Joe Biden has yet to announce some key cabinet picks like his nominee for Attorney General, but he and his team have apparently been busy picking out loyal Democrats and life-long bureaucrats as he prepares to weaponize the powers of the regulatory state against disfavored industries.
According to The Hill, Biden plans to move aggressively on all kinds of regulations; trying to both undo Trump-era regulatory decisions as well as add his own rules and regulations throughout the federal bureaucracy.
“There is not an area of our life the regulation doesn’t touch and when progress in Congress is stifled because of gridlock or partisan differences, president after president has turned to regulation, and Biden will be no different,” said Stuart Shapiro, a Rutgers University professor who worked in the Office of Management and Budget under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
Biden has already drawn in experts with deep government and regulatory backgrounds to head some of his agencies. Many of those who will serve in his White House or broader administration have worked in multiple previous administrations.
What are some of the key positions gun owners should be watching? Obviously the Attorney General will be a big pick, and Biden’s short list is allegedly down to three names, including D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland, who had a history of anti-gun decisions. Another potential contender is newly un-elected Alabama Senator Doug Jones, who used his first speech on the Senate floor to call for more gun control laws. Sally Yates, the third name reported to be on Biden’s short list, also spoke out in favor of more gun control laws back in 2018, shortly after the attack in Parkland, Florida.
Yates threw her support behind the students who immediately demanded gun control measures, and the businesses, including Atlanta’s Delta Air Lines and Dick’s Sporting Goods, that took a public stance on the issue…
Yates said the country has been moved by the voices of students in the aftermath of the Florida high school shooting. She specifically pointed to a CNN Town Hall where students confronted public officials.
“Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but it feels different right now,” Yates said. “And I don’t know what that’s going to translate into in terms of common-sense gun reform, but it feels markedly different.”
“But these kids can’t do it by themselves,” she added. “I think it is up to all of us to ensure that our voices continue to be heard so that we can have a rational debate. … We have to be able to discuss what common-sense gun measures make sense for our country going forward.”
She also praised Dick’s Sporting Goods, which announced Wednesday that it would no longer sell guns to people under 21, and would no longer sell assault-style weapons.
“And I guess the last thing I would say is fly Delta,” she said to loud applause, referencing the airline’s announcement that it will no longer give membership discounts to National Rifle Association members.
Every one of the names on Biden’s purported short list believe your right to keep and bear arms should be restricted, not protected. We already know the kind of damage that an anti-gun Attorney General can do thanks to Eric Holder, and we’re likely to see an anti-gun Justice Department working hand-in-hand (though largely behind the scenes) with gun control groups on everything from 80% frames and receivers (“ghost gun” is the new “assault weapon,” after all) to lawsuits against the firearms industry over their marketing and advertising.
We should also be watching closely to see if Biden will nominate a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The agency has been without a permanent head since then-director B. Todd Jones resigned in March of 2015. It’s a true shame, in my opinion, that Donald Trump never nominated a reformer to clean house in the agency soon after he was elected. Instead, the agency has continued to run under the direction of career bureaucrats, and on November 10th the agency reportedly reached out to members of Biden’s transition team to brief them on the ATF’s priorities: pistol braces and 80% frames and receivers.
The ATF has now suspended its proposed guidance on pistol braces, but that doesn’t mean the agency is done with the issue, and it’s really only getting started in its crackdown on unfinished frames and receivers.
Because the agency and acting director Gina Lombardo appear eager to assist the Biden administration in using the power of the regulatory state to restrict the rights of gun owners, Biden himself might not see the need to appoint a permanent director at the moment. Lombardo seems unlikely to rock the boat, and Biden’s going to have some fights on his hands over several of his cabinet picks. He may very well decide it’s not worth the expense in political capital to get an ATF director confirmed when the acting director and upper management are willing and capable of implementing his regulatory attack on our right to keep and bear arms.