David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), struggled to define an ‘assault weapon’ and said he supports a ban on AR-15s in a trainwreck of a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.
Responding to questioning by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who defined the AR-15 as “one of, if not the, most popular rifle in America,” Chipman said he supports a ban.
“With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as has been presented in a senate bill and supported by the president,” Chipman told Cruz.
He would, however, assure that if confirmed he would “simply enforce the laws on the books, and right now there is no such ban on those guns.”
David Chipman, the ATF nominee, engaged in a particularly contentious exchange with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) where he struggled to answer a very simple question – “What is an assault weapon?”
Chipman replied using what he recalled was an ATF definition: “Any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22, which would include the .223 which is largely the AR-15 round.”
“I’m amazed that that might be the definition of assault weapon,” Cotton replied. “That would basically cover every single modern sporting rifle in America today.”
Chipman deflected on offering his own personal definition of an assault weapon.
Cotton pressed Chipman on whether or not he would investigate Hunter Biden, the President’s son, over the possibility he falsified information on a background check to purchase a gun.
A Politico report in March indicated Hunter responded “no” to a question on a Firearms Transaction Record that asks, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
Biden was discharged from the Navy Reserve after failing a cocaine test and has an open and well-documented history of drug use.
“Lying on the form is a felony,” Politico reported at the time, “though prosecutions for it are exceedingly rare.”
“By his own admission Hunter Biden lied on that form, and by your earlier testimony, committed a serious felony,” pressed Cotton. “Should Hunter Biden be prosecuted for breaking this law?”
“Can I get your commitment that if you are confirmed you will, in fact, look into this matter and refer it for prosecution if you find that Hunter Biden violated the law?” he asked.
“I will ensure that all violations of law are investigated and referred,” Chipman replied. “I’m not sure that it has not been investigated.”
Biden’s ATF nominee was also grilled on comments he made in an interview referring to gun owners as the ‘Tiger King.’
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) hammered Chipman for an April 2020 interview with Cheddar where he mocked first-time gun owners who purchased firearms at the onset of the pandemic.
“There are risks to that choice,” he said in the interview. “They might think that they’re die-hard, ready to go, but unfortunately they’re more like Tiger King and they’re putting themselves and their family in danger.”
“It concerns me that you, as the nominee to be the director of the ATF, would have such a flippant and, if I may say so, utterly condescending attitude toward first-time gun owners in this country,” Lee said.
“Why would you choose to insult so many of your fellow Americans with a statement like this based on the fact that they purchased a gun?”
Chipman claimed he was referring to himself and using “self-deprecating humor.”
Chipman has, in the past, advocated for the necessity to limit “high-capacity” magazines saying anything approaching 100-round magazines is “not normal.”
Last January, Biden’s pick for ATF Director argued that the Second Amendment requires firearms to be “well regulated.”
Writing in an op-ed for The Roanoke Times, Chipman argued against local governments declaring themselves ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries.’
“The Second Amendment envisions firearms as being ‘well regulated,’ and individual sheriffs aren’t entitled to decide whether a particular regulation is constitutional—that’s the job of the courts,” he wrote.
Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tore into Chipman as an extremist being chosen as ATF nominee.
“Many see putting a committed gun-control proponent, like Mr. Chipman, in charge of ATF, is like putting a tobacco executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services or Antifa in charge of the Portland police department,” said Grassley.
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