During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, gun control lobbyist turned ATF nominee David Chipman struggled to provide his definition of an “assault weapon,” even though he has previously advocated for an assault weapons ban. When he eventually provided his definition, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) pointed out the nominee’s definition would ban most rifles in America.
“Senator, an ‘assault weapon’ would be, in the context of the question you asked, what Congress defines it as,” Chipman replied.
“So you’re asking us to ban ‘assault weapons,’ we have to write legislation. Can you tell me what is an ‘assault weapon?'” Cotton asked. “How would you define it if you were the head of the ATF? How have you defined it over the last several years in your role as a gun control advocate?”
According to Chipman, he can only recall one instance where the department has defined what an “assault weapon” actually is. “ATF, in that program, has defined an ‘assault rifle’ as any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22, which would include a .223, which is, you know, largely the AR-15 round.”
Cotton asked if Chipman wanted to ban any firearm larger than a .22 that has a detachable magazine. Chipman reiterated that his definition was solely for rifles.
“You asked me if ATF had used this term and I was sharing with you my knowledge of a program in which ATF has defined this term and it is in the demand letter 3 program,” the nominee explained. “And that rifle is a semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine with a round greater than a .22 caliber …”
“I’m amazed that might be the definition of an ‘assault weapon.’ That would basically cover every single modern sporting rifle in America today,” Cotton replied.
The ATF nominee stated the firearms industry previously used the term “assault rifle” in marketing materials but changed the term to “modern sporting rifle” after the 1994 assault weapons ban.
“I’ve been in Walmarts and I’ve been in Cabela’s and I’ve seen that you can find sections for pistols or handguns or for shotguns or for rifles because those are actual kinds of firearms,” Cotton clapped back. “Our conversation here illustrates that there really is no such thing as an ‘assault weapon.’ That is a term that was manufactured by liberal lawyers and pollsters in Washington to try and scare the American people into believing that the government should confiscate weapons that are widely popular for millions of Americans to defend themselves and their families and their homes.”
Senator @TomCottonAR asks Biden's ATF nominee David Chipman to define an "assault weapon":
"Any semi-automatic rifle capable of accepting a detachable magazine above the caliber of .22" pic.twitter.com/EA4NveiqKt
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 26, 2021
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, “Modern sporting rifles are chambered in .22 LR, .223 (5.56 x 45mm), 6.8 SPC, .308, .450 Bushmaster and in many other calibers.” Even though gun control advocates take aim at AR-15s, they are actually “chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the .30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag.”
Since 1990, 19.8 million AR-15s have gone into circulation, making it one of the most popular firearms in America.