Representative Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) voice cuts through the background din of barbershop conversations and my barber, Les, looks away from me to a television mounted up high on a brick wall. The thing is, even as Les’ eyes go darting to the TV, his right hand keeps clicking this big silver scissor in my hair.
“When Jordan talks, I listen,” says Les without taking his eyes off Fox News. “This guy, you know, he just goes right after it.”
“I can see that,” I say, “but can you stop cutting?”
“Oh,” he says as he stops, “well, I am not really cutting, just working the scissor.”
To regain Les’ attention, I mention that I just interviewed Rep. Jordan. “Is he like that?” he asks, nodding at the TV.
“Yes, he is not acting. That is what he is like.”
Les liked this very much. “I like people who are what they seem and we need more truth tellers,” he says.
And I know this is a common perspective. When Jordan walked onto the stage at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis last spring, he got a standing ovation. It took a few minutes before the thousands of NRA members in attendance quieted enough to let him speak. Jordan just never seems to deliver talking points between big toothy grins. Jordan prefers to call it like he sees it. As a result, he makes people like my barber stop to listen. Jordan is not the only politician who has this sort of charged air around them, but even in politics, this buoyant energy is a rare gift that no campaign consultant can bequeath. This makes Jordan both politically dangerous (to his adversaries) and a delight to hear speak (to anyone who longs for a dose of energetic honesty in government), as he is likely to just come right out and tell you what he has found out—and he is finding out a lot these days.
“The NRA is great. Everyone knows that when they speak, they’re speaking for literally millions of gun owners around our great country.” –Rep. Jim Jordan
Last fall, voters gave a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to Republicans. This has given Jordan the chance to chair the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. It also allowed him to help form and to chair a new subcommittee, the U.S. House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. This subcommittee has been particularly busy working to expose the overreach and possible corruption from the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ), an agency that oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
But, before getting to what he has to say, it’s worth touching on what made him into the politician we stop to hear.
Jordan has a law degree, but though he speaks like a polished district attorney, he never did square off in a courtroom. He did, however, beat a lot of opponents on the wrestling mat. He is a two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion. He graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986. He subsequently lost the featherweight (126-137 pound) semifinal match at the 1988 U.S. Olympic wrestling trials, and so just missed qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team.
He then became a wrestling coach for Ohio State before going into politics to wrestle with government. After winning positions in state government, Jordan became a member of Congress in 2007. This is the role most know Jim Jordan as playing. With glasses perched on his nose, he looks down at witnesses before the committees he serves on and sharply dissects their arguments as he tries to get to the truth.
And he does stand up for our freedom a lot. In 2022, as a gun-control bill was making its way through Congress, Jordan commented that his opponents across the aisle are “coming directly after your Second Amendment liberties in an unconstitutional way. The Second Amendment is as clear as it gets: ‘shall not infringe on your right to bear arms.’ I mean, it can’t get any plainer than that, but that’s what they’re going after. I always tell folks it says arms, not muskets; it says shall not infringe—it doesn’t say shall not infringe unless it’s an assault weapon, or whatever the Democrats want to go after that particular week.”
Like many NRA members, this is a point of view that comes from personal experience. Jordan says his father introduced him to hunting and shooting. “He is a big outdoorsman. When we were young, he got us the Red Ryder BB gun and taught us how to shoot. He’s a big deer hunter. He even built his own recurve bows. All of this was just part of growing up at our house.” He says his favorite thing to do on the range is to shoot AR-15s. “To me, it’s simple, we need to fight for these freedoms and to make sure these rights are protected for generations to come,” said Rep. Jordan.
At its basis, freedom is certainly simple. The Second Amendment, like other parts of the U.S. Bill of Rights, is a restriction on government. But attacks on this our right to keep and bear arms come from so many directions today that defending this individual right takes an active, smart tenacity. So we asked Rep. Jordan about his current defensive and offensive approaches to winning this match for our freedom.
“I had a blast when I went to the NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis and spoke there back in the spring.”
–Rep. Jim Jordan
A1F: The state of New York has made the NRA very aware of how government agencies can be weaponized against even a civil-rights association’s First Amendment rights. With the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government you chair, are you looking into how the Biden administration is targeting gun and ammo makers and dealers
Jordan: We sure are, particularly this rule by the ATF. When it comes to pistol braces, it is as wrong as it gets. They told Americans for years that these simple additions to firearms were legal and fine. Then they just decided to change the rules without taking the rule change through Congress. Now, if you don’t make changes to the firearm—remove the brace, lengthen the barrel or change the barrel length—you can be tried for a felony. That the administrative state can make a change like this is just as wrong as it gets. So we are looking at that ATF power grab and other issues. This attitude that the Left has toward American freedom, particularly the citizenry’s Second Amendment rights, is appalling.
A1F: Last March, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held a hearing to examine the Missouri v. Biden case challenging the Biden administration’s violation of the First Amendment by directing social-media companies to censor and suppress Americans’ free speech. This case is about vaccine mandates, but if the government can get away with this kind of censorship, then the Biden administration—or some future administration—could do the same to Second Amendment advocates. Is this how you see it?
Jordan: Of course. It’s not just about the First Amendment, it’s about the Constitution. It’s about the U.S. Bill of Rights and it’s about all the liberties we enjoy as American citizens. Understand that on the third day in office, the Biden administration sends an email that goes from the Executive Office of the President to Twitter, and that email says, “Can you take down this tweet ASAP?” The tweet they wanted to be taken down was one from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Step back and think about it for a second. The Biden administration, on the third day of the administration, was trying to censor their (future) Democrat primary opponent for goodness sake. So, yes, we’re concerned about all the liberties that Americans enjoy under our Constitution. It seems these government agencies have been turned against the very people they’re supposed to serve: we the people, the American citizens.
A1F: You called the ATF’s rewriting of the rules to ban commonly owned stabilizing braces “crazy.” Are you hopeful that the federal bureaucracy can again be controlled by actual laws that Congress passes?
Jordan: I sure am. That’s the problem. You’ve got these agencies who behave as if they put their name on a ballot, they ran for office, got elected and so now they get to make the law. That’s not how it works. Whether it’s Steve Dettelbach, who is now running the ATF, who comes in and goes along with this rulemaking change, or whether it’s Dr. Anthony Fauci, who thinks he can run our lives even though he’s never put his name on the ballot, never ran for office and never got elected, we have to rein them in. That is a concern. It’s the elected officials who are supposed to make the rules because they are the ones who were directly accountable to the American people. We’ve got to continue to focus on that, talk about that, change that and stop these agencies from infringing on Americans’ liberties via the rulemaking authority they possess.
A1F: As the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, do you still intend to question Dettelbach on pistol braces and other topics?
Jordan: We think he will be back. He came in front of our committee a few months ago and I’m sure we’re going to have him back for another hearing. Then we’ll see how the court cases in the court system play out as well.
A1F: President Joe Biden (D) blames law-abiding gun owners, dealers and manufacturers for rises in violent crime. You are part of the majority heading off his desired gun-control bills that blame law-abiding Americans for the actions of criminals, but what else can we do to parry this misinformation?
Jordan: You keep telling the truth and you say no, it has nothing to do with the law-abiding American citizens and their Second Amendment rights. It has everything to do with these prosecutors who are soft on crime. It has everything to do with this whole defund-the-police movement that started in the summer of 2020 by the Left. Americans are smart people and Americans have common sense. They know that to be the case. We just need to talk about that and campaign on those things. I think that’ll help us when we have elections.
A1F: Second Amendment-related issues have become very partisan. American freedom, of course, should not be a partisan issue. This isn’t the work of the NRA or of members of Congress like you, but is the result of Democratic Party leadership deciding to oppose the Second Amendment. So now, as we have more than 17 million new gun owners since 2020—many who say they are Democrats—do you see any hope this issue can become less partisan again?
Jordan: I hope so. We’re talking about a fundamental right. I’ve always said there’s a reason the Second Amendment’s right next to the First Amendment, and that’s because it’s pretty darn important. The founders understood that, in the end, it’s about our freedom. I think you’re frankly seeing a lot of Democrats switch and become Republicans and become more conservative, particularly pro-Second Amendment Democrats. So I do think that change is happening and I think it’s a good thing.
A1F: Do you intend any other gun or Second Amendment related investigations this year?
Jordan: I think we’re going to have one on a concealed-carry reciprocity issue. Some of our members are looking at constitutional carry as well. The big focus though, of course, is trying to rein in the ATF. We know where the ATF has brought agents from out of state to look at certain big gun dealers and gun stores. And then, of course, there’s the pistol-brace issue that we’ve already talked about, so that’s really where our focus is. We’ll continue to look at everything and anything we can do to protect the Second Amendment. It’s something we’re going to focus on.
A1F: What more can NRA members do to help you protect our freedom?
Jordan: The NRA is great. Everyone knows that when they speak, they’re speaking for literally millions of gun owners around our great country. I appreciate the impact they have and the good work they do. I had a blast when I went to the NRA Annual Meetings in Indianapolis and spoke there back in the spring. Keep doing what you’re doing.