, continues to face scrutiny in Congress.

In 2018, Chipman said he would support a measure like H.R. 4953, telling Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball that he supports “treating [AR-15 rifles] just like machine guns.”

“To me, if you want to have a weapon of war, the same gun that was issued to me as a member of [the] ATF SWAT team, it makes sense that you would have to pass a background check, the gun would have to be in your name, and there would be a picture and fingerprints on file,” Chipman said.  

“To me, I don’t mind doing it if I want to buy a gun. These policies just protect the criminal. Like, I don’t think you should be able to anonymously purchase 20 AR-15s at one time, and the government shouldn’t know,” he continued. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all that you have to pass a background check to own a weapon of war.”

On Saturday, House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Biden to withdraw Chipman as the nominee, The Hill reported.

“The Senate has spent quite enough time flirting with this profoundly misguided nomination. The American people deserve a trustworthy steward leading the ATF. … It is time the Biden administration revisit this decision and send us somebody who fits that description,” McConnell said.

According to the official Biden-Harris website, President Biden supports reclassifying AR-15s under the NFA. The president would also like to reduce stockpiling of weapons and restrict the number of firearms an American can purchase per month to one.

As candidate for President, Biden was asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper whether he would take away Americans’ firearms, to which he responded, “Bingo! You’re right if you have an assault weapon.”

“Right now, there’s no legal way that I’m aware of where you could deny the right if they had legally purchased them,” Biden continued. “But we can, in fact, make a major effort to get them off the street and out of the possession of people.”