It’s been a month now since Joe Biden was sworn in as president, but gun control activists and anti-gun politicians are still waiting on those “Day One” executive actions on gun control that Biden promised to deliver. The White House has had several meetings with gun control groups and delivered a call for Congress to start moving on legislation back on February 14th, saying that there was no time to wait, but here we are more than a week later and Biden’s gun ban and compensated confiscation bill has yet to be introduced in either the House or Senate.
Anti-gun activists are now starting to make their complaints public in an attempt to put pressure on the Biden White House to start taking the gun control actions he promised. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we break down a new piece from POLITICO that declares Biden is mulling over his executive actions, while offering gun control advocates a chance to nudge Biden off the fence and into the anti-gun arena.
Among the executive actions under consideration by the administration is one that would require buyers of so-called ghost guns — homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers — to undergo background checks, according to three people who have spoken to the White House about their plans.
Either POLITICO has bad information from the White House or the reporters don’t understand how federal law actually works, but it’s already against the law to sell an unserialized or homemade firearm. It is not against federal law, however, to build your own gun.
Gun control groups are trying to get Biden, through the ATF, to redefine a “firearm” under federal law, but the problem is that the language of the Gun Control Act of 1968 is clear; a firearm is a frame or receiver, not something that, with some work, could be turned into a frame or receiver. Biden could sign his executive order, but it’s going to face an immediate court challenge with a high likelihood of success.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who spoke to the White House in the last week, said he recommended the administration take executive actions to close the so-called Charleston loophole that allows a gun to be transferred from licensed gun dealers before a completed background check. But Biden aides were reluctant, Blumenthal said.
Instead, the White House is likely to stick with campaign promises to support legislation to close the Charleston loophole, as well as measures designed to keep guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others and to establish safety storage standards for firearms, according to one of the people familiar with the plans.
“My view is the bigger and bolder the better on gun violence prevention because we have a unique window of opportunity,” Blumenthal said.
That “unique window of opportunity” that Blumenthal is talking about is the fact that Democrats are in complete control of both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government at the moment, albeit with a razor-thin margin in the Senate. Historically, the party in power has lost seats in the midterms, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that some Democrats believe that they’re likely to lose the House and possibly the Senate in 2022.
The clock is ticking, in other words, and gun control groups as well as politicians like Blumenthal say they’re getting little to no guidance from the Biden administration.
While the White House focuses its efforts on the pandemic, lawmakers working on gun control have been left waiting for signals. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he plans to reintroduce his universal background check bill in the coming month, though he wants to see a plan from the Biden administration first.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to move forward on strategy without hearing from the White House,” said Murphy, who plans to speak to Rice this week.
Murphy himself has said he supports Biden using his executive authority to tackle gun control. But if Democrats are going to pursue legislation, “our best chance to pass a background checks proposal is this year. I don’t want to have to wait for a mass shooting.”
Contrast that with younger activists, who are far more interested in preventing “gun violence” without getting the police involved.
“We have incidents where there’s three or four people getting shot [daily] and we don’t get the same kind of uproar and attention for those kinds of homicides and mainly because they’re Black and brown people,” said Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of the progressive Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago chapter, who has spoken to the White House.
Earlier this month, Heartland was among the coalition of organizations representing communities of color which sent a letter to the Biden administration expressing disappointment that they were not included in a gathering the White House held with more establishment gun control groups. According to four people who were involved in recent meetings, the White House moved quickly to rectify the situation and has since held at least two virtual calls with advocates from groups across the country.
Bocanegra said he was happy with the audience he received at the White House. But he still expressed frustration that white-led gun control groups appeared to be getting more attention after he had spent days helping the Biden transition on policy.
“I want to see my return on that investment,” he said.
Well, Eddie, I’ve got some bad news for you. You may have spent days helping the Biden transition on policy, but Michael Bloomberg, who funds the biggest white-led gun control group out there, spent tens of millions of dollars to get Biden elected, and he wants to see a return on his investment too.
I suspect that the White House is trying to figure out a way to please both dynamics in the gun control/gun violence prevention movement, but are wrestling with the fact that the two sides are fundamentally opposed to each other’s tactics, though they may be aligned with the end goal of a country with fewer guns and fewer gun owners.
Personally, I don’t have any issue with violence reduction programs that don’t seek to put new gun laws on the books. I have my own opinions about what programs actually are the most effective, but I don’t think that most Second Amendment supporters would object to federal grants going to “violence interrupters” or programs like Project Ceasefire and Project Exit. It’s the idea of putting new laws on the books that criminalize our right to keep and bear arms that we object to, for two reasons.
First, we have a constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms, and that right isn’t based on our zip code, population density, personal income, or what political party is in control of our state, local, and federal governments.
Secondly, because we know that the research has proven that most violent crime in a given community is committed by a very small number of people, the idea of banning our way to safety through sweeping gun control laws that target legal gun owners and calling it “common sense” is laughable. Some of the cities with the highest crime rates in the nation also have some of the most restrictive gun control laws on the books, and the people who are harmed the most are the good people living in bad neighborhoods who are denied their right to protect themselves and their families.
Having said all that, I do believe that we’re very near the point of Biden unveiling at least a few executive orders on gun control, including his attempt to ban the sale of unfinished frames and receivers without a background check. The anti-gun natives are growing restless and the anti-gun lawmakers in Congress are warning that time is already running out. Biden has to act soon to soothe their agitation. The real question isn’t when he’ll act, but what he’ll do when he does.
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