The biggest reason, of course, is that Joe Biden’s plans to ban and “buyback” legally-purchased firearms and ammunition magazines is that would violate the Constitution. As you’ll see in a moment, the latest figures demonstrate that all of the guns and magazines that Biden is hoping to ban are clearly in common use by millions of Americans for a variety of lawful purposes, and squarely fall under the protections offered by the Second Amendment.
Let’s set aside the constitutional issues with Biden’s desire to criminalize the possession of commonly-owned rifles and magazines for the moment, though, and just focus on the logistics of his would-be ban.
According to newly-released figures from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Biden’s ban would encompass well over 170-million items that would either have to be turned over to the government or registered under the National Firearms Act.
- Since 1990, there are an estimated 19.8 million Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) in circulation today.
- There are approximately 71.2 million pistol magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, and 79.2 million rifle magazines capable of holding 30 or more rounds in circulation.
Under Biden’s proposed gun and magazine ban, every one of these guns and magazines would be prohibited by federal law, and possession of an unregistered rifle or “large capacity” magazine would be subject to a violation of the National Firearms Act. Possession of an unregistered NFA item is punishable by ten years in prison or a $250,000 fine, so we’re talking about turning more than 170-million items that are currently in the lawful possession of tens of millions of gun owners into illicit substances that could land them in the a federal penitentiary for a decade.
Because the media never really brought up Biden’s gun ban on the campaign trail or the debate stage, the vast majority of Americans have no idea what his war on guns would really look like, but if Biden is sworn into office and starts making moves towards modern sporting rifles they’ll soon find out, because many of them would be turned into criminals themselves unless they handed over or registered their lawfully purchased arms.
Putting Biden’s plan into action would be a logistical nightmare, however. Biden hasn’t said how much money his compensated confiscation efforts would pay for each firearm or magazine turned in, but at $500 per gun and $10 per magazine, the cost alone would be more than $11-billion.
Obviously, a lot of Americans aren’t going to hand over their guns and magazines. Let’s say half of the current owners of these items decide instead that they’re going to register their rifles and various magazines with the government under the National Firearms Act. How exactly is the ATF going to deal with the flood of applications?
In 2016, the agency processed about 2.5-million NFA forms. If just half of the guns and magazines that fall under Biden’s proposed ban were to be registered with the ATF, they’d be faced with an avalanche of 86-million forms to process. It would take years to clear out the backlog, and in the meantime, what happens to those gun owners who haven’t been yet been approved to maintain possession of their guns and magazines when the ban would take effect?
There’s another logistical nightmare looming for gun-banners if they try to put Biden’s ban into effect. According to Biden himself, owners of “high capacity” magazines would be able to register them under the NFA, but he never explains how that would be possible. Magazines aren’t serialized, and there’s no real way to identify a particular magazine that would make it possible to register one.
According to Politifact, Biden’s team says they haven’t quite worked out the details.
The campaign told us that it defines high-capacity magazines as those that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. However, a spokesperson also said the campaign has not yet ironed out some of the finer details on magazines, such as if owners would be charged per unit.
There’s also a question of how a Biden administration would define “assault weapons” — and whether it would include all semi-automatic firearms, as the post says. A Biden campaign spokesperson told us that the precise definition of “assault weapon” would be worked out during the legislative process.
They’re going to define it as broadly as possible, and in fact any ban will most likely include not just modern sporting rifles but likely AR-style pistols and many pistol-caliber carbines as well. But Team Biden also still seems blissfully unaware of the fact that it’s going to be virtually impossible to register the more than 150-million magazines that would fall under their definition of “high capacity.”
As for the cost to gun owners (registering an NFA item typically costs $200 for each item), Politifact does note that, under the Gun Control Act of 1968, the ATF can issue a 90-day amnesty where individuals can register NFA items without paying the $200 tax stamp, so it’s possible that Democrats would waive the cost and sacrifice the $34-billion dollars they’d stand to gain if every firearm and magazine affected by Biden’s ban were actually registered with the federal government.
Personally, I highly doubt that anti-gun politicians would miss the opportunity to take money out of the pockets of legal gun owners, but the potential for an amnesty does exist, however unlikely the chances.
The real problem for Biden and his anti-gun allies, of course, is that the vast majority of American gun owners are unlikely to comply with either one of his demands. They won’t hand their guns in, and they won’t register them with the federal government. We’ve already seen evidence of this in New Jersey and New York, and I see no reason why gun owners across the country wouldn’t respond to Biden’s ban in the same fashion.
That leads us into the difficulties of enforcing an unpopular and broadly ignored law, but that’s probably a topic for an entirely different column. Suffice it to say that the logistic problems I just laid out if a large number of gun owners actually did cooperate with a ban are nothing compared to the issues that would arise with the massive and widespread non-compliance that we’re far more likely to see if Biden’s gun and magazine ban becomes a reality.