Joe Biden is once again exploiting tragedy to try to criminalize a fundamental civil right, pointing to the recent shootings in California as he repeated his demand on Tuesday for Congress to pass an “assault weapons” ban; specifically a new gun ban bill authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
In a statement released by the White House, Biden briefly acknowledged the victims in the shootings in Half Moon Bay, California before pivoting to demand a federal version of the “assault weapons” ban already in place in California; a law that, like the hundreds of other restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms in place across the state, clearly didn’t prevent either shooting from taking place.
For the second time in recent days, California communities are mourning the loss of loved ones in a senseless act of gun violence.
Following a briefing from my homeland security team, I have directed my administration to ensure local authorities and the broader Half Moon Bay community have the full support of the federal government in the wake of this heinous attack.
Yesterday, Senator Feinstein — alongside Senators Murphy, Blumenthal and others — reintroduced a federal Assault Weapons Ban and legislation that would raise the minimum purchase age for assault weapons to 21. Even as we await further details on these shootings, we know the scourge of gun violence across America requires stronger action. I once again urge both chambers of Congress to act quickly and deliver this Assault Weapons Ban to my desk, and take action to keep American communities, schools, workplaces, and homes safe.
Leaving aside the blatant constitutional issues for a moment; if all of the California laws currently in place, from a 10-day waiting period and “universal” background checks to the “assault weapon”, “large capacity” magazine, and “off-roster” handgun bans, couldn’t prevent these killers, then why would a federal ban be any more effective, especially one that supposedly allows existing owners to maintain possession of their so-called battlefield weapons of war, as Feinstein’s bill currently does.
Feinstein’s bill isn’t just an assault on a constitutionally-protected right. It’s an insult to the intelligence of American voters. We know what their end game is, and it’s not letting tens of millions of modern sporting rifles be lawfully possessed by their current owners. It’s not like this is some big secret either. States like California and New Jersey have already removed the grandfather clauses from their magazine bans, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has been encouraging lawmakers to remove the grandfather protections in the state’s “assault weapons” ban this year as well.
We already know how tens of millions of Americans will respond to any federal legislation that would do the same. In Illinois, the state’s newly-enacted ban requires existing gun owners to register their “assault weapons” with the state police by January 1st, 2024. More than 80 county sheriffs have said they will not make any arrests solely for violations of the gun and magazine ban, and I suspect that registration will be few and far between if the law is even still in place by next January. That was certainly the experience in New York when the SAFE Act and its registration requirements were established, with compliance estimated to be around just 4% more than five years after the mandate took effect.
If Biden ever did get a federal “assault weapons” ban in place that was upheld by the Supreme Court (a highly unlikely possibility), it would be a nightmare for the federal government to effectively enforce given the widespread civil and civic disobedience to any ban, especially in a day and age where firearms can be built at home using 3D printers (and maybe a couple of items purchased at your local hardware store).
But that doesn’t mean he won’t try, and the gun control lobby keeps making the case that Biden could take action against virtually all semi-automatic firearms without a single vote in Congress by having the ATF re-define them as machine guns; pointing to the increase in auto-sears that illegally convert semi-automatics into fully-automatic machine guns. While the switches themselves are already illegal, gun control activists say the ATF can go after the semi-automatic firearms themselves by arguing they are “readily converted” to full-auto fire and therefore subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act, including mandatory registration, a $200 tax stamp, and the possibility of spending a decade in federal prison for possessing an unregistered NFA item.
That would be the nuclear option for Biden, and I don’t think he’s ready to push the button yet, but I don’t think he’s discounted using the tactic in the future either; even as a stalling tactic to avoid compliance with a Supreme Court decision overturning a state-level “assault weapons” ban. There’s a case in the Fourth Circuit that has the potential for SCOTUS review in the near future, and that the outcome of that case (or the other challenges making their way to SCOTUS) could very well be the determining factor in just how far Biden is willing to go to strip law-abiding Americans of one of their most fundamental civil rights.
Ironically, the most immediate effect of Biden’s obsession with modern sporting rifles is likely to be an increase in sales. In Illinois, gun store owner Dan Eldridge told Bearing Arms that sales of soon-to-be-banned “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines soared by nearly 1000% in the days before the ban took effect, and while I doubt Biden’s current bluster will have that dramatic of an impact, the more he talks about criminalizing the most commonly-owned rifle in the country the more get sold; for self-defense, hunting, and recreational shooting, and even as a political statement… one that Biden will undoubtably ignore.