Today Is The Day

Apr 8, 2021

Later today, President Joe Biden will officially announce what the White House released last evening: six “initial actions” to “Address the Gun Violence Public Health Epidemic”. Before you get angry at the “actions” you should be very concerned that the administration is now falling in line with the anti-gun groups assertion that gun violence is a public health issue.

Here are the six proposals:

The Justice Department, within 30 days, will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns”.

The Justice Department, within 60 days, will issue a proposed rule to make clear 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.

The Justice Department, within 60 days, will publish model “red flag” legislation for states.

The Administration is investing in evidence-based community violence interventions.

The Justice Department will issue an annual report on firearms trafficking.

The President will nominate David Chipman to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Whew. This isn’t a first shot at gun owners, it’s a salvo. As his been his habit throughout a long political career, Mr. Biden has never passed up an opportunity to support against gun owners.

The apparent plan calls for Attorney General Merrick Garland to join the President to announce these actions. He’d promised anti-gun groups “quick action” following shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, Boulder, Colorado, and Orange County, California.

There were already whispers going around to assure action against what the administration calls ghost guns - 80% complete lowers that require final machining by owners before they can be assembled into working firearms - will be the first target.

Mr. Biden can not simply outlaw them via executive order, but he can compel the Justice Department to change their rules categorizing them from parts to guns. That would require purchasers to undergo a background check when purchasing them. The background check would require the purchases go through a licensed federal firearms licensee.

Last evening, pro Second Amendment groups like the Second Amendment Foundation were preparing for what they knew would

“President Biden will try to get away with as much as he can with executive orders,” says the Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb,“the devil will be in the details.”

“Our legal team will review them and we are prepared to file suit if Biden steps over his legal authority.”

Exactly what constitutes “his legal authority” is, as Gottlieb points out, will likely become a matter for the courts and Congress to ultimately decide.

Executive orders are not blanket decrees and lack the force of law. They’re orders for the executive branch of government.

Both Congress (the legislative branch) and the courts (the judicial branch) have the power to strike down executive orders that exceed the scope of the president/executive branch’s authority.

Article II of the Constitution assigns the presidential role to “commander in chief, head of state, chief law enforcement officer, and head of the executive branch.”

To fulfill those duties, the president’s sole constitutional obligation is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Under those guidelines, the president’s directives to the Justice Department appear to fall under those authorities.

“NSSF will carefully review the executive orders the President plans on signing tomorrow,” the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Lawrence Keane told me, “Where those orders exceed his lawful authority and usurp the power of Congress to make law NSSF will take all ‘appropriate steps’ to protect the interests of our industry and the Second Amendment rights of our customers.”

Those customers, Keane points out, include “over 8.4 million Americans who exercised their constitutional right to own firearms for the first time -many of whom are women, African and Asian Americans.”

That seems to be a fact largely being ignored by the other side of the issue. More than any time in modern history, minorities are exercising their right to own guns.

That could prove problematic for an administration that has made the restriction of that right a promise to the anti-gun groups who supported them. Keeping that promise will mean deliberately ignoring the fact that many minorities have bought guns because they’ve lost faith in the government’s ability to maintain order.

“Instead of pandering to Mayor Bloomberg and the antigun zealots,” Keane said, “the administration would be better served by seeking common ground on real solutions that make all our communities safer, like the NSSF’s safety initiatives, such as PCS, Fix NICS, suicide prevention, Don’t Lie for the Other Guy, and Operation Secure Store.

The last two initiatives, Keane pointed out, are in conjunction with ATF.

So much, it seems, for the Biden promise to seek unity among Americans.

The irony’s not lost on Keane. “We are mindful of President Biden’s divisive rhetoric,” he said, “he called our industry the ‘enemy’ and Senate Majority Leader Schumer called us ‘evil.’”

If there’s any doubt that this administration intends to crack down on gun owners, the nomination of David Chipman as Director of the ATF should remove them.

A 25-year agent with the ATF, Chipman left the agency in 2012. From there, he became a “senior adviser” to Everytown for Gun Safety, then senior vice president of Public Safety Solutions for three years before arriving at Giffords in 2016 as a senior policy adviser.

In those positions, Chipman left no doubt that he was a zealot when it came to gun control, writing op-eds and appearing in the media to pass on his belief that gun violence was out of control and, more disturbingly, the agency (ATF) “lacks for the law enforcement tools that are necessary to curb this national epidemic.” That, FYI, is a direct quote from an op-ed he wrote for Politico in 2013.

There’s no doubt that the administration intends to try and convince gun owners that the “right” memorialized in the Bill of Rights is -at least in their eyes- a “privilege” they’re planning to limit however possible.

That’s not just my opinion. Last night, I got this message from the NSSF’s Keane: “

“We see Mr. Chipman’s nomination as a troubling reversal of years of pro-active safety cooperation between ATF and the firearm community.”

Seems the battle lines are resolving, and we’re in for another tough fight.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

—Jim Shepherd