Blowing 4 factual holes in the Biden gun control agenda

By Amy Swearer | The Daily Signal

On the third anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, President Joe Biden issued his administration’s first significant push for new gun control measures.

Unfortunately, instead of seeking support for laws addressing the real underlying factors of gun violence, Biden is pushing politically divisive measures that would turn the right to keep and bear arms on its head without meaningfully making the nation any safer.

Biden’s message called on Congress to ban so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines,” to mandate background checks on all gun sales, and to “eliminate immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

He promised that his administration “will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer.”

Let’s unpack the many problems with those policy proposals and take a look at what sound policies might look like, instead.

1) Banning ‘Assault Weapons’  

There are obvious constitutional problems with banning the future sale or possession of the nation’s most popular semi-automatic rifles.

As the Supreme Court explained in D.C. v. Heller, McDonald v. City of Chicago, and Caetano v. Massachusetts, the Second Amendment protects all arms that are commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.

Gun control advocates—and, apparently, the Biden administration—often try to get around that reality by framing certain semiautomatic rifles as “weapons of war.”

That’s true only in the sense that all firearms are “weapons of war,” including single-shot pistols and flintlock muskets. Semi-automatic rifles, such as the AR-15, are not, however, “weapons of war” in the sense that they lack a legitimate civilian function or are “dangerous and unusual” in a civilian context.

There’s a reason that law enforcement officers—who by definition serve a defensive, responsive role, rather than an offensive, war-making role—overwhelmingly choose to arm themselves with these types of guns when confronting criminal threats in a civilian context.

There’s nothing “unusually dangerous” about the AR-15. In fact, the defining features of “assault weapons” are not functional properties such as caliber, muzzle velocity, or rate of fire. Instead, the defining features are cosmetic in nature, making the firearm safer, easier, and more comfortable to handle, especially for less-experienced shooters.

The fact that the Second Amendment protects these types of commonly owned firearms should be the end of the discussion. But beyond such a measure’s doubtful constitutionality, it would also constitute bad policy.

Semi-automatic rifles are, by far, the type of firearm least likely to be used to perpetuate criminal violence, and account for only about 3% of gun-related homicides every year.

Even assuming that every criminal turned in his or her “assault weapon” and never obtained a different type of firearm to commit the same crimes in the future, there would likely be no noticeable drop in gun-related crime as a result of this policy.

That is, in fact, exactly what the official study of the original federal assault weapons ban found in 2004.

2) Banning ‘High-Capacity Magazines’

Any ban on so-called high-capacity magazines would fail constitutional musterand policy considerations for largely the same reasons as a ban on “assault weapons.”

There’s nothing “unusually dangerous” about factory-standard magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, which are regularly employed by police departments around the nation. Moreover, there are likely hundreds of millions of these magazines in circulation already—meaning, they are incredibly common for lawful uses.

Even in mass public shootings, the majority of shooters already bring more than one firearm, and the average time frame between the start of the shooting and an armed response is such that a shooter having to spend several seconds reloading is effectively meaningless.

This is, in fact, what the Virginia Tech shooting commission concluded regarding the use of such magazines in the tragic 2009 mass shooting there.

Recall, too, that the majority of gun deaths every year are attributable to suicides, where magazine capacity is irrelevant.

Perhaps most important is the reality that, as with law enforcement officers, American civilians do sometimes face threats where they are outnumbered and outgunned, and where having to reload after 10 rounds truly puts them at a handicap against criminals.

In fact, just this month, a resident of Summerville, South Carolina, was reported as firing at least 13 rounds in a shootout with two suspected car thieves. Such stories are far from uncommon.

3) Background Checks on All Gun Sales

Let’s be clear about what existing law already demands.

Any person or entity who is “engaged in the business of dealing firearms” must obtain a federal firearms license and conduct background checks before completing a gun sale or transfer, regardless of whether that sale or transfer takes place at a gun show, in a brick-and-mortar store, or over the internet.

The only time federal law does not require a background check is when the sale or transfer is conducted by a person who is not “in the business” of selling guns, and both parties are residents of the same state. Part of the reason for that is that, currently, only federal firearms licensees have access to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

It’s not inherently a bad thing to require that all private commercial sales be required to go through the background check process. There are, however, two important things to keep in mind.

First, even if 100% successful, this is a low-reward endeavor. Private commercial sales simply are not a major way in which would-be criminals acquire firearms.

Second, most calls for “universal background checks” inevitably involve the imposition of significant burdens on low-risk and temporary transfers of firearms between law-abiding citizens.

In short, if these background checks are limited only to publicly advertised private sales [effectively, sales between strangers], and combined with exemptions for concealed-carry permit holders, they could be a relatively reasonable low-risk, low-reward policy.

But it’s not at all clear that Biden would veto a bill that stretched far beyond those limits. Indeed, he gives every indication that he would likely sign such a bill.

4) Eliminating Immunity for Gun Manufacturers

It’s important first to understand what the law currently is with respect to gun manufacturers and immunity.

Under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, gun manufacturers (as well as sellers and distributors) are still liable for selling defective products; for failing to abide by numerous federal regulations regarding safety, sales, and records; for false advertising; and for a wide array of other widely recognized tort claims.

The law only protects them from lawsuits claiming that they are liable whenever a third party criminally misuses a firearm that the company manufactured and sold in compliance with the law.

Congress granted this type of immunity precisely because gun control advocates routinely sought to barrage the gun industry with these lawsuits, in hopes of miring businesses selling a lawful product in frivolous, but expensive, litigation.

When gun control advocates call for this type of immunity to be lifted, their real aim isn’t promoting public safety, but using the court system to choke out a lawful industry when legislation can’t otherwise do so.

Conclusion: Nothing Proposed Makes Us Safer

In short, none of Biden’s proposals would make Americans safer.

If Biden is serious about keeping Americans safe from gun-related violence, there are plenty of steps he could urge Congress or state governments to take that promise to be far more effective and far less constitutionally questionable.

Violence and mental health are very complicated problems that deserve comprehensive, holistic responses addressing underlying issues.

For example, states and the federal government could remove barriers to gun ownership for law-abiding citizens, allowing more responsible Americans to adequately defend themselves in more places.

Additionally, we could invest in the nation’s mental health infrastructure and engage in targeted, time-limited interventions for specific individuals who are nearing mental health crises. That includes training communities and local officials to take reported threats of violence or signs of deteriorating mental health seriously.

States in particular should utilize proven anti-gang violence programs—programs like the ones Virginia Democrats recently declined to fund.

It’s unfortunate that the Biden administration won’t pursue these far more meaningful measures.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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7 thoughts on “Blowing 4 factual holes in the Biden gun control agenda

  1. Isn’t it funny that they will exempt the military and law enforcement from all the gun control laws they want to pass. This is direct contradiction to what the founders reasons were for having an armed citizenry. The founders did not want the government to be better armed than it’s citizens. I saw a movie where only the police and military had guns it was called Schindler’s List.

    “Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or SA, ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the state”. – Heinrich Himmler

    This is what the founders said:

    “To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them “. George Mason

    “ I ask, sir, What is the Militia ? It is the whole people except for a few public officials”. – George Mason

    “Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “When the people fear the government there is Tyranny. When the government fear the people there is Liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Thomas Jefferson

    “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms, disarms only those who are neither inclined, nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to encourage rather than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man maybe attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” – Thomas Jefferson -1764

    “No free man shall be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson – 1776

    “The beauty of the 2nd amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “Without either the first or second amendment, we would have no liberty; the first allows us to find out what’s happening, the second allows us to do something about it! The second will be taken away first, followed by the first and then the rest of our freedoms.” – Andrew Ford

    “There have been many loyal Americans, that have made the greatest sacrifice possible, to keep and defend our rights and freedoms. Are we now going to invalidate their heroism by the removal of these rights, the greatest in the eyes of the founding fathers was the right to keep and bear arms? Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches the jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.” – Patrick Henry

    “The best we can help for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.” – Alexander Hamilton The Federalist Papers at 184-8

    “The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.” – Zachariah Johnson Elliot’s Debates, vol. 3 “The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution.”

    “Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?” – Patrick Henry

    “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon and citizens’ firearms are indelibly related. From the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that, to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 and 99-100 percent of them by their silence indicate they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil influence. They deserve a place of honor with all that’s good. When firearms go, all goes. We need them every hour.” – George Washington

    The false assumption that removing guns from free law abiding citizens will improve public safety was well known to the founding fathers. “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms..disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one.”
    Thomas Jefferson quoting Cesare Beccaria, Criminologist in 1764.

    “That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United states who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms…” – Samuel Adams

    “The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun.” – Patrick Henry

    “A government that does not trust it’s law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.” – James Madison

    “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpation’s of the national rulers may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual State. In a single State, if the persons in-trusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”
    Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

    “The power of the sword, [opponents] say … is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for the powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty … Who are the militia? are they not ourselves ?” – In a Pennsylvania Gazette article published February 20, 1788, Tench Coxe addressed the right to keep and bear arms.
    When the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was the governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that is was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually… George Mason

  2. ALL GUN CONTROL UNDER THE CONSTITUTION IS ILLEGAL! Government does not give us our rights. Our rights are not given to us by the Constitution. Our rights are given to us by God and are inherent to us as human beings and by the Laws of Nature. These rights that we are born with are affirmed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution and specify what the government can and cannot do to us as citizens of the United States. Government’s only power is the power which is enumerated to it by the Constitution. The federal government, a state, county or town can not pass a law contrary to the Constitution. Article 6 the Supremacy Clause makes the Constitution the supreme law of the land. Under our Constitution the government is not delegated the authority to legislate, enforce, or adjudicate laws pertaining to the exercise of our rights under the Constitution – Period. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to require the government’s permission to exercise any right affirmed to us under the Constitution. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be secure from unwarranted interrogation, search, or seizure in the absence of probable cause of criminal conduct. Or compel us to waive our guaranteed 5th Amendment right to due process as a precondition to being allowed (or denied) the exercise of our right to keep and bear arms. This violation of our 4th and 5th Amendment rights happens every time that we are interrogated under penalty of perjury without probable cause that a crime has been committed when we fill out B.A.T.F.E form 4473 to purchase a firearm. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our 10th Amendment right to a federal government exercising only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution, and State governments are prohibited the exercise of any power prohibited to the States by the United States Constitution.
    The government is not delegated the authority under the 14th Amendment to make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Government is not delegated by our Constitution the authority to license firearm dealers or operate or fund the most powerful anti-rights government agency on the planet called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Since no Amendment in the Bill of Rights has been repealed thru Article V or by a National Convention of States, the only legal way to change the Constitution, all existing gun control laws presently violate five Amendments of the Bill of Rights and goes against the settled lawof two Supreme Court decisions, Heller vs the District of Columbia 2008 and McDonald vs Chicago 2010. Both decisions affirm that the people’s right to keep and bear arms is an individual right and that citizens are allowed firearms in common use, those small arms or those that operate like them and are issued to our National Guard which comprises of citizen soldiers.

    The purpose of compelled background checks as a precondition to allowing or denying the transfer of a firearm is to deceive firearm owners and prospective owners into unknowingly waiving their rights guaranteed by the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 14th Amendments so they will have no rights left to claim when the government decides to register and confiscate our firearms. We have a right to keep and bear arms, not a privilege to keep and bear arms. Our rights are beyond the reach of the government and no citizen has to ask government permission to exercise a right. Government has no authority delegated to it by the Constitution to deceive its citizens into waiving their rights or acquiescing to the loss of their rights by subterfuge, scam, fraud, or force. DO NOT VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS !

  3. Biden has proposed a liability insurance requirement on privately owned firearms. I believe I’ve read that the price of this insurance would be $800. Are there not laws regarding overpricing a required service? Estimates say there are nearly four hundred million guns in the U.S. Most of them, and that probably doesn’t fall very far short of 100%, will never injure anyone. Of those that do – Suicides? You’re going to pay someone who deliberately kills himself? Like a home fire insurance payout for homeowner arson? Robbery, murder and mayhem – how may criminals are going to hold liability insurance on their guns? Biden’s proposed laws shift the balance of force in favor of the criminals. They reduce the likelihood of on-the-job injuries for felons. And increase it for “The People” whom Progressives claim are their constituents.

  4. The last King that tried to disarm the citizens was in the 1700s. It was only 3% of the colonial population that defeated the most powerful country of the time. Do we want a repeat on American soil, will law enforcement be called in to disarm previous law abiding people? Since the military is forbidden to act as law enforcement, this task would fall to the ATF and other federal agencies. Is this how we want our government to act?

    What is the true motivation of the left’s plan to disarm Americans? It is more than naïve to believe that criminals will just turn over their firearms? How does this make rural families safer when police response may be an hour or more? Where does this really lead? Is the second amendment just a sentence with no meaning even though it is enshrined in our bill of rights?

    Will we be citizens in a free America or serfs always cowering from the possible wrath from our overlords? There are many questions and potential unintended consequences to ponder. If someone asks you, why do you carry a gun? You say, because a cop is to heavy. Or you can rationalize that if the government can make laws to eliminate the second amendment that says “shall not be infringed”, what will they do next? Joe Biden is not the King, perhaps he should stop acting like he is!

  5. Biden and Co. care about “facts” (or the Constitution for that matter) about as much as criminals care about laws. The only goal is to render the citizenry defenseless in the face of tyranny. This should be a wake-up call for anyone that cares enough about preserving the this republic we call the United States of America for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Keep your powder dry, you’re liable to need it.

  6. Biden and the entire anti-gun mob do not care about the “facts” (or the Constitution, for that matter) any more than criminals care about laws. Disarming the population so that it is rendered defenseless in the face of tyranny is all the Democrats care about. It’s wake-up time for anyone who really cares enough about preserving this republic called the United States of America for our children and grandchildren.

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