by Bob Barr
Last week, under pressure from the extreme left wing of the Democrat Party, President Joe Biden emerged briefly from his safe house on Pennsylvania Avenue and re-declared his commitment to battle the “epidemic” of gun violence.
The specific measures he outlined were covered by the mainstream media as a major newsworthy event, but in fact represented little of real substance. The importance of Biden’s message, however, lies not so much in the specific measures actually proposed, but in his words that reflect the president’s deep-seated animosity toward the Second Amendment and those who support it.
For example, it was deeply disturbing that the country’s new Attorney General, Merrick Garland, echoed the president’s commitment to gun control, and that David Chipman, a fervent gun control advocate, was being nominated to head the government agency with primary jurisdiction over federal firearms laws – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or “ATF.”
Biden began by going after the low-hanging fruit – so-called “ghost guns.” There is in fact nothing supernatural about such firearms. Calling them by this cute shorthand is a typical gun control ploy to use certain words designed to scare the public into believing there is a frightening menace lurking out there. This is the same tactic used by the Left when they call the AR-15 rifle, the most popular, lawful rifle in America, a “weapon of war” (which it certainly is not).
In reality, what Biden calls “ghost guns” are nothing more than parts kits for firearms that can be purchased and assembled by an individual, usually a hobbyist, without containing registration markings for the government to track. Such firearms scare gun control advocates for no other reason than they are not registered – a step that has become the default for gun control advocates. If such an unmarked firearm were to be transferred commercially, it would be illegal according to current law, a fact of little note for Biden.
According to Biden and his supporters, these firearms must be registered in order to save the country from further mass shootings by criminals, notwithstanding the rarity with which they are used in such crimes. He therefore directed the Justice Department to prepare regulations to accomplish this.
Biden also tasked the Department with drafting regulations to outlaw arm braces for certain pistols, specifically AR-15 style pistols. As with “ghost guns,” pistol arm braces are rarely used by criminals but often by target shooting enthusiasts, and by those with certain disabilities, because the devices make for more stable and accurate firing of the pistol.
Biden’s directives to his new attorney general to draft these regulatory measures reflects the reality that the president cannot yet count on sufficient votes in the Senate to pass new gun control initiatives, or even those that recently were passed by the Pelosi-controlled House. Those legislative measures would mandate universal federal background checks for virtually all gun purchases, and also would significantly expand the time within which the FBI, which administers the federal background check system, could delay approving any retail gun sale.
There were other less-than-momentous (but still troubling) provisions included in the President’s announcement, such as “model” red flag legislation for the states to adopt.
The real “red flag” in last week’s pronouncements, however, lies in Biden’s cavalier statements about the Second Amendment. To him, as with other provisions in the Bill of Rights, the right to keep and bear arms is always subject to government-imposed limitations, particularly by those who control the levers of regulatory powers; in this instance, Garland and soon, Chipman.
To them, the guarantee of a citizen’s right to “keep and bear arms” contained in the Bill of Rights, is not chiseled in stone but rather carved into clay and therefore malleable by federal government bureaucrats reflecting Biden’s pinched view of the fundamental right.
The Biden-Harris Administration will be characterized by a constant push for gun control, often purposefully opaque by way of regulatory measures, but with a single goal in mind – reducing the ability of law-abiding citizens (and lawful firearms retailers) to practice their fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to purchase and possess firearms. And if the Senate were to do away with the filibuster, that gun control slow walk would become a tsunami.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.