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State Attorneys General to Biden on “Assault Weapon” Ban: Nope, Nada, Not Having It

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

State Attorneys General to Biden on “Assault Weapon” Ban: Nope, Nada, Not Having It

Following his State of the Union (SOTU) speech earlier this month, in which President Joe Biden yelled, “Band [sic] ‘assault weapons’ now!”, the president predictably included the same demand last week in remarks at the National Association of Counties legislative conference. “I’m gonna say something that’s always controversial but there is no rationale for assault weapons and magazines that hold 50, 70 bullets. Got it done once. Gonna do it again.”  

A day later, sixteen state Attorneys General, led by Austin Knudsen, the Montana Attorney General, penned a blunt letter to the president in response to his “unconstitutional and irresponsible demand that Congress ban firearms commonly used by law-abiding Americans for self-defense.” The five-page document meticulously dismantles Biden’s rhetoric on “assault weapons” and schools the president on how astonishingly wrong he is in proclaiming that “[t]he idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick …It has no, no social redeeming value.”    

Americans own approximately 100 million semiautomatic handguns and 45 million semiautomatic rifles. The “staggeringly broad” definition of “assault weapon” personally employed by Joe Biden would include every semi-automatic firearm. “Thus, when Americans hear that you plan to come after our so-called ‘assault weapons,’ we brace ourselves for an attack on ordinary, safe, and highly effective weapons commonly used for self and home defense.”

Citing a CDC study commissioned while Biden was Vice President, the letter notes that statistics support the widespread use of firearms in self defense. Not only is “[d]efensive use of guns by crime victims … a common occurrence,” but “the successful use of guns in self-defense dwarfs the number of injuries and deaths from guns under any circumstance—including crimes, accidents, and self-inflicted injuries.” “[U]ses of guns for self-defense also outnumber the uses of guns in crimes themselves.” Moreover, the same study, the writers point out, shows that “a crime victim who uses a gun in self-defense is much safer than an unarmed crime victim.”

Biden oft-repeated assertion that the 1994 federal “assault weapon” ban (which he championed) reduced mass shootings “is also unsupportable,” as two separate studies by the federal Department of Justice “found no discernible effect on violent crime from that legislation.”

The letter zeroes in on the case of Brandon Tsay, the hero who disarmed an active shooter in Monterey Park, California, and the president’s “cynical” use of the incident during his SOTU address. Biden recognized the bravery of Mr. Tsay while, in the same breath, demanding stricter gun laws (“He saved lives. It’s time we do the same. Ban assault weapons now. Ban them now. Once and for all.”).  Mr. Tsay was himself unfortunately unarmed, and the letter notes that “[f]ar from empowering heroes like Mr. Tsay, your policies would disarm them, turning everyday heroes into additional victims of deranged killers.” Biden’s highlighting of this incident “suffers from another glaring problem,” as the weapon involved was already banned under California’s draconian gun control laws, establishing that an assault weapon ban “was obviously ineffective in preventing the shooting.” “[Y]ou politicized the Monterey Park tragedy to demand that Congress pass one policy (a federal ‘assault weapons’ ban) that California’s identical policy (a state ‘assault weapons’ ban) had already failed to prevent.”       

After demolishing the case for an assault weapon ban using facts and statistics, the Attorneys General turned to the law. The “right to keep and bear arms is one of the most fundamental and deeply rooted liberties in our constitutional tradition.”  Last year, “the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Second Amendment protects ‘the carrying of weapons that are … ‘in common use at the time.’’ Semiautomatic pistols and rifles ‘are indisputably in ‘common use’ for self-defense today.” Indeed, semiautomatic handguns are ‘the quintessential self-defense weapon.’ There is ‘no justification for laws restricting the public carry of weapons that are unquestionably in common use today.”

The letter puts the president on notice that these chief law enforcement officials will oppose, with “every tool at our disposal…your attempt to trample on Americans’ fundamental right to defend themselves.”

The NRA-ILA applauds Attorney General Knudsen and his fellow attorneys general for defending the Second Amendment and their stand against yet another ineffective, delusional and “patently unconstitutional” encroachment on the rights of ordinary, responsible Americans.

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.