A Pincer Movement on Guns

(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

Over six years ago, the Obama administration tried to use the ATF to ban steel- and alloy-based ammunition under the guise of banning “armor-piercing” ammunition. At the same time, the Obama EPA tried to regulate or ban lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act, an attempt that was smacked down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Kevin D. Williamson at the National Review wrote a great article in 2015 about it titled, “A Pincer Movement on Ammunition,” which described the end goal of slowly making ammunition impractical to obtain.

The Gun Grab Lobby is attempting something similar this year, but with guns instead of ammunition. On the one hand, as before, is every Second Amendment advocate’s favorite bureaucracy: the ATF. On the other hand are trial lawyers, emboldened by some lawless judges, state legislatures, and the Biden Administration willing to ignore the text of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and the U.S. Constitution.

The ATF currently has a proposed rule to regulate unfinished receivers, redefining the terms “firearm” and “gunsmith” in the process. The end goal is a de facto ban on unserialized firearms, deceptively called “ghost guns” by the Gun Grab Lobby, by increasing the regulatory burden on citizens interested in the American tradition of home builds. (You can read the proposal on the ATF website (https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/definition-frame-or-receiver), and comment on it on or before Aug. 19, 2021.) 

At the state level, a handful of Democrat-run states and Washington D.C. have already banned “ghost guns.” And if the Gun Grab Lobby’s wishes come to fruition, home builds will become impractical for citizens even in Second Amendment-respecting states because the bans will be done at the federal level.

That still leaves the regular gun manufacturers, no? Wrong!

New York recently passed a law, allowing gun manufacturers to be sued for violence committed by criminals misusing firearms. This law is aimed squarely at bankrupting firearms manufacturers, and thus drying up the mass-manufactured supply of guns.

On Thursday, the Biden administration’s Susan Rice met with Democrat Attorneys General from seven states and the District of Columbia to encourage them to sue firearms manufacturers for crimes committed by criminals, using New York and Connecticut as templates. This will lead to costly lawfare that will waste the time and resources of honest businesses. The process is the punishment, but some of these companies may even fall victim to injustice in the courts. That’s only likely to warm the cockles of the lawless Biden administration’s heart.

Besides New York’s public nuisance legal theory and federal malevolence, there are lawless judges around the country who have allowed cases to proceed despite the text of the PLCAA, using pretexts such as marketing practices and state laws. Most attempts have been properly stopped by the courts, but all it takes is one lawsuit to succeed or get settled to start a flood of litigation. There’s a reason most governments don’t submit to hostage-takers, and the ones that do – like my native India (see: 1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Saeed) – are guaranteed to invite more trouble down the road (see: 1999 Indian Airlines Flight 814 crisis).

It’s not hyperbole to say that we are witnessing a pincer movement by the Gun Grab Lobby – make it impractical to do home builds while also drying up the supply of mass-manufactured guns – with the end goal of slowly and steadily eroding the lawful and constitutionally-protected ownership of firearms.

What can ordinary gun owners do in the face of these developments? For one, if you haven’t already done so, head over to the ATF website and enter a thoughtful comment on or before Aug. 19, 2021. Use your own words; copy-pasting someone else’s comment will likely get your entry ignored.

Second, join gun rights organizations (both national ones and your state’s), and keep track of what’s going on, especially in your state legislature. Talk politely to your elected representatives about firearms legislation; anger and rudeness are counterproductive.

Thirdly and most importantly, do whatever you can to increase the rate of gun ownership. Teach people how to shoot, help them buy their first gun, encourage them to join you at the range regularly, register them to vote and keep them up to date on proposed gun control legislation. Befriend that immigrant down the street who has never touched a gun; help him or her embrace the American tradition of gun ownership; that will boost the chances that his or her children inherit that legacy too.

Bloomberg-funded AstroTurf doesn’t grow, but grassroots do. And there’s nothing more powerful in protecting Liberty than a focused, motivated grassroots movement.

Dec 08, 2021 12:30 PM ET