The website Factcheck.org is out with what’s supposedly a debunking of claims that Joe Biden’s embraced Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s gun ban and compensated confiscation plans, but the supposed fact checkers are only telling half of the story.
Here’s what Factcheck got right: Joe Biden’s gun control agenda, as outlined on his website, does not call for the confiscation of so-called assault weapons. Instead, under Biden’s proposal, all existing owners of “assault weapons” would be required to register their firearms and “high capacity magazines” under the National Firearms Act. Those who did not choose to do so could also sell their firearms to the government as part of a “buyback.” Anyone found to be in possession of a banned firearm or magazine that wasn’t registered under the National Firearms Act could be charged with a federal crime.
However, even though Biden’s plan doesn’t spell out a confiscation strategy, that’s exactly what it would amount to in many cases. It costs $200 to register an item through the National Firearms Act, and forcing gun owners to pay $200 to the government to maintain possession of each of their banned guns and magazines would be cost prohibitive for many Americans. Instead, they’d be compelled to turn over their guns and magazines or else risk federal felony charges in the future. Violations of the National Firearms Act can be punished by up to ten years in federal prison, so we’re not talking about a minor fine. You could spend a decade behind bars simply for maintaining possession of a gun or magazine that you legally purchased under Biden’s plan.
Obviously there are grave constitutional concerns over Biden’s gun grab, but there are some practical problems with it as well. Biden’s gun control plan doesn’t define a “high capacity magazine,” but it’s fair to say that whether it’s defined as a magazine than can hold more than 10, 15, or 20 rounds, that will cover hundreds of millions of magazines and the vast majority of the nation’s legal gun owners.
It can already take months to get NFA approval for a single item, so if tens of millions of gun owners are trying to register hundreds of millions of magazines, the system will simply be overwhelmed. How do gun owners register magazines under the NFA to begin with, given that magazines aren’t firearms and aren’t serialized?
Honestly, Biden’t plan is so complicated and inherently flawed that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him adopt O’Rourke’s simpler (if equally unconstitutional) plan to simply ban all semi-automatic long guns and “high capacity” magazines and have a mandatory compensated confiscation program.
Biden hasn’t done that yet, however. When Factcheck.org reached out to the Biden campaign for “clarification” about his comments that O’Rourke would be leading his gun control efforts, this is what they received in response.
“Vice President Biden is the sole candidate in the race who has beaten the NRA — twice. The epidemic of gun violence that is wracking communities across our nation is a full-blown moral and safety crisis, especially for our children. He’s honored to have Beto O’Rourke’s endorsement, and is thrilled that Beto will be leading grassroots support for the Vice President’s gun reform proposals that we absolutely can’t afford not to make as soon as possible. It’s vital that the next president be able to take on and defeat the gun manufacturers and their lobby, and Joe Biden is the only candidate with the right background and credentials to do so.”
O’Rourke himself, on the other hand, is still talking up gun confiscation.
This guy makes the case for both an assault weapons ban and a mandatory buyback program better than I ever could. These are weapons of war that have no place in our communities, in our politics or in our public discourse. https://t.co/ce5PvaxqMk
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 6, 2020
If Biden’s point man on gun control is still calling for a “mandatory buyback,” then I think it’s fair to say that’s what he’s going to be pushing Biden to do. Factcheck may be accurate in stating that Biden has made no commitment to adopting O’Rourke’s proposal, but clearly O’Rourke himself thinks it’s still a possibility.
Whether O’Rourke gets his way or not is largely irrelevant, given the unconstitutional proposal put forth by Biden. Either plan, if enacted, would strip Americans of their right to own the most commonly produced rifle in the country. Both plans would make it a felony to possess the most commonly owned magazines in the country. Both plans would violate the constitutional rights of Americans, and I suspect both plans would be met with a great deal of non-compliance.