At the moment, the prospects of Joe Biden’s sweeping gun and magazine ban getting through a divided Congress appear to be dim, but a top transition official is telling his supporters that the Democrat will move quickly to enact ““make big, bold changes through executive action” if he’s inaugurated in January.
The Washington Examinerreports‘s Paul Bedard that Stef Feldman, the national policy director of Biden’s presidential campaign, brought up the issue of executive actions on guns during an online briefing with Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.
It is expected that Biden will use executive orders, especially if the Democrats don’t win both Georgia special Senate elections. Even with those, however, it would be a split chamber — making it difficult for him to push through liberal elements of his agenda, including gun control.
The mention of guns in his initial executive actions is already sparking concern in the industry, which is readying an aggressive lobbying campaign. “I’m going to be pretty busy,” said one top gun lobbyist.
What actions could Biden take? As we discussed with Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation on Tuesdays’ Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, a ban on the importation of semi-automatic rifles is one of the first moves that Biden could make, but Gottlieb says he’s also concerned that Biden could try to ban the importation of ammunition and ammunition components as well.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits the importation of ammunition unless it’s “of a type generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to ‘sporting purposes’” and the ATF has already used the “sporting purposes” test to ban the importation of some semi-automatic firearms since the 1980s. Biden could not only use executive actions to block so-called assault weapons from being imported into the country, but could ban the importation of common calibers of center-fire rifle ammunition as well, making it even harder for gun owners to acquire already scarce ammo.
What about domestically manufactured modern sporting rifles? Is there any way for Biden to ban guns like the AR-15 without legislation? According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane, his transition team is already weighing their options.
“Right now, there’s no legal way that I’m aware of where you could deny the right if they had legally purchased them,” Biden told CNN of his confiscation plans. “But we can, in fact, make a major effort to get them off the street and out of the possession of people.”
That was 2019. Today, he’s looking for the loopholes. One way Biden’s trying to achieve his agenda is by reclassifying the MSR to fall under the 1934 National Firearms Act so the more than century-old technology would be treated in the same fashion as short-barrel rifles and machine guns. That would require owners to be put on federal lists, submit fingerprints, photos, inform chief law enforcement officers, endure duplicitous background checks, wait more than nine months for approval and pay a $200 tax for the privilege to continue to own what they already legally purchased.
Biden banning the most commonly sold center-fire rifle in the country via executive action would certainly count as a “big, bold move,” but you’d quickly see equally big and bold challenges to his edict in state legislatures, Congress, and the courts, as well as widespread non-compliance on the part of gun owners. If Biden wants to pick that fight he better understand that there are tens of millions of Americans who aren’t going to voluntarily give up the guns in their possession or pay the federal government hundreds of dollars per gun or magazine for the “privilege” of keeping what they already own. Joe Biden’s been claiming he wants to be a unifying president, but there’s no faster way to deepen the divide in this country than by targeting our Second Amendment rights, and it sounds like that’s exactly what Joe Biden plans to do.