Although the outcome of the presidential election has yet to be certified – and with recounts, lawsuits, and investigations ongoing – gun control advocates are wasting no time cozying up to Joe Biden, and demanding his “executive action” to restrict access to firearms.
A recent article in Michael Bloomberg’s gun control propaganda arm, The Trace, detailed what it called “7 Ways Biden Could Go It Alone on Gun Violence Prevention.” The article noted that the would-be president’s own website states, “Joe Biden ... knows how to make progress on reducing gun violence using executive action.”
“Executive action” in this case means legally-binding steps the president asserts he can take without the Congress actually enacting or amending specific laws.
Of course, it’s the constitutional duty of the president to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” But that merely begs the question of what is a legitimately “faithful” interpretation of the law.
One possible clue that an interpretation of the law is not faithful is when the executive branch suddenly finds a completely novel, and notably expansive, reach to a law that has been on the books for many years. This clue is even stronger when the impacts of this reinterpretation would be felt mainly by the executive’s political opposition. Judged by these standards, the gun grabbers are clearly goading Biden to act as a monarch instituting decrees out of whole cloth, and not merely as an administrator of existing rules.
After all, then Vice-President Biden was supposedly the point man for the gun control push Barack Obama launched during his second term. Obama has made a point of repeatedly emphasizing how lack of “progress” on gun control was the most frustrating and anger-inducing aspect of his presidency. The Obama-Biden administration spent years searching for ways to unilaterally clamp down on Americans’ access to firearms. Now, however, gun controllers are suggesting that even more, and more dramatic, executive actions against firearms and their owners were somehow left on the table as lawful options.
The Trace article linked to a letter from a coalition of gun control groups suggesting various ways the “Biden-Harris Transition Team” could supposedly use executive authority to diminish the right to keep and bear arms.
Among the dozens of proposals were some that are largely symbolic and unlikely to do much of anything. But others would effectively change longstanding principles of law and even criminalize the possession of firearms that law-abiding Americans currently obtain and own legally.
Obama, for example, was heavily pressured to pursue “universal background checks” by making casual, infrequent sales of firearms subject to a federal firearms dealer’s license. Yet that was a bridge too far even for the Obama ATF. The agency instead released “guidance” on the issue that did not establish the specific numerical trigger for licensing gun controllers had demanded, instead focusing on the “specific facts and circumstances of [the seller’s] activities.”
The gun control coalition, however, hopes Biden will be more aggressive, urging him to “[f]urther clarify which gun sellers must obtain a federal firearms license from ATF.”
Their letter additionally calls for an outright ban on “ghost guns.” While it doesn’t explain or define this term, it is frequently used by the media and other gun control advocates to describe unserialized firearms, including those that Americans make for their own lawful use. Any attempt to ban such homemade firearms, which have been a lawful aspect of American gun culture since before the nation’s founding, would be clear overreach.
The Trace article goes even further, urging Biden to instruct ATF to reclassify popular firearms currently owned by millions of Americans as regulated under the National Firearms Act, which requires special government permission and taxation for making, transfer, and possession. This suggestion was based, in turn, on a proposal by the leftist Center for American Progress. The guns mentioned include braced pistols and shotguns with bird’s head-style grips like the Mossberg Shockwave or the Remington TAC-14.
Should such reclassification occur, these millions of gun owners would suddenly be in felony possession of firearms they had previously obtained legally and in good faith. While it’s possible an “amnesty” could be declared – perhaps allowing the owners to register and obtain tax stamps for their guns or even just to surrender them without prosecution – there’s no guarantee this would be the case. Yet even the best-case scenario would still have the gun owners declaring themselves as such to a hostile and disapproving federal government and paying a $200 tax for each newly-classified firearm.
Should any of these scenarios come to pass, persecuted gun owners would have nowhere to turn but the courts. Fortunately, as the NRA has noted repeatedly, one of President Trump’s most enduring legacies has been his progress in reshaping the federal judiciary with appointees who are dedicated to the rule of law and the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution.
Whether this backstop will curb the gun-grabbing ambitions of a possible Biden-Harris administration remains to be seen. But as The Trace article makes clear, their supporters and funders in the gun-ban lobby remain as insistent and unhinged as ever.