(USA Features) President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Tobacco, Alchohol, Firearms and Explosives supports a complete ban on popular AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles, he said Wednesday.
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, David Chipman said he backed gun control legislation that is also supported by Biden and most Democrats that would ban “assault weapons,” which they claim describes AR-15s and similar military look-alike weapons.
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“With respect to the AR-15, I support a ban as it has been presented in a Senate bill and supported by the president,” he said. “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.”
Still, Chipman was forced to admit that he did not know of any studies that found the last ban on those kinds of weapons, from 1994-2004, reduced murders or otherwise had any effect on gun crimes.
Pressed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on a bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and co-sponsored by 35 other Democrats, Chipman said he doesn’t think that legislation goes far enough because it does not address the tens of millions of those rifles currently in private hands. He said he believes that Americans who currently own such weapons should have to register them under the National Firearms Act of 1934.
Cruz blasted that suggestion, saying it would subject American gun owners to “onerous restrictions” some believe run afoul of the Second Amendment’s “infringement” clause.
“What I’ve said publicly, is that as an advocate, I prefer a system where the AR-15 and other assault weapons are regulated under the National Firearms Act,” Chipman said in response.
Critics slammed Chipman for his stance, including conservatives and gun rights groups.
“Americans deserve an ATF director that will crack down on violent criminals and criminal organizations — not law-abiding gun owners. President Biden’s nominee clung to his position that commonly owned firearms should be taxed and registered in a federal database,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said in a statement.
Estimates put the number of legally owned AR-15s in private hands at between 10 and 20 million. And while such weapons have sometimes been used in mass shootings, handguns by far are used in murders and suicides, according to federal statistics dating back years.
Feinstein’s bill targets some 200 models of rifles ranging from AR-15, AK-47, and Uzi-style weapons.