Many conservatives are pushing back hard against a series of executive orders on firearms that the Biden administration announced on Wednesday. I don’t doubt that Biden would ban or severely limit private gun ownership if he could, but what is striking about these specific orders is how trivial they are.
Biden frames his actions in terms of gun violence being a “public health epidemic.” He refers to the recent Boulder and Atlanta shootings, and says that “cities across the country are in the midst of a historic spike in homicides….” Ironically, that is true. But why? Not because of any lack of firearms laws and regulations, which are legion. Rather, because of the incessant and demagogic attacks on law enforcement that the Democrats themselves have perpetrated. And of course, none of the measures that Biden proposes to take would have any effect on urban violence.
So what are the actions being taken via executive order?
1) The Department of Justice will issue a proposed rule–content unspecified–to limit the sale of “ghost guns,” i.e. firearms that are bought as a kit and assembled by the user. This is supposedly a problem because such guns lack a serial number, which makes them harder to trace.
2) DOJ will issue another rule “clarifying when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.” Keeping a firm grip on your pistol will also, as the White House release puts it, “make a firearm more stable and accurate.” But a rifle is a rifle and a pistol is a pistol.
3) DOJ will publish a model “red flag” law for states. Such laws establish court procedures whereby individuals who are deemed dangerous can be deprived of firearms even though they have not actually done anything wrong. I believe several states have passed such legislation. In any event, DOJ publishing a model law will not have any practical effect.
4) The federal government will “[invest] in evidence-based community violence interventions.” In other words, slide billions of dollars to Democratic Party constituencies. This will have little or effect on violence, via firearms or otherwise.
5) DOJ will issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. “Trafficking” is undefined, but I assume it refers generally to illegal gun sales, e.g. to felons.
6) Biden will nominate David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. This has incensed some gun rights advocates, as Chipman apparently has a history of supporting extreme and unconstitutional gun control measures. But who else would anyone expect Biden to appoint to run ATF?
As I said, the striking thing about these proposed measures is how trivial they are. No one seriously expects that they will do anything to reduce violence. If the Democrats were serious about reducing the homicide rate, they would support law enforcement instead of undermining it, and they would run district attorneys who would imprison criminals rather than letting them go. But they would rather engage in symbolic posturing on guns than take effective action to protect Americans who are suffering at the hands of violent criminals.