It’s been a full week since I’ve hosted a Cam & Co, which means we haven’t had time to delve into the details (or the lack thereof) of Joe Biden’s latest anti-gun pronouncements until now. We’re rectifying that on today’s program, and I’m pleased that Matt Manda of the National Shooting Sports Foundation could join me to respond to Biden’s announced (but not yet published) rules on “ghost guns” as well as the nomination of Democratic politician and former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach as permanent director of ATF.
While the president used his Monday Rose Garden presser to announce new rules on unserialized firearms, it’s now Wednesday and the Federal Register has yet to publish them, which is a big sign that the rules are have still not been finalized behind the scenes. And as Manda tells me, the indications are that when the final rule is officially published in the Federal Register, it’s not likely to take effect for 120 days, though there have been plenty of rumors swirling around Washington, D.C. that the administration might try to quickly adopt them after a 60-day window.
And frankly, no matter how quickly the administration moves to start enforcing its new rule, there’s a good chance that a court order will block its implementation. We’ve already seen hints that pro-Second Amendment groups are planning on challenging the final rules in court once they’re released, and Manda tells Bearing Arms that the moves by the ATF in redefining what a firearm is under federal law may very well go beyond the agency’s power to interpret the law and cross over into the agency trying to rewrite the Gun Control Act of 1968, which is the job of the legislative and not the executive branch.
But Manda also points out that Biden’s new rule, like virtually all of his gun control efforts to date, are aimed at the legal firearms trade and not on combatting violent criminals. In fact, according to Manda, Biden’s proposed ATF budget contains far more money to hire inspectors to search for paperwork violations by firearm retailers than investigators tasked with breaking up gun smuggling rings, busting straw buyers, and arresting violent felons who are illegally possessing illicitly-obtained firearms. If Joe Biden were serious about curtailing the rising violent crime rate, he’d start with the folks who are actually committing violent crimes. Instead, he and his administration are courting dissatisfied gun control activists in the hopes that they won’t stay home on Election Day this November by doing exactly what they’ve been demanding: attempting to make it not only more difficult, but legally dangerous to attempt to exercise your right to keep and bear arms.
As for the nomination of former U.S. Attorney and onetime Democratic candidate for Ohio’s Attorney General Steve Dettelbach, Manda says that Biden’s pick may not have the close ties to the gun control lobby that Giffords lobbyist David Chipman has, but there’s not much difference between the two men when it comes to their anti-gun ideology. As a candidate for office in 2018 Dettelbach won the support of gun control groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, and has backed bans on modern sporting rifles and other commonly-owned firearms in the past. Not only that, but as The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski points out today, Dettelbach also has a history of complaining about “rigged elections”; specifically the Ohio Attorney General’s race that he lost to Republican Dave Yost.
Presumably the Biden administration wouldn’t have publicly named Dettelbach unless they’d received some reassurance from the likes of Joe Manchin and Angus King that he was an acceptable candidate, but given the ineptitude of Biden and his top deputies, who knows if any firm commitments have been made. At the moment, though, I don’t see any reason why Dettelbach should be more acceptable than Chipman, and Manda says the NSSF and the firearms industry will be closely examining his record and his rhetoric ahead of his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary committee. Personally, I’m curious to see if Dettelbach can do any better than Chipman at answering simple questions like “can you define an ‘assault weapon’“, but I don’t expect him to be any different in terms of his hostility towards the firearms industry and the tens of millions of American gun owners.