Less than a year into the Biden-Harris administration, there is already a sense that America is at a tipping point. At the fulcrum of this precarious balance is the Second Amendment.
If the administration gets its way, what makes America not just unique, but better, stronger and freer than any nation in the world will be subsumed into an undifferentiated globalist collective driven by elites who exist above and apart from the rules and deprivations they impose on others.
And nothing makes the United States more unique and free than the right to keep and bear arms.
Joe Biden has declared his political opposition—particularly those who own guns and supported President Donald Trump—“dangerous right-wing extremists.” He has activated the combined weight of the federal bureaucracy against them … against you.
His administration is purging political dissenters from government and military service and turning America’s law enforcement and intelligence apparatus inward to root out non-conforming political opinion.
The Biden administration is abetted in these efforts by virtually every sector of an increasingly transnational elite that includes legacy media, academia, the entertainment industry and digital communication. Their chief commitments are to international markets and supranational governing bodies, to which they believe the American identity must give way.
This is the agenda. The means to achieve it include the most radical and transformative anti-gun campaign any of us working in Washington, D.C., has ever seen.
The big hammer of fundamental change is, of course, federal legislation.
I’ve written extensively about Biden’s plans for federal gun control; a short recap should make the point.
He wants to ban most semi-automatic rifles, including the most popular center-fire rifle in America, the AR-15. And what of the 20 million or more already in circulation? Those he would register, tax or order surrendered, perhaps with government-calculated compensation or maybe simply by forcible removal.
For whatever guns he allowed you to keep, Biden would limit magazine capacity and register and tax non-conforming, previously acquired magazines. The law of self-defense already only protects those who are forced into action by an aggressor and who respond proportionately to the danger. Who would want to further handicap the ability of innocent people to resist unlawful aggression?
Joe Biden would.
Biden additionally wants law-abiding gun manufacturers and dealers to be held financially responsible for the acts of criminals who misuse their products and for the industry that enables a meaningful Second Amendment to be treated as a common nuisance by the courts.
He wants every transfer, exchange, loan, trade or gift of a firearm to be presumptively subject to federal vetting, mandatory fees and documentation in government records. He and his “experts” know the criminals won’t follow these rules, but that’s not really the point. Having a paper trail of every legally owned firearm in America is the point.
We all know where that eventually leads.
The line between being a law-abiding gun owner and a federal felon would be left up to the judgment of an unelected federal bureaucrat.
Those examples are far from the only prohibitory gun-control laws that Joe Biden supports, but they would be enough to turn the fundamental RIGHT to keep and bear arms into a European-style privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy and the connected.
The fate of this legislative agenda hangs on the thinnest of margins in the U.S. Senate. If Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and the rest of current Senate leadership are successful in abolishing the legislative filibuster, Americans would almost certainly see the end of the right to bear arms as we know it.
But Joe Biden is not waiting for Congress to act on his anti-gun agenda. He promised to pursue gun control unilaterally, and on that pledge, at least, he has been as good as his word.
It is worth remembering that Biden had been tasked by Barack Obama to lead that administration’s push for gun control in 2012.
The legislative effort failed, sparking a petulant reaction from Obama, who wasn’t used to being told he wasn’t going to get what he wanted. Obama —never shy to let America know how much it had disappointed him—would later lament that the failure of gun-control was the biggest disappointment of his tenure in the White House.
But the Obama-Biden administration also sought to act alone on gun control through executive actions. And Obama also tried to reassure his gun-control supporters that everything that could be done in that realm was being done. “[W]e do have to feel a sense of urgency about it,” Obama said in announcing a series of executive actions in 2016. “And the constant excuses for inaction no longer … no longer suffice.”
He also noted, “After Sandy Hook, Joe [Biden] and I worked together with our teams and we put forward a whole series of executive actions to try to tighten up the existing rules and systems that we had in place.”
After two rounds of these actions, however, Obama said it would be up to Congress to take the next steps. “Now, I want to be clear. Congress still needs to act,” he said.
The point is this: The Obama-Biden administration was determined to make gun control part of its legacy. When Congress denied that gun-control legacy, the administration claimed to have carried the ball as far as possible without additional gun-control legislation.
The U.S. Constitution, needless to say, hasn’t changed in the meantime. But whatever constraints the Obama-Biden administration was willing to acknowledge on gun control by executive action have somehow fallen by the wayside in the Biden-Harris administration.
During May and June of this year, the administration proposed two gun-control regulations that are breathtaking in their scope and audacity. At issue is not merely some tinkering around the edges of “existing rules and systems” but a wholesale overhaul of what is considered a regulated “firearm” under federal law and the retroactive banning of potentially millions of guns.
The first proposed rule is being marketed to the public as a way to address the sales of firearm kits that include 80% receivers and all the other parts necessary to build a complete, operable firearm (what gun-control advocates call a “ghost gun” because it is not serialized and documented in government-accessible paperwork). They claim this is a “loophole” that needs to be closed because a legally prohibited person could buy such a kit without a background check and make their own functional firearm.
Of course, in that scenario, the prohibited person would already be breaking the law by possessing the completed firearm. But the logic of gun control always requires adding new laws on top of laws that are never or seldom enforced. This only burdens law-abiding gun owners.
In any case, the proposed rule goes well beyond build kits. Indeed, it seeks to change the federal definition of a regulated “firearm” to cover not just 80% receivers or unfinished receiver blanks but to empower ATF to call virtually any firearm component a regulated “firearm” on a case-by-case basis.
The consequences of this would be vast. Retail sales of anything ATF dubbed a “firearm” would be subject to background checks and government paperwork. The parts would have to be serialized. And finished firearms might include multiple “firearm” components. This would create headaches, legal jeopardy, and red tape for legitimate manufacturers and hobbyists alike. The legality of millions of existing homemade firearms would also be cast into doubt.
Biden’s other proposed rule seeks to re-categorize braced pistols as “short barreled rifles” subject to the National Firearms Act’s registration and tax requirements. This new tax would cost American gun owners millions just for the opportunity to keep the firearms they already lawfully purchased. So much for no new taxes on the middle class.
Once again, the complicated regulatory structure would leave millions of current owners of braced pistols in potential legal jeopardy. It is clearly intended to intimidate current owners into dismantling their braced pistols or getting rid of them entirely.
Both rules, in short, continue ATF’s “I’ll know it when I see it approach” that gives American gun owners little clarity when exercising their Second Amendment rights. The line between being a law-abiding gun owner and a federal felon would be left up to the judgment of an unelected federal bureaucrat.
Prohibitory rules, of course, are only as oppressive as their interpretation and enforcement. And the man the Biden-Harris administration has chosen to lead the ATF is none other than Michael Bloomberg’s handpicked operative, David Chipman.
The administration likes to stress that Chipman comes to the role as a former ATF agent. What they conveniently ignore, however, is his more recent career of paid activism for the most strident gun-control organizations in the country, including Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.
Among other radical views, Chipman is on record supporting broad bans on semi-automatic rifles. He could put that policy preference into action in the way he administers firearm imports if confirmed.
As Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) colorfully (and accurately) put it at a hearing on the nomination, David Chipman’s appointment as ATF director would be “like putting a tobacco executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services or ANTIFA in charge of the Portland Police Department.”
The Western world has mostly submitted to the idea that keeping and bearing arms is a privilege to be administered at the government’s discretion. The United States, alone, treats it as a sacrosanct right that cannot be infringed by the state.
The Biden-Harris administration considers that a national embarrassment.
And if the administration has its way, this uniquely American freedom and tradition will become one more sacrifice to global uniformity.