Biden's Wishful Thinking On Gun Control Reveals Its Weakness

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Joe Biden would like to ban semi-automatic handguns as well as modern sporting rifles, though it is somewhat shocking that Biden would admit his desire in front of a live television audience. Maybe the president forgot where he was, or perhaps he figured if he revealed his big secret on CNN few people would be watching and paying attention, but either way, Biden’s remarks are getting a lot of traction in conservative media today.

I’m the only guy that ever got passed legislation, when I was a senator, to make sure we eliminated assault weapons. The idea you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots from that weapon, whether — whether it’s a .9 millimeter pistol or whether it’s a rifle, is ridiculous.

I’m continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things. But I’m not likely to get that done in the near term. So here’s what I’ve done. The people who, in fact, are using those weapons are acquiring them illegally. Illegally.

And so what happens is, I’ve got the ATF… Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms, I have them increased their budget, increased their capacity along with the Justice Department, to go after the gun shops that are not abiding by the law and doing background checks. For real.

Biden’s right that he’s not likely to get a gun ban “done” in the near term. He’s also apparently forgotten that the Supreme Court has said that bans on classes of firearms like handguns violates the Constitution. Maybe he should read up on the Heller decision and skip his afternoon nap today. Even before the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns, however, the vast majority of the country never considered taking such a step. D.C. banned handguns in 1976, the same year voters in Massachusetts rejected a statewide ban on pistols. Chicago and a couple of its suburbs imposed their own handgun ban in the early 1980s, but the idea never really caught on in even the most Democrat-dominated cities.

The president isn’t just out of step with most Americans in his anti-gun extremism, he’s lying to them by demonizing federal firearms licensees and blaming them for the actions of criminals. Of course the ATF should be going after gun stores that are selling firearms without conducting background checks. That’s a pretty blatant violation of federal law. It’s also not commonplace, and it’s not how the vast majority of criminals are obtaining their guns. Theft, straw buys, and family and friends are the most common ways that criminals acquire firearms. Sales from gun shops, according to a 2016 DOJ study, account for less than 5% of the firearms carried by criminals (and many of those may have been lawful purchases at the time).

Biden’s going after gun stores because that’s what he has the power to do, just like he’s going after AR-style pistols and unfinished frames and receivers by using the regulatory power of the ATF to get around the lack of support for his agenda in Congress. Even with those attempts, however, it’s worth noting that the public comments are overwhelmingly opposed to Biden’s regulatory gun ban.

Beyond Biden’s reminder that gun control advocates don’t give a damn about “common sense gun safety laws” and are truly intent on eradicating the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights, the president’s rambling remarks are also an indication that the gun control movement is coasting on fumes at the moment; powered more by the cash of anti-gun billionaires like Michael Bloomberg than the passions of Americans.

While Biden bemoans not being able to ban handguns and modern sporting rifles, we continue to purchase those items in near record numbers. States across the country continue to move towards full recognition of the right to both keep and bear arms, with Constitutional Carry the law of the land in nearly half of the United States. This fall, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to New York’s “may issue” carry laws that prevent the average citizen from exercising their right to bear arms in self-defense, and expectations on both sides are that the Court will toss out that law as an unconstitutional infringement on the civil rights of New York residents.

Gun control groups like Giffords, meanwhile, have acknowledged that the best way to fight crime doesn’t involve putting new gun control laws on the books and trying to criminalize the exercise of a civil right, but focusing on the small number of violent offenders instead. Academics are pointing out that gun licensing laws are creating felons and sending people to prison for simply possessing a gun without a government permission slip, without doing much of anything to stop violent crime. And even with the spike in crime that began last year, shootings and homicides in Washington, D.C. and Chicago are still well below what they were when those cities’ handgun bans were in place; which is pretty strong evidence that Biden’s desired gun bans wouldn’t actually work to reduce crime if they were constitutional (which they’re not).

The gun control movement is as worn out and tired as the president himself. Many on the Left are looking towards things like Community Violence Intervention programs instead of adding more criminal offenses to the books. The vast majority of us on the Right aren’t in favor of new gun control laws (or the old ones, for that matter), because we view them as infringements on our right to keep and bear arms. The natural constituency for gun control is shrinking, which is why anti-gun groups are now trying to re-invent themselves as social justice warriors; declaring, for instance, that “police violence is gun violence” while hoping that their fellow lefties won’t realize that every new gun law proposed by the likes of Everytown will be enforced by those same armed law enforcement officers.

I appreciate Joe Biden reminding us of the real agenda of groups like Everytown, despite their repeated attempts at rebranding. Now it’s up to the rest of us to remind our non-gun owning friends of the the fact is that the gun control movement is an ideological dead end; based on racism and xenophobia, at odds with the Constitution and the conscience of a country that embraces individual freedom, ineffective at preventing crime, and increasingly unpopular even in some circles on the Left because of its inherent need for law enforcement and its uncanny ability to create non-violent criminals.