It’s All On The Line For Gun Owners In The 2024 Election

by
posted on May 27, 2024
Joe Biden
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Joe Biden is running for reelection on the most anti-gun platform in American history. At a time when Americans are yearning for leadership on the economy, border security, crime and international stability, he remains fixated on gun control. It sometimes seems as if he has no other major priorities, or, if he does, they all depend on a disarmed American populace. Whatever his motivations, a review of his agenda and his record shows that the Second Amendment, as we know it, cannot withstand another Biden administration.

It wasn’t as if we had no warning. Candidate Biden, although occasionally mouthing his “respect for the Second Amendment,” nevertheless embraced a variety of extreme gun-control notions before the 2020 election.

His most radical position was support for a wide-ranging ban on what he called “assault weapons,” which is simply a made-up term for America’s most popular types of rifles, including the AR-15. In an August 2019 interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the host fed Biden what he must have assumed was a softball question that would help allay fears about Biden’s gun-control ambitions. Cooper asked what Biden would say to “gun owners out there who say, well, a Biden administration means they’re going to come for my guns.” “Bingo!” answered Biden. “You’re right, if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is they should be illegal, period.”

Of course, what Americans have seen since then from a procession of nominations Biden has made as president is the partisans who support assault-weapon bans as an article of faith suddenly can’t even define the term when pressed on its meaning. This has applied to both of Biden’s nominations to head the federal agency most responsible for enforcing federal gun control, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). More recently, it has also applied to one of his judicial nominations. It’s very telling that partisans in Biden’s party speak of “assault-weapon” bans as a self-evident necessity but then shrink from even trying to explain what that means.

This is because the term is political, not technical. “Assault weapon” is simply a placeholder for whatever gun firearm prohibitionists are trying to demonize and ban in any given moment. This is evident from the fact that recent bills introduced to ban this supposed category are uniformly more restrictive than the federal ban that existed from 1994 to 2004 and was allowed to expire during the term of George W. Bush. All one can say about what an “assault weapon” is for sure, is that its definition will expand to prohibit more and more firearms over time.

Biden has continued advocating for an “assault-weapon” ban during his term in the White House. And, even if that designation was initially limited to only AR-type semi-automatics (which no pending proposals are), it would still affect a staggering number of American households. According to a 2023 investigation by The Washington Post, “roughly 16 million people” own some “20 million AR-15s” in the United States. Or, as the investigation’s authors noted even more dramatically, “1 in 20 U.S. adults owns at least one AR-15.” The Post itself, while also endorsing a ban on AR-15s, acknowledges the “iconic” status of the gun. It is hardly a modest or unifying proposition to ban America’s most popular rifle.

Another Biden wish-list item is repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which prohibits businesses that lawfully sell guns from being held liable for their illegal use by criminals. This is simply a codification of a generally applicable principle in American law that people are responsible for their own actions, not those of people over whom they exercise no control. It was necessary because gun-control activists sought to bankrupt the American gun industry with a firehose of litigation. It didn’t matter if the cases were ultimately winners or not; the process was the punishment, and the expense of defending themselves from an endless barrage of baseless charges was itself an existential threat to the industry.

Biden is so invested in the idea of allowing law-abiding gun shops to be sued over the action of criminals that he once said during a speech from the White House Rose Garden that it would be his choice if “the Lord came down” and granted him success on one policy proposal. Again, given the state of the country and the world, that speaks to a single-mindedness against guns and the businesses that sell them that is revealing. This was after candidate Biden had also called the firearm industry the true “enemy” in opposing gun control.

Indeed, the gun-control movement seems to agree with Biden on this point. With the help of activist judges in a handful of anti-gun jurisdictions, they are slowly but steadily trying to litigate and legislate the PLCAA into irrelevance. The main loophole they exploit is that the PLCAA applies only where the sale of the gun was lawful. The text of the legislation makes clear this means where the seller of the gun did not violate any laws specific to the sale or marketing of firearms.

The next president will likely have the opportunity to appoint justices who will tip the balance either away from or toward respect for the Second Amendment.

But gun-control activists insist that any sort of law should count, whether it normally applies to firearm sales or not, and even if it is the law of another country into which criminals have illegally smuggled American guns. Anti-gun states have also been passing their own laws vaguely stating that it is illegal for a member of the firearm industry to engage in business practices that pose a risk to the public or fail to take adequate care to prevent criminal misuse of their products. This means that following the rules that govern their businesses is not enough for the industry. Instead, they are subject to an ever-shifting target of “best practices” that only become evident after the fact, when an anti-gun lawyer or judge creates a new requirement that isn’t already specified in statute.

Of course, the overriding public policy Congress established with the PLCAA should preempt these efforts. But a law is only as good as the courts that are interpreting it, and the conspirators in this lawfare choose only the most anti-gun jurisdictions to file their cases. Thus, two federal courts have given the go-ahead for even the government of Mexico to sue members of the U.S. gun industry for the misuse of firearms by drug-trafficking cartels.

Another greenlighted effort involves a claim by the City of Chicago that Glock intentionally designs its overwhelmingly popular semi-automatic pistols to be easily converted to machine guns. Of course, machine guns and machine-gun-conversion parts are already illegal under current federal law and the laws of Illinois and other states. But, gun controllers would like to hold the makers of legal guns responsible, rather than the criminals who illegally convert those guns. If the mere existence of so-called “Glock switches” make a perfectly legal pistol illegal, it’s hard to see how the same couldn’t be said of hacksaws, which, after all, could be used to illegally shorten the barrel of an otherwise legal long arm.

Only the U.S. Supreme Court can correct these violations of the PLCAA, and the next president will likely have the opportunity to appoint the justices who will tip the balance either away from or toward respect for the Second Amendment.

Fortunately, Joe Biden has not had the votes in Congress to see his most ambitious gun-control plans enacted into statute. But, he did have an anti-gun victory with the passage of the so-called Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which gained support on both sides of the aisle with messaging that claimed it was directed at dangerous criminals, not law-abiding gun owners. The NRA, however, warned at the time that this was subterfuge and opposed the BSCA.

Biden would go on to create the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, staffed with career anti-gun activists and dedicated in large part to maximizing every anti-gun authority and appropriation created by the BSCA. As of press time, Biden’s ATF was poised to release a rule that claims the BSCA has essentially imposed “universal” background checks for firearm transfers, a proposition even its most anti-gun supporters had not claimed while it was pending. The administration has also claimed the BSCA as authority for the National Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Resource Center, a DOJ-led effort to promote “red-flag” firearm-seizure laws in the states and to train anti-gun activists on how to roll out the concept nationwide. If the administration has its way, every gun owner’s rights would be merely one civil petition away from cancellation.

I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of Biden’s anti-gun record in this article, and I will have more to say on it in the coming months. The bottom line is that gun owners cannot afford another four years of Joe Biden in the White House. He has been building up the infrastructure to erase our rights. We must make sure he never gets to use it.

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