Biden says he can't do any more gun control through executive action

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Gun control groups no doubt disagree, but Joe Biden says he’s reached the limits of his executive authority when it comes to gun control, while once again calling on Congress to enact a gun ban on its own.


“I have gone the full extent of my executive authority, to do on my own anything about guns,” Biden said. “The Congress has to act. The majority of the American people think having assault weapons is bizarre, a crazy idea. They’re against that.”

Biden renewed his push for Congress to reinstate the nation’s ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which expired in 2024, and to close loopholes for gun background checks after Monday’s deadly shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville.

“The last time we passed an assault weapons ban, violent shootings went down,” Biden said. “I can’t do anything except plead with Congress to act reasonably.”

Apparently USA Today’s fact checker is on vacation this week, since the ban on so-called assault weapons expired in 2004, not next year. As for Biden’s claim that “violent shootings” (are there non-violent shootings?) decreased after the AWB took effect in 1994, according to the FBI’s uniform crime reports violent crime in the United States actually peaked in 1991, three years before the ban took effect. Take a look for yourself:

Violent crimes involving rifles are extraordinarily rare circumstances to begin with, so Bidens’ gun ban can’t be responsible for the plummeting crime rates in the 1990s, which continued even after the ban expired in 2004. In fact, despite the surge in violent crime in 2020 and 2021, rates are still far lower today than they were when Biden’s “assault weapons ban” was allowed to sunset.


The U.S. homicide rate peaked even earlier, reaching an historic high of 10.2 per 100,000 people all the way back in 1980. While there were several years in the late 80s and early 90s that came close to that terrible number, by 2014 the nation’s homicide rate had fallen to 4.4 per 100K. The rate has gone back up since then, particularly after the COVID shutdowns and civil unrest in 2020, but homicide rates are still far better than what many of us lived through in the 80s and 90s.

In other words, Biden’s full of malarkey when he touts the supposed effects of his gun ban, and his umpteenth demand for Congress to put a new ban in place isn’t likely to change any hearts and minds on Capitol Hill.

“We’re not gonna fix it,” U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., told reporters Monday. “Criminals are going to be criminals.”

Burchett added: “My daddy fought in the Second World War, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese. He told me, buddy, if somebody wants to take you out and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.”

With all due respect to Burchett’s daddy, I’m going to politely disagree with him and his son. No, we’re never going to completely eradicate violent crime or be able to prevent every committed killer from carrying out their murderous plots, but there absolutely are concrete steps that we can take to reduce violent crime in its many forms; from domestic violence to drug-related shootings to active shooter attacks. Each of those issues requires strategies and tactics that are designed to address the actual problem, however, as opposed to just trying to ban our way to safety as gun control activists demand.


Focused deterrence efforts aimed at the most prolific and violent, for example, can reduce homicide rates by 50% or more when implemented effectively, as even a few anti-gun activists will admit. Enforcing existing laws also matters, as we make clear every day on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co with our recidivist report. Monday, for example, we highlighted a suspect in a Shreveport shooting who was given a suspended sentence and probation for a weapons charge, even after he repeatedly skipped out on his sentencing hearing. There are lots of things we can do to reduce violent crime without trying to reduce legal gun ownership or infringe on the fundamental rights of we the people, and many of them don’t require state legislators or congresscritters to act at all.

They also don’t involve executive actions by the president, and while I’m glad to see Biden say he’s reached the limits of his executive authority, the truth is that those limits were breached long ago. I’m also not convinced that Biden’s actually through with issuing any more executive orders on gun control, though so far he’s been unwilling to take the advice of gun control activists to enact a gun ban by having the ATF reclassify some or all commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms as machine guns. The anti-gunner-in-chief may want to leave it up to Congress to infringe on the rights of responsible Americans, but his fellow prohibitionists are going to continue to lean on him to go big before he leaves office.


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