Op-ed calls Biden's semi-auto focus "ignorance"

Op-ed calls Biden's semi-auto focus "ignorance"
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe Biden ran on gun control and has pushed it continuously since taking office. It’s one thing he’s been remarkably consistent with during his presidency.


One particular target of his has been semi-automatic firearms.

Now, normally, a president would target so-called assault weapons. The idea of banning those has a lot broader support than a general ban on semi-automatics.

But does Biden understand the difference? Maybe not.

At the New York Post, an op-ed argues at least some of this is based on pure ignorance.

The hallmark of the Joe Biden presidency is ignorance, the hallmark of the gun-policy debate is ignorance, and so when President Biden weighs in on firearms — as with his recent insistence that the United States should categorically prohibit semiautomatic weapons — the result is ignorance squared.

President Biden has been in public office as long as I have been alive, and he was elected to the Senate in 1972, when the violent-crime rate in the United States was on its way toward quadrupling from its relatively modest 1960 level to its ghastly peak in 1991. You would think that Biden would have at some point in those five decades learned a little something about guns and crime — but he has not.

Biden, like many Democrats, speaks about semiautomatic firearms — a category that includes nearly all of the handguns currently sold and the great majority of the rifles — as though the presence of such weapons in civilian hands were something new. Nothing could be further from the truth: Semiautomatic handguns have been for sale in the civilian market since the late 19th-century, and by the early 20th century, Colt was selling tens of thousands of its popular semiautomatic handgun — known as the 1911, after the year of its introduction — to civilians, as well as exporting them to Canada and other countries. Semiautomatic rifles weren’t far behind, with Winchester offering its first in 1903 and Remington in 1905. These were firearms explicitly designed for the civilian market—the first military-use semiautomatic rifle wouldn’t come into use until a few years later. The AR-15 was first sold to civilians in the early 1960s and was advertised as a hunting rifle.

According to ATF data, about 85% of all the handguns sold in the United States in 2018 were semiautomatics, with almost all of the rest being revolvers. ATF data do not separate semiautomatic rifles from other kinds of rifles, so the prevalence of semiautomatics cannot be documented precisely, but a look around any gun shop or a trip to any firing range will suggest that semiautomatics make up about the same share of rifles as of pistols.


Author Kevin D. Williamson is quite right about Biden’s ignorance regarding guns. Where I disagree with him is whether it would matter very much.

Biden could be as well-versed on firearms as any gun enthusiast, but would it change his fundamental aversion to us being able to exercise our right to keep and bear arms? I don’t think so.

Instead, he’d simply be using the correct nomenclature about what he wants to ban, and I don’t know that we’d notice all that much.

We all know that the endgame for gun control–even if even many gun control advocates are unaware–is the eventual and effective banning of almost every firearm from civilian ownership. They’ll claim otherwise, but we have yet to see anyone on that side of the debate say, “Nope. Far enough” on any gun issue.

There’s a reason for that.

So an attempt to ban semi-automatics was always in the cards. If Biden is guilty of anything on that front, it’s really just jumping the gun.

No pun intended.


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