Biden ATF nominee made questionable statements about suppressors, automated weapons

Gun suppressors tweet (Twitter)

David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to guide the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has some questionable concepts on gun suppressors and assault weapons. 

Gun management advocates have praised the nomination of Chipman, who was an ATF particular agent for 25 years and presently serves as senior coverage adviser to gun violence prevention group Giffords, highlighting the importance of the ATF director’s position in imposing gun legal guidelines.

Gun rights advocates, however, have expressed alarm at Chipman’s stances on gun-related matters, together with suppressors and assault weapons.

“Anybody who has labored in regulation enforcement for so long as I’ve will inform you that silencers weren’t designed to guard listening to, they had been designed to make it troublesome for individuals to determine the sound of gunfire and find lively shooters,” Chipman mentioned in a 2017 assertion.

Individuals for Accountable Options (ARS), a gun violence prevention group the place Chipman beforehand served, mentioned in a 2017 tweet opposing the Listening to Safety Act that earplugs defend gun house owners higher than silencers. 

Gun suppressors tweet (Twitter)

Gun suppressors tweet (Twitter)

A Washington Put up reality examine gave the declare a score of three “Pinocchios.”

Conversely, throughout a 2017 congressional listening to on the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Leisure Enhancement (SHARE) Act, the ATF nominee asserted that an individual would “completely” must put on ear safety whereas utilizing a suppressor “in the event that they cared about their ears.”

Alan Rice, a firearms teacher and New Hampshire state director of Gun Homeowners of America, mentioned gun suppressors are “completely designed to guard listening to.”


Suppressors have been round for a couple of century, and other people use them on a spread of firearms, together with searching rifles and residential protection weapons, Rice defined.

“In case you have a house invasion in the course of the evening, you do not need to defend your self and lose your listening to. … You need to defend your self and hold your listening to,” he mentioned. “In a traumatic state of affairs … I do know somebody is just not going to achieve for earmuffs.”

He added that suppressors are usually not like these proven “within the films”; they don’t silence weapons. As a substitute, gun house owners use suppressors to decrease the decibel of the sound a firearm makes when it goes off “to a degree that won’t injury listening to.”

Giffords Law Center Senior Policy Adviser David Chipman speaks at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on assault weapons on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Giffords Legislation Heart Senior Coverage Adviser David Chipman speaks at a Home Judiciary Committee listening to on assault weapons on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (AP Picture/Andrew Harnik, File)

Chipman, nonetheless, mentioned in a 2019 interview with the Virginia-Pilot, after 12 individuals and a gunman had been fatally shot throughout a mass taking pictures in Virginia Seashore, suppressor “makes a gun sound type of like a handgun.”

The gunman used a legally bought suppressor connected to a .45-caliber handgun earlier than finishing up the bloodbath, prompting native and federal politicians to draft gun reform laws banning suppressors. 

Later in 2019, Chipman informed NPR that the first goal of a suppressor “is for somebody who’s on the offensive to keep up the component of shock longer.”


Rice refuted this and introduced up the Virginia Seashore mass taking pictures as an exception in his clarification of suppressors. He mentioned that when Gun Homeowners of America analyzed lively shooters throughout the nation, if discovered most criminals don’t use suppressors.

“Criminals do not actually use suppressors,” he mentioned. “Criminals are sneaky individuals, they usually need to cover their weapons. Suppressors make weapons for much longer…and tougher to cover.”

Moreover, most armed criminals don’t need to undergo the method of legally acquiring a firearm, which might take as much as a yr in some circumstances, Rice mentioned. 

Individuals who need to buy a suppressor within the U.S. must go to a Class three federally licensed gun seller, selected a suppressor, fill out an utility with private data, present photograph ID and fingerprints, submit the applying with a $200 price to the AFT and look forward to the ATF to approve the applying. 

Gun silencers or suppressors are becoming increasingly popular in the real world as hunters and other gun owners adopt them for hearing protection. (Reuters/ Jim Urquhart)

Gun silencers or suppressors have gotten more and more standard in the true world as hunters and different gun house owners undertake them for listening to safety. (Reuters/ Jim Urquhart)

“An individual who needs to purchase [a suppressor] must go to a Class three gun seller, choose one out, fill out a type with every kind of private data, present [photo ID] and fingerprints, they usually should submit the type with a $200 cost to the ATF, and the ATF will approve or deny sale with no time restrict,” Rice mentioned.

He added that even with suppressors within the equation, most individuals are capable of determine the sound of gunfire.

“It does not make a gun sound like a nail gun,” Rice mentioned.

In response to paperwork obtained by the American Accountability Basis, Chipman authored a newbie’s information to firearms referred to as “Firearms 101” in collaboration with gun violence prevention group ARS and the Legislation Heart to Stop Gun Violence that mislabels a number of weapons as “assault weapons.”


The weapons introduced in Chipman’s information beneath the label of “assault weapons” are usually not categorized as such beneath federal regulation. Weapons are categorized by their features and elements as outlined in chapter 44 of title 18 of the United States Code.

Two of the weapons categorized in Chipman’s presentation are categorized as Nationwide Firearms Act (NFA) firearms. A completely automated AK-47, for instance, is classed as a “machine gun” beneath the NFA. A semi-automatic AK-47 is classed otherwise and might fall beneath the class of a rifle. Equally, an AR-15 will be categorized as a pistol, rifle, brief barrel rifle and so forth relying on its features and elements.

"Firearms 101" slide (Credit: American Accountability Foundation)

“Firearms 101” slide (Credit score: American Accountability Basis)

Rice famous that Chipman’s labels resemble the 1994 definition of the time period primarily based on the decade-long Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which prohibited the manufacturing, distribution and sale of greater than a dozen completely different semi-automatic firearms and options that resembled absolutely automated, army firearms.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban definition differs from the extra conventional definition of an assault weapon, which is a army firearm that may swap between semiautomatic and absolutely automated hearth.

“The ammunition was the identical and even much less highly effective than a standard searching rifle, however the widespread searching rifle had a unique outward bodily look,” Rice mentioned of the weapons included within the 1994 definition.

Rice believes “assault weapon” is a “junk time period coined by individuals who disagree with residents proudly owning any firearms in any way,” he mentioned.

He added that there have been college shootings and violent crimes within the 10-year interval of the assault weapons ban, and the one individuals who obeyed the ban had been law-abiding gun house owners. 


Chipman has expressed skepticism in regards to the feasibility of confiscating assault weapons from their present house owners.

In an op-ed he penned in The Roanoke Occasions final yr, Chipman described himself as a “proud gun proprietor” who has generally been “mischaracterized as a gun grabber.” Chipman famous that he helps gun security rules that may “save lives” however wouldn’t take weapons away from law-abiding residents.

“I’m a proud and accountable gun proprietor, as are hundreds of thousands of Virginians,” Chipman wrote. “I’m additionally permitted to hold a hid handgun. I’m not afraid of lawmakers in Richmond passing legal guidelines to make it tougher for criminals to get weapons. In actual fact, I’m a part of the bulk who demand it.”

ATF is a regulation enforcement company inside the Division of Justice that strives to safeguard the general public from felony organizations and exercise, together with the unlawful use and trafficking of firearms.

Fox Information’ Stephanie Pagnones contributed to this report.

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