Joe Biden’s disastrous decision to pull out of Afghanistan without much of a plan and over the objections of military and intelligence officials will have consequences for American national security for decades, but that’s not the only bad idea coming from the White House that will have far-ranging impacts on American citizens. The president is continuing his push to implement new restrictions on gun owners and the firearms industry through executive action, and this week public comments close on the first of two proposed rule changes by the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives that could have a major impact on our Second Amendment rights and even potentially lead to an attempt to ban AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles without a vote by Congress.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’re taking a closer look at that proposed rule, which has now received more than 150,000 public comments. The vast majority of those responses appear to be opposed to the rule change. In fact, in a random sampling of more than 100 public comments, I couldn’t find a single one in support of what the administration is attempting to do. Here’s how Team Biden describes their proposal:
The Department of Justice (“Department”) proposes amending Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) regulations to provide new regulatory definitions of “firearm frame or receiver” and “frame or receiver” because the current regulations fail to capture the full meaning of those terms. The Department also proposes amending ATF’s definitions of “firearm” and “gunsmith” to clarify the meaning of those terms, and to provide definitions of terms such as “complete weapon,” “complete muffler or silencer device,” “privately made firearm,” and “readily” for purposes of clarity given advancements in firearms technology. Further, the Department proposes amendments to ATF’s regulations on marking and recordkeeping that are necessary to implement these new or amended definitions.
It’s not that the current definitions of frame or receiver “fail to capture the full meaning of those terms.” It’s that the current definition doesn’t allow the ATF to regulate things like unfinished frames and receivers because they’re not actually firearms. The ATF wants to say that if something could become a gun, it should be treated like a gun even if it isn’t yet (and may never be) an actual firearm. By doing so, the agency could ostensibly crack down on the sale of unfinished gun parts and make it much more difficult and legally dangerous to build your own gun at home.
As bad as that is, the ATF’s desire to redefine “readily” is even more dangerous to the right to keep and bear arms. The gun control lobby is already making the argument in in civil litigation that AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles are designed to be “readily converted” into machine guns, which they allege is a violation of the National Firearms Act. Now the ATF wants to adopt that same theory by defining the term “readily” as broadly as possible, which would empower the agency to not only declare that even a block of aluminum could be “readily converted” into a handgun, but that a semi-automatic rifle can be readily converted into a machine gun and should therefore be restricted under the NFA.
We know that Joe Biden and his anti-gun allies are desperate to impose their gun ban on the American people, and we also know that they’re unlikely to get their way in a closely divided Congress. Executive branch action is the most likely way for them to get their gun ban in place, though any attempt to do so would be met with a legal challenge. Still, we’ve already seen that Biden is more than happy to embrace a position that his own legal advisors say is unconstitutional in the hopes that the courts will do him a solid, and there’s no reason to think that the president wouldn’t try the same thing when it comes to turning tens of millions of lawfully-owned firearms into restricted items through government regulation.
I have no doubt in my mind that Biden will move forward with this proposed rule change despite the widespread opposition, but I still believe its important for gun owners to weigh in before a lawsuit (or more likely, multiple lawsuits) are filed. The public comment period closes on August 19th, and you can and should submit your own public comment right here.