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David Chipman, President Biden’s candidate for head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has questionable ideas about gun suppressors and assault weapons.

Gun control advocates hailed the appointment of Chipman, who was an ATF special agent for 25 years and is currently senior policy adviser to gun violence prevention group Giffords, stressing the importance of role of the ATF director in the enforcement of firearms laws.

Gun rights advocates, meanwhile, have expressed concern over Chipman’s positions on gun-related topics, including suppressors and assault weapons.

“Anyone who has worked in law enforcement for as long as I will tell you that silencers were not designed to protect hearing, they were designed to prevent people from recognizing the sound of gunshots and to locate active shooters, “Chipman said in a 2017 statement.

Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), a gun violence prevention group where Chipman previously served, said in a 2017 tweet opposing the hearing protection law that earplugs better protect homeowners. guns than silencers.

A Washington Post fact check gave the claim a three “Pinocchios” rating.

Conversely, during a 2017 congressional hearing on the Sports Heritage and Recreation Improvement Act (SHARE), the ATF candidate asserted that a person would “absolutely” need wear hearing protection while using a “if she cared about her ears” suppressor.

Alan Rice, a gun instructor and director of Gun Owners of America in the state of New Hampshire, said gun suppressors are “absolutely designed to protect hearing.”


Suppressors have been around for about a century, and people use them on a range of firearms, including shotguns and home defense rifles, Rice explained.

“If you have a home invasion in the middle of the night, you don’t want to defend yourself and lose your hearing. … You want to defend yourself and keep your hearing,” he said. “In a stressful situation … I know someone isn’t going to look for earmuffs.”

He added that the suppressors are not like the ones shown “in the movies”; they don’t silence the guns. Instead, gun owners use suppressors to reduce the decibel of sound a gun makes when it goes out “to a level that will not damage hearing.”

Chipman, however, said in a 2019 interview with the Virginia-Pilot, after 12 people and a gunman were fatally shot in a mass shooting in Virginia Beach, that a suppressor “strikes a gun at fire like a handgun “.

The shooter used a legally purchased suppressor attached to a .45 caliber handgun before committing the massacre, prompting local and federal politicians to draft a gun reform law banning suppressors.

Later in 2019, Chipman told NPR that a suppressor’s primary purpose “is for someone who is on the offensive to maintain the element of surprise longer.”


Rice refuted this and referred to the mass shooting in Virginia Beach as an exception in her explanation of the suppressors. He said when Gun Owners of America analyzed active shooters across the country, if they were found, most criminals were not using suppressors.

“Criminals don’t really use suppressors,” he said. “Criminals are sneaky people, and they want to hide their guns. Suppressors make guns much longer … and harder to hide.”

Plus, most gun criminals don’t want to go through the process of legally obtaining a gun, which can take up to a year in some cases, Rice said.

Individuals wishing to purchase a suppressor in the United States must visit a federally licensed Class 3 firearms dealer, choose a suppressor, complete an application with personal information, provide photo ID, and fingerprints, submit the application with a fee of $ 200 to AFT and wait for ATF to approve the application.

“A person who wishes to buy [a suppressor] must go to a class 3 arms dealer, choose one, fill out a form with all kinds of personal information, provide [photo ID] and fingerprints, and they have to submit the form with a payment of $ 200 to the ATF, and the ATF will approve or deny the sale with no time limit, ”Rice said.

He added that even with suppressors in the equation, most people are able to identify the sound of gunfire.

“It doesn’t make a gun sound like a nail gun,” Rice said.

According to documents obtained by the American Accountability Foundation, Chipman wrote a beginner’s guide to firearms titled “Firearms 101” in conjunction with the gun violence prevention group ARS and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence which qualifies wrongly several weapons of “assault weapons”.


The weapons presented in the Chipman Guide under the label of “assault weapons” are not classified as such under federal law. Firearms are classified according to their functions and components as defined in Chapter 44 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

Two of the firearms classified in Chipman’s presentation are classified as National Firearms Act (NFA) firearms. A fully automatic AK-47, for example, is classified as a “machine gun” according to the NFA. A semi-automatic AK-47 is classified differently and may fall under the category of a rifle. Likewise, an AR-15 can be classified as a pistol, rifle, short barrel shotgun and so on depending on its functions and components.

Rice noted that Chipman’s labels resemble the 1994 definition of the term based on the decade-long federal ban on assault weapons, which banned the manufacture, distribution and sale of more than a dozen different semi-automatic firearms and features that resembled fully automatic military firearms. .

The definition of the federal ban on assault weapons differs from the more traditional definition of an assault weapon, which is a military firearm that can switch between semi-automatic and fully automatic fire.

“The ammunition was the same or even less powerful than a regular shotgun, but the common shotgun had a different outward physical appearance,” Rice said of the weapons included in the 1994 definition.

Rice thinks “assault weapon” is an “unwanted term coined by people who disagree with citizens who own any gun,” he said.

He added that there had been school shootings and violent crime during the 10-year period of the assault weapons ban, and the only people who obeyed the ban were homeowners. law-abiding firearms.


Chipman has expressed skepticism about the feasibility of confiscating assault weapons from their current owners.

In an op-ed he wrote in The Roanoke Times last year, Chipman described himself as a “proud gun owner” who has at times been “misinterpreted as a gun grabber.” Chipman noted that he supported gun safety regulations that would “save lives,” but not take the guns away from law-abiding citizens.

“I am a proud and responsible gun owner, just like millions of Virginians,” Chipman wrote. “I’m also allowed to carry a concealed handgun. I’m not afraid that Richmond lawmakers will pass laws to make it harder for criminals to get guns. In fact, I’m part of the majority which requires it. “

ATF is a law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice that strives to protect the public from criminal organizations and activities, including the illegal use and trafficking of firearms.

Fox News’s Stephanie Pagnones contributed to this report.

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