David Chipman and the ATF Will Disarm College Students

Gun Rights

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Posted: Jul 23, 2021 12:01 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Leftist activists and the ATF have been gearing up in a dangerous and nefarious assault on the Second Amendment.

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There are several initiatives that anti-gun activists are engaging in to impede the ability of law-abiding citizens to practice their right to bear arms. Namely, the nomination of an anti-gun radical to head of the ATF and proposed rule changes on the legality of stabilizing braces.

I fear that these regulations will create far too steep of a barrier of entry for those looking to keep themselves safe. Single mothers and working-class families are often the focus on the adverse effects of disastrous bureaucratic moves like the ones the ATF are making. One group that goes overlooked is college students.

The average college student doesn’t have the financial means needed to comply with ever-changing policies that are decided capriciously by the ATF. Rule changes come with new tax burdens, and a shift in regulatory policy will force the gun industry to adapt to new standards, raising prices for customers.

To understand the left’s latest regulatory push, it is crucial to understand David Chipman. 

Before President Biden nominated Chipman to be ATF Director, he sat as the Senior Policy Advisor to the Giffords anti-gun organization since 2016. He’s a 25 year veteran of the ATF who first stepped into Second Amendment regulatory activism when he joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, promoting “assault weapons” bans and other restrictions.

He’s shown a considerable willingness to further erode gun rights under questioning during a May Senate panel. He expressed interest in banning the AR-15, one of the most popular rifles in the country, and expanding the definition of “assault weapon” to include almost every self-loading rifle manufactured today.

Chipman embodies the left’s efforts to curtail gun rights radically, but he isn’t their only avenue of approach. The ATF is also attempting to restrict the use of stabilizing braces on “Rifled Barrel Weapons,” commonly referred to as AR or AK pistols.

In 2012, SB Tactical developed the stabilizing brace to assist disabled veterans in operating their firearms. The stabilizing brace is a shooter’s aide that attaches to the user’s forearm to provide stability while shooting.

Controversy arose after individuals began shouldering their stabilizing braces. In 2017, the ATF clarified a previous ruling that implied that shouldering a stabilizing brace constituted a “redesign” of the product and converted the firearm into a short-barreled rifle (SBR).

Since the clarification, the stabilizing brace has exploded in popularity. The Congressional Research Service believes that Americans now own 10 to 40 million braces.

The new proposal contains a scorecard system that will classify any AR or AK pistol with an attached stabilizing brace as either a pistol or an SBR. The scorecard is based on an arbitrary points system that would classify nearly all AR and AK pistols as an SBR.

The distinction between pistols and SBRs is important because SBRs are subject to regulation under the National Firearms Act. Individuals who want to own an SBR legally must pay a $200 tax stamp and register their firearms with the federal government.

Those who can’t afford it must either turn in or destroy their firearms to comply with the law or face felony charges. Since up to 40 million of these guns exist, this would amount to one of the largest registration and confiscation schemes in American history.

Gun prices will increase across the board as the industry reacts to the new standards that Chipman will likely propose. Mainline products are in danger of being regulated out of existence. Students will be required to pay $200 tax stamps on items they may have owned for years, guaranteed by the ATF to be perfectly legal just four years prior.

Many students would have purchased those guns. These students will be forced to choose between spending money that they don’t have to register their weapon, destroy or turn in their investment in their safety, or become a felon and lose their rights altogether.

Joseph Chalfant is a Political Science major at Texas State University and the president of Lone Conservative, America’s largest conservative student commentary publication.

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