The interview with Joe Biden is a year-old, but for some reason the Las Vegas Sun decided not to release its full conversation with the then-candidate until now. The National Rifle Association is flat-out accusing the paper of burying the interview because it would have been too damaging to the Biden campaign, and since the paper itself hasn’t explained why the editorial board waited a year to release a full transcript, that explanation is as good as any at the moment.
The paper’s interview with Biden covers a lot of ground, but gun control is one of the first issues that the editors quizzed him about; specifically, how he would navigate his gun and magazine ban through Congress. Biden responded by pointing out that he got it done back in 1994, and said what’s changed since then is the formation of a larger “gun safety” movement.
And (the gun-safety movement) is real. One of the things I talk about is restoring the soul of the country. If you want to talk about a sick soul, one of the first things our kids now have to learn at school is the ability to duck and cover. We’re building schools that have abutments so you can avoid a mass shooting.
When the president (Barack Obama) asked me to put together executive orders in light of what happened at Pulse all the way back through Connecticut, we got a lot of them passed. And this is significant: An overwhelming majority of NRA members thought we should do away with assault weapons.
There’s no rationale whatsoever to have more than 10 rounds in a magazine, and even that is too much in my view.
I would have loved for the editors of the Las Vegas Sun to have interrupted Biden to ask a question at that point; there are an estimated 20-million semi-automatic rifles in the United States (that number’s quite a bit larger now, but the interview was done in January of 2020) and more than 150-million ammunition magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. How successful do you really think you’ll be in defending this law in court or enforcing it on the street, and how many millions of Americans are you willing to put in prison if they disobey?
I don’t know how Biden would have responded, because he’s never really faced any pushback from the media when it comes to his gun control positions. Interviewers just nod and smile, because they’re usually in full agreement with him.
After proclaiming that he’d really like to restrict magazine size to less than ten rounds, Biden then began talking up smart guns.
I also dealt with the folks in Silicon Valley; we have the capacity now to build any weapon where it can only be fired with your biometric marker. And that technology doesn’t violate anyone’s Second Amendment right at all. If you pass the background check, you can purchase a weapon which only you can pull the trigger.
Think about how Biden phrased this for a second. Sounds to me like Joe Biden wants to make it illegal to buy anything other than costs $2500a smart gun, even if you don’t want one. I see absolutely no need for a smart gun in my life, though if someone wants to get one that should be their choice. The one smart gun that’s been announced for retail sale this year is a 9mm that and required the user to wear a glove at all times in order to activate the firearm for use. If Biden had his way, the only people who could afford to exercise their right to keep and bear arms would be wealthy Americans like himself. The average citizen, on the other hand, would be priced out of their constitutionally-protected right to own a gun for self-defense.
Next, Biden addressed how he would move his gun ban through Congress.
So the way you give cover to some of our Republican friends who are scared of the NRA — and this outfit owns the White House right now — is you put it in a larger bill. So they (Republicans) say, “Look, I had to vote for it.”
You know, I have a 20-gauge and a 12-gauge shotgun. I’m a skeet shooter, and I used to go up and down the (Delmarva) Peninsula in Delaware and talk to the guys hunting and fishing. They’d say, ‘God darn, Joe, why are you taking my weapon away? You’re taking my shotgun.”
And I’d show ’em a picture of an assault rifle and I’d say, “You need this to hunt with? And you need a magazine with a hundred rounds or 30 rounds? You must be a lousy damn shot.”
The point is, it’s a totally salable idea.
Remember, this interview was conducted a year ago, and Biden had no idea he’d be looking at a 50-50 Senate. The idea of including his gun ban in a larger bill is still worrisome, however, because Biden could include in a reconciliation bill that only requires 51 votes for approval. I think that voting for Biden’s gun ban would be the end of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s political careers, and would give the GOP their number one issue to run on in 2022, but it could still very well happen, and he wouldn’t need a single Republican to go along with it.
Biden then briefly talked about the need to repeal the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act so that gun manufacturers could be sued for the third-party actions of criminals before he returned to his gun ban.
Here’s the last point. This is an issue that no one wants to campaign against me on. Nobody. No Republican wants to stand up and say, “No, I want assault weapons out there.”
Think about that; not a joke. Even the ones who are afraid because they think they’re going to lose, they don’t want that argument.
Oh, I’d be happy to debate Biden about this, or give some advice to any Republican looking to do so.
Gun control doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In fact, Biden gave this interview in January of 2020, before the first COVID-19 shutdowns caused the year’s first spike in gun sales. Since then, more than 23-million firearms have been sold, and it’s estimated that there are now 9-million new gun owners since January of last year. Gun ownership is pretty popular, in other words, regardless of Biden’s opinion on it.
Biden’s been around long enough to know that unpopular laws are more broadly ignored. It’s why, after decades of waging a war on marijuana, states are starting to throw in the towel and legalize its recreational use. At the same time Democrats are taking the lead in decriminalizing cannabis, they’re leading the way on criminalizing the Second Amendment. The same racial disparities that exist with drug prosecutions exist for gun prosecutions too, and there is absolutely no way that Biden’s ban on modern sporting rifles and magazines that can hold more than ten-rounds of ammunition is not going to disproportionately impact black and brown residents of deep-blue Democratic-controlled cities. In fact, in many Second Amendment Sanctuaries, I suspect that local law enforcement would leave it entirely up to federal authorities to investigate and prosecute any violations.
I know Joe Biden doesn’t give a damn about my Second Amendment rights, or yours either. He’s made that abundantly clear. But Biden and the Democrats in Congress are going to have to choose between criminal justice reform and enacting Prohibition 2.0, along with the disastrous consequences that would come from enforcing any sweeping ban on a commonly-owned and constitutionally-protected item like a modern sporting rifle or a 30-round magazine.
If Biden’s lucky, his gun ban would be struck down by the Supreme Court and would never take effect. If, on the other hand, a Biden-packed Supreme Court upheld his law, then he and Democrats would completely own what happens next. Just as with Prohibition, you would see widespread state and local defiance to the unpopular federal edict, along with millions of individual gun owners.
Given the widespread noncompliance that should be expected (both intentional and accidental), there’s simply no way to move forward with Biden’s gun ban without being willing to put several million Americans in the federal prison system for maintaining possession of the guns and magazines they currently own without registering them with the federal government. Biden talked in his interview with the Sun about “healing the soul of the nation.” You can’t do that if you’re willing to triple the federal prison population with non-violent offenders through a crime of your own creation.
My guess is that Biden doesn’t care nearly as much about healing the nation as he does banning guns. I think he’ll wait for the most politically expedient moment to launch his legislative assault on our Second Amendment rights, but he’s made it crystal clear that he intends to find that moment sooner or later.
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